Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I hate that person!

Some times we get so mad and say, 'I hate or dislike that person'. By saying a sentence like that we bring more negativity into the situation and in the relationship. 

Next time, you feel that you dislike a person, try to think what exactly you don't like about that person. For example, the person lies, is rude, doesn't have a good sense of dressing or is biased. 

Try to narrow down your disliking as much as you can because very rarely would you dislike somebody in totality. Actually, nobody deserves to be condemned. We can condemn specific actions, beliefs or words of those we have a problem with.

Next step is to think (and you may have to make a little extra effort here), what is it that you might like about this person. For example, their hairstyle, their cooking ability or their intelligence. I promise you, everybody has something good in them, all we need to do is to discover that. 

My friends, if you have to, dislike a specific trait, words or actions but not the person. The more good we can discover in human beings around us the closer we get to our inner peace and the one who created all of us. 

I will search for the 'hidden good'...


PEACE IN PLACE


by Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz[1], PhD

I usually begin my day by looking at news carriers from several parts of the world. These ten or so sources provide, what I think is, a balanced view of the world. -My place- This morning as I went through my daily ritual, I became increasingly aware of the “person/ environment/place blame”.  The economy is faltering because the president has not exerted leadership. The University of Puerto Rico is in turmoil because the government wants to privatize the public university. Air travel has virtually stopped because of a mega snowstorm in the eastern United States. An earthquake near the Fiji Island has affected the preparation for New Year’s celebration.  “My place has really decayed”…. “The population has decreased by 2% in ten years, crime has increased, and the government has reduced its payroll”. “The place is beautiful but I can no longer live here.”  These are common sayings among the hundreds who out migrate monthly from their “place” to what they perceive to be a “better place”.
There are some messages that escaped the media and thus the potential millions of consumers:
1.     Our place is “ours” we are accountable for its well-being.  The transparency that we exhibit and model in identifying the needs and wants of our place and our role in solving those needs, enhance resilience and lead to peace for all.
2.     I am responsible for an increase in relationships, understanding and peace in my place. We have to identify behavioral strategies within ourselves to reduce walls and build bridges to reach those around us.
3.     The more we play the “people blame games”, the more agitated we become. We need to become more passive. We must reduce environmental and personal turbulence. Let us all resolve that peace is achieved as by giving each other space to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.
We human beings want things solved “now!” no matter whether they are real issues of figments of our imagination. Peace in place occurs when we realize that all matters on our emotional, spiritual, social, ecological, and physical spectrum are solved in God’s time.
Prayer and meditation bring about peace! Peace, inward and outward, bring about well-being…


[1] . Dr Prewitt Diaz is the recipient of the 2008 American Psychological Association, International Humanitarian Award.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

“Umuntu ngumuntu ngbaantu” (I am a person through other people)

By Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz, PhD



This is the time of the year when we take time out to reflect on renewal, and spiritual reconstruction. I started my process by visiting family and friends during “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve) and sharing in a meal, snacks and prayers. My family and I were visiting very dear friends when an earthquake struck. This is not uncommon in Puerto Rico, but this one was a little more intense, and not only shock us physically but spiritually. The question that immediately arose was: “are you at peace with your kin, your friends, people in your community, or the world community.”

After this experience we arrived the last reunion of the evening. We were going to visit a childhood friend. Much to our family’s surprise their were all kind of people there: tall, small, male and female, Spanish, English and Hindi speaking, poets doctors, teachers and common people. There was plenty of food and plenty to drink. From a macro level everything was well, but as we talked to different people and smaller groups their was a lot of sharing: happy moments during the year, loss of a child, exclusion of family activities, meetings and photographs, honors and awards, and merry making combined with sadness for those that were no longer…. or were not with us on this evening because they were in far away lands waging war with some unknown enemy.

It was then that I realized that peace was not only being resilient as an individual and family. Not only enduring hard times and moving on with a healthier perspective of life, but what this was about was being socially resilient. That is hard times mandated not independence but interdependence. The people of South Africa explain peace through interdependence as “ubuntu”. Roughly translated this means the spirit of the community.

My learning during this Christmas season is that my peace, security and resilience is tied to the level of relationships with other people. In South Africa this is called “Umuntu ngumuntu ngbaantu”, in Puerto Rico it is called “Yo soy a trav├ęs de otros”, and for the purpose of this commentary I assert that “I am a person through other people”.   

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keep Smiling, Keep Shining!

We all know we look better when we are smiling. That is why, we mostly smile when our photo is being taken. We know that the camera will cease that moment and we want to be remembered at our best. But do we realize it is not only the photos through which we will be remembered but also through our daily interactions with people around us, actually more so with the daily interactions than the photos.



So, my request to you... get ready to smile for the next interaction/s you're gonna have :-) :-) 

Smile adds a beautiful flavor to our conversations, it makes us look good, makes our point more effective, even if the conversation is serious, a soft sentence with a smile does wonders and moreover, it fortifies peace in our environment...


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Loosen up!

Live a simple life with less and less conflicts with others... smile to the beauty around you. Yes, there might be bad things in your environment but your focus must be on the good ones. For example, children, flowers, fresh air, music, those who love you and understand you, water that quenches your thirst, pillow that eventually puts you to sleep, food in your plate, the fragrant soap you use to bathe, the ability to move, morning sunshine, evening that brings in shining stars...

Anything inside you that doesn't love and is not patient is ugly! Work to diminish the ugliness inside you!

Loosen up... enjoy each and every moment, smile to life and be thankful to your creator!

May God bless you all with peace that passes all understanding!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I know I am right!

