The Beautiful

The Beautiful

By Lyla June Johnston

Writing for Peace Young Adviser

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserPART I.

How many times have I seen the most precious beings crouch abashedly in the shadows? How many times have I been one of those precious beings that does not understand her own beauty? I was raised to have a filter over my eyes splitting the world in two: beautiful and unbeautiful, worthy and unworthy, virtuous and un-virtuous. Now I understand that there is beauty, worth, and virtue in all beings and that by honoring this, I am honoring the Creator.

This morning I awoke at dawn, as is traditional for my Diné ancestors. I had a pinch of white corn meal between my fingers and raised it to the horizon. I made my daily prayers for my mother, father, siblings and my niece. I prayed for my friend who was ill and for my other friend who was trying to get sober. All of these things were easy to pray for. And it was easy to see the beauty in my two-month-old niece’s big brown eyes.

But then I did something that may have offended many of my cohorts. I said a prayer for what many would call “the unbeautiful.” I made a solemn prayer for the woman who had recently robbed a family and beat her children, and for the man who first raped me. I said a prayer for a man who had stalked and manipulated me and confessed to me one day that he had once molested his younger sister. I prayed for the people I was raised to hate like Donald Rumsfeld and Mitt Romney. I prayed for those souls who we hold in a red glare of fear and disdain as an experiment in unconditional love.

Once I was told that the Diyin Diné’é see anyone with ten fingers as their beautiful child. No matter what has been done to us or what has been done to others through us, we are seen as beautiful, beloved grandchildren in their eyes.

I thought of the young man who molested his sister and I began to realize that humans are not naturally born this way. In order to convince a human being that it is right to molest another, you must bend and break their spirit in half. I wished I could teleport myself back in time when he told me this story and say to him:

“You know, I really don’t care about how you molested your sister. What I want to know is…Who molested you?”

The Dalai Lama taught us all that you do not have to agree with someone’s behavior in order to pray for them and honor them. A journalist once asked him how he could possibly pray for the soldiers who came into his peaceful kingdom and gunned down Tibetan monks, mothers, and children right before his eyes. His reply was simple: “I pray for them more than anyone else. They are the ones who need it.”

I have been told that by loving and praying for those who have harmed us and the ones we love we are restored to our natural state. It is not only about helping to restore their mental health, but also about restoring our own. It has been said that only by clicking into this state of compassion can we help others and be a hollow bone for the Great Sacred. When we are clogged by the cumbersome emotions of hatred, fear and disdain, our creations will reflect this. Forgiveness is the act of becoming a hollow reed once again for the breath of the Diyin Diné’é. It doesn’t mean that you accept the behavior or that you shouldn’t spend every waking moment of your day working to prevent it from harming more people! It means that you will pray for those who have harmed you as a means of healing them and preventing them from harming others. It means that you are motivated by a patient love for those who are still learning. It means you are steadily marching towards the day when all of the children of the Diyin Diné’é work together in perfect synergy and we have nothing left to do but celebrate our victory over the evil within ourselves.

Truly, I do not think that this young man’s behavior is right. But at the same time I do not believe that his soul is wrong. My most recent hobby is inquiring into the lives of “bad” people and seeing what kind of childhood they had. Criminologists agree that all criminals have one thing in common: a rotten, abusive childhood. I believe that the day that he finds the courage to see the awful things that others did to him is the day he will see that he was trained to harm his sister. Just as humans “break” horses to be subservient and fearful, I have seen humans be “broken” by their home life to the point where they can no longer see what they are: beautiful, precious beings capable of wielding great medicine for the earth.

Indeed, the world began to feed me illegal drugs and alcohol when I was just eleven years old. At this tender age I continued these habits to “take the edge off” of this difficult life. When I was 16 my science teacher found a few remnant flakes of marijuana in my backpack and reported me to the police. I was charged with possession of marijuana and given several months of probation. The system threw me around its convoluted infrastructure, analyzed my urine every month and labeled me a criminal.

From this time on I began to believe that there was something wrong with me and that I was “bad.” By the grace of God, I made my way into Stanford University, but never felt like I really belonged there. I felt like the only reason they let me in was because they didn’t realize that I was “bad.” I never thought to trace it all back to my basketball coach handing me a joint and a beer at the age of eleven. I wish someone had told me as I sat in the juvenile justice hall:

“I don’t really care that you gave pot to other youth. What I want to know is… Who gave you pot?”

It has taken me years to see the truth of my innocence and it pains me to know that many people will never realize their own beauty and innocence. How many precious beings have I seen walking the streets living out the label that someone else placed upon them?!? We just go along with this deafening narrative that, “People who do bad things are bad and once someone is bad there is no reversing this.” In time I came to see that I was never a criminal. I was a poor little girl who got caught in the waves of the drug culture that saturated my hometown.

Now I see the truth! I see that I am a medicine woman and that there are forces in this world that don’t want my medicine to shine. These forces depend on the lies of shame, guilt and fear for their very existence and dwelling place. I see now how these forces worked very hard to sedate, rape and confuse me until I couldn’t see the beautiful being that I was. The Diyin Diné’é take one look at me and say, “This is no criminal. This is a war veteran who has emerged from the sludge and slime to reclaim her medicine; to reclaim her beauty.”

And so this morning I attempted to see the world through the eyes of the Holy People. I would not intentionally place myself beside someone with homicidal tendencies lest they do something that we would both regret. But one thing I will do is cradle them in my prayers. I will speak their name to the illuminated horizon at dawn and ask the Diyin Diné’é to grace their path with love and clarity. They say compassion is the Angel’s gateway. Through our love the Angels, the Diyin Diné’é, whatever your culture calls them, can breach through into this world and help others. It is our prayers, my elders say, that enable so much change in the lives of those we pray for. No I cannot see these beings, but I can feel them as I pray for others and as I write these words.

