Thank you for your inspiring letter and question, What are the roots of
peace? It's fantastic to hear from you in Sri Lanka. I share with our
lab's group for Global Villages http://www.globalvillages.info
we've started to think more about peace villages and nonviolent change.
I share with our Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian group
where we hope such
thinking might flourish, as with Franz Nahrada's dream for an "El Camino
Real", a route linking peace villages, throughout the Balkans. I also
share with our Arabic group
where I am delighted to
hear from Hanan Taha and look forward to starting a dialogue with her
help. I share with our holistic helping group, too.
I also want to alert you that we're making progress setting up our
Online Learning Environment. Helmut Leitner helped me to set up ProWiki
and start to customize it. I will be
collecting Principles, Patterns, Case Studies, etc. as related to open
learning of community currency design.
As we discussed, from the funds that WICC has provided, I am dedicating
300 USD for support of a community currency to help us collect
Principles, Patterns, Case Studies related to community currency in the
very broadest sense. I have decided to set up two Fellowships. Our first
Research Fellow is George Christian Jeyaraj, a Tamil who came to
Lithuania seven years ago as a refugee. His key concept is "helping
others" and his investigatory question is "How can we help others?" I
will coach him as he pursues his question. Also, he will assist at our
laboratory. Our aim is that he learn how to help Janet Feldman and
others at the Holistic Helping working group. Also, he will help us as
an organizer in Lithuania. But furthermore, he will be available to help
all of us who are accumulating time awards at our lab. For example, he
has web programming skills with which he can help Jeff Buderer at
OneVillage.biz I will help him learn how to organize content online at
our wikis, too. His time will serve as a backing for a time-based
community currency which we will award to those who help with our Online
Learning Environment. So I will award him 200 Lt per months, plus
authorship taxes, for two months for this part-time work, for a total of
I also hope to chat with Samwel Kongere in Kenya, if he would likewise
be interested to serve us as a Research Fellow. If so, I will be able to
award him $50 per month for two months of part-time work pursuing his
key concept of "motivation through sacrifice", his investigatory
question "How I can find for Myself and live Comfortably while helping
others?", also helping Janet and others at Holistic Helping, and working
on projects for those who earn our community currency. Adding the $25
for wiring the money, the total would be $125.
I'm trying out such an economic model because I believe that George,
Samwel and other such independent thinkers in depressed areas are our
great resource, and that we can effectively use our cash by providing
them some stability with flexible part-time work. By funding them we are
making them available to all at our lab who have projects, and so we are
encouraged to contribute to projects such as our Online Learning
George can be a great help in our desire to contribute to peace in Sri
Lanka, and Samwel can help us address the bird flu in Kenya, and there
are many more possibilities. We can dream!
John, thank you for helping us dream out loud!
+370 (699) 30003
The Roots of Peace
Trincomalee, North East Sri Lanka, February 2006. A war zone. One year
after the tsunami’s own trauma from the deeps failed to stop the war,
another outbreak of peacemaking begins. The power brokers gather at
Geneva, Sinhalese and Tamils, Norwegians and Swiss, to look for the
words that will silence the guns for good.
And still the universal question: What are the roots of peace?
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Executive Director of the Sri Lankan Sarvodaya
movement, addresses young people who have come together from all over
Sri Lanka for a special meeting at Trincomalee – ‘Compassionate Youth
Gathering’. These 650 young leaders represent Sinhalese, Tamils and
Muslims. Trincomalee is chosen because it has been at the heart of the
conflict and is still a place of great tension.
He tells them that the taproot of peace is Consciousness. Conflict is
seeded in the mind of the individual, grows in the family and flowers in
the community. Until we see into these roots in our own minds we will
not have peace.
On the road to Trincomalee the soldiers were busy patrolling the
highway, looking for bombs by the wayside. They were on alert, they were
organised, they were thorough. You could feel the danger. They were
preparing for war.
So we prepare for peace just as thoroughly by practising it, moment to
moment, day after day, year on year, in our hearts and in our lives. As
the Sarvodayan slogan, borrowed from the US civil rights movement, goes:
“There is no way to peace, peace is the way.”