Knowledge of being right is one of the most common reasons for our conflicts with other people who think differently. Being right should help make things right for us but sometimes they don't. What a sad reality! 

If we know we are right, we want others to agree to it and if they don't agree to that, we think they are wrong. And, God forbid, if we get into a discussion with somebody who thinks differently, we may end up in a heated argument and bitterness. In other words, we ruin a relationship just because we know we are right. 

To restore internal peace and peace around us, we need to understand that while we may be right on an issue, others who may have a different opinion may also be right in their own way. We must respect them for their opinion and also accept that they too might be right. Like they say, respectfully agree to disagree.

We form our opinions based on our world view, which is based on our background, our values and our experiences. Because we all have our own set of background, values and experiences, it is but natural to have different opinions and feel strongly about it. 

To disagree respectfully while keeping a healthy relationship requires broadmindedness, maturity and sometimes forgiveness. What is the point of thinking 'I know I am right' and loose meaningful relationships? Therefore, the better way to think is 'I know I am right but he/she is right in their own way'.

In any case, the best way to nurture a relationship is to focus on what we share then to waste time on where we differ. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Orissa, we see your beauty but hear your cry!

Orissa, now known as Odisha,for me, is a very important State for many reasons. For e.g. (a) even though, it has abundance of natural resources, it is the poorest States of India, (b) it is also called the 'disaster capital' of the country because of the frequency different disasters including the floods and cyclones, (c) it hosts important religious and touristic sites with international acclaim, (d) it has a rich culture with beautiful music, dances, food, handicrafts and (e) I started my career as a humanitarian from this State.
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The worst disaster in Odisha was in 1999, the super cyclone. It killed 9,893 according to government records, however locals report that many more were killed including the undocumented migrants from Bangladesh.  About 11 million people, nearly a third of the state's population of 35 million, were estimated by the UN agencies to be directly affected, having lost their shelter, crops, cattle and livelihoods. Another seven million people were partly affected due to the large-scale collapse of infrastructure, including communications and surface transport.

Although, substantial assistance came to Odisha, it did not help much to improve the living conditions for the people living in the coastal areas. I remember, fours years after the cyclone, it was still difficult to reach some of the affected villages. People are still struggling to meet their basic necessities. 

 "Orissa among all Indian states tops the incidence of  poverty. Orissa   emerges in the forefront of  all states signifying all indices. Poverty is a condition created by unjust society ,denying people access to and control over the resources that they need to live a fulfilled life.   Orissa   also lives in  villages. Almost 85% percent of people   live in rural area of the state . Around 42 % people in Orissa and 47% people of rural Orissa  live below poverty . Although it is the state of mineral resources and it spreads over 6000 sq km area . Iron ore occupies 33% of India ‘s reserve ,Bauxite is 50% ,Nickel is 95% chromite is 98% and coal is 24 % . Still it is difficult and  stupendous  task to eradicate poverty  in Orissa." (http://knol.google.com/k/poverty-in-orissa-a-life-long-disease#)

One wonders, why Odisha should remain one of the poorest States in India, when it is rich in natural resources, it hosts thousands of tourists every year, it has received quite a bit of aid for disaster preparedness and response and has many educated and well placed citizens in and outside India?

On the positive side, the government has made and is planning to make more investments to facilitate the economic growth in the State. 

Peace cannot be achieved without meeting the basic human rights. I pray that the poor people of Odisha and other parts of the world may move on the way of progress and growth necessary for life with dignity. 

More Info:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orissa
  • http://knol.google.com/k/poverty-in-orissa-a-life-long-disease#
  • http://www.recoveryplatform.org/assets/recoverycases_reports/ADRC_Orissa.pdf
  • http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/orissa-report.html

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Greatest Purpose (Joseph R. Brown)

Sense of place as a tool to reduce bullying, enhance resiliency and promote peace


by 
Dr. Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz[1]


Places shape human history--both collectively and individually. People who grow up in one part of the Island and within a particular culture develop a different set of attitudes, values, and behaviors than do people growing up in a contrasting part of the Island and within a different cultural group. Young people growing up in a “Caserio” (public housing) tend to differ in some ways from children growing up in a rural community. These differences are often reflected in what the children fear, like, or dislike, as well as in the types of skills they develop through their own set of experiences.

Qualities of an environment that contribute to a "sense of place" experience include opportunities for seclusion and quiet spaces, opportunities for exploring, and opportunities to effect change. Psychological or social factors contributing to a "sense of place" experience include complexity, diversity, opportunities for immersion or immediate encounters with the natural world, and opportunities for the experience of memorable moments.

Young people develop their sense of self and place in the world through their relationship to their parents, extended families and their neighborhood. A child’s self esteem is built on the notion that, “I am of value as a person to the degree to which my parents, my extended family and my community take interest in me.” Children feel interest in them and their activities by the amount of time spent with them by parents and extended family member. The best indicator of time spent is quantity and consistency. Children these days need ample and regular attention from parents, extended family, and significant members of the community in their normal living situations.

When a parents, extended family and neighbors  are not active in the life of  children, they may feel emotionally crushed, and a feeling unworthiness. As such, children may no longer strive to succeed socially, academically and later, economically. Some children may demonstrate these feelings of unworthiness through disruptive behavior. Other children develop rich fantasy lives to protect themselves from feelings of worthlessness. They tell themselves their parent and extended families must be doing very important things otherwise they would surely would pay them attention. Such children grow up with unrealistic views of other people and relationships.