And so I am praying for all you “unbeautiful” ones. I am praying for the ones that believe that what they have done is so shameful they will never be allowed to “be good people” again. I am praying for all the men and women incarcerated. I am praying for all the crooks and prostitutes. All the rapists and racists. I am praying for all the bent and broken. I pray that we can have the courage to look back and see how this world trained us to be “criminals,” no matter how painful that may be.

I pray that we can see that we are still worthy of taking a hold of our medicine bundles–whether it is made of eagle feathers and sacred songs, paint brushes and canvases, calculators and rulers, keyboards and mice, guitars and drums, spatulas and griddles, seeds and dirt, thread and needle, salons and scissors, tripods and prisms or your voice and a dream–we are all medicine people and we are all given our unique medicine bundles that can be used for love and life, instead of fear and destruction. It is time to break them out from the dusted shelves and reclaim our place as beautiful children of the Diyin Diné’é. No matter what has been done to us, or what has been done to others through us, we can always choose in this moment to be what we are: precious and beautiful Creations.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserPART II.

Beautiful. For centuries we have defined, re-defined and refined its meaning in our personal lives. Like trying to grab water, the word has always slipped my grasp.

Beautiful. The old philosophers played with the concept saying that many of the most beautiful things in life were not even physical objects. Rather, they said, they were ideas or emotions like compassion, brotherhood, sisterhood, courage, equality, etc.

Since birth I was taught a different story… I was taught that the definition of beauty was written from the core of sexual desire. In fact, I was told, I was not beautiful unless men coveted me and women were jealous of me. Growing up in 21st century America is not for the faint of heart. We may live with clean streets and fulfilled material needs, but our spirits are bankrupt and our morals thickly polluted.

I remember sitting on the floor of my room with some magazine designed to market products to teenage girls. I eagerly flipped the pages hoping to discover some special secrets that only these multi-million dollar companies seemed to know. The headlines lured me in: “Have The Best Sex Ever,” “Get Him to Notice You” or “Boost your Butt.” And to think I was reading these things at the ages of eight, nine and ten. Now I see that even if I had been 35 years old, it would have been the same violent assault against the inherent gorgeousness of my body, mind and soul. IF the magazine editors stood before me now I would say with conviction: “I am a child of the Diyin Diné’é! And no matter what my butt size, cup size or eyelashes are, I am SO BEAUTIFUL! Just look at my beating heart…”

I almost want to cry for people who are so frantic to sell their products that they will manipulate and destroy the self-esteem of millions of young women. Indeed, at the age of fourteen I called over 100 people per day as a telemarketer in the suburbs of Phoenix, AZ. I know the woe of being a desperate saleswoman. It was a sad day when I began prioritizing my bank account figure over being honest and compassionate towards humans I didn’t even know…

I wrote the following song, or perhaps it was written through me, last summer in the oakforests of Alabama. I decided to take a few months to myself as I had just gone through a horrific break-up. Music helped me immensely to get through this lonely and confusing time. Although I wrote many songs, only one came as easily as this one did. On the first take it was finished. Things I could have never planned lined up perfectly with the rhythm of the guitar. It seemed that I was able to let go of fear and self-judgment for enough time to be that open doorway for the music to step through. I believe it came to remind us of our true beauty.

It is an assertion that all of the children of Creation are born beautiful and that beauty is first and foremost an intangible love. It is not something that can be sold to us in a 20 oz. bottle or something that can ever be taken away from us. Truly, I have come to a place where it does not matter whether my future husband is 200 pounds overweight. If his heart is in line with the Creator, I would much rather raise children with him than a man with chiseled abs and no idea how to respect women.

This song was written to say that beauty is a free and abundant thing and that at any moment we can choose to possess or dispossess this beauty through our intent, words and deeds. It is my very humble attempt to tell each and every one of my earthen siblings that I love them and that I think your heart is so so BEAUTIFUL.

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www.soundcloud.com/lylajune/the-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world

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The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

When you meet the most beautiful girl in the world,
it will not matter what language she is speaking.

What will matter is what she is saying.

And when you meet the most beautiful girl in the world,
it will not matter who she came with.

What will matter is who she is.

And when you meet the most stunning girl in the world,
it will not matter what she is wearing.

What will matter is why she is there.

And when you meet the most beautiful girl in the world,
it will not matter what is in her wallet.

What will matter is what she has given to the people!

And when you meet the most beautiful girl in the world,
it will not even matter what she looks like.

What will matter is how you feel after you have met and she is walking away.

Beauty is on the inside not on the outside.
Beauty is on the inside, mask on the outside.
What is in the inside? All my women worldwide.
Look into her eyes and you will see what’s on the inside.
The media will misguide. All my people worldwide.
Beauty is on the inside not on the outside.
Beauty is on the inside not on the outside.

About the Author

Lyla June Johnston3Lyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity. Lyla is a founding member of the Writing for Peace Young Advisory Panel. Learn more about Lyla June Johnston here.

Writing for Peace News

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest is closed. Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2014. Submission Guidelines for our 2015 Young Writers Contest will go live on June 1st, 2014.

Writing for Peace Reading and Workshop

Poet Sam Hamill

Reading by Sam Hamill

Writing for Peace: Reading by Writing for Peace Adviser Sam Hamill 6:30 pmThe Practice of Poetry: An Intimate Discussion With Sam Hamill 7:45 pm

Where:  Earlville Opera House, 18 E Main St, Earlville, NY 13332This collaboration presents a unique opportunity to spend time with one of the major poets and cultural forces of our time. Sam Hamill is the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry most recently Measured by Stone and Almost Paradise: New & Selected Poems & Translations.

Seating is limited. Please call 315-691-3550 or email the office to reserve your seats. Refreshments will be served in between sessions.

