Peace Blogs

Muslims protecting Christians in Egypt

Jan
06

Yesterday was the Eastern Orthodox Christmas Eve for Egypt's Coptic community. Across Egypt, Muslims came out to support their Christian neighbors, risking their own lives to protect a religious minority. It was an inspiring sign of unity and support, at a time when religious conflict threatens the region and the world....



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The alternative economy of compassion

Dec
22
"Capitalism is only kept going by this army of anti-capitalists, who constantly exert their powers to clean up after it, and at least partially compensate for its destructiveness. Behind the system we all know, in other words, is a shadow system of kindness, the other invisible hand. Much of its work now lies in simply undoing the depredations of the official system. Its achievements are often hard to see or grasp.

We tend to think revolution has to mean a big in-the-streets, winner-take-all battle that culminates with regime change, but in the past half century it has far more often involved a trillion tiny acts of resistance that sometimes cumulatively change a society so much that the laws have no choice but to follow after.

Another world is not just possible... it's always been here.

Who wouldn't agree that our society is capitalistic, based on competition and selfishness? As it happens, however, huge areas of our lives are also based on gift economies, barter, mutual aid, and giving without hope of return (principles that have little or nothing to do with competition, selfishness, or scarcity economics). Think of the relations between friends, between family members, the activities of volunteers or those who have chosen their vocation on principle rather than for profit.

The official economic arrangements and the laws that enforce them ensure that hungry and homeless people will be plentiful amid plenty. The shadow system provides soup kitchens, food pantries, and giveaways, takes in the unemployed, evicted, and foreclosed upon, defends the indigent, tutors the poorly schooled, comforts the neglected, provides loans, gifts, donations, and a thousand other forms of practical solidarity, as well as emotional support."...
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Sustainable Peace

Dec
21

As Vandana Shiva has said, "if we get rid of the pollution in the human mind they will get rid of the pollution of the environment." That "pollution" is the idea that we are separate, material beings locked in competition for scarce and ever scarcer resources. This quest for resources in fact constitutes a feedback loop in which the pursuit of material goods at all costs merely renders those materials more elusive, thus requiring even more relentless pursuit.

Gandhi once wrote that "we are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of non-violence."

It is precisely to make these discoveries and apply them to apparently diverse fields like human rights, militarism, poverty, and the environment that we take as our work. The eternal human desire for peace can only succeed if it strives to attain this transcendent telos both "on earth" and "with earth" as inherently interconnected aims. Today we are faced with paradigmatic crises including perpetual warfare and runaway climate change, yet in this crucial moment may we likewise rise to meet the unique challenge of understanding these as related phenomena whose mutual resolution promises an opportunity to truly usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

From the article "War and Planet Earth: Toward a Sustainable Peace" by Randall Amster and Michael Nagler for Waging Nonviolence. Randall Amster teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College, and is the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Michael Nagler is the co-chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Association.


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The Cosmic Dance

Mar
19

The theme of the 2010 How Weird Street Faire is "Bollyweird: The Cosmic Dance".

The Cosmic Dance represents the movement of the universe, from the galaxies and planets, to all life, to subatomic particles.

According to Hindi mythology, Shiva is the Cosmic Dancer who performs his divine dance to continue the unfolding of all existence, and create harmony in the universe. The Cosmic Dance of Shiva is called “Ananda Tandava”, meaning the Dance of Bliss. It symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of night and day.

"Dancing is an art in which the artist and the art created are one and the same, thought to evoke the oneness of God and creation." Explains Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy in "The Dance of Siva". Shiva's dance is "the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of."

According to Fritzof Capra, “the Dance of Shiva symbolizes the basis of all existence. At the same time, Shiva reminds us that the manifold forms in the world are not fundamental, but illusory and ever-changing. Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter."

"According to quantum field theory, the dance of creation and destruction is the basis of the very existence of matter. Modern physics has thus revealed that every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction. For the modern physicists then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter, the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena.”

In a spirit of cross-cultural appreciation, this year's How Weird Street Faire will feature music and art from India and beyond. The faire will end with our version of the “Cosmic Dance”. We will attempt to break the world’s record for the Largest Bollywood Dance, a tribute to Bollywood’s role as the largest film genre in the world.

This year's center intersection, the faire's legendary urban crop circle, with feature a Temple to Shiva and the Cosmic Dance. In the middle will be a two meter tall statue of Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance.

