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Dreaming a new world

International Peace Day

By Carolyn Pogue

First we dream of a new world of peace and beauty; then we create it. In Mumbai, Jerusalem and St. John’s, N.L., the dream is taking form.

In the late 1990s, at a conference in Mumbai exploring how women build peace, I met creative storyteller Marguerite Theophil. At the time, I was on the Women’s Interfaith Journey sponsored by The United Church of Canada and the Henry Martyn Interfaith Institute in Hyderabad, India. Marguerite introduced me to other peace-minded people in New Zealand and Europe, Africa and North America because she spins webs to connect peacebuilders.

Marguerite has a doctorate in sacred architecture and is the author of Uniting Heaven and Earth: The Transformative Power of Story. Her blog, “Peace, like a poem” appears regularly online and in the Times of India’s website. She creates workshops bringing people together across ethnic and religious divides, and she founded WEAVE: Woman Earth And Vital Encounter, a network exploring the influence of story, symbols, sacred space, myth, dream and image in our lives.

At a Women in Black vigil in Jerusalem, I met Gila Svirsky, an activist who writes about peacebuilding in Israel. Gila, who has written the history of the Women in Black movement, combines strength and softness, anger and hope. In the past few weeks, “tent cities” sprung up around Israel to protest unaffordable housing costs. Gila wants people to understand that large military budgets mean less money for social programs.

On the weekend of Sept. 11, tents also sprang up in downtown St. John’s as Médecins sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders erected a “Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City.” My husband Bill and I toured the outdoor walk-through exhibit that shows what MSF does around the world for the 43 million refugees and internally displaced people uprooted by war and conflict.

Juliet Donald, a clinical psychologist from Australia, explained crucial elements of a camp and told of her experiences, most recently in Libya. Next week, the camp moves to Moncton, N.B., then Halifax and Quebec City.

These three peacebuilders — working in different ways, in different parts of our small planet — gave  me cause to celebrate International Peace Day on September 21. That day, the Japanese Peace Bell, inscribed with “Long live absolute world peace,” rang out at the United Nations in New York City. I imagined the sound and offered thanks for peacemakers everywhere.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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