The Words of the Brown Family
Saving the World in My Spare Time: Not All Super Heroes Wear Capes
Gloria Taylor Brown
Jerry Falwell, Louis Farrakhan, Dan Quayle, David Brodman, the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Muhammad Qadri, Grand Imam of Hazrat Data Sahib Mosque, one of the principal religious leaders of Pakistan, and Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon are not people you would normally expect to have much in common. However, Oct. 19th – 21st, in New York City, all of them, along with 450 other world and religious leaders, were all at one place, talking about the same thing: Peace on our planet and interreligious and interracial harmony.
As a representative of Seattle’s Women of Wisdom Foundation, I was invited to become an "Ambassador For Peace" at this historic event, Assembly 2001 The Search for Solutions to Critical Global Problems, Global Violence- Crisis and Hope, by the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, (Wango.org) and their co-sponsor, Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, (IIFWP.org). These two organizations not only arranged and coordinated this event, but also paid for most of the expenses of the attending people as an expression of their support for peace at this time of world crisis.
Heads of state, university professors, U.S. Congress members, editors of newspapers from all the world and heads of some of the most important churches represented over 100 countries. Delegates from non-profits, such as my own Women of Wisdom Foundation and from international aid organizations all joined together to create new solutions for world peace.
The unity that was expressed towards the ideals of peace, the manner in which everyone conducted themselves, the entire atmosphere was one of collaboration and consensus towards establishing peace on earth. If you had told me a month ago that this many Jews, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists could get together and discuss the current world crisis without incident or obvious uproar, I would not have believed it. Yes, there may be differences of opinion, and on the whole, it seemed that the parties were willing to express those differences courteously, without anger or malice.
One event of the conference that had a profound effect on myself and many others was the "Bridge of Peace" ceremony that was conducted Saturday night. Just two simple ramps with a platform in between became representative of the world today. The participants were selected to represent the widest diversity possible, from a Caucasian Southern Baptist Minister shaking hands with a African-American Muslim Imam, to an Apache Chief joining with a Bishop of the Catholic Church, with the final pairing of the Rabbi of Jerusalem embracing the Imam of Pakistan. When those last two turned towards the audience, and raised clasped hands high, it was an incredible moment that brought tears to the eyes of the most hardened cynics. Everyone stood and applauded, most with tears streaming from their eyes. This was truly what peace could be.
The other information that I gathered from talking with participants and listening to the speakers was not so pleasant. I became more and more convinced that the U.S. has failed its friends and allies in the worst possible way. It was apparent that we have abandoned whole countries where we were formerly providing support during the Cold War. In addition, the necessity of immediate assistance in countries as widespread as Cambodia, Bolivia, Kenya, and Nepal, as well as Afghanistan was made extremely apparent. We, that is you and me, fellow Americans, as citizens of the greatest country on the earth and the only remaining super-power, need to assume the position of responsibility that is required of our privileged position. Not only at the governmental level, but also at the personal level, it is important that we begin to realize that the world does not end at our borders, and that the events of 9/11 will be repeated, again and again, if we do not move now to correct the gross inequities that currently exist between the "haves" and the "have-nots".
While 21,000 people die each day of starvation, when we throw away more food than would feed entire nations, while 8,000 people die every day in Africa of AIDS and related diseases when our pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars, while 1 in 4 children in Afghanistan do not see their fifth birthday, and many of the rest are damaged, maimed and blinded by land mines and disease, we are not fulfilling our responsibilities.
We must realize that all the people of the earth are part of our family, and we can’t ignore the part of our family that needs help. In many Native American traditions, the worst thing that can be said about someone is, "He acts like he has no relatives." In other words, that person acts thinking only of their desires, and without thought of the effect it has on others. We, in the U.S.A., have been acting "like we have no relatives". All people deserve to have what most Americans have- the ability to raise their children in safety, with food on the table, and the freedom to worship as they please. Yes, we have problems in the U.S., and we have areas in this country that resemble third world nations, and we also have tremendous wealth, beyond the dreams of most countries and peoples.