This Poets & Writers project is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Support Writing for Peace by purchasing a hard copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts for your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Writing for PeaceCopyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

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Nightmares & Dreams

Nightmares and Dreams

The Recurring Storm

Dawn erupts with a screaming deluge
As merciless terror rains down from above
In the distance the long guns thunder, again
And the bloody horizon flashes brightly
With the lightning spit from their muzzles
The bombardment is like an angry earthquake
And in its long rumbling aftermath
Bullets tear across the erupted land
Like sleet driven by a cruel killing wind
He awakes in terror, drenching wet
Seeking shelter from the raging storm
Slowly realizing it is another nightmare
His war has long been over
Yet he still fights it nightly
In the comfort of his bed at home
Where soft dreams come no more

Rollie Mukherjee, Nightmares and Dreams

An Army of Madness

The dune marches relentlessly south
A windswept golden wave of sand
The creeping glacier calves an iceberg
Into the frigid waters of a northern fiord
The spring runoff flows fast and turgid
And the canyon deepens and widens
Raging fire leaps from crown to crown
And the forest readies for regeneration
Lava sputters into the waiting sea
An island grows as the tempest cools

The world forms, unforms, reforms
Changing constantly, building anew
But only man refuses to change
Sitting in his stupor like a great frozen rock
Waging war with his brothers and sisters
In the name if ignorance and intolerance
Hell-bent on his own self-destruction
And the ruination of the changing world

Rollie Mukherjee, Nightmares and Dreams

Tilting at Windmills

How Quixotic to joust with idiots
To suffer fools madly, gladly, sadly
And to keep coming back for more
O when will the peace lovers learn
There are those who love to fight
To bear arms, make war, and kill
We are tilting at windmills to think
That they will ever disarm themselves
For enemies are mere business rivals
There is money to be made from war
Their fat wallets are not yet stuffed full
If only there were a way, some plan
To put them all in one place, fenced
To let them happily kill one another
And to allow the soldiers to go home

Rollie Mukherjee, Nightmares and Dreams

About the Author

Brian Wrixon, Writing for Peace AdvisorBrian Wrixon is a retired business executive who, after serving over 40 years in the financial services industry, now devotes his time to creative endeavors. In addition to writing and publishing his own poetry and prose works, he has been instrumental in assisting hundreds of young and emerging authors from around the world get published, either personally or as contributors to group anthologies. Learn more about Brian and his work here.

About the Artist

Rollie Mukherjee, Artist, Nightmares and DreamsRollie Mukherjee is an independent art critic and artist based in Baroda, India. She has written numerous catalogs, interviews and reviews on art and artists. She devotes her time for the most part to painting and poetry and has participated in a number of group and curated shows, as well as solo shows of her work. Her paintings can be found in collections in India and abroad. Her dissertation for her master’s degree was “Allegory – A Strategic Device”. Her blog can be found at https://theroutes.wordpress.com.

Excerpts from Nightmares & Dreams are reprinted for Writing for Peace by permission. This beautiful collection is offered in both hard copy and Ebook and is available for purchase online here.

Writing for Peace News

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is this Saturday, March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Support Writing for Peace by purchasing a hard copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts for your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Writing for PeaceCopyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Onward Into 2014!

Last year brought growth and many exciting firsts for Writing For Peace. Here’s a brief overview of 2013:

In 2013 our Advisers continued to demonstrate a commitment to peace and the power of writing through their work, their inspirational blog posts, brilliant ideas such as Mary Carroll-Hackett’s educational Facebook page for young writers, MCH-What’s Going On? and Pilar Rodriguez Aranda’s efforts to reach Spanish speaking young writers by translating our 2014 contest guidelines. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Sam Hamill‘s new and revised translated collection of Chinese poetry, Crossing the Yellow River is being published by Tiger’s Bark Press. His Selected Poems (not yet titled) will be published by Lost Horse Press in September 2014.
  • Lorraine Currelley was selected as an Artist-in-Residence for the 2014 Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) and as a new member of the Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers. Her Poets Network & Exchange will publish their first poetry anthology in 2014.
  • Veronica Golos is working on a new book, Root Work: The Lost Writings of John Brown and Mary Day Brown. “Of course John Brown was a great abolitionist and so was his wife, Mary and she also had 13 children. I have Ghost Code poems and Runaway poems also in the book. This is a way to make history live again, to get inside it so to speak.”
  • Richard Krawiec supports a community of writers and activists through education and his ever expanding Jacar Press.
  •  Maija Rhee Devine spoke with young people in South Korea and the United States about her award-winning books, The Voices of Heaven and Long Walks on Short Days, her experiences as a young girl during the Korean War, and her work with Korean Comfort Women.
  • Dr. Margaret Flowers continues her peace and healthcare activism. She currently serves as Secretary of Health on the Green Shadow Cabinet. Her recent article, Major Social Transformation Is a Lot Closer Than You May Realize — How Do We Finish the Job?, is also co-written with Kevin Zeese, and published on AlterNet.
  • Adriana Paramo‘s new memoir, My Mother’s Funeral, explores the volatile relationship with her mother, and their love that defies cultural forces, Bogotá street violence, and Medellin drug lords.

This is just a sampling of the wonderful work all our advisers do. Please watch our blog for their posts, follow their work, and support the poets and authors whose writings and activism encourage a more thoughtful and peaceful world.

In 2014, we look forward to hearing from Board Member Andrea W. Doray, who recently returned from Nepal, and to continued growth – including the occasional review on our blog! On this first day of the New Year, we welcome guest writer, Robert Kostuck, who reviews Adriana Paramo’s memoir, My Mother’s Funeral.

Happy New Year, Writers for Peace! And thank you for your ongoing support!

Adriana Paramo, Writing for Peace AdviserMY MOTHER’S FUNERAL

by Adriana Páramo

CavanKerry Press, 2013, 258 pp., $21.00, ISBN 1-933880-39-2

A Review, by Robert Kostuck

In My Mother’s Funeral, Adriana Páramo slips between her mother Carmen’s life before children, her own childhood memories, and the present—wake, funeral, cremation. Woven into these personal experiences is an omnipresent Columbia: the open spaces of Mariquita, the squalid poverty of Medellín and Bogotá, rival drug gangs, politics, Catholicism, the Communist Party revisited.

