Saturday, December 24, 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 willingness to accommodate perpetrators of violence without resolving the sources of conflict—sometimes called “peace at any price”—may lead to greater conflict later. 

I agree with all the definitions/interpretations/reactions including peace at any price probably is not the best way to peace, the process to get to peace is equally important. Having said that, attaining/achieving peace is hugely important in the current times. 

This is a time when peace should become a corporate imperative. It is crucial for growing economies. Smart businesses should promote peace so that peace could protect their success. Every time, there is a violent conflict, businesses, small or big, suffer losses. I am dead sure if the United States was not involved in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession would not have hit the country so badly. Let's face it, peace leads to wellbeing as well as money! 

Peace and commerce have many commonalities. Just like peace needs tolerance and acceptance of differences, successful trade involves people of different race, color or religion. Both peace and commerce strive to go beyond borders, aspire to form international ties, and bring prosperity. 

In todays world peace needs financial investment and financial investments need peace for stability and profit. I appeal to the business community to invest in peace by educating their employees, their families, and their clients about tolerance and the commonalities amongst religions and cultures. It is not tough to raise awareness regarding the importance of peace and peaceful ways to live but it needs some serious commitment both from intellectual and financial factions. In simple words, 'Harmony means money'! :-) 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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 spreading around the world, it is time to rethink the importance and place of ‘Peace’ in our countries. It is time for Peace to go beyond the non-profit organizations and become critical part of the State Governments.

There is a website called, ‘Global Alliance For Ministries and Departments of Peace’. The website content is not regularly updated but does have good information regarding movements around the world to form Ministries/Department of Peace within their State governments. I was happy to see India as one of those countries.

As per the website, in October 2005 three organizations, the US Peace Alliance, the Canadian Federal Working Group for a Department of Peace, and the UK ministry for peace, organized the first People’s Summit for Departments of Peace in London. These countries were Australia, Canada, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Italy, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom, Jordan, and the United States. Since then, the group has organized more summits and working towards its goal. I would love to know their latest achievements. More information can be found in the website:

The United States has a very rich history in this regard. I would like to share parts of very insightful and interesting information I got from Wikipedia on this subject ( ).  I would like apologize for copying and pasting so much text from this article but I truly believe that it was important to share this great information, especially for those who are aspiring for a Department/ Ministry of Peace in their respective country.

In 1793, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Founding Father (signer of the Declaration of Independence), wrote an essay titled "A plan of a Peace-Office for the United States”. Since then, many Law Makers have made similar initiatives, both from the Republican and Democratic Parties but without complete success.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) introduced U.S. Department of Peace legislation to Congress in July 2001, two months before the September 11 attacks. Kucinich has reintroduced the legislation every 2 years. The bill currently has 70 cosponsors. Some of the numerous organizations endorsing the legislation include Amnesty International and the National Organization for Women.
This bill includes several additional proposed mandates that would work in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and go beyond the existing mandates of the United States Institute of Peace. Some highlights among the areas of proposed additional responsibility include:
·       Provide violence prevention, conflict resolution skills and mediation to America's school children in classrooms as an elective or requirement, providing them with the communication tools they need to express themselves beginning in elementary school through high school.
·       Provide support and grants for violence prevention programs addressing domestic violence, gang violence, drug and alcohol related violence, and the like.
·       To effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology.
·       To rehabilitate the prison population.
·       To build peace making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad.
·       To support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence.
·       Monitoring of all domestic arms production, including non-military arms, conventional military arms, and of weapons of mass destruction.
·       Make expert recommendations on the latest techniques for diplomacy, mediation, conflict resolution to the U.S. President for various strategies.
·       Assumption of a more proactive level of involvement in the establishment of international dialogues for international conflict resolution (as a cabinet level department).
·       Establishment of a U.S. Peace Academy, which among other things would train international peace-keepers.
·       Development of an educational media program to promote nonviolence in the domestic media.
·       Monitoring of human rights, both domestically and abroad.
·       Making regular recommendations to the President for the maintenance and improvement of these human rights.
·       Receiving a timely mandatory advance consultation from the Secretaries of State, and of Defense, prior to any engagement of U.S. troops in any armed conflict with any other nation.
·       Establishment of a national Peace Day.
·       Participation by the secretary of peace as a member of the National Security Council.
·       Expansion of the national Sister City program.
·       Significant expansion of current Institute of Peace program involvement in educational affairs, in areas such as:
  1. Drug rehabilitation,
  2. Policy reviews concerning crime prevention, punishment, and rehabilitation,
  3. Implementation of violence prevention counseling programs and peer mediation programs in schools,
·       Also, making recommendations regarding:
  1. Battered women's rights,
  2. Animal rights,
·       Various other "peace related areas of responsibility".

