Tag Archives: syria

Setting A Big Intent: Home and Safety for Syria

This photographer traveled by raft with refugees headed to EuropeThis photographer traveled by raft with refugees headed to Europe. The images he captured are a rare glimpse into the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.

Posted by Quartz on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

 

In the event you are struggling to set an intent, know they can also be impactful beyond your immediate day-to-day life. One photographer followed the travels of Syrian refugees seeking home and safety. He is sharing their stories to remind the world that, for millions of humans, the search for a new life is a reality. His work will help many stay present with those struggling so far away. Continue reading

Campaign Video Teaches Lessons in Empathy for War Torn Families

If you made a compilation video of one second of every day for a year, what would it look like? A campaign video to raise awareness of the political strife in Syria wanted to show you what it would look like for a child stuck in the middle of a war zone. It follows a little girl from blowing the candles out on her birthday cake to exactly one year later. She goes to school. She reads books. She hangs out with her parents. Then small things start to change and rapidly her one one second a day shows her being scared, being shuffled from place to place, her neighborhood being bombed, refugee camps and hospitals.

The tagline of the video is “Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening somewhere.” It’s an eerie message as the world watches the current situation unfolding between Ukraine and Russia. Will those children lead similar lives to the girl in this video? How many candles will they blow out on their next birthday cake? It is naive to think that any singular one of us can have an effect on those less fortunate than us or that we have the power to save all of those stuck in tumultuous political climates. We can’t save them, but what we can do – and are encouraged to do with videos like this – is look at ourselves and bring more empathy into our every day lives. When all of us start looking at our actions as having ripple effects then we create a more compassionate global community.

The world doesn’t change with one person but we can start making a small difference with one intent at a time. Thanks to this video I intend to live with more empathy. What can you do to make the world a more compassionate place?

Creativity as the Path to Peace

"Mr. Hand Poopy" Original Textured Acrylic Painting on Canvas by Four Year Old Jayden 17 May, 2013Sometimes, something is so close to you, you’re unable to see it objectively. While preparing to launch my book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, I’m grateful to have had an opportunity to re-examine my personal biography, and revisit some of those significant pieces that have contributed to who I am.

Twelve years ago I was living with a somewhat undiagnosable physical illness that had me weighing in at 89 lbs, suffering from severe and crippling malnutrition, with those around me divided on if I would survive. The consensus was, “this could go either way.” Synchronistically I found Arscura-School for Living Art and embarked on a journey back to health; a journey using “art” as a way to rediscover who I had been to now and who I could become in my future. I confess this candidly in my book — art contributed to saving my life. Literally. Through the art, I arrived at a place of inner knowing and peace, embodied so eloquently in the words of the Dalai Lama: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

While organizing an initiative around my book launch, I was introduced to some very important work being done in the world. Work that embodies the hippie values of peace and the arts. Two values that reminded me of my own journey and align perfectly with who I am and what I stand for in world.

First, I was led to the Children’s Peace Theatre, which has been doing inspiring work since 2000, creating a culture of peace among children and youth, using art, theater and music. They instill in their participants a “peace is possible” sensibility and ask us all some interesting questions to reflect on.

As artists, how do we inspire our children and youth to take up the practice of peace? If nothing else, we must remember that art is derived from the freeing up of all boundaries combined with the ability to imagine something new, and the ability to recognize the humanity of others. Who else, therefore, is better suited than the artist to inspire alternatives and alternative ways of thinking?

This powerfully mirrors my personal experience, as the art freed me to transform from the inside out, allowing me to reinvent an unexpected and beautiful future by unleashing my inner artist.

I questioned: Is it possible that creativity expressed through the arts, is a path to peace? It became very clear to me that I do see the arts as an important road to peace. I envisioned a simple idea, “paintbrushes for peace” and imagined what might happen if we offered children or adults a paintbrush and asked them to engage their creativity to ignite new possibilities for the world. It seemed that if we could take the frustration and separation people experience in our current world, which often leads to isolation and violence, and invite them into a community to make art together, we’d foster a sense of belonging and connectedness and through this, some magical new creation would become possible.

Next, I was synchronistically led to ArtHeart, which has been working in the Regent Park community of Toronto for over 20 years, offering free year-round drop-in art programs, art education and art materials for children, youth and adults, also serving up free meals to all participants, true to their philosophy of “no starving artists”.

Their programs use art as a vehicle to address child poverty, homelessness, lack of employment and mental health issues, while helping to develop self-esteem, creativity, life-skills and learning. They continue to foster the arts in a community that can’t otherwise afford access to making art and being creative. ArtHeart remains unique, as it is the only visual arts organization in the community and their successes are sincerely remarkable.

With more and more school arts’ budgets being cut, what ArtHeart offers is invaluable. I believe we need more funds for programs that foster creativity, not less. How is it that we’ve allowed ourselves to create a world where the majority of people do not have access to expressing their creativity through making art?

To see ArtHeart’s amazing work, you can join them at this years’ Nuit Blanche on Oct. 5, a yearly celebration that makes the arts accessible to all, where they are joining forces with The Regent Park School of Music at their home base in the Daniels Spectrum.

Photographer Chase Jarvis’ talk “Creativity is the new literacy” at the World Domination Summit in Portland this July, sparked me. He presented the idea that as human beings we’re all hardwired for both language and creativity. There have been many studies examining creativity, exploring if it is a natural inborn talent, or if we acquire it. I am of the belief, as is Chase, that we are all creative and that it’s often stifled early on in many educational systems. Creativity is at the heart of what it means to be human. He elaborated that the world we live in is facing a “crisis of creativity” with the solutions to all our problems based on human creative potential.

