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:

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!

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.


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:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Please do not let the soul of these dreams die!

Most of us have dreams and agendas that we struggle to achieve. We develop different strategies to use our time, wisdom, energy, money and other resources to attain our goals. Implementation of all strategies cost something. Sometimes, we are so adamant at fulfilling our dream that we are ready to pay any cost for it, even if it costs the very soul of our dream!

In today's world, if we look at the major struggles in the world, this is exactly what is happening. Whether, it is the so called 'Jihad' or the fight to save 'Hindutva' or the so called 'peace wars' to promote the 'American Values' or the historical facts related to Christian Church or the 'establishment of Israel as a nation'.

There is so much of serenity in these concepts and I am sure that their founders never thought that these concepts may some day lead to hatred, abuse, torture, killings, wars and in many cases even the violation of the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. 

I humbly request and appeal to those who are the keepers of these wonderful concepts, please take a break and re-think. Please do not let the soul of these dreams die! Do every thing possible to educate your followers and the on-lookers about (a) what values your concept stands for, (b) what the original dream of the founder was, and (c) what are individual and global dreams related to your wonderful concept.

This education needs to go beyond the universities, web pages, and books and needs to reach the streets, the homes, and day-to-day conversations. Education against violence must be promoted through texting/sms, posters, billboards, TV/ radio advertisements and other popular promotional mediums. In today's age, promotion of peace is more important than the promotion of jokes, movies and other commercial products.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Humanity, use your brain!

Violence of any kind is directly connected to foolishness and stupidity. Every time a human being uses violence to achieve his/her goal, he/she is totally undermining their problem solving ability.

Wars are a result of foolishness and loyalty. Foolishness of few starts a war and loyalty of many runs it. It always results in immediate and long term physical, psychological, social, and economical wounds on both sides. At the end, nobody actually wins!

A little more time spent in strategizing in peaceful ways can not only increase the probability of attaining the goal but also of its sustainability in a much more economical fashion. This is proven by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. 

Humanity, use your brain, STOP THE WARS!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Embrace Heals

Acceptance is usually more effective than condemnation in the correction process.

Try it in day-to-day life, it works! :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reflections of a 9/11 responder

Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz
Nine years ago, to the day, I got up as usual and completed my morning chores. Little did I know that before that day would end I would witness one of the greatest tragedies in recent American history. That afternoon, I found myself on the site of the crash of United 93 in Somerset, PA one of the three attacks on 9/11.  For the next ten days I served as one of the Coordinators of Disaster Mental Health for the American Red Cross the families of the heroes that traveled on that plane.

I have witnessed other acts of hatred in the last two decades: the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Columbine High school massacre to just name two. These events generated feelings of puzzlement, anger, fear and disbelief. None of these feelings were as intense as those that I witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the United 93 terrorist act. Those days I experienced the intensity of emotions expressed by many: fear, anguish, disbelief, anger, and a sense of being violated.

This event happened as a result of a belief system of few, that supports the dictum that violent response and martyrdom frees the human being from inward evils and leads to the path of heaven.

This attack has not been unique to the United States. There have been similar attacks in England, Spain and India. What is different is the reaction of the Government. Soon the frustration of government officials and a nation full of fear was evolving into talk of retaliation. The norm in conversation was to use an ancient law—“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

The ill-conceived decision to retaliate, the outburst of negative energy has bought as a result many more curses than blessings:
  • Thousands of deaths and injuries, grieving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, widows, and orphans. 
  • Psychosocial changes in the structure of the home.
  • Children have been exposed to many fears, and anxieties that project themselves into hyperactive and disruptive behaviors in schools, and community.
  • The downturn in our national economy, and trillions of dollars in external debts.
  • Hundreds of thousands of women and men have returned home as wounded warriors. 
The events off 9/11 have forever changed the psychosocial and physical well-being of our nation.
As a young soldier returning from South Asia, I was welcomed with many epithets and the song “Ain’t going to study war no more”. This led me to introspection and the long road to healing, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As I reflect on the events of 9/11, it has come to my awareness that spiritual actions of a few have caused us spiritual, physical and psychological damages. Our response has to be addressed in the same manner. We failed to yield to the teaching from the Book of Isaiah who said “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.”--Isaiah 27:5.