They also say: “We build the road and the road builds us.”
And yet this is not enough to make peace stick. The second root of peace
Power too begins in the mind. When I understand my own power to think
and act, when we understand our power to think and act together we
co-create new realities. We transform the world with our thoughts. We
learn that peace is not in the gift of one man or woman, one group, one
block but that the power for peace is shared by all, awakened by all in
And even this is not enough. The third root of peace is Economy. If I
transform my consciousness and if we learn to share our power for peace
this is a good foundation. And for peace to last each one needs the
chance to earn a livelihood, access to the means of production to
support their families and communities – social and economic justice.
When these three roots, Consciousness, Power and Economy are watered
daily, then the tree of Peace grows tall and strong.
The young leaders listen to Dr. Vinya respectfully and then share their
thoughts – Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim alike. They talk of their shared
humanity across the imaginary boundaries of language, ethnicity and
religion. They talk about their dreams for building a world together.
After lunch a special ceremony began as leaders of the Sarvodaya
movement laid the foundation stones of a new centre for peace and
reconciliation. This building will bring together all of the religious
groups under one roof into a multi-faith centre for worship, study and
training, one of the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Each stone was laid
with flowers blessed by a chanting priest. So the road to peace can be
strewn with flowers too.
In the evening Dr. AT Ariyaratne, founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana
movement, entered into conversation with the young people. They talked
about their experiences of conflict, their hopes and their fears. Some
talked about terrorists and killers. Dr. Ari asked them not to use these
words and invited them instead to learn the practice of compassion for
all. More than once in his life he had faced men with guns who wanted to
kill him and was able to ‘disarm’ them with compassion. The army had
offered to ‘protect’ him when attending this event because they said his
life would be in danger.
He preferred to carry on his moment to moment practice of loving
kindness towards all beings and take his chances.
Then the party. Not a drop of alcohol in sight, nor the sniff of any
drugs, just a sandy field, a few spotlights, a simple sound system, an
enthusiastic audience and some great young performers showing off their
dancing, singing and acting skills. One short play showed the characters
battling with their collective shadow, who ended up beneath their feet.
Peace is not passive but the passionate engagement with our deepest
energies, the endless quest for balance.
The food for the whole event was provided by the two warring parties,
the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers), as though they both
recognised that this space needed to be nurtured and protected, as
though these young people offered them hope of an end to war and the
realisation of their own nobler dreams as soldiers.
The following day an army of umbrellas and a regiment of T-shirts and
baseball caps, bearing the Gandhian slogan ‘Ahimsa’ to remind them of
non-violence, braves the heat of the tropical sun to walk 3 miles, then
sit surrounded by banners of peace in a football field to practice
loving kindness meditation – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims together.
After every speech the Sarvodayan handclap – Ta-Ta-Ta, Ta-Ta-Ta, Ta, Ta,
Ta – a sign of respect and an anchor for peace. After every event the
Sarvodayan song to remind each one of the ultimate goal: the awakening
The leaders gathered at Geneva for peace may come to understand the
truth that there is no way to peace because peace itself is the way. If
they need any lessons they might just drop in on a Sarvodaya gathering
one day. Sri Lanka’s young people have come together to ignore the
man-made boundaries others would maintain and patrol. May their faith be
rewarded with peace at last and may peace prevail on earth.
By John Rogers, trustee of Sarvodaya UK, who was visiting Sri Lanka at
the invitation of Sarvodaya.
John Rogers wrote:
>Sitting in the tropical heat - well air-conditioned actually - in a little internet shop in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, heart of the war zone. Soldiers on every street corner. Just attended an amazing gathering of young people from all over the country who want peace. Organised by the 50 year old Sarvodaya Shramadana non-sectarian movement. Here, the creation of a truly participatory society is really the difference between war and peace, life and death for many. Let's hope their peace talks at Geneva this week succeed.
>If you want to know more I have written a little article about it deposited at the yahoogroups site.
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