Objectivity is difficult to achieve in a book-length essay; Ms. Páramo, however, succeeds admirably—she gently and firmly pieces together the tapestry of the mother and daughter relationship; readers will find common themes presented in even-handed and sometimes startling prose. Her writing is educational without being didactic; emotional without being sentimental.

Politics in Colombia were harsh in the 1950s. Her rarely-seen father, ‘Mr. B’, a cachiporro (liberal), seduces the innocent Carmen, and after the wedding rushes her away from her home—a few hours ahead of the godos (conservatives). First night together is spent in a whorehouse; for the remainder of the marriage Mr. B comes and goes as he pleases, impregnating Carmen and then vanishing for months or years at a time. At one point her sister Dalila acquires a partially-decomposed adult male human skeleton—courtesy of a ‘snatcher’, recommended by the nuns—and together sister and mother boil and clean the bones. Assembled, Dalila receives her coveted A+ in anatomy and the unnamed skeleton literally hangs around the house, a possible replacement for the missing Mr. B.

The baby of the family, Adriana curls up with her mother in the kitchen or in bed, listening to the stories of the world filtered through a tabletop radio: sports, agony aunties, soap operas, tangos, boleros; Carmen singing along with the radio, Adriana, watching her mother “morph into a woman”.

“Tal vez mañana puedas comprender / Que siempre fui sincera / Tal vez por alguien llegues a saber / Que todavia te quiero. Maybe later you might understand / That I was always sincere / Perhaps someone will help you see / That I still love you.”

Childhood for Adriana, is a combination of head-long curiosity and goofy naiveté. Carmen, and to a lesser extent, her sisters, guide and guard the young Adriana. Memory is selective; what Adriana shows us is how this mother shapes her daughters: strict, efficient, economical—she maintains a poor but tidy home and life for her children. Lessons by word or example are rarely repeated; they become the very fibers of her daughter’s body and personality. Toward the end of the memoir, Adriana writes,

“Our financial situation started to improve when we moved to Medellín, and Dalila, Amanda, and Ligia got secretarial jobs that required them to wear nylons, high heels, and modest suits. Eventually they began going back to school at night, but they never stopped working, never stopped rescuing Mom and their two younger sisters from the constant panic of uncertainty. I owe everything I am to the women in my family—to my sisters and Mom. Nobody else.”

This is the heart of the memoir: what a daughter learns from her mother: how to be a girl, how to become a woman; and when that mother begins to fade from autumn into winter, how to become her mother. When Carmen, beset by Alzheimer’s, visits Adriana the wife and mother at her new home in Alaska, she relates a story about her pregnancy with Adriana so at odds with the life lessons she’d imparted over the years that her daughter feels an urge to “. . . jump into the lake and sink slowly into its frigid waters.” The fantastic and heartbreaking revelation adds another thin, sharp layer to this complex mother and daughter relationship.

Returning to Colombia in torn jeans and a gypsy blouse, Adriana arrives at the wake, faces somber and seemingly more mature sisters and a brother. Funerals are holidays for the dead, a time when far-flung family reunite and wonder aloud what went right and what went wrong. Her sisters and brother are emotional but methodical—Adriana feels like the only one with an incomparable loss—the woman who as a child promised her mother that she would always remain her little girl. A few days stretches into a painful eternity, and when the siblings return home to divide Carmen’s possessions, Adriana is nostalgic, then practical:

“I imagine landing in Miami, trying to make it through customs with a fern, a plastic chair, a flyswatter, a river stone, and a broom, and I have to laugh at my childishness. I discard my mental list. Instead I take a pair of earrings that belonged to my grandmother, (. . .) a photo of the six women—my four sisters, Mom, and me—that my brother took the day I left Colombia; the locket with a photo of my daughter that Mom wore around her neck like an amulet. I also seize the printout of Mom’s last EKG, taken two days ago.

“(. . .) I don’t know this yet but in six years I will look at this EKG and realize that the ink is fading away and with it the only existing traces of Mom’s heartbeat. I’ll have it tattooed around my left bicep, much to my family’s dismay, so that her heartbeat and mine will always be together.”

My Mother’s Funeral is the literal translation of that EKG tattoo, spanning decades, continents, and lives; a heartbeat that remains long after we scan the final page and move on into the days to come.

Robert Kostuck, Writing For Peace Guest WriterRobert Kostuck graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Masters in Education. His published work appears in the Kenyon Review, Concho River Review, Zone 3, Tiferet: Literature, Art, and the Creative Spirit, Silk Road, and others.

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Militarism and Violence are So Yesterday: It’s Time to Make Peace the Reality

By Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese

Last week, in our article titled “Armed Drones Becoming the Norm? At the Crossroads of Robotic Warfare,” we wrote about concerns that robotic warfare combined with the global “war on terror” was making violence the quick and easy way to respond to conflicts. We wondered whether the bloody 20th (and beginning of the 21st) century could be put behind us and if the time had come to move to an era of peaceful solutions.

Many factors make this an opportune time to move toward greater use of nonviolent practices. The most obvious, of course, is that the United States and the planet can no longer support American Empire and its endless wars. We cannot continue to spend more than $1 trillion each year on the military and national security state while the basic needs of our population are not being met and our domestic infrastructure is crumbling. The empire economy quite literally is killing us.

And our bloated military is not just killing us and others around the world, mostly innocent civilians, but it is killing the Earth, too. This report published by Project Censored calls the US Department of Defense the worst polluter on the planet. It states: “This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.” And that does not include the private military contractors and weapons industries.