Some would suggest that we acted as gangs act in some of the larger cities to defend their turf. This response needed to be more than a turf war, it required an introspective look at ourselves as a Nation. I wonder what would have happened if we would have tempered our response and initiated a proactive process of reflection about:

  • Who are we as a Nation?
  • What is the image that we project to the rest of the world?
  • What was the meaning of this event and how were we impacted, as a people, in our collective psyche?
  • How do we achieve spiritual and psychological survival, well-being, and safe reconciliation within our national boundaries and externally?
I wonder what would have happened if our religious leaders would have taken a prayerful but assertive action of moving the nation toward submission to God’s will, identification of what would constitute a perception of peaceful actions, and how could we achieve safe reconciliation with those Nations that gave birth, educated, and provided financial resources to our aggressors.  I am reminded in the words spoken in Holy Qur’an: "And if they lean to peace, then lean you too to it, and trust in Allah” Holy Qur'an (8:61).

What actions of forgiveness could have potentially occurred: educational activities, national and internationals forums, reaching out and creating or invigorating bond’s of trust and mutual aid. What about praying (remember President Carter during the Iran hostages situation), dialogue among the diverse religion groups, international teaching programs (such as Experiment in International Living, the Peace Corps), and random acts of kindness (such as the work by Faith based organizations). One such example, although in small proportion is provided by the civil affairs units of the U.S. Army, and most recently by former soldiers who are currently part of RUBICON, an NGO that deploys anywhere within the world, mostly in the Muslim world.

The positive of the 9/11 event can be identified in advances in emergency medicine, physical and behavioral health, international law, and an increase in the knowledge base of the American people.

If you ask me today, the price of war has been too steep. The time has come for us to stop trying to show how physically strong we are and begin to strive towards how spirituality strong we can be. To teach that “Reconciliation is to understand both sides; to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Monk). As the popular hymn encourages us:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony. ( Sy Miller)

[1] Dr. Prewitt Diaz is the recipient of the 2008 APA International Humanitarian Award. During his lifetime he has responded to over 100 major man-made disaster in the United States and other parts of the world.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If our ancestors had the bravery of starting the conflict, we can have the courage of initiating peace

Just because my argument is right doesn't mean that the counter argument to it is always wrong. Not only the coin has two sides, it also has a circumference.

To reach the right conclusion, it is essential to put everybody's opinion on the table and analyze it objectively. One cannot initiate peace talks with prejudice or a preset agenda.  

Peace for all needs some sacrifice, forgiveness and acceptance but above all it requires a greater understanding and empathy on all sides. If we spend time in understanding each other's cultural views, religious backgrounds, world views, ways of expression, body languages then we can at least make a solid platform to begin a dialogue. 

We need to understand each other beyond the way we dress up or what language we speak or what we eat because that's when we begin to see similarities that have the potential of bringing us together. Yes, our ancestors may have made mistakes against each other but who says that we need to carry the burden from the past. If they had the bravery of starting a conflict, we can have the courage of initiating peace for the sake of our legacy, our children!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nonviolent Communication

"The dynamic communication techniques of Nonviolent Communication transform potential conflicts into peaceful dialogues. You'll learn simple tools to defuse arguments and create compassionate connections with your family, friends, and other acquaintances."
John Gray, Ph.D., author, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Can we have a day of reflection trying to understand how intolerance and violence have affected us in our neighborhood, communities and cities?

We all know when Peace Calls. In the last  few days we have heard the sound of the shofar at a distance. The case of a small church pastor that decided that by burning the Holy Quran, he would make a statement has brought to the fore issues of freedom of speech and the separation of the church and State.  Peace is a fragile concept, it is a the body of a Concord airliner, that can fly high and fast, but... a small piece of rubber can damage its fuselage, and kill all those flying in it. So is the case in front of us. One very small action may have major impact in the hegemony of peace between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindu's buddhist and Taoists.  

