Showing posts from 2011

Peace means Business

Peace has been understood in many different ways by different individuals in different cultures and in different times.  As per the USIP's Glossary of Terms for Conflict management and Peace-building, 'Peace Terms' (2011), edited by Dan Snodderly, the word “peace” evokes complex, sometimes contradictory, interpretations and reactions. For some, peace means the absence of conflict. For others it means the end of violence or the formal cessation of hostilities; for still others, the return to resolving con- flict by political means. Some define peace as the attainment of justice and social stability; for others it is economic well-being and basic freedom. Peacemaking can be a dynamic process of ending conflict through negotiation or mediation. Peace is often unstable, as sources of conflict are seldom completely resolved or eliminated. Since conflict is inherent in the human condition, the striving for peace is particularly strong in times of violent conflict. That said, a w…

Department/Ministry of Peace

Think about the millions of dollars spent on manufacturing, buying, maintaining arms, training and maintaining the combatants (State armed forces, local militias, and/terrorist groups), rehabilitating combatants and many other expenses related to wars plus the psychological pain and fear that goes with it. If we compare all that to the efforts and money spent to plan for peace, we would be surprised.

Often, war gives more power to the powerful and makes the rich richer. However, only a handful people are benefitted from the monies generated by wars and millions of people are left to suffer psychologically, physically and economically. 
History tells that time and time again individuals and groups have tried to convince the world for peace and non-violence. Unfortunately, their messages have not been given the due importance and ‘Peace' has become a 'nice expectation' rather than the imperative to run a nation.
With nuclear weapons, terrorism, violence related to drug cartels…

Defining and Doing the Duty

Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;

Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.

GEORGE PEELE, Polyhymnia

Last week, we went to watch Phillip Glass' opera 'Satyagraha' live from the Met right here in Puerto Rico. The show touched on Gandhi ji's life in South Africa. Instead of using real life conversations, Glass used teachings from Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture. There I found another important piece that will help us to continue to complete the mosaic of inner peace.

'Duty'(from "due" meaning "that which is owing") is that piece. In the past, we have talked about forgiveness, acceptance, having a bird's eye view to situation, moving forward, and service as few virtues to claim and sustain inner peace. Somehow, we did not give sufficient emphasis on our day-to-day duty meaning our duty towards our spouses, children, our jobs as well as the higher duty towards the humanity, environment and our creator. 

We all, deep do…

What I am Thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!!! This American tradition is relevant to all nations and every tradition. Each morning brings so many reasons to be thankful to God and to those who are part of our lives. Truly there is so much to be thankful for…

Like many of you, I too am thankful for my family and friends and all the love and flavor they adorn my life with! I am thankful for my work where I have the opportunity to serve my fellow human beings.

Thanks for the interactions and scenes full of inspiration. Thanks for the space where I can express my feelings and the freedom that I breath in everyday!

I am thankful for those brave people who put their lives at stake so that we enjoy this freedom! Thanks also for those who keep us safe in-country and to those who work hard so that we have electricity and water in our houses.

This Thanksgiving, my deepest thanks for the life of my friend, Sonia, who comes to clean our house. Few months ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer but sh…

Look at your Light!

Peace comes easy in an environment where the basic needs are being met, people around are reasonable and one feels relatively free. However, no wisdom seems to bring peace if one is struggling to feed their children, hurting because of a loved one or feeling restricted.

Peace continues to call and heart yearns to return to peace but the prevailing situation blocks it ruthlessly. Nothing seems to work, search for peace becomes a challenge. Anger, hopelessness, fear, sadness take turns to lodge the heart. Relationships may begin to deteriorate and one begins to feel lonely. Focus on what is going on may not help much.

And then, sooner or later, a light shines! A light of hope, a light that gives strength to the feeble heart. Actually, that light is always there but it is above the situations around us. And as soon as we are able to take our focus away from our insecurities and look beyond what is here and now, the rays of that light meet our eyes.

My dear friends, let us try and focus o…

Lord, make me beautiful!