Parents and extended families may notice the pain of abandonment in their children. Children who lack adult attention may feel broken hearted and view themselves as dying, a death caused by many emotional cuts. They wonder what to do for children to help them cope, recognizing the impact on their self-worth.

Parents, extended families and neighbors are the promoters of peace for their children. The following are three ways to reduce bullying, enhance peace and a ‘sense of place’ on children”:

1.     Express the value of your relationship to children. They must discuss and learn about the importance of their relationship to their children. Increasing the children feeling of self-esteem increases the desire of developing a “sense of place’.
2.     Remain calm. Do not exhibit your anger or frustration to your children. Rather, talk with your children about their feelings. It is appropriate to reassure them that you love them.
3.     Structure time. Always structure your children’s time so that there is participation with you, other adults, and children in the community. Children should not be left with nothing to do, otherwise they may become bored and upset, and get disruptive due to bad feelings. They may seek attention by bullying younger children or peers. It is better that they learn to use their time constructively. BY participating in communal activities the children learn negotiations skills, respect for others experience and behaviors that foster peace and increase self esteem.

There is no way to fully protect children from disappointment in life. The key though is to keep the disappointment from being felt as a reflection of their worth. By making sure their time remains structured, you can teach them appropriate coping skills at the same time. This will equip them to deal with the challenges and opportunities that life may throw their way, so that they can become resilient, and move on to a successful and healthy life.



[1].  Dr. Prewitt Diaz is a Humanitarian Psychologist. He is the recipient of the 2008 APA International Humanitarian Award.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Do you know a child in need?

Imagine a world where children grow up learning important things without any fear. Imagine traveling around the world and meeting children whose smiling faces are glowing with health and happiness. This world may still be poor but children are its priority. A big part of every State's expenditure is geared towards appropriate development of children, communities provide safe and enabling environment for them and families grow stronger while enjoying the laughter of their little ones. What a wonderful vision, isn't it? 

And then think of a child in your current environment whose face is neither smiling nor glowing, who may not be going to school, who probably is struggling to get three meals or is living with fear. Perhaps, many children's faces would revolve around your eyes. Try to focus on one, someone that you see very frequently. Maybe it is your own child who has everything but is so fearful that he/she doesn't even express his/her desires, fears, and ambitions openly. It could also be a child who is not related to you but you see that child on the road begging everyday. 

Whoever that child is, please think of ways of helping him/her without pressuring your purse or time too much. Some of the ways to help this child could be to: (a) dedicate half an hour three-five days every week and teach him/her, (b) sponsor his/her education (it doesn't have to be an expensive school), (c) provide a safe space to this child where he/she can talk about things that might be bothering him/her (this may include physical/sexual/mental abuse), (d) make him/her play, laugh and enjoy and (e) if the child doesn't have appropriate adult care, please connect this child to a trusted governmental or non-governmental organization that will meet this child's basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, education and security. 

If all of us were responsible for at least one neglected child, our vision would not be too far away from reality. We all know, our children are our future and the better we are able to bring them up, the better this world would become. If we teach them sharing with our actions, they will not learn to snatch. If we teach them love with our action, they will not learn to hate. 

Let's prepare a better world, a peaceful world!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Take a minute to count your blessings and keep a track of them

'Thanksgiving Day', is a harvest festival, mainly celebrated in the United States, Canada, Greneda, The Netherlands, Liberia, Norfolk Island and now-a-days in countries like Puerto Rico. It is usually celebrated on different days in these countries. In India there are harvest festivals like Onam, Makar Sakranti and Holi and in China it is celebrated as Full Moon.

In today's age, this is a secular occasion when families come together to thank God for all the blessings He bestows all year round. It is a good way to take a break from the fast track of life and stop for a while to acknowledge and be thankful for the goodness that fills our lives.  

Giving thanks is one of the most beautiful act. It not only about acknowledging the doer of a good deed but it also helps us to focus on the good that surround our lives. So many times, we forget to count our blessings and keep worrying about not-so-good things in and around us. 

If all of us could modify our perspective just a little bit and focus on our blessings and share the happiness these blessings give us with others, the world would become a better place to live. Habit of knowing our blessings and recognizing their sources reduces our anger, increases our happiness and fortifies peace in our hearts and environment.  


Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.  ~Edward Sandford Martin

More info:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_festival 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Inspiration!

Today is my husband's birthday, somebody who inspires me everyday. He inspires me to fly on the wings of my dreams, he inspires me to dream of a peaceful world, he is the one who inspired this blog.

He reminds me of Jesus because even when a normal reaction could be of resentment, he manages to forgive people, because when a regular person would raise his/her voice to make a point, he keeps his calm. Humility is his greatest asset, he gives away the credit of his own work so effortlessly.

I have seen him work in villages where elders and children hug him like their own and sit by his side to hear what he has to say. I have seen him motivating thousands of suffering people to stand on their feet. His main message in every community he has worked is of unity and progress.

There are many in this world who can say, like me, that he is their mentor, teacher, guru, guide and a fun loving friend.

Dr. Joe, I am honored to be part of your great journey and looking forward to exploring new destinations together. Thanks for teaching me the way to peace through your humble and quite ways.


More info:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_O._Prewitt_Diaz

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What about you?

Experiences are integral part of life. Everyday we experience a variety of situations and feelings. We have professional and personal experiences which can be further categorized into good and bad experiences. Needless to say, good experiences give a boost to our lives while bad ones discourage us.

Now, please carefully read the last line... 'good experiences give a boost to our lives while bad ones discourage us'. It sounds almost perfect in the first read but this sentence has something fundamentally wrong with it. 