So fierce can the repercussion of this action be that leaders across the world have asked for a reconsideration of this action. I wonder if the good preacher and his congregation stopped to think  what can be a peaceful approach to sensitizing others about of strong feelings of ill actions against all of us. Can we have a day of sharing a reflection on how we have moved on after the events of 9/11. Can we have a day of reflection trying to understand how intolerance and violence have affected us in our neighborhood, communities and cities? Can each of us give three examples of how we can be kinder, trusting, and peaceful brethren? Can we attempt to identify how we can move our peoplehood one step foward by following the lessons from the Holy Quran, the Bible, the Torah, the Book of Tao, the Ramayana, Geeta, or the thoughts of Budha?  Peace is about looking for ways in which we can live, and survive together....

Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz

Great minds of our time coming together for global peace

Few weeks ago, I posted a question on this blog, 'How can we contribute to global peace at individual level?' Not many people bothered to reply to the question. But some people did. The responses were very inspiring and practical.  I would like share excerpts from their beautiful responses (you can find the full text of responses at: 

MountainWave said...
I am a kinder, more patient, more understanding, more compassionate, more effective citizen/worker/friend/wife/sister/daughter when I take time to be quiet. Contemplative prayer/meditation is helpful in my quest for living as a peaceful member of our human family. Practicing quiet time on a regular basis also allows me to more readily acknowledge the conflict within myself, to be awake to my own inner experience, noticing conflict as it arises, not judging myself harshly, rather holding the awareness, tenderly, patiently. Often taking that time with myself makes a big difference. Negative emotions transform into understanding. From a place of understanding, I move forward differently than I would if I were "reacting" from a purely reflexive emotional place.

I'm me said...
Charity begins at home, therefore, one can only contribute to global peace if one is at peace with oneself.After that following a simple rule Of" Treat others as you want then to treat you".... Love, respect & dignity to your fellow human beings. Following this is not rocket science :)

Joe said...
Many times God sends answers to profound questions through simple mediums. Once I lived as a homeless person in a Beach. My constant companion were solitude and the sound of the waves as they hit the shore. One day some kids were making fun of me. I raise my eyes up high and asked “How can I have peace?” ….. Some days later I was looking at a crab, it was fairly big and had built a hole near some fallen palm leaves… The crab was out of her hole and every time she felt some critter came by she decided whether to attack or to go back to her hole. We have control of our inner self- instinctually, psychologically, physically and spiritually. We can choose when to excerpt control of our being. Through this crab God had answered my query. “I learned I controlled my feelings and my inner peace, that day, I learned that “peace” occurred when my actions did no harm to my brethren….”

Joydeep said...
Peace? What is it? Is it a feeling or a state of mind? Or is it the mere absence of fear? ... I believe that peace is an experience, which is independent of your surroundings, environment or financial wellbeing.
There goes a old story, a king once became very unhappy and restless. All his courtesans and well wishers tried different methods, but to no response. Then a monk walked in to his court and advised him to wear the shirt of a person who is at peace with himself. All the king's men ran out in different directions to find such a person. At long last and after a lot of efforts only one such person could be found, who seemed to be living in peace. But alas, he didn’t have a shirt on his back - he was a pavement dweller.
Peace cant be experienced until we make ourselves at peace. So when we believe that we are in peace, we can go ahead to spread the same feeling into our near and dear ones, and when we are able to ensure peace exists in our family, we can go ahead to "generate" peace in the neighborhood and so on and so on.
So be at peace with yourself, and you would involuntarily contribute to global peace.

Ajay Gerald Dayal said....
Hence we can conclude by saying, one of the ways that we all can contribute towards Global Peace is by putting the needs of others before our own. And follow the rule of ‘do unto others as ye wish others would do unto you!’ Global Peace can be achieved with tolerance towards all fellow humans and their ideologies. Another important facet of Global Peace is patience, to wait till the socio-economic conditions change, as everything does, when we are not in agreement with something or someone.
... This can be achieved through education and exposure via healthy interaction with others. Each and every action in our day to day life of sharing, caring and of tolerance and patience in the time of simple anxiety or extreme agony naturally and automatically contributes towards the Global Peace, and is recorded with the higher powers of the universe and is multiplied in other people’s lives in many different parts of the world on several different occasions, resonating forever in eternity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fight to empower!

