good to meet you! sorry i could not hook you with Franti on stage. wasn’t it such an awesome show thou??
It turned out he was doing a yoga class at MY yoga studio from 6pm to 7:15 that night. so prob strolled back to the venue very close to show time. I did get to talk to him after and hook the owner of the yoga studio up with him.
I was flying high that night! good times.
peace on your journey!
I am wondering if you are single, your walk has inspired me in countless ways but the most inspiring is you have made me believe in true love again. I now dream about walking beside you, until after that when we are biking beside each other.-please let me known if you are interested
Thanks so much for your heart felt words of Love and kindness this afternoon at First Church here in Oberlin. You’ll recall that I’m the older African American guy (and retired Army officer) who met you this morning at the copy center on Main street. It is extremely satisfying to note that you are serious about letting the Christ Spirit within you express itself through the work that you do. Truly, your ongoing consciousness-raising work is a beautiful thing. Thanks, also, for your humility and for your caring and forgiving approach.
Josh, We loved having you here in Cleveland. It was great that your visit coincided with our annual Hiroshima Day concert sponcered by Peace Action and Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament. And I know my friends with Veterans for Peace loved meeting you, too. Your talk was so inspiring and meant so much to a bunch or aging peace activists who wonder where the next generation is going to come from. Safe Travels!
You’ve got an email — if you need a place to crash in St. Louis, shoot me an email or call. From one vet to another, I think what you’re doing is great. While I might not agree with all you’ve said or done, I think your search for answers and to spread love and not fear, are great!
Thanks for this. I share your desire for peace. Unfortunately I’ve found that in order to find peace we often have to uncover the roots of evil. The Catholic Priest mess is a good example. The Gulf of Tonkin is another example for those effected by the Viet Nam war. I hope you consider taking the time to look into the numerous anomalies of the 9/11 story and consider the claims of the 9/11 Truth movement.
I think only through true honesty can we ever hope to find peace. The Anthrax case is a good example of how the official story can be so wrong at first. Cheers to you. And stay strong through your journey. Peace.
Dear Josh and Connor,
Last night I joined a friend of mine at the KUMY lockin, I merely went to entertain her. Never did I expect to be so moved. I want to thank you in the deepest way possible, because as you shared your experiances I felt a way I have never before. Today, and all the days following, I hope I can take what you are trying to spread and live my life as such. You have truely made an ever lasting impact on my life and how you changed your views upon the world, and the people it contains I feel even at 14 I will someday be able to make a diffrence in a life in way you have mine.I wish you two the best of luck on your journey from here. Thank.
I just want to let you know that what your doing is amazing. I was from the KUMY lock in. I want to appologize for how I acted when you were speaking. I was texting but I want to let you know that I still fully paid attention. I really respect you guys and what your doing, I wish that I was able to do what you two are doing, but I just can’t. I will try my best to tell both of your stories and spread the word about you two. It’s amazing how much your stories ment to me. It may not have seemed like I was paying attention and again I’m sorry, but your stories are amazing. It’s really cool the way you guys are going this far with it from a little idea. Isn’t it great, the coincidences that happen in our lives. If Josh didn’t stay at Conor’s mom’s house, then maybe it wouldn’t have gotten as far, or maybe Josh would just be alone on this long journey. I would like to find out a way I could make a small donation to your travel, if you could respond to this and let me know, I would appreciate that very much.
Thanks for your encouragement! We’re not as used to speaking with kids, so thanks for letting me know you liked it, we weren’t too sure. Any advice for us if we talk with any other groups of kids? I realize we went on for awhile, so thanks for listening for so long.
If you want to give a donation, I have a list of the charities on the side of the blog and you can give to them directly.
By: contagiousloveexperiment on August 30, 2009 at 8:34 pm
Maybe when your talking to kids you should use more voulentearing things. It was good when you guys used KG as a voulenteer but if you found other ways to have them participate, then you would probably get their attention more. Also if you have any pictures from your trip or from the military (I don’t know any pictures you can find) and show that to them, that might help. Visual usually helps get attention because if their texting (like I was, sorry) then they would look at the picture instead of the screen.
Hope that helps,
By: Grace on August 31, 2009 at 11:42 pm
Josh and Conor,
I was at Trinity Episcopal, Troy, Ohio on the day you were there (Aug 16, I think). But I could not stay to hear what you had to say.
The following week at Trinity, Rev. Williams preached her sermon, referencing much of what you had said, and I was very much moved.