Should experiences be given the right to dictate how we feel? I understand that we can't always resist the physical impact of an experience but we can still protect our psychological state. The question is, if we fall down, we may break our knee but should that also break our determination? 

It is understandable that a rapist deserves arduous punishment but should the person who was raped feel like a victim for the rest of his/her life? For those of us who feel sorry about their lives for being a victim of bad experience/s, I would urge them to focus on lives of those people who have turned bad experiences into foundations of strength and determination. 

Experiences do not dictate how I feel but it is 'I' who decide how I want an experiences to affect my life. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. Violence will not cause me to be violent because I have decided to be peaceful. What about you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank you Ricardo, Dr. Ganthimathi and Vikas bhai!

As a result of January 2010 earthquake, around 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless in Haiti. The cholera outbreak in the last month has killed more than 1,000 people in this beautiful country. And in midst of all this suffering, recent riots in Haiti is a heart breaking news. 

These riots were instigated based on rumors that the United Nations peace-keapers from Nepal spread the epidemic in Haiti. According to UN sources riots may be politically motivated. The riots have worsen the situation for the survivors of the earthquake, many of whom are also the victims of the cholera outbreak. Some of the crucial projects have been suspended, delivery of the relief materials is hampered, flights are cancelled. 

It is beyond my understanding how simple people are so quickly mobilized for such purposes. This is a time when the locals must be motivated to come together to facilitate the work of the humanitarian agencies in order to improve the ground conditions. But unfortunately, even in such challenging situations, there are people that are doing just the opposite.

I salute those who are still working for the betterment of Haitians and are risking their lives for a humanitarian cause. These people from around the world including local humanitarian workers have sacrificed their comforts and risking their lives in order to serve their fellow human beings. These humanitarians present a sharp contrast to those who are instigating the riots in such a distressing situation. 

I would like to recognize some of my personal friends who are currently in Haiti and doing their humanitarian duty. Thank you, Ricardo Caivano, Dr. Ganthimathi and Vikas Goyal for keeping our faith in humanity alive!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Embrace Peace to be Victorious!

Being spontaneous is good, it helps building genuine relationships and it adds more fun and humor in the interactions.

However, in certain situations, it is better to prolong the time between the stimulus and the reaction, especially while dealing with provocation. It is very difficult not to react or delay reaction when one is attacked verbally or figuratively but haste can do more harm to one's image, internal and surrounding peace. 

When provoked, practice delay in the reaction. During this delay, try to think of reactions which will reduce the heat in the situation and retain a peaceful environment because this gives a upper hand in the situation. 

Staying calm and peaceful is not a sign of cowardliness but it actually increases the chances to win the conflict. Anger may enhance the energy in the reaction but a composed mind and demeanor increases the effectiveness of it. 

Aggression may lead to a half victory because in the process one looses his/her internal peace and may also sever relationships, while peaceful ways bring true victory without guilt or regrets. Let us all be truly victorious!
   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi freed!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977
A ray of hope coming out of dark clouds in Myanmar with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Noble Peace laureate, who has been under house arrest for several years in her own country. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy and Buddhist principles, she has been struggling to bring democracy in her country since 1988. Fearing her influence in the nation and her potential success, military 'Junta' put her under house arrest in 1989.
Her release is the victory of yet another non-violent struggle, yet another living story where peace wins over oppression, yet another reason that brightens the hope of those who are silently struggling for their basic rights and the rights of their fellowmen. 


Let peace prevail!

More information:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

US - India's evolving friendship and it's role in global peace

Watching President Obama address the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha of India was very thought provoking. The leader of the oldest democracy was talking to the leaders of the biggest democracy in the world. While he met the broad expectations of Indians, he also urged India to be more vocal about human rights issues in the region.  He stressed on the united role of US and India on promoting shared prosperity and preserving peace and security.

It would be interesting to see how soon India can secure its permanent place in the UN Security Council and how India adopts or enhances it's role as human rights advocate in the region. Although, it does not necessarily look like that all the members of the UN Security Council have always respected or advocated for human rights issues within their countries or in the region. With due respect to the current and 'wannabe' members of the UN Security Council, a gentle reminder, 'charity begins at home'. Human rights are still unreachable luxuries  for some in these countries.

Advocating and promoting human rights and peace is critical. US' intentions and efforts in this regard are worth appreciation and it would be great if India does engage more actively in promoting human rights in the country, region and the world. However, only good intentions and engagement are not enough.

In order to ensure that human rights are respected and enjoyed in each context, one needs to explore context specific solutions based on the reality of that place, the culture and local ideas. To begin an intervention, no matter how good the intentions might be, one has to painstakingly understand the context, involve the local population and develop 'peaceful' and sustainable strategies to promote human rights and peace in a respective region. In other words, waging war to promote peace is not an option.

All the very best to the evolving friendship between India and the US and may they together promote justice, equality, basic human rights and peace on this earth and eventually may this friendship may include Pakistan, China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba! 




Monday, November 1, 2010

Every storm passes!

For the last three days, we have been talking about Tropical Storm Tomas in the Caribbean Sea and how it could impact Puerto Rico. My son watched the TV and shared our concern. He was even told that he might not be able to go out on the streets singing 'tricks o treats' and collect candies because of the rains. I was worried if he would be able to go to school the next day.

Thankfully, it didn't rain a lot in the evening and our son was able to enjoy the 'Halloween Party' (I am not a very big fan of this celebration but kids really seem to have fun on this day). It rained quite a bit during the night. At one point our son got very frightened. He woke up crying and didn't want to go to the school. It was still drizzling in the morning. After a little bit of struggle, he got ready and ate breakfast. By the time, we got in the car, the sun was out!

