|Photo by Nazar Iqbal, Pakistan|
|Cork, Ireland courtesy James Clancy|
This year's speaker was Argentine artist and activist Adolfo Perez Esquivel. Born into poverty, he relinquished his teaching career in 1977 to focus his energy on nonviolent resistance through El Sevicio de Paz y Justicia foundation. He was imprisoned a year later. Despite his harsh treatment, he continues to espouse the importance of peaceful community activism as a response to oppression and injustice.
Here are remarks from his speech tonight (paraphrased, abbreviated and collected, not verbatim):
|Artist Yoshiko Yoshida, Japan|
|Berlin Wall, photo by Anit Zrab, Germany|
Just as a wall was built in Berlin that separated Germans from other Germans, we see that there are walls in our world that divide us. Israel from Palestine, Mexico from the US, North and South Korea. We could go on and on naming the walls that divide people from themselves.
But the most important walls we have to tear down are those within ourselves, within our own hearts and minds. If we are unable to tear these down, we cannot build peace.
There's no reason to avoid conflict-- that won't build peace. We have to resolve it, to open channels of dialogue even with those who are opposed
to us, and seek out and support dialogue in our own communities and those abroad.
|painting by Jón Bjarti, Iceland|
Profound changes are taking place in the world. Often we don't see them, but we are acting in the face of them. (paraphrased heavily: Take the concept of time). There is an earthquake in Indonesia, and two seconds later we are immersed in a sports match. We have been subjected to that accelerated mode, that (concept of) mechanical time. And we don't think we have time to process, to reflect. This impacts our behavior-- in our family, community and throughout the world.
|Raija Silvennoinen, Finland|
Peace is a dynamic of relations among people. It has to be built. Nobody can offer something they themselves do not have. If we are not at peace with ourselves, if we do not have an internal peace, do not have peace with those with whom we live, we cannot hope to build peace with others.
|by photographer Ahmad Nasirpour, Iran|
|photo mosaic, artist Wolfe Nkole Helzle|
In the past few weeks, I have been privileged to be part of a global community art project. Led by German artist Wolf Nkole Helzle, artists and regular folk like me from all over the world have been submitting daily photos from their corner of the world's living room. This Spring, I have "met" persons from Pakistan, Finland, Iran, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Brazil, Indonesia-- to name just a few. I have seen pictures of their daily lives, and suddenly the world seems much smaller, and my desire to make it safe for all of us has grown in return.
We're all in this together, brothers and sisters. Let's do our part to make it work.
Note: the illustrations for this article come from my new friends around the globe. Thanks, Wolf, for bringing them into my life.
Want to be part of a global community of photo-diarists? Check out Wolf's project and sign up at www.interactive-image.org