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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Loving Your (World-Wide) Neighbors

Photo by Nazar Iqbal, Pakistan
A perk to living in a university town: for entertainment on a Friday night, you can go see a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  Each year Oregon State University hosts an amazing gathering of young people for a weekend of inspiration, headed by a winner of the award.  "The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody."   
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
"Peace is often confused with passivity, but there is nothing more contrary to the notion of peace than being passive.  There is conflict in our world, and we all live in the world.  It is, in a sense, conflict in our living room.  How do we build peace? When we face conflict, we have to resolve it.  We have to resolve the obstacles to peace in ourselves, our families, and our community.
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
We have many examples of people who faced this head on.  Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez.  They were repressed, violently.  And they persevered against oppression in a nonviolent way.  They took concrete action.  In Latin America, in Argentina, we took this same sort of action in the face of repression.  But what is happening now?  

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
We have to build a CULTURAL resistance, to develop critical consciousness (critical thinking), to encourage and teach values of caring for each other and for our planet.  (We have to ask the tough questions, such as) why it is a country (United States) can spend  $2.5 billion on a single bomber plane, yet says it cannot afford to care for its own sick and hungry.  In a world in which 35,000 children die each day from hunger, we need to separate the reality from what we have been told is true-- and not accept as normal what is fiction and can change."

 photo mosaic, artist Wolfe Nkole Helzle

Esquivel ended his remarks with a call for conscious action in increasing peace and resisting injustice through personal reflection and change, and nonviolent social movements.  Even in the face of imprisonment, he has kept his feeling of hope about our possibilities to achieve these changes.  He cited numerous groups doing just this throughout the world. 

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


Wolf Nkole Helzle said...

thank you Jana for to share this with us. I am deeply touched by the words of him. first that he is locating the issue inside of us, inside of our family. I cannot work vor a peaceful future, I have to be peaceful now.
Thank you also for your comments about the platform "I am we_interactive image" (www.interactive-image.org). This platform is founded because of those thoughts.
There is only one (small) mistake i found inside of the article, perhaps you want to change it. I think is is Israel and Palestine?
Thank you again, best regards
Wolf Nkole Helzle

Jana Svoboda, LCSW said...

Ah! The problem of writing late at night-- my brain was half gone. Thanks for catching that. Corrected.

Nuray Önoğlu said...

Jana, if you are a regular folk, then we need more regular folks. Thank you very much for sharing your beautiful experience, for expressing your appreciacion so well towards I am we_interactive project and Wolf which we all deeply feel and for making us to think about how to build peace; inside and outside.

Jana Svoboda, LCSW said...

Nuray-- thank you for your kind words. I failed to see them until tonight-- just when i needed them!