Tag Archives: Peace

World Peace: It Just Might be Even Simpler that We Thought…

I previously blogged about how stifling it can be, having too many ideas, and how it has led to periods during which I would not post much, if anything. I have entered such a period again. I blame my awesome friends for the amazing, eye-opening conversations we have been having! One recent conversation in particular struck me. We were talking about the prerequisites to peace: should we eliminate religion? Should we condemn materialism/consumerism/Lady Gaga? Do we need to have everyone agreeing on everything to have peace?

At first, we had a very, very long list; someone then suggested that we distil it into its core values, and we were left wondering if perhaps, there are only two things that we all really need to achieve peace, two things that feed into each other and create the environment in which all the other prerequisites we had initially listed would naturally emerge.

The first is the unshakeable conviction that we are all noble human beings. We did not feel that everyone has to believe in God to believe in the nobility of man. Rather, everyone has to believe that man has the capacity to create heaven on earth because of its inherent nobility.

The second is the ability to communicate, to be able to listen to radically different ideas without feeling threatened, to be able to accept that a person we disagree with makes sense within the framework they are operating in. For example, the views of an atheist, a Buddhist and a Bahá’í about life after death are different; do we need to convince each other of who is right? Imagine if instead, we would accept that we are different, and focus on understanding the truth of each person’s opinion within the atheist/Buddhist/Bahá’í framework.

Accepting that everyone is a noble human being leads to the belief that differences between different people do not imply a hierarchy of who is right and who is wrong. Rather, it makes us understand that differences are related to just that: differences. When we realize that we can each have our own opinions, we open ourselves to understanding them, and accepting them, even if we disagree. Through conversations meant to understanding one another, we can then learn to create a world within which people with different ‘life prescriptions’ can live together, without anyone imposing anything on the other.

And then we would start working our way steadily towards world peace.

Noticing the Glimmering of the Lesser Peace

I recently read an article, which talks about the relationship between poor housing conditions and the 25% of children in Montreal who suffer from lung disease, and suggests that the province of Quebec should invest not only in hospitals, but in home construction as well. Before, such articles would just make me so angry at the injustices happening even in a lovely city like Montreal. But this time, I saw glimmerings of the Lesser Peace and, albeit much more faintly, the beginning of the march towards the Most Great Peace.

Very simply put, the Lesser Peace is peace out of necessity; it is the day when all of the nations in the world will make a firm commitment to ensure peace, knowing that, due to the big strides in weapon development, a single war would cause massive casualties around the world. The Most Great Peace will come out of unity and love amongst the peoples of the world. We will go from edgy defensiveness but relative international security to being, well, one big happy family.

In the abovementioned article, there are clamours in a major metropolitan city in Canada to upgrade the housing of the poor. Currently, their housing is of such bad quality that the ensuing excessive humidity and related mould problems cause major lung problems in children.

The discourse is currently one of social justice and economics; it isn’t fair that children suffer the consequences of the economic hardships of the parents, all the more that their ensuing bad health becomes an economic burden for the entire population. And so, we are moving toward making a commitment to give them good housing. Doesn’t that remind you a little bit of the Lesser Peace?

But try as you might, social justice cannot be separated fully from love for humans. And so one day, perhaps this concern will grow into a love amongst the peoples of the world that would ensure this situation doesn’t even occur; all houses will be built as if for a family member, and so, although economically viable, a construction company will never even consider building something he wouldn’t let his closest of family and friends live in. By the same token, the concept of poverty as a barrier to basic health would be abhorrent to everyone, to the point that were a family to hit hardships, all their friends and neighbours would spontaneously arise to help them.

You might think that I am a naïve optimist, but you know what… I really do see glimmering of the Lesser Peace in the news, as well as the faint traces of the beginning of the march towards the Most Great Peace. And it is the best feeling ever to carry around as I continue trying to figure out how to contribute, however humbly, to building a new civilization.