So, what can we do? We can reach out and help someone today. Let’s join together, providing needed support and assistance. Let organizations and individuals in this country and other first world countries put aside a portion of their revenues to be used in aid of organizations and people in this and other countries which need our help. Reaching out, heart to heart, to provide assistance without racial, religious or doctrinal bias, to those in need. There are incredible people and organizations out there, working in difficult situations, without needed funds and support, still achieving results that are magnificent.
As an example, here are two brief stories that were related during the conference.
• Mr. Singh, a Pakistani, who has gone to Cambodia and established a school, starting in his home, teaching people to read, write, and be able to work at a job. He teaches simple life skills, to a people and a country devastated by war and a regime of terror that left the educated population dead and the remainder unable to care for themselves. Since these students have little or no money, all he asks in payment is that they will then teach others what they have learned in their villages for one year.
• A Nurse Practitioner, working in Africa, related how she created a center in her home where women could come and learn how to provide basic medical care for their families and friends. How to clean a wound and apply a simple bandage seems so simple, but when you don’t know how, it is so valuable.
These people and many more are truly following in the path of Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa started with only 3 pennies when she first began her work in India. When asked why she started with that, she answered, "Because it was all I had."
We all have much more than three pennies in this country, but even if that is all we have, we must begin. The work to be done is immense, and we cannot look to governments to solve the problems. You and I have a responsibility to all our relatives, all our children, to make this world a better place, a peaceful place, a place where children can grow up without fear and be educated to serve as useful members of the civil society.
It is time for the return of the Wise Mother. We need Her wisdom and discernment. For the Mother cherishes all her children, even the difficult ones. It is what sets mammals apart from reptiles. Mother love has made it possible for us to reach whatever heights we have achieved here and now.
I am calling for a specific plan of action. This must be a non-governmental, international effort. What is possible? Building a network of groups, dedicated to peaceful change, to caring for all our children. If there can be enough hands interwoven, enough vision of a new world, this can bring forth a new continuity, a new unity, a new environment.
Here is the current situation:
• To date, no effective solution has been found, not by governments, not by organizations, not by belief systems.
• We have an immense and unused human resource that, if organized and empowered, already knows in their hearts what needs to be done.
• The women of the world, our mothers and sisters, have the idealism, energy and power that can create the solutions we need to effect worldwide change.
• Throughout history and in many nations, women have proven they can create lasting social, economic and political change.
To do this we need to:
1. Create a well-funded outreach to international, national and local women’s organizations to enroll universal efforts to permanently resolve the crises of social, economic and political inequity and the fear, hatred and suffering it causes.
2. Expand educational, economic and political opportunities to empower all women to create a better world for their nations, their families and their future generations.
3. Recognize that conventional dispute resolution techniques used throughout history have failed the test of time. We now need women’s wisdom to generate new solutions.
When the children are considered first, when the children are the value upon which all decisions are made, the children must be the center of all thinking. If we think of the children, if we look to the children first, if we feel the love of the mother within our breast- male and female alike - we will find the organizing principle that has absented itself from the earth for so long. Look forward seven generations. Consider your actions carefully. We are not talking about a 5 year or a 20 year plan here, we are talking about a 140 year plan for the next seven generations. Can you justify your actions to children who will not be born until 2120? We need the ability to see the future in terms of unborn people.
We only have one world. We are all in this together. Whether we live or die, depends on our pulling together as a people, not as nations, but as human beings, sentient beings, living together on this one planet, the planet Earth.
I returned to Seattle overawed by the magnitude of this task, bearing a gold-framed, signed certificate signifying my enrollment as one of the Ambassadors for Peace whose responsibility it is "to contribute to the fulfillment of the hope of all ages, a unified world of peace wherein the spiritual and material dimensions of life are harmonized."
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