Isn’t this material so simple, practical, meaningful, and critical? The cost for putting a Dept. of Peace would be very little compared to what is spent in the name of Department of Defense. The important part for this department is the NOT the dollar amount attached to it but the perspective that it brings to the strategic planning and the authority that it gives to peaceful options at the decision making table. Let us make it happen before the wars and conflicts prevent our grandchildren from being born. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

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 down in hearts, know what is our duty and often loose our peace of mind just because we fail to fulfill it. Therefore, it is crucial that we keep our focus on doing our duty. We can't control the outcome always because so many factors and people play a role in accomplishing/finishing a task, a conversation or a process. As far as we know we did our duty, no matter what the outcome was, we can be at peace with ourselves!

However, there are situations where for some reason, we are/were able to fulfill our duty and it hurts. It hurts but by letting it hurt us, we are not helping ourselves either. What we need to do is to learn a lesson from it, make the necessary changes in ourselves and in the circumstances to ensure that if ever again we are in a similar situation, we are capable of doing our duty. Remember, anytime is a good time to move on from a hurtful situation. 

One thing that is very important to mention before we close this post and that is, 'define your duty as the  symphony that is created both with your heart and your mind'. Not based on external factors such as other people, books, movies, so on and so forth. You are unique, your experiences are unique, your needs are unique, your worldview is unique and therefore the way You define Your duty.

Let us identify our duty and put all our strength in fulfilling it without ceasing, accept the failures, learn to forgive, and peace will follow!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

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 she didn't succumb to the disease neither physically nor psychologically. I am thankful for her fight, courage, resilience, hugs, smiles, and the healing she is receiving slowly but surely.

Lord, I am thankful for the hope all around us and for this day that inspires us to be thankful!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

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 on the light and not on the darkness that the current situation may encompass. Yes, it may hurt but try to rise above what meets the eye. Close your eyes and visualize what you want, where you want to get at and slowly move towards it. Combination of 'trust' in God, 'focus' on the goal, good 'action plan' and 'small steps' in the right direction will take you there. Remember the light that you see is shining from your destination, keep your eye on it and get closer to it everyday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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 before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his [or her] nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him [or her]self of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his [or her] former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

In addition to being in a foreign place, refugees face suffering in different forms. Daoud Hari, in his book ‘The Translator’, talks about the Sudanese refugee women who were raped repeatedly in exchange of wood for daily cooking in the camps at the Chad border. Thanks to the good work of agencies like Red Cross and UNCHR, many refugees are able to obtain basic support. However, no assistance received in the foreign land can remove their desire to return with their head high and live freely in their own nation. Following is a humble effort to capture a small part of the pain that a refugees experience every day:

We were forced to migrate

Fear accompanies us

We yearn to go back,

Our home beckons us

Foreign is this place,

Foreign is the culture

With the memories and legends from our land

Our children, we nurture

Out of the walls of our homes,

We fear for our honor and dignity,

For no fault of our own,

We have been ripped off of our security

O, God almighty!

Did you forget us?

We too are your children

We beg you, protect us

O, power of humanity!

Come and assist us

We will do our share,

But please support us

We want to break up with fear

and make friends with hope

Far away, from the suffering and pain

With courage, we desire to elope

One day, the sun will truly shine

One day, our miseries will be over,

One day, we will return to our homes with smiles,

One day, our grief will have a closure

And if the Lord calls me before that,

I will make only one humble demand

that my soul makes the voyage to Him

through my beautiful motherland

Friday, September 23, 2011

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 the screening for sex offenders and attempt to protect the inhabitants against the bad guys, where most of the time, there are no official records of sex offenders. I know the Sphere Project and IASC Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support strive to mainstream Protection for survivors as a function in any humanitarian emergencies. As a result, I hope there are monitoring/assessment groups across these sites not only to look for potential risks be it physical, psychological or social in nature.
This monitoring team must include and train inhabitants in the camps/shelters. These teams must have good representation from all the vulnerable groups. It would also require a community-based system for referral and follow up actions in response to relevant observations or notifications. Training for these teams must include (a) awareness about their basic rights including the right to receive assistance with dignity, (b) active listening skills and (b) referral and follow up system.

There must be no excuse for attack on dignity and honor of a human being. More so, in a site which is being supervised with organizations that owe their very existence to the humanity. Just because there is scarcity of resources, respect and security should not become a luxury.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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 cultural interferences. If there could be a system, which may include educational institutes and internet, where people could become more aware, sensitive and accepting towards each other’s background and world-view, then we can significantly reduce biases. Once we are more accepting towards each other, all the goodness could be amalgamated together to heal the wounds of humanity created by poverty, injustice and hatred. Yes, it is a beautiful dream and we need to dream before we can realize them.
So, my dear people, please a take minute and reflect on what stops you from collaborating with other people to do the right thing for those who are in need, special or not.  Let us break the chains of prejudices, if there are any, walk beyond the boundaries of our fears and embrace the goodness around us regardless of the package (skin color, religious, linguistic or cultural background and other preferences) that carries it to us. If we recognize and appreciate goodness, we will be able to encourage and amplify it too.  
For info on FEMA:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

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 the least, have a relationship with your creator. If He created you, he knows how to fix you, as and when needed.

