Thursday, May 19, 2011

PeaceTags' World Religion Collection is here!!!!!

Here's a paradox. The PeaceTags' World Religion collection was inspired by an agnostic.

Religion in general has always fascinated me. Born and raised Roman Catholic, by a devout Irish Catholic mother, the "bells and smells" of Mass were enchanting to a little girl. Plus I loved dressing up for Church. But, thanks to my Dad, other people's religions proved a source of fascination as well.

My Dad was a card carrying Agnostic, although his family was Jewish. (OK, he didn't actually have a card, but if one had been available Dad would have carried it.) His routine answer when asked about his faith was: "I'm not sure what I believe, how about you?"(That's my Dad in the middle with some army buddies circa 1943)
This authentic sense of curiosity and refreshing lack of "certainty" made him a magnet for religious conversations. He would meet a Buddhist in the checkout line at Safeway and come home telling us about "Dharma." He watched any PBS documentary on world religions and would tell his teenage kids, "You should turn off that crap (some would say the Brady Bunch had cultural merit, right?) and watch this show on Hinduism."
My Dad loved learning about all the major world religions, and I remember him saying to me, "Fredda, if you want to know what makes a person tick, find out what they think about religion and God. If you want to know how someone might justify killing another human being, ask them how their faith influences their beliefs about right and wrong." And my Dad was savvy enough to catch on to the fact that no two members of any one faith are ever in total agreement about all parts of that faith.

Dad loved pointing out how similar the main World Religions were if you got right down to it. "That Golden Rule is the Key," he would say. And he pointed out they all had their own versions of it. (And he found it super cool that Golden was his own last name. ) If I ever asked his advice about something that involved a value judgement, he would say with a twinkle, "Remember MY rule baby girl." (My Dad called me "Baby Girl" until the day he died, though I was well into my 30's.)
And shortly before my Dad passed away, at the in-house nursing home at VA Puget Sound Medical Center, I was perched on the side of his bed, reading him a book. Several strokes had left him unable to walk and barely able to speak. Looking at my beloved 84 year old father who had passed along so much wisdom, I made one final attempt on the religion thing. "So Dad", I queried, "do you believe in heaven?" "I'm not sure," he replied. "But whatever comes next I sure as hell don't think I'm going to be disappointed."
The PeaceTags' World Religion Collection and PeaceTags in general were inspired by Larry Golden. Something tells me there's a big smile on a certain Agnostic's face in heaven.
The PeaceTags World Religion Collection is currently available at participating retailers (check our website They will be offered online via the website within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PeaceTags in Tanzania!

It's always amazing to learn what PeaceTags' wearers are up to in the world! Recently I had the chance to chat with Tiana D. She's pictured here during a recent volunteerism journey to Tanzania. Her experience in the East African country was a powerful source of life lessons. (Scroll down for the interview.)
Question: Why Tanzania Tiana?
Well, I was always drawn to Africa. A college class on the culture and beauty of the region really intrigued me. Tanzania is home to the Serengeti, the people are fascinating, and the need for volunteers seemed clear.
Question: What was your job there?
I was a teacher in a village called Karanga, just outside the city of Moshi. The school was for disabled people and my students ranged from 5 to 35 years old. The disabilities ranged from major physical challenges to slight learning dysfunction such as dyslexia. Mainly I taught math and reading. (scroll down)

Question: The photos of the kids with your PeaceTag are so great!. Did you wear it often?

Tiana: I wore it almost every day--the kids loved it! And I learned how to say "All we are saying is give peace a chance in Swahili!!!!"

Question: Why did you choose that PeaceTag?
It was a gift from my Mom who happens to LOVE John Lennon! And as teacher, it was perfect. I found myself constantly thinking "give peace a chance, give peace a chance" when I needed more patience! (Scroll down)
Question: Where did you find peace in your experience?
Tiana: I found peace in the community. The people were so warm and welcoming and had the biggest hearts! No matter how little a family had, when you entered their home they prepared food for you. Sharing a meal was a true way of connecting and showing honor and respect.
Question: Was there anything that made you feel less at peace?
Tiana: Sometimes when we made home visits, I realized that they were sharing the only food they had. That made me uncomfortable, but it would have been seen as very disrespectful to reject their hospitality. (Scroll down)
Question: What else did you learn from volunteering in East Africa?
It's daunting to realize how great the need is for education and economic resources in third world countries. To see it firsthand really impacted me. I felt as though my time there was not enough. I want to return. Volunteers can make a difference but it takes a lot of time and effort.
Thank you Tiana for living out the PeaceTags motto: think about, talk about and work for peace!