Archive for September, 2011

The Power of Photographs

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

The Power of Photographs

by P. K. McCary

“A picture is worth a thousand words—in every language.”

Words are powerful. What we say and how we say it can change the course of history. With that reality, if words can motivate and mobilize, then a photograph could change the world. The idiom a picture is worth a thousand words provides unique opportunities for peacemaking. In the right hands, a camera becomes a tool for inspiration and change.

Photographs have influenced history. While it is recognized that the power of a particular photograph may depend on the viewer, it is also known that photographs that have the greatest impact are those that tug on the consciousness of the other. In other words, when a photograph brings about understanding across cultural, racial or even religious biases, it becomes a tool for peacemaking.

In the summer of 2010, a young Middle Eastern man and an older African American woman met and got to know one another. After more than 8,000 Skype messages between them in the course of a year, they designed a photographic competition to honor peace work. The call first went out to those who have participated in venues, events, moments of inspiration and times of hope that makes the work of peacemaking so compelling. But this is not just a photograph competition for peacemakers, but those who would become peacemakers.

The competition entitled 1000 Kalema is the Arabic translation for 1000 “words”.  The idea behind this competition is that a picture is not only worth a thousand words, but that that these photographs can help bring to the world the narratives of the voiceless as well as help to create opportunities for dialogue and understanding.

When a peacemaker is asked why he or she participates in work that includes faiths or cultures not their own, working across the continental divides to bring justice and healing to others, you will find hundreds, perhaps thousands of answers. 1000 Kalema offers those who do “Believe in Peace” a chance to capture those reasons and share it with the world and for those who doubt the same chance. To capture your view of the world through a camera lens provides a chance for discovery. And what will be discovered?

With this competition, the philosophy of building cultures of peace, justice and healing become a reality. The pictures can represent the best of our world, insight into the myriad of inspiring ways we can accomplish of goals of peacemaking, interfaith cooperation, and building bridges of harmony. Still, on the other side, photographs can identify areas of conflict and despair with the hope that acts of violence and conflict can be transformed.

1000 Kalema represents what happens when people cross those various barriers of discord and conflict to work together. When two unlikely allies forge a positive intercultural relationship, well, something miraculous happens. Creating 1000 Kalema represents the time spent together getting to know one another and partnering for a unique experience. The competition is designed to be an effective tool to bridge the gap between those who experience conflict and violence and those who desire to work towards resolving conflict and ending violence.

Some have asked what constitutes a picture of peacemaking and the answer is that there isn’t one idea or one type of picture. A picture can be about people, places, and cultures. A photograph of a sacred space, a beautiful ceremony and a delightful celebration can provide an image that becomes a moment of inspiration, poignancy, or epiphany. It can change the way others view the world.

Photographers are given an opportunity to explore their creativity and to explore those “reasons” of commitment and of understanding the world through the prisms of beliefs, understanding and experience. Are these moments capturable? And once captured, will they—can they—change the world?

1000 Kalema is not just a competition. It is becoming a tool for discovering the ways we can view the world. Moreover, it is a tool that translates into every language or culture. The questions raised when one looks through a lens of camera are many. Will they impact the work of those committed to the journey, the dream and inspire those who have yet to experience a world of inclusiveness? Will they inspire those who sit on the fence, who want to become involved, to build community? The grand idea behind this competition is that images can change the world.

At the core of it all, we believe that it will because we know that it has.

www.1000kalema.org


P.K. McCary
URI Global Council Secretary
Host of The Peace Hour

IDP Call to Action by Audri Scott Williams

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

13 Moon Walk for Peace Logo

Yesterday was a day filled with synchronistic experiences for the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace. We began our day moving from Wilson to Raleigh, NC in the rain. We were heading to Raleigh to join with Project Ricochet’s Yoga in the Park for the International Day of Peace. After a great opportunity to stretch for peace we  met with Abeni El – Amin, the CEO and director of Project Ricochet and video taped her doing her “That’s My Peace”. Then it was on to the Community UCC gathering to see the video, “Globalized Soul” (the video was named the “Featured Film” for The UN International Day of Peace) and to share about the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace. The video was inspiring and thought provoking. The group gathered was diverse and loving.