The era of American Empire is coming to an end. The signs are everywhere. Latin-American countries are no longer tolerating bullying tactics by the United States. Obama failed in his attempt to attack Syria. The world leaders at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in October did not seem to mourn President Obama’s absence at all. In fact, the failing Trans-Pacific Partnership shows that the United States is no longer in the driver’s seat of the Pacific economy. And even former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski is lamenting “that American domination [is] no longer possible because of an accelerating social change. … ”

Brzezinski is concerned that growing access to information and popular uprisings are making it more difficult for the global financial elite to control the masses. All around the world, people are standing up to oppressive governments and destructive practices, and they are increasingly doing so with nonviolent tools. The newest data show that nonviolent tactics are not only more popular, but they are also more effective than violent ones and nonviolent struggle is more likely to result in lasting democratic structures.

In the book Crises of the Republic, Hannah Arendt wrote, “The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression … but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.” That is changing. People around the world are putting nonviolent practices to use to create democratic societies and are employing peaceful methods of conflict resolution. It is imperative that we reject imperialism and militarism and make peace a reality.

Creating a Culture of Nonviolence        

We live in a time of transition that some call the Great Turning. Joanna Macy calls it the “essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.” The reality is that our resources are declining and we can no longer operate within a system that demands constant growth and sacrifices people and the planet for profit as capitalism does.

The Great Turning is a period of maturation of our species. Biologist Elisabet Sahtouris writes in Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution that evolution is not linear but is a cycle “of unity to individuation, through which arises conflict, negotiations happen, cooperation is arrived at; and we go to unity again at the next higher level.” If cooperation is not achieved, the species simply goes extinct.

She compares this process to the stages of human development. Essentially, humans are in the adolescent phase. Our task at this stage is cooperation, or as David Korten writes, to go from “violent domination” to “peaceful partnership.” To accomplish this, we will have to shift from a militaristic society to a culture of nonviolence. This will have to be done with intention.

If we look around us, it is easy to recognize the ways that militarism is ingrained in our culture. It is prominent in the games that our children play, especially video games, in television and movies and in the clothes they wear. Children as young as 12 years can attend residential programs that simulate basic military training. Members of the military are treated as heroes everywhere we go. At the airport, they are invited to board the plane first and walk across the red carpet as the “premier” members do. At sporting and cultural events, they are given special recognition.

To counter this deep indoctrination, we will have to be more honest about the role of the military. General Smedley D. Butler, one of the most decorated generals of all time, called war a racket. He said. “I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

We will need to develop new cultural entities, practices and institutions that teach and promote peace and nonviolent practices. We will need to recognize people who contribute to building a more just society as the ones we want to emulate. In addition to the usual people that we think of such as teachers and nurses, we will need to include those who feed the hungry in areas where it has been declared illegal, who stand in solidarity with homeowners who are facing eviction and who lock themselves to heavy machinery to prevent mountaintop removal for coal, pipelines for tar sands and hydrofracking for methane gas.

Recently, we spoke to three people who are actively engaged in building the culture of nonviolence: author-activist-actor Rivera Sun and Stephanie Van Hook and Michael Nagler of the Metta Center for Nonviolence. Sun uses fictional characters to teach the principles of nonviolent resistance. In her newest book, called The Dandelion Insurrection, she uses “fiction to project ahead just around the corner of today” and tell the story of “the transformation we are going through.” The Metta Center provides tools, books and educational events to teach nonviolence.

All three incorporate stories into their work. Storytelling is an integral part of transformative organizing. We all see the world through the lens of the stories we tell ourselves. Stories are so important to us that when people are presented with facts that conflict with their story of the world, they are more likely to reject the facts and insist more strongly that their story is the truth. Our decisions are largely made at the emotional level, and so stories that reach our emotions can begin to shape our worldview in a new way.

Sun studies strategic nonviolence and nonviolent struggles. She incorporates important concepts and themes into her stories. She breaks the concepts down in a way that is easy to understand and remember. For instance, in The Dandelion Insurrection, the phrase “Be kind, be connected, be unafraid” is repeated throughout the story. To hear our interview with Rivera Sun, click here.

The Metta Center provides a movement tool called the Roadmap Compass. It serves the goals of providing a strategy in a way that is also easy to comprehend and shows how the different components of the movement are connected. The top one of the six sections of the Roadmap is “New Story Creation.” Nagler says that if we “formulate the story in a way that is non-threatening” and we each start telling the story in a similar way, then we will reach a tipping point. The Roadmap Compass is an interactive tool that facilitates communication between people who are working on specific areas such as food security, renewable energy or nonviolent conflict resolution.

Practicing Nonviolence

As we learn the principles of nonviolence, we can start putting them into action in our daily lives. Van Hook reminds us that it is as easy as slowing down enough to make some connection to the people we encounter such as when we go to a store. She adds that we can employ nonviolent tactics when a conflict arises. The first step is to recognize the humanity of the other person by making eye contact.

Van Hook coordinates the Shanti Sena Network of peace teams based primarily in the United States and Canada. Specifically, the peace teams are composed of people who work in communities to use “nonviolent ways of resolving conflicts without the potentially violent intervention from ‘law enforcement’ or the military.” In the words of Gandhi, this is a form of constructive program – building alternative systems to replace the old systems that no longer serve us.

To get involved, people can begin by signing the Peace Draft. To start, the only requirement is a commitment to deepen one’s study of nonviolence. Van Hook describes the beauty of the Peace Team is that there is something for everyone to do no matter their circumstances. If a person cannot participate actively in conflict resolution, they can serve other functions such as providing education or support.

Conflict resolution is a growing field. Schools as early as the elementary level are starting to incorporate conflict resolution into their curriculum. And international peace teams are being used in areas of violence and armed conflict. One group that does this is Nonviolent Peaceforce. Its teams are invited by communities to provide assistance in resolving conflicts and protection.

