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Happy Peace Day

peaceToday is September 21, 2015. It is International Day of Peace.

Never heard of it? That seems to be part of the problem. This is a fabulous idea that needs far more publicity. Maybe catchy slogans would help, or decorations or a little music associated with it. Why? Why not. The idea behind this day should have a deep appeal to all of us. The desire to reduce or eliminate armed conflict spans all faiths, cultures, generations and social-economic groups.

So, what is International Day of Peace?

  1. peace signThis holiday started in 1981. The Secretary-General of the UN traditionally calls for the laying down of arms and a 24-hour cease-fire of all conflicts worldwide. This year Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has done so, adding “Let’s make this International Day of Peace a day without violence, and a day of forgiveness. If, for one day, we can live in a world without aggression and hostility, we can imagine how much more is possible.”
  2. A moment of silence is usually observed at noon (in whatever time zone you occupy.) Candles can be lit, intentions offered, prayers said. The idea is to take a moment and consider the concept of getting along with each other.
  3. International Day of Peace is on Facebook. You can commit to an act of forgiveness, and share it on your own Facebook page or by using #forgiveforpeace. Forgiveness, like so many other human actions, is contagious.
  4. peace 1You will find celebrations of this day in some of the calmest and the most war-torn parts of the world. Two film screenings of movies that emphasize overcoming borders will take place in a UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus. New Zealand is honoring the day with a forum to discuss how peaceful communities are made, while children in Thunder Bay Ontario are singing songs around a peace pole. Are people actually laying down their weapons anywhere? I don’t know. I really hope so.

As to the catchy music, there are a lot of beautiful peace songs out there, but none more poignant than the simple “Let There be Peace on Earth.” YouTube is full of touching videos of this one, but here is my favorite, sung by children. Enjoy, and maybe forgive someone today as you take a moment today to light a candle.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in art for peace, music for peace, peace

 

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Finding Forgiveness in Costa Rica

I’m once again in Costa Rica, experiencing a week of mountain views, fresh food, water and air, and a recharge of the qigong practice that I began a year ago. The week has gone well, and I feel isolated from the troubles of the everyday world. On this last day, our sifu, or teacher, has chosen to focus on spiritual qualities such as gratitude and forgiveness.

Gratitude goes well, but forgiveness hits a glitch. Not everyone defines the word the same. To some it includes an element of reconciliation, forgetting or moving on and several of us agree that defined that way, some acts are unforgivable. We get into a discussion about the meaning of the word, and several well meaning people pull in child molesters, sexual predators, genocide in Africa and, of course, Hitler. I find the images disturbing and enter the next exercise with a churning mind.

beautiful life1Others have been harder hit than me. Two women in the group who identify strongly with their fellow Jews are angry and disappointed at having been pulled into the forgive Hitler discussion. Their reaction is not to be taken lightly. One fled Europe as a child at the start of World War Two, and still bears scars the rest of us do not comprehend. The other has been following the news and is dismayed by an out pouring of hatred in Europe that most of us did not even know was happening.

There are tears and harsh words. Our teacher was using examples he has used dozens of times, meaning no ill will, only trying to make his point. An angry student jumps in to defend him. Stances turn from gentle to hostile. His wife tries to offer an olive branch of no harm intended. A student from Mexico offers understanding. There are examples from the drug wars that would have been just as difficult for him he says. The positions soften just a little.

“Can I have a hug?” Sifu asks the woman who has expressed most of the anger. She hesitates, then stands a little stiffly and lets him hug her. “Hugs all around’ someone says and pretty soon everyone in the circle is hugging every one else, one by one. Eyes meet. Skin touches.Words of understanding are muttered quietly, person to person, until all is soft again.

Nothing we can do will dent the pain that these two women carry, and no one in the group is naive enough to think so. But we have diffused our own little crisis of understanding, and will at least all part with mutual appreciation for each other.

It works for twenty or so people at a mountain retreat. It would never work in the harshness of real life, of course, filled with all of its deep wounds and long-standing fears. Or would it?

For more on my own personal story of my Costa Rica qigong experiences please see
1. Embracing the Yin in Costa Rica,
2. Breathing Deeply in Costa Rica
3. Many Paths in Costa Rica  and
4. Animal Play in Costa Rica

If you would like to know more about qigong, please visit Flowing Zen
Please also visit the Facebook page of Your Beautiful Life and drop off a like for the great image above.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in peace

 

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