Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
This Rumi poem translated seems wildly appropriate on today, May 15th. International Conscientious Objector‘s Day. The anniversary of Israel’s Independence or Al Nakba as all Palestinians and friends refer to it as. “The catastrophe.” Also, the last day of Newark’s Peace Education Summit.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Peace Summit (http://www.newarkpeace.org/), this is a 3-day event that the city of Newark has been preparing for months. 2nd graders, 20 year-olds, and those approaching a century of living all know who the Dalai Lama is. Many can tell you his stance on violence. In April, every child that attends Newark Public School (or just the ones who complete homework) completed a Peace Project. The top essays, spoken words, and artwork were nominated from every school. One of my students, Naana, had her artwork selected from our school. Her drawing has been displayed all weekend at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. My gracious school leadership surrendered their tickets so she and I could celebrate this moment AND listen to the wisdom of many.
Upon exiting the Peace Education Summit: Peace in the World, I asked Naana what she thought, “Incredible. I don’t really know what to say. It was really awesome.” Perhaps in some other post, or even in conversations I get to have with individuals (I’m completely eager to!), I’ll go into some of these inspiring, passionate women and men on the panel. From a child soldier from Sierra Leone, to a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate, and Congressman are just a sampling. I will pass on a few comments and bits of wild wisdom.
“We need to actively and uncomfortably change some of our lifestyles.” Ishamel Beah
“I cannot believe that the only people not killing, and raping, and pillaging, and fighting, and waging war [the women] are the same group of people who are not invited to the conversation [about peace].” – Zainah Salbai
I asked Naana,”How do see peace happening?” “Starting first with the person. . . this takes a lot of thinking, but it can be done.”
When I asked her what she wants to do in her future. She said, “Okay, I want to do pharmacy.”
“Great. What interests you in pharmacy?”
“Okay,” shyly laughing, “I want to find the cure for AIDS.” . . . “I have seen the women. I want to help.”
So what can we do? What can I do? Hmmmm . . . Consider what makes you angry. I mean REALLY ANGRY! I hate when a cop is corrupt! or I can’t stand child slavery! or Domestic abuse cannot be tolerated any longer! or Educational Inequality has gone on too long. . . My friends, there are many things to make us angry. Many things that rile us up because of injustice. Choose the one that makes you the angriest. Or you see most clearly. And then do something about it. Help those who are hurting. Because it is the ONLY WAY to freedom. The only way to True Life.