Lunacy Now’s primary concern is to help people navigate the fast changing social and economic landscape in response to emerging technology. We see the wave of alienation and confusion impacting so many people throughout the West, and we want to do something about it. We’re not into imposing prescriptive solutions, we’re into helping people explore possible options for how to build the futures they want.
Enter Toke for Tolerance, the world’s premier cannabis based interfaith festival. Here’s why we are so excited about this, and how it fits in with our broader mission.
New tech gives us the opportunity to engage in direct peer to peer peacebuilding efforts. For the first time in human history, antagonistic populations can directly engage with each other as individuals in spite of geographic distances. This means we can bypass elite decision makers who have traditionally been impediments to forming lasting peaceful solution to tough conflicts.
These changes include:
- Social media enabling instant peer-to-peer dialogue across national borders.
- Smartphones enabling live citizen journalism anywhere at any time.
- The internet enabling instant access to good translations of all religious scripture.
We can use these tools to address long standing issues.
One of the most intractable conflicts in the West today are the interlocking tensions between the Muslim and Jewish communities. Before you get all twisted about how you know many Jews and Muslims who get on great, and it’s not really an issue, just shelve that for a minute. There are serious disagreements between both the institutions heading up Jewish and Muslim communities in the West and between populations themselves. Denying that is a denial of reality. Those disagreements relate to Israel/Palestine. They relate to the war on terror and the surveillance state. To racism and its history in the West, in particular white supremacy. But they also relate to deeply held beliefs and religious doctrines, and to deeply embedded cultural practices and suspicions.
These are not simple divisions. And despite public statements lauding the virtues of peace, harmony and the brotherhood of man, for decades community leaders from both faith communities have not only failed to bring people closer, they have succeeded in driving them further apart.
But like all issues they can be address if we’re willing to sit down and have a conversation. Lunacy Now is not under any illusions that our discussions will lead to a cessation of all hostilities and the onset of the age of Aquarius. Bu we do think we can work out a kind of intercommunal truce which will prevent us from raising our children to fear one another. This is not an attempt to get the government to change laws, or an attempt to rewrite sacred texts. It is a peer-to-peer effort by people who have had enough of being dragged into vicious inter-communal strife.
With the power of technology, we can now access and bring together diverse faith leaders, student activists, clergy, lay leaders, political pundits, podcasters, thought leaders. And, most importantly of all, we will be able to do this without relying on any of the established organizations for access, for input, or for accreditation. That means the conversations we can have are not bound by the need to appease donors, to avoid hitting on sensitive blasphemous worries.
It also means we can be even handed and honest about what’s really going on. Toke for Tolerance is founded by a Jew and a Muslim working together. So we are not going to hold back for either community when in attack. And we are not going to withhold compassion from either community in defense.
We are going to talk about how Zionism is a form of European 19th century nationalism – the plough and the rifle are about as blood and soil as you can get. We will talk about the impact the ongoing I/P conflict has on diasporic Jewish/Muslim relations. We will talk about ISIS, about Al Qaeda, about Saudi Arabia. And we will talk about the Quran and the Bible, what they really say, and how to reconcile ourselves with some of the more difficult passages.
Unless we’re willing to face up to the shortcomings of our own people, we are never going to convince the other side to let their guard down long enough to admit what they’ve been up to. Unless we’re willing to admit that religion can be beautiful, ecstatic, charming, life affirming and saving, we will never be able to work with believers who would literally rather be burned to death at the stake than make a single concession over even one line of God’s sacred law.
And unless we’re willing to acknowledge that the same gorgeous amazing incredible religion we would die for can be hurting someone else, we’re not going to be able to open up our hearts, heal our trauma, and be present to recognize and compassionately embrace “the other” in their pain.
And once we’ve done that we can hash out the specifics. What exactly do we want to change about the way we relate to one another. What real progress can we make. How can we create an environment where our institutions aren’t training our young people to spend their weekends screaming at each other from opposite sides of a police barricade.
So why the marijuana?
Everything else has been tried. Let’s see if this works. Let’s sit down with a plant that can help strip away our preconceived notions and admit, to each other and to ourselves, all of it. That wealthy philanthropists dictate the conversation. That we’re tribalistic and loyal. That we suppress our doubts and our concerns about the faith we love, at least in public. That we cherry pick scripture to highlight the parts we like and not the bad stuff. That we deliberately interpret the texts in line with what we want them to say, and not the plain meaning of the texts. And that the horrible unspeakable truth is that when you really cut right to the bone, the fundamentalists are not some hideous aberration, but a very valid and very logical system based on what the books actually say, based on the way they were practiced for hundreds and thousands of years. And that we have to stop lying to each other and start being honest and what our goals are, what our redlines are, and how we want to interact with each other as people of faith living in these United States of America.
Lunacy Now believes most people just want a simple easy life, to raise a family, to live in comfort and without fear. Toke for Tolerance is a way to break past the community gatekeepers and have an honest conversation about how to achieve those goals.
That’s why we are proud to co-host the world’s premier cannabis based interfaith festival.