Like we all know there are many ways to fight other than using violence. Violence aims to weaken the adversary, which may or may not reach the actual goal of improving our own situation.

Fighting a fight in a peaceful manner is usually more effective. For a peaceful fight two things are important (a) fight the issue and NOT the person/people and (b) fight to empower oneself and/or the cause/person/people one is fighting for. 

When one starts fighting the people, he/she can’t focus on the real issues anymore. Focus is crucial in getting the victory.

Empowerment increases the probability of victory and its sustainability. It is about making one’s fort stronger not just for ‘a’ enemy but also for many and at different times in life.

If we keep empowering ourselves with right knowledge, skills and tools, we can remain victorious for long.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's never too late to make peace

There are moments when struggles in life replace peace. Some fights become more important than peace because they protect rights of self and of others. And we have to change our priority from peace to protection. Those moments are the most difficult moments in life.

Fighting the fight worth-fighting is important but fighting it right the way is more important. No punishment should reach to the innocent. No fight should go so far that one cannot come back to peace. Remember, no matter how tough the struggle gets, peace is always calling!

It's never too late to make peace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Where is the boundary?

Growing up in a cross cultural environment was a huge blessing for me. We lived in a colony where railway employees lived. My friends came from all walks of life, rich, poor, middle class, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims from different parts of India. We celebrated all festivals together, ate good food in each other's houses and learned to respect each other's rituals and practices. We were so busy sharing with each other that we could not see the boundaries that this diversity may have brought. I guess sharing dissolves boundaries...

These childhood experiences blinded my eyes for boundaries. I can see the differences and also the similarities, I can feel evil and also the goodness but I can't see the boundaries. On the road of life, I see the red light sometimes but if I persist, eventually it turns into a green light and I go on. Dare to share and the boundaries won't bind you anymore!

Reach out to Him!

Today we weren't able to go to our church because of a trivial reason. Assigned places of worship of any religion are good because there we get a focused opportunity to interact with the almighty. I am a bit disappointed that today we lost that opportunity.

The good news though is that God, the creator of heaven, earth and of all those that reside in them, is not limited to any building or any group. I can worship Him and interact with Him wherever I humble myself to His presence. It is so simple because He is omnipresent! He is not limited to one religion or within one group. He is present in all places at all times! He is right here!

He sees every heart that is looking up to Him and has the power to touch and intervene in lives in any part of the world. He is omnipotent. He doesn't need visas to travel between India and Pakistan or Palestine and Israel. He has the authority in all places, how cool is that!!! Boundaries have no power on His everlasting love or freely flowing grace.

Please understand,  He is closer to us more than we realize and is able to do more than we can ever imagine! Reach out to Him!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Take control of your journey

Stressed? Chances of taking it out on your spouse, kids or friends?? Arguments, temporary/frequent withdrawal, anger, does it really reduce stress???

Nopes! These behaviors may even increase it!! You don't want that!!!

Try drinking a glass of water. Sit comfortably, deep breath for one minute and reflect on the stressful situation in an objective manner. Look at the situation from a bird's eye view and analyze it from distance.

Think of a friend, could be your spouse, sibling, child or any other friend with  whom you can share your feelings regarding the situation and further analyze it. In a stressful situation seeking support from dear ones is better than distancing yourself from them, both for you and for them.

Once you have spent time in understanding the situation, try to accept that cannot be changed and figure out the best way to move on. DO NOT victimize yourself! From here on in, take control of your journey.

ps: Managing your own stress is the first step towards peace! Adopt a healthy lifestyle, i.e. eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and make a habit of sharing your feelings even if it is with pen and paper :-)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

There's only one God!

Hope that the current peace talks initiate a new beginning for this beautiful region!

TACT-Peace in the Middle East

Peace Seeks Justice

Yes, the country seeks peace. But the angry protestors seek justice, The grieving mothers seek justice, The oppressed generations ...