The Prosperity of Humankind

I just read an awesome quote that goes so well with my previous musings that I had to share it with you:

“The standard of truth-seeking this process demands is far beyond the patterns of negotiation and compromise that tend to characterize the present-day discussion of human affairs. It cannot be achieved – indeed, its attainment is severely handicapped – by the culture of protest that is another widely prevailing feature of contemporary society. Debate, propaganda, the adversarial method, the entire apparatus of partisanship that hand long been such familiar features of collective action are all fundamentally harmful to its purpose, that is, arriving at a consensus about the truth of a given situation and the wisest choice of action among the options open at any given moment.”

From: The Prosperity of Humankind

The Dangers of Large-scale Demonstrations: When Peaceful Ones get Angry

I got myself involved in a couple of heated conversations in the last couple of days. One of them was regarding my position on demonstrations, rallies and the such. While I agree that as a world citizen, we must make our voices heard when defending justice, I do not think that actions reflecting what we are standing up against should be undertaken. For it makes no logical sense to think that you can fight fire with fire. Remember my 10 year old friend’s advice? You fight fire with water.

A small demonstration (pun intended!).

Let’s say that, because of my deep concern regarding the current situation in Iran, I decide to rally up everyone I can contact, people that I know or don’t know, using email, Facebook and Twitter. At the appointed date and time, dressed in green, we march together towards the Iranian embassy and spend the whole day there chanting slogans and talking to reporters. We feel empowered, we feel joyful, we feel like we are a part of something bigger. And, at the end of the day, we all go home feeling great, having made new friends and having developed a new perspective on the world.

On the one hand, such an event will definitely raise awareness. In a society in which awareness is seriously lacking, it’s a great objective to achieve. After all, most people seem to practice what I like to call ostrich-style citizen participation.

On the other hand, raising awareness and encouraging a country’s government to sanction Iran for it’s less than adequate election process is about all that is going to happen.

I’m not trying to belittle the effort that goes into organizing these events; quite the contrary, kudos to the individuals around the world who take the time and effort to rally when their souls are stirred by injustices perpetuated time and time again. And, in the case of rallies happening in places where oppression runs supreme, I’m certainly not belittling the courage it takes for people to show up to them. It takes courage to speak up, but even more courage to speak up when you risk being punished for it.

However, I do dare say and repeat ‘all that is going to happen’, because, yet again, the root cause of the problem behind the problem hasn’t been addressed.

To find that root cause implies embarking on a tedious, lengthy and very difficult process of discussion, consultation, and change – the real kind. When we are told by Gandhi to be the change we want to see in the world, few people realize just how true his words are. As the questions in a previous post on Sahar’s blog show, justice at the lowest of levels is necessary to achieve justice at the highest of levels.

For if there is no justice in your household, how can there be justice in your neighborhood?

And if there is no justice in your neighborhood, how can there be justice in your county?

And if there is no justice in your county, how can there be justice in your state?

And if there is no justice in your state, how can there be justice in your country?

And, to top it off, if there is no justice in your country, how can there be justice in the world?

As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom.’ (Baha’u’llah).

Without justice, there can be no peace.

So give your little sister her doll back, give your best friend his guitar pick back, and get working on establishing justice in all your relationships.

It’s not about politics anymore: it’s about justice. It’s not about Iran either: it’s about the whole world.

It seems easy for those sitting in the comfort of their own home to shake their heads at what is going on in Iran, and to utter the usual trivial, sometimes judgmental, conversation snippets that seem to almost naturally come out when speaking of such events.

After all, everyone has an opinion about everything, no?

But, my friends, let’s not fool ourselves; even in places that seem perfectly peaceful, injustice exists. We can’t hope to solve any of these problems if we continue judging others and not looking at ourselves. After all, “we must look upon our enemies with a sin-covering eye and act with justice when confronted with any injustice whatsoever, forgive all, consider the whole of humanity as our own family, the whole earth as our own country, be sympathetic with all suffering, nurse the sick, offer a shelter to the exiled, help the poor and those in need, dress all wounds and share the happiness of each one” (quote from ‘Abdu’l-Baha).

