Dear God, I am crying.
Help me understand how we as human beings can continue to create so much pain? Nine more children are killed while collecting wood in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
I confess I am not one that believes that it just has to be this way. “People kill people, just accept it” is not a welcome concept in my mind. My heart cannot bear to hear it.
Eight years ago today, I stood frozen – in shock – beyond awe-struck. I did not know we were capable of strategically misleading the world; nor that we would be missing what it takes morally to implement a war on terror that would kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
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This is very sad stuff to most of us. Most Americans believe it was wrong for us to have attacked and occupied Iraq. And now, most believe the same is true about Afghanistan.
Mental health professionals tell us that the grieving process includes that initial shock; and then denial has a role to play before we move on to acceptance. We don’t want to accept our role in it – in these wars.
Out of all of this, though, we have received a gift. A couple of years ago a group of youths in Afghanistan began asking us to listen to their story. They lost their fathers, grandfathers and uncles when Taliban moved through their towns. Yet they are not seeking revenge. They have forgiven those who killed their family members. They have seen how acting out of vengeance became a cycle. And now they just keep asking more people to listen.
The people of Olympia were among the first to join the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPVs) and widen the circle of listening. Five dozen students at Olympia High School talked with them in November 2009, and several dozen schools around the world have since followed. All of these listeners have talked to others, who now listen regularly. The listening circles grew into full days of listening on the International Day of Peace, last Sept. 21.
Inspired by the AYPVs the Fellowship of Reconciliation (Olympia & USA) and other inter-faith communities spread the word and now hundreds of people participate in Global Days of Listening held each equinox and solstice.
Inspired further by the Egyptians’ use of electronic media, the group now live-streams the conversation for everyone to hear. Conference call-in numbers make it possible for anyone to call in and respond to what they have been hearing.
This spring equinox Global Day of Listening is dedicated to hearing their wish to “live without wars.” 24 people from the U.S. are now in Kabul, Afghanistan to stand in solidarity with the AYPVs.
All people are invited to join the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and the Global Day of Listening today through Sunday in Heritage Park. A peace walk will be held today at 11 am in Olympia just as they are walking in Kabul for peace this March 19. Come talk and listen via the teleconference setup in the tent to those in Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan and others around world. The conversation can also be heard online at livestream.com/the peoplesjourney.
So, I thank you God for helping us listen. The religions of the world, all of them, have their version of the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Help us remember this. And this time, please speak up so that all of us can hear?
Thank you God, for ... “listening.”
Douglas Mackey helps coordinate the Global Day of Listening with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. For more information visit globaldayoflistening.org and livewithoutwars.org. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perspective is coordinated by Interfaith Works in cooperation with The Olympian. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Interfaith Works or The Olympian.