Around Tuseday 8 September, I am departing Ohio (on bicycle) for San Diego/Ca. Would be delighted to catch up with you along the way. Do you have an itinerary – or, like me, is it as the wind blows you?
Regards and “God speed”,
Thought I’d send you some good news! After compiling the footage I got of you all in Lawrence a few weeks ago, I have completed the first in a two part film series to help promote your cause.
I’ve put it up on youtube and created a digg and will send it to some other sites. Let me know if you would like to use it for anything else. Feel free to use the footage in anyway along your journey.
Enjoy and give me a ring
Meeting you both last evening (in Livingston, MT) gave me hope and inspired me to continue with my cause of spreading the word of peace and change. Having the tables turned- Troops supporting our views of peace- was enlightening.
Although there will always be people who live in fear, anger, and judgement of others, it is good to know that there are people such as yourselves that had that “Aha moment” and were able to see past the hatred and find love instead. It takes a very strong person to overcome your experiences and admit that there may be a better way. It is rare, and you should be very proud of what you are doing with this knowledge- especially at such a young age. It takes most people decades to “get it”, and some never do.
THE FEW…THE PROUD…THE KIND.
Because you both have been to Iraq and can “walk the talk”, you have an advantage in being able to not only communicate this message to others, but they will be able to accept this as your truth because you were there.
I truly feel fortunate to have met you both. You validate our work in teaching kindness first, and my hope that people can change their way of thinking, no matter what their upbringing or religious background was. I am also happy that you made the connection with all sentient beings, not just humans. Very inspiring. I hope that you will eventually include a message of the importance of all life for a better future. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, as well as Mahatma Ghandi are both my inspirations on kindness to all sentient beings. True heroes.
I would like your permission to share your website on my site, as well as change.org and Care2. We have hundreds of thousands of members (worldwide) and I think that they need to hear your story. You can reach a lot of people that are like-minded and want to see change for the better. Would it be okay with you both to post some information about your journey and cause?
Thanks for taking the time to stop in Livingston to let a small group of people listen to your story. I wish you well in your continued journey, and hope to see you in Seattle in a couple of weeks. (If I can find out the location of your visit. I have some friends who I would love to invite to meet you.)
Keep your hearts and minds open, and you will go far. Choose kindness over fear.
Peace to all,
I just saw an article in the Coos Bay newspaper about your journey and read some of the comments. It sounds like you are inspiring people all across the country. Keep up the good work.May the Oregon rain only kiss you gently as you travel across our state!
Hi Josh and Conner.
I just came home from hearing you speak at SOU in Ashland, walked in the door and looked you up online. I am full of so much inspiration and gratitude I had to thank you.
Before tonight, what’s going on in the middle east seemed like some vague plot in a book too complicated for me to understand. Hearing you talk made it real in the most positive way I can imagine.
Your example proved for me what, for the brief 16 years of my life, I’ve wanted to believe is true: a difference can be made. You are making it.
I know, with the motivation I feel now, I will make it too.
Hi, this is Kelsey, from Ashland, I asked you after the talk if there was information and resource that you could provide to anyone who wants to basically pick up where you leave off and keep going with the contagious love experiment. I think your message is beautiful and inspiring and i would love to see this go further, and inspire other people to do their own treks and adventures to spread love and compassion. I have been personally planning a bike tour with a friend where i was going to visit resource and community centers that I can interview and model after in future endeavors. I think it would be an amazing experience to use the contagious love experiment as a catalyst for learning and growing further in compassion and cooperation with all human beings. Is it possible to meet you somewhere in a future location and finish the tour with you to learn about what you are doing further, to help me better understand and find my own goals for simply spreading the love?
Hey Kelsey, great meeting you! Yeah, if you wanted to meet up anywhere along the way, you’d be totally welcome. Our schedule is posted on the blog, click the schedule button. If not and you ever have anything we can help with, both of our emails on listed on the contact tab. Best wishes!
By: contagiousloveexperiment on November 1, 2009 at 12:29 am
Blessings to you both for spreading the message of Reverence For All Life through your Contagious Love Experiment. I hope you both plan on coming south (to California, the weather is quite warm and wonderful). I believe you’ll find many who believe as you do, and are promoting peace in their own “grass roots” ways. You might also be interested in Father John Dear’s work (he’s in New Mexico): http://www.fatherjohndear.org/
Those of us involved in the New Thought movement of Christianity resonate with your message, and also teach unconditional love as the path of Jesus. I will forward you site to my friends who would love to know about you.
Much love to you, and we will hold you in our prayers. Let me know if you plan on passing this way (I’m in Ojai, near Santa Barbara) as I know you will be welcome here.
How is this whole peace thing working out? Your ride and deep soul seaching is just that for you and you alone. For years there has been a cry for peace and it hasn’t worked and never will just ask the Quakers that have the boot display that tours the country. They have been trying to attain the peace for over 100 years and still are not any closer. What makes you think you can wth this pathetic ride across the country. Why aren’t you riding across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. America isn’t the cause of war and hatred. How can you think the way you do, that it is the counrty that has treated you so well and the freedoms you have based on the backs of real Veterans that put their lives on the line and some that died for those rights. Can you tell me what peace looks like and how to attain it. I don’t think so, like I said before this ride of yours is: deep soul seaching for you and you alone. Stop calling yourself a veteran, call it like it is: PATHETIC COWARD!
Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, this last week has been especially hectic.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you seem like a very passionate person and I definitely appreciate that. I can recall thinking many of the same ideas that you articulated when I was younger and I think it is important to always be considering them, so thank you for asking these questions.
In a way, you are right, a display of boots or a bike ride, in and of themselves, are pathetic actions when compared to some of the very real sufferings going on in the world. I remember learning about some of the things that Saddam Hussien did when I was in high school and like you, was outraged by it and completely scoffed off any way to solve the situation other than war.
You speak with the passion of somebody who has been there, and I would appreciate hearing more about what you learned while you were deployed. I can only speak for myself and what I saw and from what other veterans, contractors, Iraqis, and aid workers have told me. I completely understand your desire for justice and to want to solve some of the world’s problems, but it seems as if our common assumptions for how to do that are, to say the least, short-sighted. If I see somebody harming others and then go and harm or kill that person, I have temporarily eliminated that harm, but I’ve been blind to the ripple effects: how that person’s family and community now sees me, the violence and divisiveness that I have reinforced in their lives. If it was the simple solution of: whoever has the biggest guns wins, then these wars would not be going on as long as they are.
Following 9/11, the US had support from many countries, including ones we have since labelled our enemies. The people of Afghanistan were willing to work towards removing the oppressive rule in their country (that, if you study history beyond the textbooks, you’ll see we helped establish those forces to begin with), but our assumptions that shock and awe solves problems lost our government much of that support and turned many potential friends into resenters, at the very least. (And I would have to say that with the US being 6% of the world’s population and consuming 60% of it’s resources, that probably is a source of war and hatred).
Yes, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan have their share of problems, but so do we. And as good-intentioned as some people may or may not have been in going to Iraq and trying to solve their problems, they had never done anything to me and yet I still went there and caused alot of suffering; I took the mindset of “do as I say, not as I do”, but I have become much more influenced by the idea of taking the log out of my own eye before I remove the dust from my brothers as well as not returning evil with evil, but overcoming evil with good.
I have no illusions that my bike ride changed the course of history, but by starting with myself and doing what I can do, and not only pointing out other’s flaws, I can hopefully spread a thoughtfulness and understanding that I threw out the window following 9/11. By changing what I can, I have been able to interact with people in Iraq and Afghanistan who are changing what they can in their own countries and it’s very exciting to learn about. We can always find a justification for violence, that is easy; but to step beyond the mindset of vengeance, of an eye for an eye or of solving problems by killing them, there is a need for patience, humility, and creativity.
Six years, hundreds of thousands of lives, and billions of dollars hasn’t “fixed” Iraq and my pathetic bike trip definitely isn’t going to. Peace is a collective effort and ironically, peaceful things like negotiation and community-building have been the major contributors to the progress that has been made in Iraq. I met a refugee from Iraq who has been translating and mailing letters for people back and forth between Iraq and America. Your idea of a bike ride through Iraq is an interesting one, though to say what you suggest, I would feel like a huge hypocrite. But building off of that idea, if you are interested, I can put you in contact with our friend Ausama and you can start a correspondence with Iraqis and have the opportunity to remove some stereotypes that they may have about the US. Please let me know if you are interested.
Thank you again for your thoughts and for helping me think some of these ideas through, I hope I’ve returned the favor a little bit.
By: contagiousloveexperiment on November 16, 2009 at 10:17 pm
I’m very sorry that people like Gary haven’t been able to see where their angry rhetoric simply contributes to the “war and hatred” syndrome that we so desperately need to move away from. The message of “inner peace” you two advocate resonated very strongly in this Ashland, OR area, particularly when it comes from a pair of recent Iraq/Afgan war vets that, as I mentioned when you were here, are TOO YOUNG to be advocating the levels of inner spirituality it has taken so many of us to look for at a much later part of our lives.
P.S. to Josh: I’m still looking for that highly successful C.O. application you thought you could send.
I’ve been following your adventure since the time Conor joined. My experience meeting Conor at Bonnaroo was an experience that reaffirmed something that I have long known but forgotten until recently–that we are in a very literal sense truly all one and that compassion and gratitude shared are the path to divinity. It was a profound experience that has affected me deeply and I am certain that the two of you have profoundly affected people and our planet in as very many ways that can be imagined, even if they can’t be readily “known.”
I noted Josh’s use of the phrase “ripple effect” in his response to Gary’s comment on Nov. 16 and that strikes me as the essence of the creative mission that we are all on–spreading love and sharing compassion are acts of ripple-making that recognize that positive emotion doesn’t involve a desire to withhold and is therefore inherently CONTAGIOUS and needs only to be spread to grow and gather strength. Every negative emotion requires a concentration of focus and, to me, seems to be an ego-based reaction based in a desire to hold onto a preconceived notion of outcome (maintaining the status quo, or seeking to force another person to react in a certain way). Trying to force a particular outcome in spite of the infinite creative power possessed by human beings with free will is like trying to keep the pond from rippling.
Its been a pleasure following your journey and it is my sincere hope that you continue to share the love with as many people as you can.
Saw you on Democracy Now!, and we applaud you. You made the point repeatedly, and it is never enough, that
1. troops are trained to be distanced, dispassionate killers of the “enemy”
2. the truth of what war really is needs to be seen, in all its brutality, without restraint in order for viewers to ‘get it’.
The censorship of footage keeps Americans from the horrors, the heartbreak and, most of all, the Truth.
You are a courageous young man…all power to you.
hi there I live in Fairbanks, Alaska, and am a U.S. Marine Vietnam Veteran. I appreciate what you are saying, esp, the importance of not demonizing the guys on the ground who are caught up in the chaos. Yes, the training, and I know real well, having gone through Parris Island boot camp in 1966, is biased toward vitriol and racial invective. In Nam they were ‘gooks’. That said, I don’t think the problems come from the military per se. They are doing what the military does best. I see the issue as more of a result of the insidious aspect of violence and moral arrogance that is promulgated in our culture. We are influencing very young people, by exposure to an incredibly opportunistic , violence/fantasy
driven media. Witness video games. Who in the world can say with a straight face that this kind of exposure isn’t kin to the indoctrination we recieved during training. Go figure. When was the last time I listened ,to NPR even, broadcast a piece about random acts of kindness? Seldom. It doesn’t make money for them. The basics, gratitude, acceptance, love, forgiveness aren’t part of the picture. And the fundamentalist movement seems to rally behind this ( violence and bigotry) stuff as well. Beside your noble efforts we all need to do as much as we can, in whatever way we can to begin every day with an attitude of , ‘what can I do today to bring more beauty into the world’. One step at a time. Don’t feel alone’ there are a lot of us, warriors who know full well, that one fight leads to another and resolves nothing in the long run.
As a former recon team leader in the 101st Airborne Division, Vietnam, Class of ’68, I want to extend my salute to you. I heard your friend Steiber on NPR and i was moved and impressed.
I’m a CO but I support you anyway. Wars have to be very carefully chosen and very carefully fought. This country may be undone by ignoring this simple thought and may be undone by its own arrogance.
The Vietnam Marine Vet just above has it right. Flyboys kill like its just a serious game. And I wouldn’t want to see what a 30 mm does.
Hi, I helped out with http://www.nomorevictims.org last year–and remain interested in this work. Want to be on any mailing lists so I know for sure when you will be in Asheville. Also if someone needs a place to stay, let me know. We are out in Fairview, not that convenient but within 20 min. Thanks for spreading hope and information!
PS I wrote fundraiser book –The Lioness, the Rich, and the Humvee— a parody based on the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Available at Amazon and also the NMV website and Lulu.
I just saw you (Josh) interviewed on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and wanted to say that I thought you represented yourself very well. The point that the horrors of a war are the result of the necessity of warfare and the political decision to engage in a war, and not the depravity of the soldiers, was significant to me.
I’ve not been in a war, but grew up on the fringes of the Vietnam war and watched the impacts of war and people for the last 45 years.
WWII was the last war that seemed to me to be one of necessity. Others wars of necessity were not fought, I’m thinking of genocide in Africa between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Other than these it seems war is a convenient course for politicians and parties.
The volunteer army is probably the worst thing that could have evolved for peace. There is no constituency for volunteers to oppose war.
thank you for standing up for peace!!!
my dad is a vietnam vet and member of veterans for peace. people like you and my father make me proud. you both have seen war firsthand and came back to fight for peace!
y name is Matthew Stephen Northway. I am 21 years old and I live in Tucson, AZ. I am a christian and have been for all my life. .
After reading about your story I am so Inspired that I decided that I am going to bike from Tucson to Chicago. I want to do it exactly as you did loving on people, staying at their house, spreading a message of peace. I really just want to spread the love of God. I want my actions to speak louder than my words. I want to live a life of love that will reflect that of Jesus. I also would like you and everyone reading about this to know that I would LOVE if more people came along for the ride (literally). I dont want this to be about me at all and the more people that come the more enjoyable it will be for everyone. Once in Chicago
I am going to set out on this journey in 2013. In the meantime I would love to help out and love what people I can.I contacted you to inform you that this is what I am doing. Please call me at (520) 405-5901 or email me at email@example.com
I want you guys to know that I am just trying to inspire other people as you have inspired me. I would love to get what tips and pieces of information that I can from you. Thank you so much for your vision as it has given me so much to dream for in my life.
Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
I have been watching the media hype the last few days over the leaked documents concerning Afghanistan, and Russia Today was covering this and some of the other things that has gone on in Afghanistan and Iraq when they showed a clip of you talking on broadband about what was going on when you were on duty. I am a college student, and I do not have a clue about what its like for a soldier, or a civilian in Iraq/Afghanistan is like, but I just want to say that in my opinion what you are doing in terms of switching from a soldier to a person promoting peace is a valiant and noble action. I applaud you and your efforts.
Your Open Letter to the House Select Committee is superb. Bravo for speaking out! I hope that you and your buddies are speaking to high school students, and opening their eyes before they sign up.
May your (you, Conor, et al) paths bring peace and consolation to many
I just read the interview you did for Slate.com on “being wrong”. It is absolutely wonderful to see someone from within the evangelical movement stand up and direct attention to the 800 pound elephant in the room; the co-opting of religious faith for political and military means by the Right in this country. If only we had more of you, I believe our country could begin to heal the partisanship tearing at the social fabric here. You are a brave man, and a personal hero of mine. I wish you well.
By: Taylor Bullard on December 19, 2010 at 3:06 am
& I just wanted to tell you as a fellow christian that your story is beautiful and your reaction to your situation was one of the healthiest I’ve heard. It warms my heart to hear about someone in your situation responding with love and compassion. If your cross country travels ever lead you to nyc and you need a couch to crash on just let me know!
I came from an evangelical background, as you did, but without the extreme political conservatism. My church background was from a denomination that was recognized as inherently CO (Conscientious Objector). I opposed both Gulf War 1 under Bush Sr. and then Gulf War 2 under his son, but not for religious reasons.
After discarding your earlier political persuasions received from your Christian upbringing, I’m wondering if you’ve still managed to maintain your evangelical persuasions when it comes to your faith. I want you to know that there are still some Christians out there who, in the words of the producers of the podcast, “Our Life in Christ,” are “Evangelical, but not Protestant; Orthodox, but not Jewish; not NON-denominational, but PRE-denominational…” These people don’t buy into the political beliefs about Christianity so rife in evangelical America, but they haven’t given up on the Gospel, either.
If you’re interested, I’d recommend that you check out “Our Life in Christ” on http://www.ancientfaith.com This website has lots of other podcasts, as well, by really deep thinkers — particularly by a man named, Thomas Hopko [Speaking the Truth in Love]. If you’re not willing to be challenged, however, don’t bother. (BTW – the podcasts are almost entirely non-political. This is about the faith of the Church of the first centuries — not primarily about political action.)
God bless you in your journeys — both on the road and toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
I have been reading and hearing about your story for a while. Kudos! I have immense respect for your having firm principles and having the strength of will and character to stick to them.
Your situation made me think of a book I read 20 years ago that seriously shaped my affinity with peaceful responses to violence.
The book is _We Will not Cease_ by Archibald Baxter who was drafted into the New Zealand army and sent to Europe, during WWI but refused to carry a weapon. His resolutely peaceful and sympathetic responses to the extremely harsh treatment he received while at the front lines in WWI is inspiring.
I re-read it again recently. I think it still speaks loudly about people in your situation and about the need for respect for humanity, even towards those who are ostensibly your “enemies” or those abusing you for your decision not to contribute to the violence.