Congratulations and many thanks for your contribution to Global Peace!

Friday, August 26, 2011

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 part of this experience was that even we had problems of our own; they didn’t bother me as much because my focus was on action that would help those who were in greater need. And honestly, those days passed very quickly and now we are back to normal. I am better able to focus on work and support the recovery efforts.

Two lessons were reinforced during this experience, (a) when we focus on those who are in greater needs we are better able to appreciate our situation and (b) helping others recover facilitates our own recovery.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

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 tells me that He values everybody who has faith in Him and even those who don't. It doesn't matter to Him what type of clothes they wear, what language they speak or what name they give to their faith. He says He is above and beyond the terminologies and traditions. 

My God tells me that he has manifested Himself in different traditions, cultures, and times. He is more updated than the best intelligent agencies, his data system is more sophisticated than the latest computer software. He contextualizes His Glory, Grace and Salvation for those who look up to Him no matter what time and/or space they belong to.

Is your God the same as mine? If yes, we belong to the same religion, the religion of peace and harmony! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

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 other, would it be sufficient to invoke compassion to end violence and wars?

I urge each one of us to use our influence to stop the wars. Contact our leaders and tell them we want prosperity for our loved ones not the devastation and pain that wars bring into our houses, our neighborhoods and our countries. Let us openly denounce the deaths of our youth and pledge that we will do everything possible to prevent it in future. Let this post be not just another article that you read today but make the decision for peace before you close this page. Do it for those little children who haven't even realized that they've lost one of their parent. You never know when your children or grandchildren would find themselves in a similar situation. Stand up for peace before it is too late!

Friday, July 29, 2011

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 up the present.   
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks. 
16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful. 
18. Whatever doesn't kill you, really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. 
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.   
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't
save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.   
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28.. Forgive everyone everything.   
29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.   
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.   
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.   
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young. 
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come. 
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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 reduced anger.

I talk to my best friends about what I am going through and how I feel about it. Talking about my feelings helps me to calm down and think rationally. Can't thank God enough for blessing me with those who support me and understand me.

Another thing that helps me to stay peaceful is to appreciate others, be thankful to them for every effort that they make on my behalf.

When we are frustrated, we may overlook the goodness around us, we may forget to acknowledge the blessings around us. No matter what the situation is, there are always goodness in and around us, we must locate it and build on it.

For example, I try to the look at the other side of the current situation, break down of the car is giving us the opportunity to walk to do chores, which is good for health and for bonding. We walk together talking about things that are important to us feeling the fresh air. Yes, sometimes the sun is too hot but cool water refreshes and replenishes us. Secondly, not getting this job opens the door for other opportunities and for now I can continue to enjoy my flexible schedule. Finally, being a peace maker between two loved ones is what my calling is anyway. There is nothing better than assisting people to get over their anger and making them smile.

When peace calls, I go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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.

Samuel Figueroa Sifre holding a portrait of Gandhi ji by a Puerto Rican artist
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. 

Decision making process is as important as taking the decision. No matter how small the decision is, it must be taken after thinking it through, weighing all the possible options, outcomes and implications. 

By the way, I am not saying to stop and start thinking every time you are choosing between which shop to buy from or which route to take. It is also not about loosing the fun of living a spontaneous life but it is about being aware of the path and why we are on it.  

Pick the flowers from the bushes that are in your way with care and be aware of the thorns that may encounter during the journey. And in the moments where the thorns prick our lives, take a moment to treat the wound, embrace the healing and keep walking picking up the flowers.

Remember, we all have the option to be better, we just need to be willing to identify and capitalize on it. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

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

Photo moment at the Institute  
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't confuse empathy to sympathy, it is not about feeling pity or sorry for others but it is about trying to understand what they are feeling and how it feels. 

Simon Baron-Cohen points out that lack of empathy leads a human being to be cruel. There are people that are born without empathy but not all turn to be cruel, while others that are born with empathy that could turn to be cruel. But all those who are cruel surely lack empathy either totally or substantially. 

Therefore, we must try to practice and develop empathy for each other. One excellent way is by listening to others with an open heart. By listening and understanding the feelings of others, we can handle the situation in a more compassionate manner. 

We can also teach listening skills to our friends and family. Empathy on both sides leads to greater mutual understanding and therefore drastically reduces conflict.

Let us bond with empathy for each other regardless of differences in opinion, world-view, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, cast or race. Let us bond with empathy and embrace peace! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

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 information regarding peace building efforts by women's group especially if they are related to any religion/s.

You can share the insights or information as a comment to this post or send it as an email to Information sources will be given appropriate credit in the paper and if you would like, I will share the final document with you.

Thanking all in anticipation!


It’s all about the roots! Our roots don’t pull us down, they enable us to grow farther away to explore the unknown skies! #roots #trees ...