Conflict is complex. A violent approach to conflict resolution only has one tool – domination through force. The nonviolent approach has multiple tools. And instead of being imposed from above, the tools are chosen by the community that is affected. The Peaceforce does not take sides in a conflict. A large part of the Peaceforce’s work is listening to communities to understand the particular complexities of their situation and then applying common-sense approaches. Van Hook writes in more detail about the Nonviolent Peaceforce in South Sudan.

Currently a US-based peace team from Veterans for Peace is in Palestine, where it is building relationships with the Palestinians, who are trying to protect their land from the encroaching Israeli settlements. On its second day, it accompanied local villagers into an Israeli settlement and started playing soccer. When the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) arrived, the athletes invited the young soldiers to join them in the game. The Veterans for Peace spoke to the IDF about their experiences of being in the military and realizing that the wars they were fighting and the orders they were following were wrong. They hoped to develop connections with the IDF and to facilitate awareness of their shared humanity.

Violence is a Sign of Weakness

In her 1969 essay “Reflections on Violence,” Hannah Arendt wrote that “Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent.” She explains that power is derived from the support and consent of the people. When those who are in power are compelled to resort to violence, it is a sign that their power is disappearing. She adds, “Power springs up whenever people get together and act in concert, but it derives its legitimacy from the initial getting together. … ”

One aspect of the Great Turning is moving from a hierarchical/patriarchal society in which people see themselves as separate from each other to a society that is non-hierarchical in which people feel connected to each other. Violence was acceptable in the old worldview because it was felt to be necessary and effective. That is no longer the case. Not only is violence destructive, but when we harm others, we cause harm to ourselves.

At the heart of the practice of nonviolence is the recognition that we are all connected and that we are stronger when we work together and through consensus. Van Hook and Nagler emphasize that being connected does not mean that we are the same. At the surface level, people are different, and that diversity is appreciated. But inside, we are related to each other.

Nagler tells the story of a gay pride parade in Michigan in which a member of a local neo-Nazi group started harassing people at the event. Somebody broke a bottle over his head and peace team members quickly moved in to protect him and bring him safely to an ambulance for care. The man’s partner was so touched by their actions that she said something along the lines of, “I used to hate you people, but now I believe that the same blood runs through all of us.”

It’s time to stop glorifying war and violence and replace them with greater knowledge and practice of nonviolent techniques. It is possible to do. The “Cross-Legged Strike” is one example that occurred in 2006 in a very violent area of Colombia, the city of Pereira. Men in the city joined violent gangs because they believed that it made them more sexually appealing. In response, their female partners decided to teach them otherwise by creating a popular campaign to withhold sex because they preferred to have their partners alive for themselves and their children. The campaign included a popular rap song calling for the men to give up their weapons.

We must similarly act to build a popular cultural campaign against violence. As American Empire declines, we must show the world that we are ready to join the global society as a partner rather than a bully. Our aggression is a sign of weakness and will no longer be effective against the rising tide of nonviolent resistance. Let’s begin in our communities to make to peace a reality.

To hear Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers’ interview “Building a Culture of Nonviolent Resistance for Democracy” with Rivera Sun, author of the newly released book The Dandelion Insurrection, and Stephanie Van Hook and Michael Nagler of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, click here.

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the PopularResistance.org. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication. Reprinted with permission by Dr. Margaret Flowers.

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserDr. Margaret Flowers

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician who left practice to advocate full-time for single-payer health insurance. Despite broad citizen support, Dr. Flowers was stunned by the institutional opposition to the single-payer solution during the national health reform process. In response, she organized protests and was arrested three times for peaceful acts of civil disobedience. Now she is determined to not only change our national healthcare system, but to build an independent, nonviolent broad-based social, economic and environmental justice movement to transform this country. Says Dr. Flowers, “One of the greatest drivers of poor health is wealth inequality.” Learn more about Dr. Margaret Flowers here.

Writing for Peace News

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. Deadline for submissions is November 30th. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

DoveTales For Your Kindle

Manuel A. López, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013 ContributorOur beautiful DoveTales journal is now available for your Kindle through Amazon.com. In addition to all three stories from our first Young Writers Contest winners and the work of prominent advisers and outstanding contributors printed in our first hard copy edition, you’ll also find a new poem, “Occupied Series” by Manuel A. López. Purchase your EBook here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Support Writing for Peace by purchasing a hard copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.
Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Advisory Panel Contributors, Guest Contributors, Peace, War | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark

In order to write for peace, we must first be able to recognize it. Look for peace in the nooks and crannies of your day – in a child’s innocent chatter, a stranger’s smile, the red leaves rustling beneath a maple. We’re celebrating the peace of an autumn day with Artist-in-Residence, Pd Lietz.

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark, Image and words by Pd Lietz

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark

sultry days of summer dim
cool her last tarnished hurrah
as daring strokes of autumn
begin to thread shades of splendour

a regal composition of colours
textures, and astounding knowledge
unequaled is this labor of darwinism
a sense of security, in autumns safe keeping
we trust as we travel through
the dark bite of winter

recognition of this survival mode
an honour many take for granted
endless pathways behind us
setting the pace for those yet birthed
we acclimatize to the environment
the adapting so remarkable its history
marked upon cave walls and birch bark

Poem and Photograph by Pd Lietz ©

About Pd Lietz, Artist-in-Residence

Pd Lietz, Writing for Peace Artist-in-ResidencePd Lietz is a widely published writer, photographer and artist who lives in rural Manitoba Canada. Ms. Lietz was awarded first prize in the United Kingdom Frost Photography International Competition 2011. Her writing, art, and photography have appeared in many publications, and she was responsible for the cover art of many of these. You can view works by Pd Lietz at http://www.pdlietzphotography.com/.

Learn more about Pd Lietz here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

DoveTales On Your Kindle!

