Thursday, March 27, 2008


It is Thursday here in snowy, grey Vermont and I am reminded of a much warmer, Thursday evening a few weeks ago in Barcelona when I was wandering around the old part of the city after dark. I came into the Plaza St Jaume where along the wall of the Generalitat de Catalunya was a group of people standing in silence holding placards with images and words invoking Peace.

I stopped to look at the literature they had lying on a blanket. There were pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr. and various flyers in Spanish. An elder gentleman handed me a small piece of paper (see picture), one side was in Spanish, the other side in Catalan – and the following is a not so great English translation, but it gets the point across.

We Love Life, We are for Peace 

We call on your condition and your individual conscience to reflect on the moment facing our society. Based on the creation of requirements under the cover of values that give priority to possess, sheltered in the selfishness that makes this solidarity and unfair, has reached the contempt for everything that lives and generates Life: the exploitation of underdeveloped peoples, unemployment which extends in a polluted planet that has enough wealth to feed everyone, the inequities of a society that recommends its injustices with the segregation of marginalized and offenders are apparently some of the fruits that we must collect. Meanwhile violence grows and carries with it a mad arms race that fear, the economic and military blocs are unstoppable and that it now can destroy our planet by 15 times. 

We believe that, despite everything, THINGS CAN CHANGE, if all we are proposing. We want to let our attitude silence internal happen to silence the word, above views, or dogmas prejudices, in the hope that what unites us as people definitely exceeds what might separate us. 

We invite you every Thursday in front of the Generalitat, at 7pm, to participate in the half-hour of silence that we do in support of peace.” – Artisans of Peace

As I read the daily news of our war-torn world, I think of these people standing silently for 30 minutes (harder than you might think) in the chill every Thursday evening, and the countless others who do the same around the globe.

I think of the Tibetan monks worldwide who pray for worldwide peace and an end to suffering every day, and how it is now our turn to pray for them every day, every moment until they are free to practice their spiritual beliefs of compassion, peace and tolerance. Because until they are free, none of us are.

Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Price 44 years ago and his acceptance speech is as relevant today as it was then. Following is an excerpt:

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

Excerpted from Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech 1964, From Les Prix Nobel en 1964, Editor Göran Liljestrand, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1965

For the monks and the world: Om Mani Padme Hum
If you are in Barcelona on a Thursday evening, consider standing with others in Plaza St Jaume.
Wherever you are, I hope you can pray, hope, work for and be peace.

Some websites covering the Tibetan crisis:

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