On June 18, 2004, a two meter tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva. The statue was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India.

In choosing the image of Shiva Nataraja, the Indian government acknowledged the profound significance of the metaphor of Shiva's dance for the cosmic dance of subatomic particles, which is observed and analyzed by CERN's physicists. CERN represents the cutting edge of technology, from creating the World Wide Web, to operating the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest scientific experiment.

The plaque on the statue concludes with a quote from Fritjof Capra, "Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art, and modern physics."

Raising our consciousness and understanding leads to peace.

Shiva's dance at CERN, a global center of technological innovation...



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The Internet turns 40

Oct
29

40 years ago the first remote connection between computers ushered in the age of the internet. On October 29, 1969, a computer lab at UCLA connected to the Stanford Research Institute, and then continued to spread out and connect with computers across the planet. The internet and its ability to connect the entire world and share understanding and knowledge is the most profound technology ever invented for creating world peace.

The internet is a technology whose benevolent uses far outweighed any military application alone. It was originally called ARPANET, and was a project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense established in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik. Its mission was to keep U.S. military technology more sophisticated than that of any other nation. They were sourced with creating the technology, then allowing military and civilian use of these "most sophisticated" tools. One of the early projects was the study of space. In 1960, all of its civilian space programs were transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the military space programs to the Air Force. Shortly after that, ARPA's investment in information technologies and networking computers would lead to the creation of the internet.

ARPA, now called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is no longer directly involved with the running of the internet. As the internet grew into a worldwide project, its management was handed over to the U.S. government-run Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). After years of criticism from the rest of the world, the U.S. government eased its control over Icann, signing an agreement which came into effect on October 1, 2009 and putting the control of Icann under the scrutiny of the global "internet community". Less than a month later, the internet regulator voted to end the exclusive use of English scripts, a policy that is about to transform the online world make the internet far more global.

The board of Icann's annual meeting in Seoul this week formally approved plans to allow non-Latin-script web addresses for the first time, allowing domain names in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and other scripts. More than half of the 1.6 billion people who use the internet speak languages with non-Latin scripts. The move is being described as the biggest change to the way the internet works since it was created 40 years ago. The first Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be in use next year.





The world's first computer router, or connecting device.


 


Posted By Justin read more

A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits

Sep
29

Just Brilliant!

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Inventing a Love Virus

Sep
22

If you could invent anything, what would it be? That was the question posed by Good Magazine to its readers. Majora Carter, the environmental justice advocate and founder of Sustainable South Bronx, responded with a unique and interesting idea... a love virus.

"By fixing the 'empathy-deficit' of business leaders, community organizers, and government bureaucrats, the Love Virus could provide the much-needed impetus for the profound mental transformation needed for essential environmental change."

Perhaps the act of loving itself is contagious, and doesn't need a virus to transmit. Maybe we just need a lot more love to help it spread. Regardless, it's become imperative that our world leaders and captains of industry show more love.

 

Posted By Justin read more

Code For A Cause

Jan
15

The World Peace Through Technology Organization recently affiliated with a technology user group, the Chicago Drupal Meet Up Group (CDMUG), to help inspire community-building and world peace through advanced technological tools. The Code for a Cause Hack-a-thon was a two day coding sprint where attendees had the opportunity to contribute to small development projects to create applications for local non-profit organizations and community groups.

The event was extremely successful with approximately two dozen active participants and another 50-60 observers who visited the Hack-a-thon to learn more about the use of open source software in the non-profit/volunteer sector. The participants developed an online homeless shelter search for Chicago, a prototype website for a non-profit organization called Green World Campaign, an online survey management and reporting tool, and a screen scraping tool for website migrations....

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Imams and Rabbis for Peace

Dec
20

The Third World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace took place December 16-17, 2008 in Paris, France. Imams and Rabbis came from all over the world to bring the voice of Judaism and Islam to build bridges of dialogue and help solve conflicts motivated by religion in the Middle East, Europe, and the world. This year was expanded to include Christians. There were meetings and talks, and in the evenings the music of the band Andalucia, who have mutual Jewish and Islamic heritages, brought people closer together.

Religious dignitaries, Imams and Rabbis, together with Christians and other religious experts from around the world met to defend the sacred character of peace. Their aim is to voice the common view of Islam and Judaism, and create a joint monitoring group to support, develop, and propagate initiatives that encourage peaceful coexistence and dialogue.
 