Manuel A. López, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013 Contributor

Manuel A. López

Our beautiful DoveTales journal is now available in Ebook format and available for purchase on Amazon.com. In addition to all three stories from our first Young Writers Contest winners and the work of prominent advisers and outstanding contributors printed in our first hard copy edition, you’ll also find a new poem. Our EBook includes “Occupied Series” by Manuel A. López. Purchase your EBook here.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Support Writing for Peace by purchasing a hard copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. Deadline for submissions is November 30th. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Artist-in-Residence, Peace | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Children’s War

ChildrensWar (2)The Children’s War: Poems on Children’s Artwork of War

by Shaindel Beers

 
 

From an eight year old Darfurian girl’s drawing

The tank, bigger than the hut, fires
and all of the colors explode from the hut.
Why is this man green?
Because he is from the tank.
Why is this woman red?
Because she was shot in the face.
And why aren’t you colored in?
Because it is like I wasn’t even there.

~

After a thirteen year old Darfurian boy’s drawing

Women flee from their houses as smoke rises
like terrible angels and men in green herd them
like cattle. What are the men doing to the women?
Forcing them to be wives. Their houses are gone.
Yes, when you are thirteen,
to be a wife is having a house, a man.
But he is right; the women with the soldiers
are warm and brown; their hair flies around them
as they run. The women who will not be wives
are outlines, uncolored, upside down
in the foreground.

~

After a photo of a Chechen girl on a train

I am four, almost five, and I am beautiful.
I have my red hat, my red coat; I ride
on my mother’s lap. People smile at me.
I make them happy. When my mother looks
at them, they look away. My mother has
brown eyes. I have blue. I have only seen
my father in pictures. We have to practice
my mother says. Where are we going?
To visit Grandma in the country.
What will you do there?
Help Grandma gather eggs and be brave
even if the hens peck me.
Ride Doishka, the pony. I look out the window
at the wildflowers speeding by.
And you mustn’t cry says mother if we get there
and there is no Grandma, no pony.

~

About Shaindel Beers, Writing for Peace Guest Contributor

Shaindel Beers, Guest ContributorShaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary. A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Her second collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released in February of 2013.

Author photo by Catching Violet Photography.

ChildrensWar (2)About the book:  In the first half of The Children’s War, Shaindel Beers looks at artwork done by and about child survivors of war, embodying the voices of the children, their families, and the humanitarian aid workers sent to help them. From there, the book opens out into an exploration of the war at home and the war within ourselves, exploring violence in mythology, domestic violence, and the wars that occur, sometimes, within our own bodies. These poems act as a survival guide, showing that hope exists even in the darkest of places and that perhaps poetry is the key to our healing.

Purchase a signed copy through http://shaindelbeers.com or “regular” copies through Amazon, BN.com, etc.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here. And watch our blog for announcements about the soon-to-be-released E-book!

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in Children in War, Guest Contributors, Peace, Violence Against Women, War | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Diminishing The Hatred Between The Two Peoples

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young Adviser

My name is Natan Blanc and I am 20 years old. I live in Haifa, Israel.

When I was 13 my city was hit by missiles during the second Lebanon war. We had only a few minutes to run to the bottom floor every time the alarm was heard. My friend’s house was hit by a missile and was completely destroyed. Fortunately, she was not at home at the time.

When I was 15, another war broke-  the  Gaza War of 2008. My city, Haifa, is in northern Israel. It is close to Lebanon and far away from Gaza. Northern Israel was hardly affected during the Gaza War. Even though my city wasn’t hit, no friends’ houses were ruined, and my life went on as usual,  of the two wars, the Gaza War was far harder for me. The reason was the hatred I suddenly saw all around me.

People were happy when the enemy was hit. People rejoiced every time news came of another bombing, another attack on enemy territory. People were indifferent to innocent lives lost on the other side, indifferent to children dying.

The war was four years before my destined date for joining the Israeli army. I heard my friends saying, “Boy, I wish I were in the army now so I could go and kill those Arabs!”

That was when I learned the real evil of war- it causes death and ruin, but even worse than that is the blinding hatred and demonization it causes between the two sides. The houses ruined by the missiles could be rebuilt, but the hatred between the people will be almost impossible to reverse.

It was during the Gaza War that I decided that I would not  serve in the Israeli army. I decided I will not take part in building up the hatred between the Israelis and Arabs in Israel. I changed my mind a few times in between, but four years later, in November 2012, I reported to the induction base and refused to join the Israeli army. I was imprisoned a total of ten times, spending six months in and out of prison. Eventually, the army tired of me, and I will begin alternative civil service in September.

I don’t know if this conflict in the Middle East will ever end, but I hope my refusal was a small step towards diminishing the hatred between the two peoples.

About Natan Blanc, Young Adviser

Natan Blanc was born in Jerusalem, and moved to Haifa (a major city in Israel) when he was a kid. Haifa is a “mixed” city, with both Arabs and Jews, so he learned about co-existence and peace between people of different religions at an early age. Learn more about Natan here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Israeli Occupation, Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, Peace, Uncategorized, Young Advisers | Tagged | 2 Comments

Searching for directions since 9/11

Another September 11 has come and gone, but our shock and grief lives on. Here’s a real-time look at how 9/11 felt to me…then and now.

Searching for directions since 9/11

By Andrea W. Doray

Tuesday, September 11, 2001: Driving to work, running late. Hearing the news reports breaking into the oldies rock radio station. Listening—breathless, heart pounding—as the description changes from a small plane hitting the Twin Towers to what’s really happening. Speeding up, driving too fast, dodging other dazed motorists. Parking my car frantically at the nearest entrance. Running up the stairs to my office and my coworkers. Scanning the shocked faces, hearing people on the telephone. Calling my own family. Decamping with my colleagues to the conference room. Gathering around the only television in the building. Exchanging sounds of bewilderment. Falling silent, attempting to absorb the events. Supporting those who go home to their families. Learning of AA Flight 77. Wallowing in disbelief. Working with HR to order pizza, lots of pizza, for the hundreds of employees in our organization. Learning of UA Flight 93. Staring, glazed over, at the television, disregarding my responsibilities. Driving home. Running to my neighbor’s door, too shocked, too numb, to cry.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001: Watching in horror, again and again. Learning the extent, the significance. Trying to reach friends, or friends of friends, or family of friends on the East coast. Imagining what it looked like to be there, what it smelled like, sounded like, felt like. Feeling fear, anger, confusion. Sleepwalking, in the daytime.

