Friends Without Borders

Mar
19

The direct exchange between Israelis and Iranians reminded me of the work of Friends Without Borders, a peace campaign created to encourage cross-border friendships in conflict zones, building connections directly between people. It's original focus was a massive letter writing campaign between children in India and Pakistan, which became the largest peace effort in both India and Pakistan's history. As they explain, "Children have a natural instinct toward friendship and will jump to reach out and create new friends, when given the opportunity. The simple act of writing a letter leaves deep and lasting impressions that help to humanize 'the other.' These are the seeds that promise to mature into a safer, friendlier world."

Here is an inspiring short film about the history of Friends Without Borders and the enormous impact it has had both in India and Pakistan. It serves as a model for building peace, using the natural goodness of children and the power to connect through letters and the internet...



Friends Without Borders is a new approach to world peace. All across India, tens of thousands of children have been writing heartfelt letters to the students in Pakistan. And all across Pakistan, tens of thousands of children are replying with heartfelt letters back. New connections are being made. New friendships are being formed. It's an amazing story, which features the World's Largest Love Letter and an epic peace concert on the border of India and Pakistan....


Countries have borders, friends don't.


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Loving the "enemy"

Mar
19

"To the Iranian people, to all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters, for there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don't even know you."

That was the beginning of a letter to the Iranian people by two Israeli graphic designers. Fed up with the growing hysteria over a possible war between their countries, Ronny Edri and Michal Tamir, a couple from Tel Aviv, decided to take matters into their own hands and reach out directly to the Iranian people on behalf of the Israeli people. The Israeli people do not want a war, as recent polls have confirmed, and it appears that the majority of Iranian people do not want war either.

It all started when Ronny and Michal partnered with a small preparatory design school called Pushpin Mehina, and uploaded posters to its Facebook page of themselves with their children above the message, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we love you."...

"So I thought, Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if Iranians really hate me?"


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Free energy

Jan
26
"Free Energy" is the first release of a series of viral music videos produced by Elevate, featuring the conscious hip-hop band Luminaries. The series intends to bring awareness to globally significant issues and solutions. "Free Energy" was produced in conjunction with Pachamama Alliance. Elevate’s mission is to utilize the awesome power of art and media to celebrate and elevate the human experience....



It is "time to gather round. The moments now!
How will it all turn out?"


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Remaining awake through a great revolution

Oct
22
The following is from a sermon by Martin Luther King that was delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1968. It is even more relevant today...

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, "Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away."...

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Words to occupy your heart

Oct
12
The World Peace Through Technology Organization knows that quotes can be very useful. They can inspire and motivate, offer insight and persective, and they fit nicely on a poster. They are memes that can be spread easily, each containing a packet of wisdom and understanding. They are like little mind-bombs being launched from all directions, in a battle against apathy and misunderstanding. They can be extremely powerful, especially when put to music.

We'd like to share with you some quotes that may be useful now...


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An honest look at America

Oct
05
Through an inspiring experiment in direct democracy and consensus building, this statement was released after a unanimous vote of Occupy Wall Street's general assembly:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right...


Their actions are all a practice in well-understood nonviolence, and their goals are all related to peace and social justice. They go on to list the problems that we, as a society, are facing....



                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       

 
(Click play button to see the animation.)

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U.S. Tax Dollars at War

Oct
03

A great animation explaining the cost of war. At least 53% of our tax dollars now goes towards war, an ammount greater than any other country. We're still paying off the debt from all of our previous wars, debt which is going to the banks who loaned the money to pay for the wars. And it doesn't look like the government will stop any time soon.

"Tax Dollars At War" is a brilliant visualization of a radio interview about U.S. military spending as a proportion of our national budget. The dialogue comes from a Flashpoints interview with Dennis Bernstein and Dave Lindorff. It is produced by Softbox, animated and directed by Chris Fontaine.



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The World Peace Game

Apr
27

Musician, teacher, filmmaker, and game designer, John Hunter has dedicated his life to helping children realize their full potential. His own life story is one of a never-ending quest for harmony. In India as a student, inspired by Ghandi's philosophy, he began to think about the role of the schoolteacher in creating a more peaceful world.

Hunter created an interactive teaching model called the World Peace Game. He begins the game by telling his students, "I'm so sorry, boys and girls, but the truth is we have left this world to you in such a sad and terrible shape, and we hope you can fix it for us... and maybe this game will help you do it."


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Revolution 2.0

Mar
07
In TED's first talk of 2011, Al Jazeera's director-general Wadah Khanfar shares his view on the historic uprisings happening in the Middle East. As democratic revolutions led by tech-empowered young people sweep the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and beyond. He spoke on March 1, 2011 in Long Beach, California, where he discussed how we can "imagine a future that is magnificent and peaceful and tolerant."...

Wadah Khanfar: "The future has arrived... and the future is now."



Another 2011 TED talk was with Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt's democratic revolution. Ghonim is an Internet activist and computer engineer who started an influential Facebook page that galvanized voices of protest in Egypt. In early 2011, he was detained by the Egyptian government for 11 days. After he was released, he became a leading fugure in the youth revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak from power. Speaking in Cairo, he tells the inside story of the past two months, when everyday Egyptians showed that "the power of the people is stronger than the people in power."

"Our revolution is like Wikipedia. Everyone is contributing content. You don't know the names of the people contributing the content. Revolution 2.0 in Egypt was exactly the same. Everyone contributing small pieces, bits and pieces. We drew this whole picture of a revolution. And no one is the hero in that picture." Ghonim explained on 60 Minutes....

Wael Ghonim: "This was Revolution 2.0. No one was a hero, because everyone was a hero."

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Christians protecting Muslims in Egypt and Reflections on a revolution

Feb
04

Christians put their own lives at risk protecting Muslims praying in Tahrir Square in Cairo amid violence between protesters and Egyptian President Mubarak's supporters. And in Alexandria,  tens of thousands of people have gathered in the centre of town, while Christians and others not performing Friday prayers formed a "human chain" around those praying to protect them from any potential disruptions. During the protests and popular uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government that started January 25th, Muslims had been attacked during prayers. The Muslims, while bowing in prayer, had faced water cannons, tear gas, stones being thrown, and direct attacks. The Christian community responded by waging a campaign of protection and support....
 


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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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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.


 


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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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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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