So if creativity is innate to who we are as humans, and the solutions to our world problems can be found in creativity, then engaging our individual creative muscle through art and music could be a viable path to peace.

Then I stumbled upon a recent article by the brilliant Charles Eisenstein called “Bombs, Badguys and the Brink of Peace”, which speaks volumes.

We are experiencing today the emergence on a mass scale of ecological consciousness. No longer is the world an arena of struggle from which man emerges triumphant. We now see that the defeat of any species is the defeat of all; that the paving over of one habitat deadens something in all of us. The ecological crisis is teaching us that the good life does not come through winning the war against the Other.

With the recent world reaction to the atrocities in Syria, Eisenstein went on to say,

Translating this awareness into geopolitics, we become less prone to believe that the solution to the problem is to overthrow the bad guy. That, or some lesser version of it – to intimidate, warn, punish, deter, draw a “red line,” etc. – is a perception of a world populated by separate and competing Others. And we are weary of that. We are awakening to the reality that “bad guys” are created by their context, and that that context includes ourselves.

Like Eisenstein, many of us believe we are remembering the necessity of being part of community, reawakening to the value of connectedness, versus the breakdown brought about by separation. We’re entering a new era of understanding, transforming old beliefs to create new paradigms of possibility. If we continue to bring the past into the present, we’re limited to create the same future, denying ourselves the freedom to generate something totally new. Perhaps this is what art and music can bring to the conversation. They are tools to paving a road to peace. They engage and include, rather than isolate and separate. Maybe we’re arriving at that magical tipping point of change. Albert Einstein said it so clearly “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

It feels perfect to end here with words from John Lennon’s timeless song Imagine: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” Here’s to creativity, peace and the arts! What kind of world are you committed to creating?

Visit me at: beverleygolden.com or follow me on twitter: @goldenbeverley

Peace Matters: A Mother Responds to the Call for Action Against Syria

War and PeaceAs I pull my truck up to the local harbor beach, loaded with sunscreened kids, oversized striped towels and inner tubes, John Kerry’s voice breaks in over my radio, tuned into NHPR. “This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us, and it matters to who we are.”

“It Matters” is an eloquently written persuasive argument in favor of punitive action in Syria for their obvious use of chemical weapons against their own people. And as Kerry pontificates on the necessity of action, I’m mothering my way through the last bits of summer vacation.

Kids tumble out of the truck, doors slam, happy screams pierce, sun shines, and I grip the wheel. How does a peace-seeking person like me feel about this?

I hate war. I hate it. I hate that women who lovingly grow tiny seeds into human beings have to watch as their sons and daughters are sent overseas because the overwhelming majority of men on this planet value power, money and ego over life, love and collaboration.

While I hate war, I do not hate the men who declare it. In fact, the opposite. I love men as much as I love anyone, and I want to see men live long, healthy and productive lives. But as the world turns, I see what men do and what men make and I’m tired of dealing with the consequences of greed, power and competition.

For thousands of years we’ve been deserted by fathers, raped by prom dates, suppressed by regimes, penetrated by uncles, underestimated by brothers, underpaid by bosses, beaten by husbands and ignored by society. For thousands of years we’ve had to stand by while men make decisions about our fate and the fate of our planet. If during these thousands of years, men have not found a way to create a peaceful planet through leadership, it makes me wonder if men truly desire peace. Or are men addicted to conflict and combat? Are they afraid that the end of war will mean the end of their manly value?

Every one of us is hard wired with drive, with the desire to be the best at something, with the need to control our environment. It’s always been this way. But just because this is the way it’s always been doesn’t mean it’s right. History is doomed to repeat itself because we human beings aren’t brave enough to choose collaboration over competition – on a personal level, on a professional level, on a local level, on a global level, on a 1st grade recess level, on a college application level, on an I-got-the-job-now-what level. We’re all at war with one another. All of us. Heck, most of us are at war with ourselves.

We are never happy the way we are, which makes it impossible to accept others the way they are. This seems so mundane, so small. But this is life. This is people. War is people, too. War is one man with a severe sociopathic condition and a powerful following. But the problem of war isn’t THEM. The problem isn’t WHY. The problem is US. You and me. US.

There is so much work to do. And the work doesn’t start in Congress. It starts with you and me. It starts in bed at night when your mind is focused on office politics and peer manipulation. It starts in the kitchen when I stare down a bag of Newman’s Ginger O’s that will only add to my increasingly unmanageable lower belly. It starts on the playground when one sad, confused, pained little boy is labeled a bully because he hasn’t mastered impulse control or feels unlovable and unworthy of kindness. This is where war begins.  With the tiny seed of you and me.

This brings me back to the front seat of my parked Ford truck, simmering in the driver’s seat, white knuckling the wheel, “It matters,” Kerry asserts, “if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.”

Yes, it does matter, Secretary Kerry. It matters. But peace matters, too. We belong to the most creative human society to tromp the earth. We send rocket ships to Mars, we Skype with our sisters living in Hong Kong, we collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. We are innovators. Let’s use this innovation and creativity to inspire peace. There is a way. There is always a way. Peace matters.

No boots on the ground, yes I know. Just a drone strike. But is it ever that simple? Strikes have consequences and I don’t believe for a minute that three-four-shut-the-door will be the result of Obama’s proposed swift and concise action.

More lives, more anger, more more more. How about a little less less less? Doesn’t that sound nice? A little less breaking news? A little less testosterone? A little less shrouded children? A little less worry? A little less tossing and turning? As unlikely as it may seem, peace matters. Peace now.

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