We returned to our RV’s around 9:30pm for our prayer circle that we do every night. As we concluded the circle. I received a text message that the State of Georgia had executed Troy Davis at 11:03pm. I was at first stunned because we were told earlier that there was a stay of execution. After sitting with the realization a while, I soon moved to a place of realizing that his execution was actually a call to action.

Every year now on the International Day of Peace, I will remember Troy Davis and all of the innocent men and women of color (e.g. Leonard Peltier, Mimia abu Jamal) and the poor — serving time for crimes they did not commit, all of those who are on death row, and those serving life sentences. This day will remind me that we must not simply sit by and accept the disparities that exist in our society without lifting our voices to speak truth and to act in accordance with what is right and just.

There was a time when the fear of an external power destroying our nation was a great motivator for war. I am concerned that the gross disparities affecting the poor and people of color is creating a war on our own citizenry while we posture peacemaking as a call to war with other nations. Perhaps I am treading on dangerous ground but PEACE is PEACE and this is the time to replace injustice with justice, hate with love and fear with faith.

There is a great opportunity looming before us to affect an evolved humanity. It will require our prayers, our hearts and our action to birth. So while we gather in familiar circles where we feel safe and supported, let us remember that change will come when enough of us are willing to step outside of our comfort zone to help somebody, to get to know somebody through their life story, to discover the core values we all share and from that take the first steps forward toward a world built with the mortar of love and stones of compassion.

Let us not be betrayed by our silence. May the peace within blossom forth in courageous acts of love until peace prevails on earth. In the words of a great bumper sticker given to me by Pk, “God bless the whole world, no exceptions!”
In Peace & In Love,

Audri
www.audriscottwilliams.com
www.13moonwalk4peace.com
www.communitiesofpeace.ning.com

One Day of Peace, Lifetime of Action

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Dear URI family,

One Day of Peace, Lifetime of Action

It gives me great pleasure to communicate with you today in the world’s day of peace, although a 24 hours of celebration but we are bearing the responsibility as peace workers to spread the message across the world all over the 365 days of the year.

“My experience of conflict is that those who are involved in it long for even a day of peace. To have a day of cessation of violence, that to me is an idea whose time has come.” In this short and clear words Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed her self in a filmed meeting with Jeremy Gilley.

Speaking about peace, human rights, non-violence education is becoming dull in a world that is experiencing 33 conflict zones including 12 major civil and cross-regional wars with more than 1000 deaths per day!  But what does this is really mean for us? does it mean to stop working for peace? Definitely not, On one hand, it rings a bell of a reminder on the significance of our work and its nobility and on the other hand, it rings a bell of the necessity of developing the strategy of working for peace and human rights.

Peace is not just a word to be said in a chat box or statement to be announced in a fizzy political speech and not even a book to be published by the most famous peace activist in the world, it is rather a spirit that we all need to experience within ourselves before we communicate it to others. It is as simple as it is written in five Latin characters but as important as water to our life’s sustainability.

I am writing these words while I am in Alexandria, the Mediterranean city of Egypt, writing these words while watching the sea waves following each others in a very nice harmonic way and jumping up high like a happy child!!…  How I wish  to see the world is as harmonic as the sea waves.

In this occasion I would like to invite you all to check our newly added Calendar on our Multiregion website “Religion Festivals Calendar”; in which you will find all the religious festivals sorted by date with a short description for every event. We encourage you to take a look over the calendar and welcoming you very much to make the maximum possible use of it in the most appropriate way you think its good for your inter-faith dialogue work.

I would like also to take this opportunity to invite you all to follow our CCs activities for the International Day of Peace on the News section on our website. Our CCs in different spots in the world are working hard along with thier partners to make our world a better place to live in, lets all wish that we celebrate the IDP of 2012 while the world is really becoming a better place. Lets make it a One Day of peace, Lifetime of Action.

Best Regards,

Abdallah Hendawy, on behalf of URI Multiregion Team

Dear URI family,

One day of peace, Life time of Action

It gives me great pleasure to communicate with you today in the world’s day of peace, although a 24 hours of celebration but we are bearing the responsibility as peace workers to spread the message across the world all over the 365 days of the year.

“My experience of conflict is that those who are involved in it long for even a day of peace. To have a day of cessation of violence, that to me is an idea whose time has come.” In this short and clear words Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed her self in a filmed meeting with Jeremy Gilley.