Laziness and selfishness make me ugly, Lord, make me beautiful, May I be ready to assist the needy, Lord, make my actions beautiful
May love overpower all my relationships Lord, make my interactions beautiful May I live to be a blessing, Lord, make my life beautiful

May I be acceptable to you,   Lord, make my desires beautiful, May you be exalted through my life, Lord, make my mission beautiful
May I forgive and be forgiven, Lord, make my heart beautiful, Use me as the instrument of peace, Lord, make my approach beautiful
Let me not judge others, Lord, make my embrace beautiful, Please help me watch my steps, Lord, make my walk beautiful 
                - Amen

Voice of Refugees

Yaad-e-sarzamin mein bheega rehta hai
Dil ke kisi kone mein ek dard chhipa rehta hai (Urdu)
Distance from the motherland is always combined with some pain, which is often times sleeping in some little corner of our hearts. However, when this pain wakes up, little drops of tears find their way to our eyes.

For those of us who had to leave to their native country for a job or other reasons, there’s the opportunity to visit our dear ones and the places where we grew up. But there are those who are forced to depart from the land where they were born because of fear of death or persecution. They seek refuge in other countries, while many get accepted, many also get refused. Some wander from country to country/border to border to be able to survive, struggling for basic needs far away from all that knew and enjoyed growing up.

According to the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol defines a refugee as any person who “As a result of events occurring …

Accountability for Dignity

Today I was reviewing the guide planning and managing shelters for the disaster survivors in the US. I was very impressed with all the considerations that are taken to meet the immediate needs of all the populations and the structure in doing so. Amongst many excellent insights, the guide also cautions the shelter managers about the sex offenders and other anti-social elements.

This exercise made me remember the IDP camps in Bhuj, Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake and in the southern coast of Sri Lanka after the 2004 Tsunami. In Gujarat, in the GIDC shelters, each family had a little space covered with metal, which would get hot in the summers, very cold in the winters and would get flooded during the rainy seasons. It was one room for the whole family with hardly any privacy for anyone. In Sri Lanka, shelters were made of tarpaulin or wood and like in Bhuj, were not organized enough to meet the specific needs of all.

I wonder how the IDP camp managers in resource poor countries do t…

Synergize Goodness

As I was reading FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency in the US) plan for assistance for Special Needs Population, I was overwhelmed to see that it is articulated with sensitivity and empathy. They have a comprehensive list of people with special needs including those who don’t speak the primary language of the country. They realize that all needs of special populations are not the same and same type of assistance cannot fit all. They aspire to meet these needs without charging anything extra from this special population. I hope other countries are equally sensitive of special needs of people even during the time of emergency. I know there are enough good people around the world and their concerns and recommendations need to be heeded by all. If all the goodness found in the people could come together and synergize, it could change this world for better. Sometimes, what keeps these good people apart, in addition to time and space, is the ever-evolving set of linguistic and cultur…

Global Peace Starts from My Heart!

• Acknowledge beauty in every thing including yourself and those around you.

• Words that have a long term positive impact on people are usually the words of appreciation, don’t hold them back! Encourage and uplift as many as you can.

• Don’t let the smile leave your beautiful face for too long. If somebody is responsible for taking it away, you take the responsibility of bringing it back. :-)

• Facilitate safe expression of feelings. Actively listen to those who want to share their feelings and encourage writing, drawing, dancing, singing, theatre, sports, praying and other activities that are appropriate.
• Focus on the purpose. Every step you take must bring you closer to at least one of your goals.

• Serve without boundaries. Biggest service is to enable one to be self sufficient as much as possible.
• Take charge of the situation. No one can imprison your imagination or put your brain in chains.
• Let compassion be the most important ingredient of your soul.

• Last but not t…

Love my work!

As many of you know, hurricane Irene is passing through the Atlantic, impacting many countries as it is moving on. The beautiful Island of Puerto Rico too has been affected by this hurricane. All 78 municipalities are affected with the main rivers overflowing, hundreds of houses flooding and numerous trees broken down. Many people had to take refuge in shelters and many are still without electricity and water.  

We were without electricity for almost two days, one of our trees was also uprooted, house was flooded a little bit. For at least three nights, we couldn’t sleep because of the heavy rains, gusts of wind, and  thundering. Thankfully, there was no major damage.
This was the first time, when I was both the survivor and the responder to a disaster. I would work until late night and then get up early in the morning start working. Like always, got the opportunity to know a lot of good people who are always ready to help. What an honor to work with such people!  The most beautiful…

Meet my God

I am a Christian, believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I also follow some Christian traditions such as going to Church and kneeling down to pray. In addition, I talk to God, ask Him questions, show Him my gratitude.

When I bow down in front of God and feel His presence, I get insights about how to live, how to love, how to forgive, how to embrace and promote peace. Time spent with God is very dear to me.

