Where is the Peace?

Guest post by Ghada Alatrash

As I reflect on humanity's state of being, I am struck, yet again, by the very sad reality in which we live as human beings - divided, disconnected, and detached, only mechanically aware of one another's existence.

As a Syrian-Canadian, the case has never been as blatant.  Let me explain...ever since the revolution began in 2011 in my homeland of Syria, my thoughts have paced back and forth on a daily basis, from the news in Syria to my daily reality in Canada, and I have lived an internal struggle that has left my heart feeling helplessly empty.

Some of the thoughts that keep spinning in my head:

While my fellow Syrian citizens sit and wait, with great anticipation, the end of the revolution, or perhaps for now, the end of shelling and slaughter, my Canadian neighbours in beautiful Cranbrook, British Columbia also wait, with anticipation, the snow to melt off Mount Baker as it happens to be their signal for the start of the summer so that they can begin to plan their geraniums, begonias and lobelias...

and... while my neighbour in Canada walks her dog every morning for a breath of fresh air and a dose of invigorating energy, a Syrian mother in my war-torn homeland crosses the street as fast as her feet can run from one side to the other, hoping to dodge a sniper's bullet so that she can go back with bread for children sitting and waiting in their underground hiding place.

and... while on one side of the world two overjoyed gay men can contentedly walk the streets of Canadian towns, hand-in-hand, on the other side of the world Syrian women are stopped at gunpoint by extreme fundamentalists who decree that every woman's hair is to be covered in accordance with the teaching of a God they distorted with their Sharia Law.

Photo Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

and... while here in Canada animal rights are safeguarded and defended, Syrian children, not animals, are being slaughtered in the name of God or Country, their tiny bodies piled on top of one another with slit throats and terrorized eyes.

and... while in Canada a Prime Minister's future lies in the hands of voters who believe and decide who is most worthy of this honour, in my homeland the future of the people is under the mercy of one tyrant or another, each one as dreadful as the other...

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images
and... and... and...

Today, it seems as if the contrast between life in my homeland versus my life in Canada is that of hell and heaven, night and day...and in the face of this contrast we, humanity, stand and watch in utter silence, mute like those children with the terrorized eyes...not a word...not a sound.


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Post by Susan Letourneau, one of the administrators for Habitat Earth on Facebook, whose work 'in the real world' may be found here.

I am so pleased to be invited to contribute a guest post to Habitat Earth, as I feel excited about the emerging potential for great shifts for the better on the planet.  Since you are reading this, it is likely that you too want to see changes, perhaps to more global thinking, equal rights, equitable systems or local sustainability.  But even just a quick glance around the world can leave us feeling overwhelmed and despairing.  Inequity and atrocity are everywhere.  Even looking at one example, the recent events in India, can contribute to a sense of helplessness, and it is easy for helplessness to turn to anger and frustration.  For myself, after hearing the story of that brutal gang rape, I had moments when I thought the death penalty would be a fitting response to that crime.

But then I remembered the immortal words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King:  'Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder.  Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth.  Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence.  Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.'

If we let go of the desire to retaliate and instead choose to respond to atrocities with light rather than more darkness, what would that look like and how exactly would change take place?

In his still and always profound book, 'The Prophet', Kahlil Gibran maintains that we all share responsibility for the crimes of the criminal.  He suggest that, if we have not removed the rocks from the road as we travel, we are partly responsible for the falls of those who come after us.  Gibran talks about the seeds of crime as intertwined within us all, and that therefore, we all need to look into and clean our own hearts before we cast the first stone.

Gibran's words strike me as even more profound now than they were when he wrote them in 1899.  While I may not have performed a rape or pulled a trigger, I realize I still need to ask myself if there were rocks I could have removed from the road I traveled in the past, or need to remove in the present from the path around me.  It seems to me that if I am not living and acting in accord with my deepest values, then I am complicit in the malaise that infects our culture, a malaise that causes frustration and desperation in so many - driving them to commit crimes.

I see North America as a culture progressively more focused on providing fluff rather than real food for the body, mind and spirit.  The world is changing around us in ways impossible to stay abreast of, and if we have lost our internal and external foundation, the pervasive tide of what's new and what's cool can sweep us away into greater and greater levels of discontent.

So what is the foundation we have lost?  Psychologists tell us the deepest human need is to find our tribe, to feel connected - both internally and externally.  Not connected to just anyone, but connect in deep and meaningful ways to people who we feel are of like mind.  People who share our values and goals and view of life.  This is food for the spirit, feeding us a great depth, and as we are fed, the desperation that burst out as rage and crime is disarmed, diminished and dissolved.

So what can I do in my little corner of the world?  I can let go of my desire to react and retaliate, and actively work toward the world I want to see.  I can take affirmative action in thought, word and deed.  I can keep my eyes on what I want rather than allowing myself to be distracted by the things I don't want.  I took them to heart when I heard these very wise words spoken by inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller:  'You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'

This where my energy is best devoted - to creating what I want to see.  Creating a world, both within me and around me that is healthy, rich, kind, loving and inclusive so that anyone living such a life would be enlivened and encouraged with a sense of future possibilities.

I see the Habitat Earth blog and Facebook page as showcasing such  possibilities.  Here, there is the opportunity to share and support people and groups who are creating the kind of world we want to live in.  Here, we hope to focus on solutions and help them to grow.  With time, we hope the solutions will crowd out the problems.  Will you join us?
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Israel and Iran - A Love Story? is a fabulous TED talk about creating communication between humans at war.  Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an intelligent and enligtening post, Susan.
    EVERYONE ought to read this; it explains fully HOW TO "Be the change you wish to see".
    Thank you xox