Our son a bit confused, asked us, "Why didn't you tell me that the storm was going to be over today"? I smile and said, "Shaanu, every storm passes! Wether the storm in the sky or in our lives, it passes and the sun comes out". While Shaan was still trying to understand what mummy is saying, papa explained further, "The best thing God made is minute after the other and life goes on." I am not sure if Shan understood everything but I know that the sunlight brightened with his smile.

Those of us who are experiencing tough times, keep the faith and do not let the hope die. No matter how dark the sky is and how loud the thunder maybe, the storm fades away, the sun comes out and life moves on!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Claim your peace!

We all deserve peace in and around us. Sometimes people and situations in our life facilitate that peace and sometimes it is the vice-versa. Our environment disturbs the calm within us. In such a situation, we need to take a few deep breaths and claim our peace.


Remember, it is not just the outside factors that may disturb our inner being but also our own reaction/s. The better we are able to handle our own reaction, the stronger our hold is on our inner peace. 


Next time, your inner tranquility is attacked by somebody/something, focus on your own reaction. Try hard to ensure that your response is in accordance to your needs, values and goals. It is not easy but it is very much possible. In the worst of situations, never forget to claim your peace because it is your right!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reports and lack of reports of breaches of International Humanitarian Law and Treaties

Once more, there are reports of civilians and prisoners of war being tortured and killed by the ones who were supposed to protect them. 


Sadly, this is just one report for one country. We know there are many other examples where human beings are mistreated, raped, tortured and killed, many of which are not interesting enough even for organizations such as wikileaks. Where do we go from here and how do we get there?


Armed conflicts and wars start as corrective measures against oppression and end up creating more oppressors, just the sides being oppressed are changed.


Who all are responsible for these despicable acts? How do we make it right for those children who have been orphaned? How do we make it right for those women who have been widowed and for the first time in their life are finding themselves to be the earning member of the family in absence of necessary skills to do?  How do we make it right for those who are handicapped for ever? How do we make it right for those parents who will spend the rest of their lives with tears and memories of their dear children who were snatched from them in the name of 'investigation' or 'escalation of force'? 


Stand up, people, stand up, to your responsibilities towards yourselves and your own. World leaders you are accountable to what is going on and where we go now. Peace is only way to go. Wake up before it is too late!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Raising the Humanitarian Assistance Bar a couple of nudges gives us a glimpse of peace (Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz)

We have followed up the progress of Chile and the 33 rescued miners since the “Miracle of the San Jose Mine” took place. Thirty-three miners were captive in the confines of the San Jose mine for 69 days. Person blame games were rapidly changed for a new strategy, togetherness of purpose. This new strategy called for the country to come together in a humanitarian effort to save the lives of the most vulnerable.

A valuable lesson was learned: Human beings have the innate power to change their ways (save life’s or achieve peace) if there are clear objective accompanied with a good dose of faith , courage and unity.  When actions accompany rhetorical statements of faith and hope then the achieved task of bringing 33 men trapped 2, 100 feet plus under the earth generates hope in the many people that witnessed the act through television.

Well, the men are out of the mine, last week all had been discharged from the hospital with a declaration of clean physical health. A new challenge has emerged this week. What about the mental health needs of these individuals? The calls for assistance due to nervousness, hyper vigilance, helplessness and hopelessness, and yes, even substance abuse call out for a new statement of hope for the emotional well being of these individuals. How can the mental health community address their needs? What are the contingency plans? How do we know if those plans, once implemented, have been achieved? We must embrace the believe, that all the ills will be addressed and that well-being will be obtained by the 33 miners, and their country.

There is no greater believe than the one that brings you peace. There is no better talent than the one that you happiness. There is no better commitment than the one that is made for love. There is no better act of kindness than the one that produces love. There is no better blessing that the one that provokes PEACE. We are aware that  firm believes, identification of talents, acts of kindness, and blessings from Chilean mental health personnel, and their counterparts across the world will bring well being and peace to these 33 miners. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Protecting My Peace

In this world, not everything is perfect, not everything goes the way we would like it to. No matter how much we want to adopt peaceful ways and try to embrace peace, we loose it due to circumstances, people around us or maybe because of our own lack of control on how we think or react.


We must learn to focus on peace, forgiveness, humor, sharing even the most difficult situations. We can develop skills to live the difficult situations in an objective manner.


Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the holocaust has demonstrated how a human being can endure most brutal situations in the right and honorable manner. It was due to his and others' suffering in these camps that he came to his hallmark conclusion that even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that therefore even suffering is meaningful. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl)


We can't control all the evil but we can and must protect the good within us.


If we are able to conquer our thought process, we can attain peace that stays...!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who will take the first step towards peace and well being?

During my mission with the International Committee of Red Cross, we were working in Naxalite majority villages in Chattisgarh, India. Even though these villages are rich in natural resources, people struggle for basic necessities: food, clothing, medicines and education. Not many people are willing to go and offer their services as teachers or medical personnel in these villages due the poor security conditions.

During my short visit, we lived in a small town and would travel everyday for hours through the jungles over the land-mines. Since the Red Cross is a neutral and impartial organization, we had the permission both from the government and the naxalites to visit and assist in these villages.

I was conducting psychosocial support assessment, therefore I had the opportunity to sit with the elders, women, children, nurses, teachers and doctors to listen to their stories about their struggle to meet their basic needs for so many years. Their life seems to be the same before the insurgency as well as during it. Many questions arose in my being as a result of this experience...