Thursday, September 13, 2001: Accepting the eerie silence in the skies. Cringing when only the military jets swoop overhead. Reading, watching, listening to the news. Scrutinizing the lists of the victims, the rescuers, the dead, the missing. Holding family close.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002: Finishing the last leg of a cycling trip through the Loire Valley. Being welcomed for the previous two weeks in French homes and chateaus. Accepting warm hospitality. Receiving a map and directions—in French—to our chambre d’hôte when we were lost. Appreciating the gratitude of the people in France for American forces during World War II.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002: Arriving by train in Paris. Dragging my luggage and cycling gear down the sidewalks from the station. Pausing at newsstands where New York is burning on all the front pages. Buying papers and magazines printed in French to take home. Taking photos of smoking buildings on posters in the shops. Stepping in to Notre Dame at noon. Seeing the signs in French: Nous nous souvenons et nous prions! Messes pour les victimes des attentats et pour la paix! Reading the signs in English: Special services in memory of 9/11/2001 – we pray for peace. Stopping at the banks of candles flickering in the shadows. Seeing it propped behind the warm glow against the cold stone blocks of the cathedral walls. Recognizing the red, white, blue. Photographing the miniature American flag stapled to a slim stick. Praying for peace.

September 11, 2013: Imagining what it looked like to be there, what it smelled like, sounded like, felt like. Feeling fear, anger, confusion, and profound sadness. Displaying miniature American flags stapled to a stick in flowerpots on my porch. Holding family close. Searching for a map and directions—in any language. Praying for peace.

 ###

Searching for directions since 9/11  was previously published in Alchemy, and reprinted here with permission.

About Andrea Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberAndrea Doray is an author who serves on the board of directors for the international organization Writing for Peace. Learn more about her work here.

 

 

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Board Contributors, Peace, September 11th | 1 Comment

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

By Martín Espada

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
            for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
            Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant,
            who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza.
Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza.Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, República Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
 
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

“Alabanza” was first published in *The Nation Books* anthology, Poets Against the War. “Alabanza” was contributed by Martín Espada in honor of the tenth anniversary of Poets Against the War and the movement’s founder, Sam Hamill, and is reprinted today in memory of the many tragedies of 9/11.

About Martín Espada

Martin Espada, Writing for Peace Daily PAW Post Guest PoetCalled “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry, a collection published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other books of poems include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received such recognition as the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former tenant lawyer, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Learn more about Martín Espada’s work here.

 

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Daily PAW Post contributor, September 11th | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Transforming the World through Social Media

Uniting for Peace

 Transforming the World through Social Media

By Carmel Mawle

If, like us, you wondered how Facebook’s decision to go public would affect your accounts. Now we know. It’s meant more ads, more data mining, more selling of our private information to governments and corporations, but for those of us who are trying to transform the world through small grass roots efforts, the change has shaken us to the core.

Before the summer of 2012, when Facebook went public, Writing for Peace reached up to 110,000 readers per week. Now, we reach close to 6000.

Two years ago we posted our first Young Writers Contest on Facebook, and were overjoyed to receive entries from all over the U.S. This year, we heard from young writers in 21 different countries. Will this growth continue? I don’t yet know how these new restrictions will translate to practical outreach, but I’m worried.

The bottom line is this: Facebook wants us to pay a minimum of $30 per post in order to “reach an estimated 3,600 – 6,600” people. If we want to splurge, we can choose to reach “an estimated 74,000 – 110,000 out of [our] potential audience of 140,000 people” by paying $600 per post. Facebook is charging for access to the relationships we cultivated over the course of two years through a service they presented as being without cost.

Even if we had the money (which we don’t), I would argue against it on principle. Not a single member of Writing for Peace is paid a dime. Despite the generous donations of friends, family, and the Colgate University Research Council, the website, awards and certificates, postage, and, yes, the full-color printed DoveTales journals are over 90% self-funded. It’s a stretch, but if we were flush, we would want those funds to go toward the young writers, scholarships, workshops, journals, and more journals.

Not Facebook.

Like delicate strands braided into an indestructible rope, we are a powerful force when united. Facebook has been lauded as a tool for creative connections and revolutions. It made possible the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements, and allows the dissemination of information from outside the corporate media – a truth that has governments shaking in their jackboots. This drive to monetize our relationships is reflective of a corporate mentality directly opposed to grassroots efforts like Writing for Peace.

If you’ve read this far, you are already committed to changing the world – and probably wondering what you can do to help. Believe it or not, you can make the greatest impact not by sending money (though we wouldn’t object), but by spending a few minutes every day on behalf of those causes you are committed to. Take the time to check our Facebook page frequently. Invite your friends to like our page and subscribe to our blog. If you appreciate a post, hit the like button. Leave a comment. Share our posts on your page. And while you’re at it, mention our Young Writers Contest to your kids’ teachers and email us for free bookmarks to share. These small things make a HUGE difference in our outreach, and we are grateful to each of you who already make a consistent effort on our behalf.

This is a collaboration, and you are essential to this experiment. As the world teeters on the brink of another war, help us spread a culture of peace.

Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace and serves as President of the Board of Directors.Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace, and serves as president of the Board of Directors. Carmel is a member of the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her short story, Jamila, is featured in Smokelong Quarterly. www.smokelong.com.

 

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Take Action on Syria

Write your Representatives: Prevent an Attack on Syria Now

Hit the Streets: Americans Don’t Want A War in Syria—And They’re Working Hard to Prevent One, by Kevin Zeese and Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Board Contributors, Take Action | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments