A Prayer for Peace is a Prayer for #COP21

A vision:

We envision a world transformed by an awareness of the true potential of every human being, where all of life is sacred and where all our social systems work in harmony with the earth. We see a world in which conflict rarely occurs, and when it does, can always be addressed by the creative energy of nonviolence. In this world, unarmed peacekeeping has replaced military intervention, restorative justice has replaced retribution, and needs-based economies have replaced consumerism, among other essential changes.

From Mission Statement of the Metta Center for Non-Violence

Recently I have been browsing the words of peace activists. It’s as if I’ve been awakened from a slumber.  I care about many issues, but like most people cannot possibly absorb and read about everything. In the last five years I’ve chosen the environment as my main area of focus, simply because I see our planet as a home base, needing to be protected from the effects of human pollution.

I have always been in favour of World Peace.  Who isn’t?  The question though is: ‘How do we achieve it—through weapons and force, or through more subtle means?’  A non-violent approach would be to consider reasons underlying human conflict.  Hungry, sick, abused people don’t get along, and they are vulnerable to those with weapons, seeking power.  Poverty, lack of clean water, unemployment, social injustices, illiteracy, and so on undermine a peaceful world.

Climate change researchers have been saying for years that climate stressors, such as drought, flooding, high temperatures, torrential storms, etc. will promote social and political instability.  This is exactly what happened in Syria. It is difficult for historians to pinpoint precise causes, but they do identify factors, and a factor that clearly contributed to the conflict in Syria today is the severe drought that region suffered from 2006 to 2010. There were major crop failures, sky-rocketing food prices, and massive migration from rural to urban areas.

The international climate talks known as ‘COP 21’, will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, despite heightened security concerns.  The ‘show’ must go on and world leaders know this.  Recent acts of terror and the Syrian refugee crisis only emphasize the urgency of promoting global peace and stability.

The climate talks are about binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Action is needed to prevent an irreversible tipping point, when devastating climate changes will render some locations uninhabitable.  The talks are also about providing assistance to developing nations:  for sustainable development with clean renewable technologies; and for climate change adaptation.  All of these issues must be attended to—to gain and preserve peace.

#LoveoverFear #BeWoW–Writer’s Quote Wednesday

On Monday, the four men behind weekly Generation Y Not videos shown on YouTube, staged a demonstration of love and solidarity in a Montreal subway station.  Derin from Turkey was their cameraman and the other three propped up placards, held hands, and wore T-shirts identifying them as friends, brothers, and roommates, from Paris, New York City, and Egypt.  Their messages were:

Love over Fear

They cannot separate us.

Here is their video:

Love over fear is a powerful message and directly confronts what terrorists aim to do.   Focusing on love and resisting fear, we refuse rejection of others based on suspected ethnicity or religion; we refuse to hide; and we care for those who need our assistance and prayers.

I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.

Oprah Winfrey

For more Writer’s Quote Wednesday and BeWoW quotes, please visit SilverThreading and RonovanWrites.

Stained Cloak–RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge #71

I maintain that every major religion of the world – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism – has similar ideals of love, the same goal of benefiting humanity through spiritual practice, and the same effect of making their followers into better human beings. All religions teach moral precepts for perfecting the functions of mind, body, and speech. All teach us not to lie or steal or take others’ lives, and so on.

A Human Approach to World PeaceHis Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Devout chant

cloaks authority

stained in red.

Pious words intone

enticing cloak of reasons

stained in cruelty.

The problem of crime in the name of religion is not new.  It just happens that, since the most recent Paris events, my current dose of anesthesia wore off.

Thank you to Ronovan for his prompts: ‘cover’ and ‘colour’, which I used as the synonyms ‘cloak’ and ‘stain’. My first poem uses the 3-5-3 syllable format and the second one uses 5-7-5.  To read more about the challenge, and to find links to other submissions, please visit RonovanWrites.

Toward calm and shady places I am walking on the earth.

∼Chippewa prayer, date unknown

©2015, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Non-Violence is Victory

They say that prompts are just that: prompts designed to inspire a post. What you do with a prompt is ultimately up to you.  In an ironic way, this week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Victory’  has led me to muse about topics such as nonviolence, international peace, and nonviolent responses to terror.

The Friday prompt was ‘Victory’–‘Forget about the sad times. This week it’s all about revelling in a win.’   When the prompt was posted, no one knew that later, on the same day, Paris would be rocked by a brutal massacre in one of its entertainment districts, where locals and tourists would be out enjoying a meal, listening to a concert, and attending a sports event. I knew when I read the prompt, my heart could not feel victorious. The world is filled with violence, but for personal and cultural reasons, this one hit home.

On Saturday morning I woke up from a troubled sleep. As I browsed the photo challenge responses, I clicked on a few titles that seemed to mention Paris.  There were two photo posts that I would like to share:

Victory of Good, by The Modern Gentleman’s Blog–features reflections,  a  beautiful photo of a passion flower with a description of its Christian symbolism, along with this quote:

We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Using C.S.  Lewis’s metaphor:  it is my hope that world leaders will not heed shouts of anger and revenge,  and that God’s megaphone will call for an intensification of non-violent strategies to resolve conflicts  and prevent future  acts of terror and war.

The second post that captured my attention was Angel of Peace by Mittelpol Photography showing a picture of the Angel of Peace monument in Munich  with a thoughtful caption about Peace and Victory.

I also discovered this poem shared yesterday by Tribrach:  To a Terrorist by Stephen Dunn, published on the Writer’s Almanac. I found it interesting as an expression of honest emotion and an attempt to ‘understand’.  The opening lines:

For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem

Finally, I offer a quote as inspiration. Although international problems are complex, it gives me solace to know what general principles I support.  It is so easy in these dangerous times to allow beliefs in non-violence to be swayed.  However, it is precisely in these times of crisis that we should question the ultimate effectiveness of violence. These are the words of a gentleman who has spent many years studying human conflict and how to obtain peace:

By peace we mean the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively — a never-ending process.

∼Johan Galtung: principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies, referred to as the “father of peace studies”.

Friday Fact Feature–Moon’s Atmosphere

Happy Friday! On Fridays for the next while, I will be featuring a fact, a blog, or both. We’ll see how it goes. Today I came across a fact that tickled my interest:

The moon has no atmosphere to shield it from the sun’s heat or to retain the sun’s warmth–this means that during the day it is very hot, at about 100° C and at night it is very cold at about -150°C.

I guess I knew there was no oxygen on the moon, but I had never thought about temperature.  This ‘fact’ came from Stephen Leahy’s article, Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less.  In this very short post, he uses his skills as an award-winning environmental journalist, to provide a clear explanation of global warming. His description of temperatures in an atmosphere-free environment provides an excellent contrast to the situation here on earth where we have many atmospheric gases.

I’ll say no more, except: having a clear understanding of the relationship between extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming could be useful, as conversations about climate change pick up at home, on television, and at work–especially in December, when the Paris Climate talks take the stage.

Stephen Leahy is based near Toronto, Ontario.  His most recent honour was to receive the Lane Anderson Award for the best science writing in Canada in 2014–for his book: Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products.  For his writeup on this book, see his post,  Best Science Book of the Year: Your Water Footprint.  I’ve added this book to my Amazon wish list.

Late October Downpour

In Southern Ontario we received the tail end of tropical Hurricane Patricia as heavy rainfall.  While the rain steadily poured, I wrote this poem:

Rain gently drumming
Soaks my blue tent roof,
A steady, steady roll,
Tapped with sure fingers.

Muffled drum crashes, 
earnest electric guitar,
Car stereo blurts,
ruffling my peace.

Steady patter patter,
Strumming overhead,
Cozy in my sweater
and damp blue shelter.

Sound waves patter,
they rise and fall,
As dreams of a tent
Mist reality.

My fingers slowly stop
tapping out a poem,
Rain gently drumming
a blue steel roof.

I’m not sure if I should explain, but I will say that this experience told me that I missed camping this year.  I usually go to campgrounds in provincial or national parks.  Two familiar sounds are rain on the tent roof and, like it or not, sounds coming from camper stereos nearby.

©2015, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

A factor that could determine success or failure: #Writers Quote Wedneday & #BeWoW

“If optimism is important, it’s because many outcomes are determined by how much of it we bring to the task. It is an important ingredient of success. This flies in the face of the elite view that talent is the primary requirement of a good life, but in many cases the difference between success and failure is determined by nothing more than our sense of what is possible and the energy we can muster to convince others of our due. We might be doomed not by a lack of skill, but by an absence of hope.”

∼This quote is from Art as Therapy, by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong, 2013–as quoted by Maria Popova in  Art as Therapy : Alain de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art.

Yesterday I sat down to find a quote to post for Colleen Chesebro’s  Writer’s Quote Wednesday — I had a few ideas on hand, but none of them appealed to me. This quote struck a chord …at first,  because I needed an optimism boost, having just read an analysis of  global climate change commitments.  But then, I refocused.

This quote is about personal success and failure in life:  how a positive frame of mind allows some of us to pursue our interests and promote our efforts; and how lack of confidence leads others to take a back seat.  For me, this is a relatively new notion. In my life, people tended to emphasize hard work and talent. There was little conversation about hope,optimism, or self-promotion.

I pondered my respect for those who dare to write and publish books, stories, novels, and poetry compilations.  I shifted to where I am right now: on day 11 of the NaBloPoMo challenge–it’s starting to be an eye opener having to post every day.  It’s not so easy to back off, to discard an idea, or to sit on a draft…oh those were the days.  I’m having to tap into my internal capacity for positivity and confidence more and more.  So…..

May we keep expanding our personal senses of what’s possible and celebrate cheerfulness, hope, and optimism, on our roads to ‘success’!