In crisis and danger -- as in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent -- help can come from anyone, anywhere, any time.
Yet, instead of seeking the
"new" by asking deeper questions, peoples threatened and in distress
commonly choose "sides," reject reflection from the
"outside," and circle back to old, familiar -- disastrous --
leaders and ways.
Recycled, obsolete survival mechanisms of the tribe like blame, defensiveness, and violence -- the ultimate arbiter, the assured failure.
The easy, non-distinctive way of limited identification -- experiencing only one's own pain, problems and demands.
Violence -- in all its inhumane forms -- becomes the easy response, the defeat of courage.
Force is the failure of creativity, the tragic rejection of imagination, the substitute for a solution and human relationships.
who reject violence and seek out "the enemy," one source of creative
ideas and new ways of relating "beyond war" is the information-full,
experience-rich Web site of the new National Coalition for Dialogue and
It's resources and growing web of people are always there for you at:
And be assured that the
"public peace process" itself is growing across Earth and deepening.
One distinctive example is the traditionally "enemy" Pakistani and Indian youth who would not be denied from meeting one another this summer.
Read below excerpts of recent e-mail from Kavita Ramdas, about Kashmiri and Indian young people -- ages 15-21 -- who "moved heaven and earth" to gather outside Karachi, Pakistan for 12 days and have "dared to challenge this status quo."
Kavita writes from South Asia: "The Youth Initiative for Peace (YIP) is a small but courageous effort by youth to confront the bankrupt ideologies of nationalism and chauvinism and to dream of a future where there can be both peace and justice for the peoples of India, Pakistan, and all our neighbors. . ."
She said that these "30 students, teachers and activists who participated in YIP demonstrated that they can 'imagine' and begin to create a world that values co-operation, understanding and tolerance, over bigotry, narrow patriotism, and competition.
Kavita Ramdas receives e-mail at ( Kavita@GlobalFundForWomen.org ).
Perhaps the "cultural creatives" -- Innovators and Early Adopters --
among Palestinians and Jews will take heart from these youth from another
And maybe these young people from both regions will communicate, even meet, in the spirit of Dialogue, and together discover a higher social intelligence that is there, available, waiting to be found and lived.
From Kavita Ramdas, CEO, Global Fund for Women:
Warm Greetings from the Indian sub-continent, where I am combining a little work for the Global Fund with a personal visit home to family and friends.
As an Indian married to a Pakistani, my loved ones live on both sides of one of the most hotly contested borders in the world. In our history, India and Pakistan have fought 3 bloody wars, destroyed the hopes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, and engaged in a terrifying contest of nuclear bravado.
For the past 2 years, it has been impossible for common people to cross this border by road or by rail, or even to fly directly from a city in India to a city in Pakistan or vice-versa. Instead, it currently takes almost 15 hours for those few who can afford it to fly via Dubai or Qatar to the other country.
During this period, the leaders of both countries have massed troops on the border, threatened war, and accused each other of sponsoring terrorism.
Diplomatic relations were just re-established this month --a sad state of affairs and a legacy of hatred that continues more than fifty-four years after India and Pakistan gained their independence from Britain.
Yet, I write to you with an irrepressible sense of hope and possibility, for I have just spent 12 days in the company of a group of young people (ages 15-21) from both India and Pakistan who have dared to challenge this status quo.
The Youth Initiative for Peace (YIP) is a small but courageous effort by youth to confront the bankrupt ideologies of nationalism and chauvinism and to dream of a future where there can be both peace and justice for the peoples of India, Pakistan, and all our neighbors Kashmir, Nepal, Tibet, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Iran.
During the course of the 10 day camp, hosted by the Textile Institute of Pakistan, outside Karachi, Pakistan, the 30 students, teachers and activists who participated in YIP demonstrated that they can "imagine" and begin to create a world that values co-operation, understanding and tolerance, over bigotry, narrow patriotism, and competition.
Pakistani hosts, none over the age of 19, moved heaven and earth to ensure that visas were granted to visiting Indian students, that airlines donated the costs of air-tickets and that a suitable venue was found to host the event. Their Indian counterparts ensured that a truly diverse group of students made it over the border not just privileged English speaking kids from elite schools, but a young woman from the old city of Hyderabad, an indigenous "adivasi" from a tribal community in Andhra Pradesh, a young man from a working class family in small town Maharashtra.
In a tribute to the recently reestablished bus service between Lahore and New Delhi (a fragile thread that has just reunited the people to people links between these two countries) the camp produced a 10 minute feature film entitled "Bus Enough." The pun in Hindi/Urdu ("bus" means enough in both languages) was not lost on the audience!
The participants working together in four groups wrote the script, directed, acted, composed and performed the music the message was loud and clear we know what we need to get along, we are not interested in repeating the mistakes of our parents and grandparents, but we want to learn from their experience, and we are willing to take a stand for peace and justice. In the words of their own composition, "Hum jo Aman pe Yakeen rakhtein hein, pane tak na tahrangay" (We who believe in peace and justice will not rest until they come).
Their spirit was infectious from bus drivers, to cafeteria workers, to airport officials, reporters of the press corps, to their parents and friends, indeed in all of us who interacted with them the light of hope and reason seemed to burn a little brighter and stronger within each of our hearts as we watched their dreams take shape.
I was meeting and interacting with Global Fund grantee groups in Pakistan at the same time and was delighted and encouraged when every one of them mentioned the newspaper articles about YIP. They all said the same thing, "we have more faith in our own efforts when young people like this are willing to take risks and stand together."
So do I. This faith helped me cope a little better with the other realities that are harsh and unrelenting about life in South Asia the overwhelming poverty and economic hardship most people must bear, the huge gulf between "the have and have-nots," the continued violence against women and girls, and the growing anger and alienation expressed by common people in the streets about the role of the United States government in the world. There is plenty to do, but that is certainly reason to keep hope and faith alive in these times, indeed, sometimes it is all we have.