Most of all why does a government let the poor people get to a stage where they are ready to give or take life in order to get their fair share? And if the people get to that point, does that behavior really enables their fellow community folks to get their fair share or it further worsens the situation for them? Don't most leaders on both sides eventually want power and forget the greater good for their people?

How many children are not getting enough educational opportunities? How many sick are being denied adequate medical treatment? How many women and children are being physically abused in absence of support systems? How many communities are living without enjoying their basic human rights?

Could the situation be better if both sides had decided to talk about the problems and their solutions? Would the situation be better if the priority on both sides was the well being of the people rather than power? Would the situation be better if the elders, woman and children were also actively involved in the negotiations? Aren't these questions relevant in other conflict situations as well?

Looks like we all know the best way forward but who will take the first step towards peace and well being?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Follow up on Miners by Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz

When Florencio Avalos came out of the San Jose mine after sixty-nine underground. He and his peers had been pump up to returning back to the surface. Their families had been prepared to handle the emotional moments to follow the rescue. We acknowledge that these miners are a resilient bunch, we even see the miracle as it unfolded in front of our eyes.  Millions of people celebrated around the world and became a part of this historical moment.  

The experiences of the group in those days really built on the collective resilience of the group. The activities that they undertook let them to affirm their cultural identity as miners and as Chileans (even the Bolivian miner engaged in the cultural activities). They strengthened their social networks and supports, as seen by one of the miners who upon his arrival to the surface acted as a cheer-leader for the rescuers and the viewers alike. We all witnessed the deepening spirituality as expressed by the older miner, who upon his arrival to the surface kneeled in a prayer to the all Mighty for his save return and that of his peers. After all, those various factors contributed to resilience by fostering physical and emotional well-being  and serving as valuable personal goals in themselves. 

Three days after their dramatic rescue we began to hear how lucky this bunch was, appearances on TV, interviews and trips would net each of them about $400,000 US. We4 all rejoiced about that, but questioned the wisdom of exposing them so soon after the rescue to so many stimuli. Was it prudent psychologically for the survivors?  I spoke to a colleague about this and his response was that the emotional well-being would be handled step by step, and that the Ministry of Health of Chile had put in place a safety net to handle their recovery and psychological well-being.

Less than a week has gone by since the surviving miners have returned to the surface, and a different story is emerging from the miners optic...  They report "harassment from the press and other media, lack of basic services (water, sanitation, housing and food, and unemployment). The very basic pre-condition necessary to calm these miners and promote hope in a future without post traumatic stress reactions, has not been assured by the Government of Chile.  The mental health safety net is not in place or has broken down. There were no considerations taken to assure that the living conditions of the miners would be improved during those 69 days. 

What will pave the route to peace, reconciliation and resilience? The miners have asked that (1) their privacy be respected, (2) access to basic services such as water, electricity and basic livelihood, and (3) protection from drug gangs, and other undesirables in their respective neighborhoods who now see them as targets because of the recent publicity, and (4) most importantly work...one of the miners said "we are all poor, and have a lot of needs, but we enjoy working and want to work".

WHEN WILL PEACE REACH THESE SURVIVORS???? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

ICRC visits to prisons: In detention - the humane way

Thousands of people around the world are detained as a result of armed conflicts and internal conflicts. Not all deserve to be detained and none of them deserve torture.



The families of all deserve to know about their dear ones, the punishment is for the detainee and not for his/her spouse, children or parents.

The punishment shouldn't be exacerbated as a result of lack of basic living conditions.

Yes, as citizens and authorities of a nation, we have the right to get angry and punish the offender in order protect our land and our dear ones. But we must NOT engage in things and acts that we would not want our dear ones to experience and/or which may worsen the on-going conflict.

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has been working since 1863 to protect the rights of prisoners of wars, amongst many other issues that are concerned with the well being of human race around the world.

The documentary below sheds light at the condition of detainees and interventions conducted by the ICRC in several different contexts for over hundred years.

After all, the detainees are humans like us!


More info:
http://www.icrc.org/

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chile Miners: Peace Restored!

For the trapped miners and their families in Chile, peace is restored after 69 days. What a joy to see a separated family member after long days of waiting and uncertainty! 

A victory constituting scientific intervention, humanitarian action and divine miracle! This is a story with a happy ending for few families that has made millions of eyes around the world moist. Although only 17 are out and 16 miners are still inside, the happiness from the ongoing reunions is irresistible to those who are waiting and watching.

This story also reminds us of resilience that we human beings possess, a capacity to bounce back from an adverse event. These brave men have not only survived a very challenging period of their lives, most of them have carried out responsibilities such as a journal writer, camera man, spiritual leader and secretary of the group. Needless to say, this situation will leave some psychological scars on these miners but with support and right focus, they will remain victorious!

A great example of a nation's unity and commitment towards it's countrymen. I hope other countries will learn a lesson from this event. There are millions of families who are still waiting to know the fate of their dear ones who are separated as a result of an armed conflict or a disaster and are asking for sincere assistance from different States around the world.

And finally, for those of us, who are trapped in our own mines where we may not see a ray of hope in a particular situation, loosing hope in the moments of solitude, it is an inspirational story. If they survived, we will survive too and be victorious. Peace will be restored again!


Additional Resources:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_resilience
  • http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/family_links?OpenDocument

Monday, October 11, 2010

"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for." - Mahatma Gandhi


The video below is of a prayer dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, commonly known as 'Bapu' (father) in India. He led the first non-violent freedom struggle and inspired thousands of people around the world. He demonstrated that peace is the most powerful and forceful weapon to fight a cause.

Born on October 30th, 1869, his life raised many eyebrows for various reasons but he stood by his principles until his last breath. He continued to evolve as a human being and as he himself said, 'experimented with truth' all his life. Sadly, the life that stood for non-violent principles was cut short by a violent attack on January 30th, 1948.

He and his wife Kasturba Gandhi, also known as 'Baa' (mother) led a very simple life and raised their children in the same way. More than often, he and his family had to suffer because of his 'quest for truth' and struggle for freedom, human rights and dignity.

Bapu is honored as the 'Father of the Nation' in India and it wouldn't be wrong if we also call him the 'Father of Civil Rights Movements' internationally!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Liu Xiaobo: Peace and Human Rights go hand in hand

54 years old, China dissident, Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Noble Peace Prize 2010. What a beautiful way to bring the international attention to human rights struggle in China and to this brave man who has sacrificed his freedom for what he stands for.

Charter 08 is a manifesto developed by the intellectuals and human rights activists in China and was published in 2008 on the 60th anniversary of 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. Mr. Xiaobo  is a political prisoner in China, serving 11 years' imprisonment on account of his participation with Charter 08. He is an intellectual, writer and a human rights activist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Liu_Xiaobo-300.jpg

Off course, Chinese government is not happy with the news because this serves as yet another message from the international community about its restrictions on its own citizens on freedoms of speech, movement, religion and even having more than one child.

I congratulate Mr. Liu Xiaobo for continuing his struggle for human rights in China in a non-violent manner and hope that someday peace will prevail in his life, his country and in this world!

More Information:

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11499098
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_08
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaobo

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Past is over... No, really!

Psychological pain for too long is neither healthy for the person nor for the environment. One must take time out to understand what is it that hurts within. If there is more than one reason, then segregate them and explore their roots. Only the person that is hurting knows where it hurts and what is it that hurts.

Generally reasons for long term pain are (a) Loss and (b) Anger and (c) both Loss and Anger. Loss can be of a dear one, job or material/property. Anger can be towards a dear one, a perceived enemy or even towards God.

When dealing with Loss, while we lament on what is gone, it is important to also focus on what we still have and build on our strengths. For example, if a woman has lost her family in the war, she must focus on her life, her skills (teaching, embroidery, cooking, gardening, etc), her beliefs, religious values, family and friends that are left behind, and governmental/non-governmental assistance available, if any. Focusing on what we still have in the present situation helps us to move forward.

While dealing with anger, the following steps are helpful:
A. Try to find out the origin of it. When did it all started, who is responsible for it, why does it still bother me, does this anger stop me from doing things that are good/important to/for me? Look for clear answers, they are right there inside us.
B. Another important step is to stop feeling guilty for the mistakes we might have made in the process.
C. Forgive all those who are/were responsible for what happened to us or to our dear one. This is the most difficult thing to do and it may take a long time. Start slowly, cry if we have to, tears will help cleaning us from within. Forgiving will liberate us from the chains that anger binds us with.
D. Smile to the newly found freedom, enjoy it and explore the new path that awaits us.

Both Loss and Anger, require us to focus on our strengths, our skills, our family and friends and choose the best way to move on. We must have a couple of plans based on the resources and the choices we may have, in case one plans doesn't work we must have another option.

Moving forward with your head high is the key! From today on, take charge of your steps and start with small steps!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Respect of Human Rights Critical to Development and Good Governance!

On Sept. 6-7, 2000, the heads of States and Governments gathered together in the UN headquarters in New York to adopt 'Millennium Declaration', wherein it was recognized that there is a direct connection between development, good governance and human rights.

It took some time for the world leaders to declare the obvious but better late than never! Remember, we all are the path as well as the vehicle for the challenging journey between the 'declaration' to the 'actualization' of the declaration. Because if you and I are not actively involved, it would be impossible to ensure the operationalization of any policy or statement, no matter how beautiful it is.

I would like to reiterate the fourth clause under the section on 'Values and Principles' of the 'Millennium Declaration' here:


"We are determined to establish a just and lasting peace all over the world in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter. We rededicate ourselves to support all efforts to uphold the sovereign equality of all States, respect for their territorial integrity and political independence, resolution of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for the equal rights of all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character."


Claim your rights and share with those who are deprived of them!  

Recommended readings:

  • http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/MDG/Pages/MDGIndex.aspx
  • http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conspiracy against negative intruders within...

It is a beautiful morning. If I allow myself to be led by the various stimulus around me, I would move closer to inner peace. Sunlight is still mild, the breeze is soothing, the birds are praising the creator, children are waking up to naughtiness...

All I need is to breath all this in and take out anger, disappointments or any other negative intruder that is trying to capture my being.

Every day brings its own challenges but first it brings the opportunity to rejuvenate, cleanse and prepare us for everything else that may follow.

Thanks to the beauty of this morning, I start my day with a bright smile, a smile that will be contagious to many.... what a lovely conspiracy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

India United for Peace!

Even though currently I am living far away from India, I was feeling the fear that millions of Indians shared pending the High Court verdict on the Babari Masjid and Ram Mandir controversy in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. People were scared of the potential riots if one of the groups was not happy with the verdict, mothers were worried if it would be safe to send their children to school during this time, people from minority communities were taking time off from their jobs and looking for refuge, others said that people from one community are coming together to prepare for violent activities.

When I tuned into NDTV Live with Barkha Dutt today, I was very nervous as to what will I find out. But the moment I saw the sub-caption, ' India united for peace', my soul was filled with gratitude to God and pride for my countrymen.