An Israeli Rabbi and an Iranian Iman.


The Congress brought together 85 religious leaders and experts from over 22 countries. Participants included the President of the Republic of Senegal, who was also the Chairman of the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference. After being elected President of Senegal in 2000, His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade implemented noble ideas for unity and peace in West Africa and for sustainable development.
 

A Rabbi chanting in Arabic to Islamic music.


The Congress was organized by the UNESCO Division for Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue in cooperation with the Hommes de Parole Foundation.

 

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Peace Without Borders - historic peace concert held today

Mar
16

Tens of thousands of people converged today on the border between Colombia and Venezuela for a free concert called Peace Without Borders, held as a call for peace after the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades. The concert featured some of the biggest names in Latin American music, and was organized by Colombian rock star Juanes, who said he wanted the event to ease tensions and promote good relations. It was intended to send a message to the leaders of the two countries to give peace a chance.

"The place we chose is something symbolic. It does not mean that this is intended to promote peace between Colombia and Venezuela only. The border means the border of all countries," explained Juanes. "It would have been much more practical and simple to do it in a city, but the border is a symbol of peace between all countries. And this message is for everyone, all the countries in Latin America and the U.S. as well."

The artists and many of the attendees dressed in white in a show of cross-national solidarity. The concert took place on the Simon Bolivar bridge linking Cucuta, Colombia, and San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, surrounded by white flags. Children’s choruses from both countries started the concert, with each artist performing three songs and then joining together for several songs in the finale.

"It’s not that a song is going to change people. But music becomes an excuse to send a message, that we’re all here together building peace, that we are here as citizens and this is what we want, and we have to be heard. I think the governments have to understand and listen. We don’t want to get involved in conflicts between people," said Juanes.

"Peace is the most important thing we have and we have to fight for it."




 

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The peace sign turns 50 years old

Feb
21

It is inspiring how quickly the symbol created for nuclear disarmament has spread around the world as the "peace symbol", becoming one of the most recognized symbols on earth. It seems to show a huge demand for expressions of peace, especially after the World Wars. People everywhere identify with the concept of peace, and feel a need to express that concept universally. There has never been that desire to have a symbol for war, which seems to reflect people's basic preference for peace.

The "peace symbol" was designed on February 21, 1958 by Gerald Holtom in England. The symbol is the composite semaphore signal of flags for the letters "N" and "D" standing for Nuclear Disarmament ("N" is two flags held down at a 45 degree angle, and "D" is one flag up and one flag down). The symbol was introduced at the Aldermaston March, the first action of the newly formed Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The "Disarmament Symbol" made its public debut on April 4, 1958, in front of 5,000 people gathered in London to show support for the Ban the Bomb movement.



They came to demonstrate against Britain's first hydrogen bomb tests. The Cold War was in full swing and Britain had just carried out its first hydrogen bomb test at Christmas Island in the Pacific. They assembled at Trafalgar Square, and then thousands walked to the town of Aldermaston, site of an atomic weapons research plant being built.

It was a very socially mixed, musical affair. Musicians kept up the marchers' spirits by playing their instruments, a key role in this historic event. Over the next four days, the marchers braved rain and snow to march over 50 miles. By the time they reached Aldermaston, they had grown to a procession of marchers a mile long.

 


Gerald Holtom was a professional artist and graduate of the Royal College of Arts in London. He was one of many intellectuals in Britain during the 1950's who were deeply disturbed by witnessing the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then watching in disbelief as their own government, despite being in a time of post-war material hardship, raced to join the nuclear club.

The peace symbol was first drawn on home-made banners and ceramic badges. Although the symbol was originally designed only as a sign for nuclear disarmament, it quickly spread around the world and within ten years had become the international symbol of peace. It has deliberately never been copyrighted. Throughout the years it has taken on many different meanings, including freedom and unity.

Millions of people around the world, regardless of race or religious beliefs, have looked to the peace sign to unite them. It has become an enduring cultural icon. It is probably the most commonly used non-religious symbol of hope in the world, instantly recognized anywhere as the universal sign for peace. Quite an accomplishment for an image which, instead of being based on some famous existing object, was created from scratch to represent a common idea.

Unfortunately, after 50 years we live in a world no closer to nuclear disarmament than it was in 1958. In fact, it seems we are farther away than ever before. Although the world is currently filled with wars, the peace symbol is a reminder of how much people long for peace.