Never ever during this time, have I ever felt that a person is bad just because s/he is Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, or follows any other religion. Have you? Oh and He tells me that I am not special to Him because I call myself Christian but because He loves me.

He says, all those He created are His children and it is okay if they fight once in a while but they must respect the fact they are a family and must remain united and must take care of each other's welfare. 
He feels sad when those who He created listen to their own selfishness and anger and call it His voice.

My God te…

Did the NATO troops really have to loose their lives?

Watching news is so hard for last two days. Every time I see the faces of the fallen in the recent attack in Afghanistan and hear their wives and other family members, sadness fills my heart. I feel sick to my stomach when I think of thousands of others who die in the name of war that we don't even get to know. Countless questions haunt me repeatedly.

Why these young precious patriots are sacrificed?

Why those who make the decisions to send the brave men to wars get to sit in their comfort zones? Why can't those who actually understand the pain of war and have excellent strategies to run the world in peaceful ways don't get to be the decision makers? Until when are we going to engage in wars?

Today, how many spouses and children are grieving for those who lost their lives in the name of war around the world? I dread the answer to this question.  If all their sadness could be summed together, would it be greater than the collective desire of those who wage war against each …

Advice from a 90 year old Sage

This is something we should all read at least once a week! Make sure you read to the end!
Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw …

Life is what you want it to be

These days I am experiencing frustration, disappointment and at times anger because several problems have decided to confront me altogether. Our car broke down and for last two weeks we are without a car in place where public transport system is very limited. I was offered a good job and then as I barely began to celebrate it, the organization is no more sure if they can hire me as I am not a US citizen and thirdly these days I find myself between two of my very dear family members who are struggling to find peace with each other.

In this state of mind it is very difficult to write on peace and yet this is the ideal time when I must think of being peaceful and share with my readers. :-)

So, the first step for me is NOT to blame anybody for the crisis but wait for the good that will emerge out it eventually. To be able to take this step successfully, I need to have trust in a power that is greater than I  and the crisis itself i.e. God. Complete trust will also lead to patience and re…

Being Good is Always an Option

My husband, Joe, and I often volunteer with the University of Puerto Rico, especially with the School of Law and with the Commission for Violence Prevention (COPREVI). Today we met with the director of COPREVI, Samuel Figueroa Sifre to develop community-based plans to reduce violence in our town.

As we were discussing strategies and activities that will enhance quality of life and decrease violence at the community level, Samuel raised an insightful question, "Why do people choose to become bad when they have the option of becoming better?" 

What a profound and yet a very simple question! The path of life is full of choices, it depends on us if we choose to turn left, right or go straight. Yes, there are times when we have followed a certain path because of external factors but that is very rare. 

God has given us the freedom to choose even when it comes to believing in Him. Making the right choice is not always possible but we can choose to improve as we move on our paths. 


Empathy, an essential

Three weeks ago I attended a workshop in US Institute of Peace. I met people from different professional backgrounds who had one thing in common, they are all peace-seekers. Around the same time, I also finished a nine weeks online course on Peace Education from University of Peace, Costa Rica
During this time, I was blessed with some good information regarding peace and related issues that I have been trying to process and will share as I make sense of it :-)
One thing that was reinforced repeatedly is that empathy is indispensable in the peace process. The good news is that most of us possess empathy, which according to Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (1995) is described as, "A cognitive awareness and understanding of the emotions and feelings of another person. In this sense the term's primary connotation is that of an intellectual or conceptual grasping of the affect of another." 
Don't be blind to the feelings for those who surround you, be aware of them. Don…

Hardship and hunger in the Horn of Africa

A good article by Bob McKerrow, Head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, Sri Lank:

Request for Information

These days I am writing a paper on the role of women and religion in trauma healing and peace building in Indian context. The paper discusses the role of women and religion in facilitating healing at individual, family and community levels after a traumatic event. Three themes are addressed: (a) impact of conflict induced trauma at the community level, (b) how trauma affects women’s psyche, social reactions, and spirituality and (c) presents three recommendations for practitioners and scholars to enhance the role of women and religion in trauma healing and peace building.

The paper is mostly based on my experiences in India and literature review. Unfortunately, being so far away from India, I am unable to visit or meet people to gather more insights.

Many women's groups are active in the conflict affected areas in India and have religious roots to their work. I would like to acknowledge as many of those activities as possible in my paper. Please share any personal experiences or inf…