I feel that it is important to begin by saying this is not spam. This note actually comes from me. And no, I do not intend to make a practice of sending these but I felt compelled to do it this one time.
It was not that long ago that the world was celebrating the end of the cold war. The Berlin wall had fallen, it was the era of Glasnost, Apartheid had ended and there was peace in Northern Ireland. All of these were seemingly impossible. Now we have the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, terror hijackings and suicide bombings, Israel is stepping up to full scale war with its neighbours and India has just experienced a most tragic loss of life because of suicide bombings on their subways. Violence is everywhere and one cannot help but be consumed by it; and in being consumed by it, we become an agent of violence in some small way. There is a general malaise and a sense of helplessness that has taken over. How do we respond to such cataclysmic events? The age old question is how can one person make a difference?
A noted Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his excellent book, “Being Peace,” that if you want peace you have to be peace. This is an internal state not simply an outward show. The Christian’s might suggest that you have to turn the other cheek. Ghandi observed as well that the Koran held that,” self-restraint is dearer to God than violence.” But how do you make a statement, a peaceful statement, that is empowering, and yet not a use of force. I believe that Ghandi had the right idea when he led India to independence through a non-violent revolution. The message of peace is a world wide tenant, upheld by almost all religions.
The Action (My Modest Proposal):
I propose that we take back September 11th, from those who would have it be a marker for despair, hatred, intolerance, and violence. I would see us turn this day into a truly spectacular marker that eclipses anything that agents of destruction could have ever dreamed possible. In short, I would like to see us all create a world wide phenomenon when the world stood still in peace together. I believe that this is possible through the power of the internet and I believe that the day should be Monday, September 11th, 2006, the 5th anniversary of the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York. On this day we would mark the day as a day on contemplation and meditation or prayer. Observe the day by not shopping, avoid scheduling any meetings, if you have meetings now then reschedule them, if you can take the day off work then please do so, turn off all TV and radios for the day, do not buy or read newspapers or expose yourself knowingly to any reports that will have reports of violence. If you own a paper and must print, then chose to edit out violence for this one day. Likewise if you are in an employment that you must attend then find a way to make that day a hallmark of non-violence. It should be a day of family and friends, host a party and make being peace the theme. And at the end of the day please take your party, or go alone or with a group to the public spaces that make up your community and take part in a world wide candle lit vigil from 8-9pm.
How you can help spread the message:
The obvious way is by forwarding this to everyone (and I mean everyone) on your email tree. But don’t just forward it, make sure people know it is from you and even personalize it with a paragraph at the beginning. Share your convictions. If you speak and write another language, then please help me by translating this into those languages and forwarding the message where it can be picked up and passed on. If you have a blog or some other web forum, then please add this message. Print this off and put it up in the office lunch room or in the window of your shop. Make sure you add the title Being Peace, so that people will begin to recognise this message everywhere they go. Make this your own, be a leader.
Even if the tanks don’t stop, and the bombers don’t stop and the gangs are still shooting; you will have taken a positive step. It is a step that is self affirming and will either confirm your own direction for a better world or fundamentally change your direction in such a way as to have lasting and positive affects on you and all who come in contact with you including family, friends, and perfect strangers. You will feel empowered and it will say to you and others that you have a choice; you can go a different way. It becomes a peaceful pebble in the shoe of the world, or a chink in the track that derails a run away train.
But remember picking one day is not to suggest that we only think or act peacefully once. It is a day when we can all come together and we can take a day marked for tragedy and terror and remake it into something about connection and Peace. It would be a powerful message if this became a world wide phenomenon!!
To those who have read all of this, I thank you for your time. To those who intend to forward it or act as a result of it, then the world thanks you.