While anger and despair at the current situation in Iran, in Africa, in the United States, in Canada – in short, everywhere in the world, make events such at the riots in Iran an unfortunate yet understandable result, is this the best way of channelling our energy? Today’s Iran-related conversations have mostly been angry ones; I, too, have been struggling all day to come up with a post that didn’t turn into biting accusations or yet another needless statement about how terrible the situation in Iran is. We know that. We don’t need to be told the same thing over and over. What we need is to act in a way that will bring about final and definite change.

And while the action needed to bring about such change does need to be drastic, as it involves a deep change in the way we do everything, on a never before seen scale, it does not, however, need to be either violent, nor disrespectful.

Was Gandhi ever either violent or disrespectful?

So keep the information flowing, but don’t stop at facts. Keep exchanging ideas, but don’t judge. And most importantly, keep arising in the name of justice, but don’t let your actions bring it about, either. Most of the billions of people inhabiting our planet agree; we need to unite in our efforts to make our common dream of justice a reality. Because as a very wise 10 year old once told me, you don’t fight fire with fire; you fight fire with water.

Playing for Change: Peace through Music

Seriously – how can a world that produces beautiful things like the video below also produce the cookie-cutter garbage that so heavily pollutes our airwaves?

Yes, Bono is back, lending his voice to yet another musical endeavour meant to raise awareness about our common desire for peace in the world… And, my previous somewhat scathing post notwithstanding, Bono does need to be given credit for putting so much effort into raising awareness. Hopefully these efforts will coalesce into something more than mere words and music.

So what is Playing for Change?

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world. (…)

We built a mobile recording studio, equipped with all the same equipment used in the best studios, and traveled to wherever the music took us. As technology changed, our power demands were downsized from golf cart batteries to car batteries, and finally to laptops. Similarly, the quality with which we were able to film and document the project was gradually upgraded from a variety of formats– each the best we could attain at the time—finally to full HD.

One thing that never changed throughout the process was our commitment to create an environment for the musicians in which they could create freely and that placed no barriers between them and those who would eventually experience their music. By leading with that energy and intent everywhere we traveled, we were freely given access to musicians and locations that are usually inaccessible. In this respect, the inspiration that originally set us on this path became a co-creator of the project along with us! (…)

Over the course of this project, we decided it was not enough for our crew just to record and share this music with the world; we wanted to create a way to give back to the musicians and their communities that had shared so much with us. And so in 2007 we created the Playing for Change Foundation, a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation whose mission is to do just that. In early 2008, we established Timeless Media, a for-profit entity that funds and extends the work of Playing for Change. Later that year, Timeless Media entered into a joint venture with the Concord Music Group through the support of label co-owner and entertainment legend Norman Lear and Concord Music Group executive vice president of A&R John Burk. Our goal is to bring PFC’s music, videos and message to the widest possible audience.

Now, musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope. In addition to benefit concerts, the Playing for Change band also performs shows around the world. When audiences see and hear musicians who have traveled thousands of miles from their homes, united in purpose and chorus on one stage, everyone is touched by music’s unifying power.

And now, everyone can participate in this transformative experience by joining the Playing for Change Movement. People are hosting screenings, musicians are holding benefit concerts of every size, fans are spreading the message of Playing for Change through our media, and this is only the beginning. Together, we will connect the world through music!

Further explore this wonderful initiative here – enjoy!

It’s no wonder that music is one of the easiest ways for us to get over our mental and historical obstacles. In the Baha’i Writings, Baha’u’llah tells us that: “We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high.” The song War/No More Trouble is such a ladder to my soul. I have been having some trouble with colleagues of mine, and the anger and resentment I feel towards them melt away when I listen to this song. It reminds me that my problems, although they aren’t easy to deal with, aren’t as bad as some of the troubles afflicting others. It also gives me the peace of mind and the calmness of heart needed to deal with the situation in a calmer way. I actually have this song on my portable music player – and each time I need to deal with a thorny, emotional situation, I put it on as a form of preparative therapy.

Hmmm. Perhaps world leaders should consider doing so… Wouldn’t World Summits and Peace Talks end very differently if they were forced to listen to music like this?

I need to get in touch with Bono..