 





 


 

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Did you know?

Feb
13
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Baker Beach Tainted: An Eyewitness Account

Nov
14
It has been exactly one week since the horrible news of a gas and oil spill into the San Francisco Bay. The media tells us that 58 thousand gallons poured out of a fully loaded container ship bound for Korea when it clipped the middle tower of the western Bay Bridge span. We've all heard the finger pointing of blame in the news. We've all seen the impact on wildlife, especially seabirds. We all know that oil and water don't mix. It only took a day before the oil slick contaminated the shoreline around the middle of the bay, and then seeped out to the beaches on the Pacific coast.
Those who know me in San Francisco know how much I like to spend my afternoons down at the beach when itís a sunny "Baker Day". We get about 80 per year. Baker Beach is located only 20 short city blocks away from my home / office. I ride my bike down there 95% of the time. Being down on Baker can be a vibrant social scene; a gymnasium; a place to relax, be creative or read. Most days it resembles a fun vacation day, like at Club Med. It is also a wildlife refuge. Naturally, this catastrophe became an issue dear to my heart. Being so near the impact zone, I had to go down there myself and see the damage.
On Friday, I arrived solo and stepped under the yellow "CAUTION!" tape onto an empty beach. It was bizarre to walk completely alone to the north Baker hangout spot. As soon as I reached the surf I saw small globules of oil collected at the high tide mark. The oil balls were thick, chunky and shiny. Some seabirds were floating near the wave break or running around on the beach looking for food. I saw a few oil blemishes on their feathers. The scene - all alone in a toxic zone on a hot day - was very apocalyptical. It only took 10 minutes until I was spotted laying low at our duney site. Fellow beach pal Heinz met me at the steps to the bike rack just as I was being escorted out by a national park security guard. We sat above the beach closure sign on a beach dune overlook. From our perch we could see the full length of the beach both ways. We watched as the guard swooped out in his ATV to intercept other trespassers. With a heavy heart we spotted three bottlenose dolphins languishing about 20 meters offshore, as a slick of oil sludge drifted by on calm seas. They seemed to be resting, or perhaps recovering. The toxic shock must be a tremendous strain on all the wildlife of the Bay Area.
Today was another return day, except there was fog lingering on the coast, the kind you donít see until you are just about to drop the hill down to Baker. I decided to ride on because I told Meg and Heinz I'd meet them at our beach spot if we could get in, or at our Friday beach dune overlook. When I got there I saw the beach was still closed so I went to the overlook. Instead of a security guard patrolling the beach, two lines of a dozen white-suited toxic clean up crews slowly combed the beach. Meg and Heinz arrived with Tom, another fellow Baker aficionado. As we watched the clean up crew scour the beach a sea gull landed near us, hoping for a handout. The gull had oil splotches all over its body, with sizeable amounts on its head and webbed feet. We fed the hungry victim. The sight of the workers and the grimy bird set off an impassioned discussion between the four of us.

Heinz thought if a dolphin washed ashore dead, the authorities would try to get it out unseen without unwanted attention. Tom lamented on the breakdown of communications and the late containment response. He also pointed out that our spill was small compared to yesterdayís spill in the Black Sea, or the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, 200 times bigger. Meg cried at the thought of all the suffering animals. For whatever it was worth, I apologized to the tainted gull below my breath.
If there can be any positive outcome to the 2007 oil spill, maybe the people of the Bay Area will become horrified enough to demand change. Perhaps as outraged and conscious people we can visualize phasing out oil and gas ASAP. In my opinion, the oil companies need to go. Battling them is David vs. Goliath. They are dangerous, unnecessary, and make profit-minded decisions without public oversight. They have been buying up alternative energy patents for decades. They quashed Tesla's free energy technology a century ago. They are also the largest corporations on the planet, some even rivaling the domestic economies of small countries (Exxon/Mobil passed Uruguay early in 2007). Then there is the damage done to the atmosphere by allowing these companies to direct our energy policies by prioritizing carbon-emitting fuels. I place my blame on the oil companies, more than the reckless sea captain or the late cleanup responders. Shame on you oil executives (and your lawyers) for polluting our world, for lobbying politicians to promote your agenda, all in the name of profit. You've not only taken away my favorite place, but much worse, you poisoned the bay.

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