Bettye Johnson with the Hon. Leticia Shahani, PhD,
former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Senate President from the Philippines
A GATHERING OF PEACEFUL WARRIORS
What is it like to be in the midst of over 1,000 peaceful warriors? It is awesome.
In July I attended the Third International Womens Peace Conference in Dallas, Texas where over 1,000 women from 43 foreign countries and 32 U.S. states convened to talk about peace in the world.
They came with the sincere desire to use non-violent methods to end the atrocities committed against women and children. There has been genocide in Bosnia. There has been genocide in Rwanda and now there is genocide in Dafur, the Congo and also in Burma. The stories I heard were horrendous and heart-wrenching. If one has studied history, then genocide is not something new. There were also stories of hope. I have named these great women Peaceful Warriors.
The opening keynote speaker was the Hon. Leticia Shahani, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Senate President from the Philippines. In succeeding evenings there were three women Nobel Peace Prize Laureate keynote speakers. Betty Williams, a Nobel Laureate 1976 from Northern Ireland and thanks to her efforts, Ireland knows a semblance of peace today. Rigoberta Manchu from Guatemala, Nobel Laureate 1992 for her contributions to ending the thirty-six year civil war in Guatemala and Jody Williams from Vermont 1997 for her organizations contributions to creating the Ottawa Treaty to end the use of landmines. Landmines kill more civilians than they do soldiers. There were other notables together with Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish faiths and those who are non-sectarian.
There is a quiet revolution happening in this world and it has been an undercurrent in the affairs of the world for many years. It is a revolution that cannot be extinguished because too many people yearn for peace. This revolution has no calls for protest marches, flag burning, and no sit-ins. This is a revolution of the peaceful warriors both women and men. We have had Al Gores Live Earth concerts and the Fire the Grid on July 17. Sandwiched in between was the International Womens Peace Conference.
Within recent weeks there has been in the news, articles about former leaders who have created a Freeland Global Diplomatic Team called The Elders. Members include Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Desmond Tutu a retired Anglican archbishop and former President Jimmy Carter along with other notables. Also in the news are the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers from the U.S., Africa, Asia and the Americas. These are not women of politics, they are women of prayer. This Council had representatives at the International Womens Peace Conference in Dallas. They are all part of the quiet revolution.
During this five-day conference, there were many workshops and speakers sharing ideas of what each of us can do to contribute to ending violence against children and women in the world. One avenue is to work within the framework of the UN Humanitarian organization. As speaker Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation said: The UN is not perfect and we can make it better. I urge the reader to go to www.un.org and research this organization. We only hear about the Security Council. Rarely do we hear about their humanitarian works. The Rotary Club has been working within the framework of the United Nations for over ten years to eradicate polio world-wide and are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We here in the U.S. also know violence, but not in the form of war and civil war. We have the violence of rape and incest along with psychological abuse and battered women. It is time to say no to abuse. It is time to work on the grassroots level in our own communities. It is time for us to educate our children that the abuse of another is not to be condoned or tolerated. A refrain I heard over and over during the conference was, where attention goes, energy flow.
Each of us in our own way can join the efforts of ending the atrocities in the world and begin in our own homes with self-examination of our attitudes and actions. It is time for each of us to become role models for peace by being a living example. Yes, many of us do not always agree to the views of others and that is how it should be. However there can be open dialogue and perhaps seeing the merits of the different viewpoints. We wouldnt be wise to pull into our shell like a turtle and pretend it doesnt affect us. We each have the choice of joining the quiet revolution as a peaceful warrior. It only takes one to make a difference. For a more in-depth report of the International Womens Peace Conference, I have posted it on my blog in 3 parts.