Thankfully, the three judges gave a fairly good verdict to the longest legal battle in the country while respecting the religious sentiments. Both communities will now have legal place to worship God according their religious practices. Not everybody is happy with the verdict but majority in the nation are satisfied and are ready to move on. Though the debate hasn't stopped, the peace and reconciliation process has begun. 

India has always been the spiritual leader on the world stage and events like these fortify its position even better. India, through the recent developments, provides an operation example for facilitating global peace.

Long live peace and harmony in India and all over the world!



Monday, September 27, 2010

One more time, Violation of International Humanitarian Law!!!

Today is not one of the best days for global peace... I just watched a story on CNN about American soldiers killing 'civilians for sport' in Afghanistan. More details on this story and comments from around the world can be read at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/09

No explanation can justify yet another violation of International Humanitarian Law in today's age where substantial awareness has been raised regarding the rights of the non-combatants during an armed conflict.

How could conversations related to killing civilians go on for months even until the actual implementation of it all?  President Obama, you are the 'Commander in Chief' and ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that the International Humanitarian Law is respected in all circumstances. You have pledged to do so, sir. With due respect, Mr. President, I request you to do everything possible to prevent this type of horrific actions. With rigorous monitoring and enhanced support for the personnel, this is possible.

Why should nationals of a country that has been suffering for more than thirty years be tortured and killed in the name of so called peace war. The pain and fear that these killings have germinated in the hearts of the friends and families of the victims will stay with them for a long time. Events like these break the trust that others have built with their sacrifice and dedication. It hurts the trust not only of the Afghan people but also of the American people who support their personnel in uniform at all times.

The worst part is that these events become ammunitions for the those who like to spread hatred and division amongst humanity.

May the grieving families on both sides receive peace from above and strength from within to move on in life in a positive manner.

I receive what I spread...

For me, the easiest way towards internal peace is to make somebody feel special or to touch somebody's heart through a little deed. A 'thank you', words of blessing, a hug or just a smile fills my very being with peace and satisfaction, a satisfaction that cannot be attained by owning luxurious property, having a delicious meal or expensive jewelry.

Assisting others is just another way of assisting our own-selves and most of all a beautiful way of spreading  the aroma of peace around us.

We all know that peace and happiness increase when we share it with others but we often mistake it as a nice theoretical statement. Actually, it is a practical principle for a successful journey on this earth. Try it!

Do not delay, spread love not hatred, acceptance not condemnation, peace not war, generosity not denial, freedom not fear, unity not division, rights not oppression, dignity not humiliation, equality not partiality and you will receive the same in return.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Art is a beautiful thread that can bind the whole humanity :-)


When a Cameroonian song, 'Waka Waka' is adapted and sung by a Columbian singer, 'Shakira', is staged in South Africa and is hummed by the whole world, it demonstrates the power of Art forms to bring people together.

In the recent decades, Michael Jackson's music has made people tap their feet around the world and has brilliantly spread the message of healing the world to people of both 'darker' and 'fairer' skin tones. 






Mira Awad and Nora Arab are singers that have dedicated their talent to bring peace in the middle east. What a good way of using their gift from above!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn12wcZaZF8&p=D8DD407D47BF20F9&playnext=1&index=68


My most recent experience was when we watched 'My Name is Khan' here in Puerto Rico. The dialogues were being delivered in Urdu, which were subtitled in English and were applauded by Spanish speakers. The message of harmony and brotherhood reached and touched the hearts breaking all the boundaries of languages and nationalities.



my-name-is-khan-14.jpg

A Big Thanks to all the artists that have used their blessings to reduce hatred and to bring people together. I appeal to other artists as well to use their talent to mobilize the power of humanity to heal itself.

Another important point for all us, art forms are a very good way of learning and empathizing with foreign cultures. Exchanging and sharing our art can dissolve the boundaries of hatred.

A child's wish!

Peace is good. I like peace and you should too. It can't end. We should tell other people about peace.

- My soon to be 11 years old son, Abraham R. Dayal

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rape Victims Deserve to Live with Dignity

In July, this year, I met a Ugandan Red Cross worker who assists Rwandan Nationals who try to take refuge in Uganda. I was flabbergasted when I was told that one of the rape victims told him, "I know I can't stop being raped repeatedly but at least help me to abort every time the rape results in forced pregnancy. I don't want to bring up and nurture the reminders of the pain and abuse I go through." 

Repeated rapes are common war crimes in this part of the world. Women are abducted, taken to militia camps, molested and are forced to live in the most challenging living conditions. Sometimes, they die without ever getting any medical help or seeing their dear ones again. 

Rapes and abuse are not only limited to this region or to women. Little children, both boys and girls and vulnerable men are also targeted by molesters. 

What can we as individuals do to support these victims? We probably can't prevent all the rapes in the world but we can at least promise ourselves that we would be less judgmental and more supportive towards these victims. We would try to educate people in our respected societies that rape victims have the right to life with dignity. 

The first thing that we need to do in order to support them is to change our perspective. We need to see them as survivors and not as victims. Secondly, we must explore small steps along with a rape survivor that will lead him/her to the path of recovery. In order to do this, we must provide a safe space to this person/s where they can express themselves without any fear, cry for what they have lost, be angry about what happened, celebrate the chance to live and focus on their strengths. With some support, our friends will very soon be moving forward in life. 

Let us come together to support those who are oppressed and spread peace in the process. 

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_rape



The Colour Of My Skin

The colour of my skin, Didn’t matter to me, ‘Coz when I was born, I was colour free!  Then eventually, The colour of my skin, ...