Speaking about peace, human rights, non-violence education is becoming dull in a world that is experiencing 33 conflict zones including 12 major civil and cross-regional wars with more than 1000 deaths per day!  But what does this is really mean for us? does it mean to stop working for peace? Definitely not, On one hand, it rings a bell of a reminder on the significance of our work and its nobility and on the other hand, it rings a bell of the necessity of developing the strategy of working for peace and human rights.

Peace is not just a word to be said in a chat box or statement to be announced in a fizzy political speech and not even a book to be published by the most famous peace activist in the world, it is rather a spirit that we all need to experience within ourselves before we communicate it to others. It is as simple as it is written in five Latin characters but as important as water to our life’s sustainability.

I am writing these words while I am in Alexandria, the Mediterranean city of Egypt, writing these words while watching the sea waves following each others in a very nice harmonic way and jumping up high like a happy child!!…  How I wish  to see the world is as harmonic as the sea waves.

In this occasion I would like to invite you all to check our newly added Calendar on our Multiregion website “Religion Festivals Calendar”; in which you will find all the religious festivals sorted by date with a short description for every event. We encourage you to take a look over the calendar and welcoming you very much to make the maximum possible use of it in the most appropriate way you think its good for your inter-faith dialogue work.

I would like also to take this opportunity to invite you all to follow our CCs activities for the International Day of Peace on the Newssection on our website. Our CCs in different spots in the world are working hard along with thier partners to make our world a better place to live in, lets all wish that we celebrate the IDP of 2012 while the world is really becoming a better place. Lets make it a One day of peace, Life time of Action.

Best Regards

Abdallah Hendawy, on behalf of URI Multiregion Team

International Day of Peace Greetings from Charles Gibbs

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Dear Friends,

Greetings of love and peace.

As I write, the sun is shining out my office window on Tuesday, 20 September 2011, and our sisters and brothers in Australia are awakening to the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2011.

So, I write to wish all the members of URI’s global community a blessed IDP.

While we all yearn for peace, and the justice and healing that must necessarily accompany it, we have different ideas of the specific actions that we believe will lead to peace, justice and healing.

Acknowledging the many causes of division and violence in the world, and the many forces working for peace, justice and healing, I believe there may be no more symbolically important focus at this moment in the quest for peace than the drama unfolding at the UN in response to the Palestinian demand to be recognized as a sovereign state with full rights of participation.

I am not a student of the intricacies of international diplomacy or of Middle East policy; but I am someone who cares deeply that my sisters and brothers who are Palestinian and Israeli might live together in peace and be a model of peace for a world so weary of violence and so desperately in need of cooperative efforts to address the urgent needs of our Earth community.

There has been so much talk over the past several years about a two state solution to the crisis in the Middle East. It seems obvious that for there to be a two state solution, there must be two states. I trust that reasonable, peace seeking people can disagree about the best course for achieving two states living side by side in peace, in a region at peace.

My prayer is that the deliberations at the UN around the Palestinian demand speed the day when Israel and Palestine, two sovereign states, live in peace as neighbors and offer the world a model of cooperative effort for the mutual benefit of their respective citizens, the larger MENA region and our world.

This past Sunday, 18 September 2011, marked the 50th anniversary of the untimely death in a plane crash of Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN’s esteemed second Secretary General. In his remarkable book of reflections, Markings, Mr. Hammarskjöld said:

I don’t know Who — or what — put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone — or Something — and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

My prayer, on this International Day of Peace, is that more and more members of the human community say Yes to the goal of dedicating their lives to peace, justice and healing. I pray this spirit informs deliberations at the UN, in the Middle East, and all over the world.

I close with another quote from Dag Hammarskjöld that means a great deal to me personally:

You are not the oil, you are not the air — merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are merely the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency — your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end and remain purely as a means.

I wish each of you and our world a blessed IDP.
Faithfully,
Charles

The Rev Canon Charles P. Gibbs • Executive Director URI

IDP announcement of UN webpage

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Dear URI Members,

The United Nations has just opened the International Day of Peace website for 2011.  I encourage you to go to it to read about this year’s theme, Peace and Democracy:  Make your voice heard.    http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/2011/

“The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

Please share your plans for the International Day of Peace with the URI through our website, www.uri.org or e-mail to news@uri.org.

May Peace Prevail on Earth,

Monica

Monica Willard
United Religions Initiative
United Nations NGO Representative
www.uri.org