Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
“(The basic order of life) includes all aspects of life – including those that are ugly and bitter and sad. But even those qualities are part of the rich fabric of existence that can be woven into our being. In fact, we are already woven into that fabric whether we like it or not…We cannot change the way the world is, but by opening ourselves to the world as it is, we may find that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available-not only to us, but to all human beings” Chogyam Trungpa, Buddhist Teacher.
As I immerse myself in this Fellowship learning opportunity I recognize just how much life and the world challenges my sense of justice. To recognize and state each injustice becomes self-defeating in that it overwhelms the psyche and presents a picture of impossibility for humanity. I have been struck by the capacity and resiliency of people for life. Today when reading about Syria and seeing a picture of a woman with her baby, I wonder how does one keep hope alive against such extreme odds?
It is a privilege to visit places, such as Mae Sot and soon Cambodia, to witness and hear stories of people like the woman in Syria. And, know that it is possible to ‘make it’. Meeting people from across agencies, organizations and government departments/ministries to better understand the role each play in the plight of refugees, immigrants or displaced persons gives me hope. Although the systems are not ‘perfect’ the passion, effort and belief are there.
Reading Chogyam Trungpa’s quote this morning imparted a new awareness – which is to practice living with more gentleness, decency and bravery in my life. In thinking about our recent focus on media strategies, non-violent action, peace journalism, and storytelling, I can see how these attributes can be exemplified through story telling, writing, and images. By practicing non-violence and reacting to conflict with integrity, being in relationship and connecting with community, we can remain steadfast in our belief for justice. We can walk bravely into the unknown and with great gentleness to change the world.
As I look around at my colleagues, I also see the attributes, stories, celebrations and hardships each of us contributes to the rich fabric that is woven into our collective being. We will continue to weave it into a beautiful tapestry that we will take with us when we return to our lives at the end of this fellowship. May we each remember how we have contributed to this life changing experience whatever that might look like in each of our lives.
“In my grief I saw myself being held, us all holding one another in this incredible web of loving kindness. Grief and love in the same place. I felt as if my heart would burst with holding it all” A Zimbabwean woman.
Margaret Micolichek, United States
Rotary Peace Fellow