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Roses of Peace

Dear Friend

Roses of Peace
Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
- W. Somerset Maugham

It's been a strange, sad day in London today after last nights shocking incidents at London Bridge.  Searching out comfort I went for a walk and the beauty of these roses in the park helped soothe me with their soft sweet perfume.  Nestling in it's leaves helped me finally feel connected.

We Are All Connected
We are all connected to one another, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends - Pocohontas
It tears us inside, when another person violates the circle of life that connects us all. The sadness we feel at the incidents we have witnessed recently in Manchester and London is instinctive because we are all linked, like the many petals of a rose.  The outpouring of grief is often accompanied by a rush of empathy, care, concern, love and offers of help as people seek to comfort each other across the world.  Tragedies here are inextricably connected to tragic events in Kabul, Syria, Israel and communities who experience daily violence and horror.  At times of tragedy we all look for connection - and we start searching for ways to understand and examine the conditions that made it possible for it to happen.

Peace encompasses the dark
Feeling at peace, however fragilely, made it easy to slip into the visionary end of the dark-sight. The rose shadows said that they loved the sun, but that they also loved the dark, where their roots grew through the lightless mystery of the earth. The roses said: You do not have to choose. - Robert McKinley, Sunshine

There may be hard lessons to face when we dig into the dark around a tragedy.  We need to be willing to go there - to face unpleasant truths about the darkest aspects of humanity. We can condemn and drive away the dark but it will scream for our attention repeatedly.  The root causes and conditions from which tragedy grows need to be addressed if we are to have any hope of healing it.
Two great teachers, Einstein & Ghandi taught us that solutions cannot be found at the level of the problem and that an eye for an eye will make us all blind.  Tough talking, blaming and shaming, throwing threats and bombs around can only perpetuate cycles of violence.  We need to go deeper and examine the conditions of our socio-economic political systems which breed hatred, alienation, exclusion and war. From the medieval Crusaders, to the Klu Klux Klan and the Nazis, men have been conscripted for centuries to go out commit atrocities in the name of cultures, races, creeds and politics. Young men have been used time and time again as fodder for power hungry regimes who understand how to manipulate their need to feel significant with promises of heroism, especially those who feel aggrieved, alienated or excluded.  They are trained to suspend their innate sense of empathy or conscience to carry out actions which tragically breach the invisible circle of human connection.
Yet as the old song goes, the circle remains unbroken because even in death, we remain inextricably connected to each other through the legacy we leave.

Reconnecting with the Roses of Peace

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
Dale Carnegie

Even in the face of overwhelming challenges and grief we can choose, minute by minute to make peace with ourselves and each other- to connect.  Even when life seems to be far from ideal, we can dig deeper and find a truer sense of connection within ourselves that brings up roses. We can choose the life we have now this minute, with this rose, this breath.  We can hold out our hands and offer our hearts to build bridges and connections.  The way of peace asks us to really look and listen deeply, beneath knee-jerk responses - we need to go into the unknown and encounter that and those we consider 'other'.  To go out, as one brave young muslim man did in Manchester and stand blindfold with a sign saying "I'm Muslim and I trust you. Do you trust me enough for a hug?".  As I write this a huge One Love concert is taking place for Manchester, demonstrating what becomes possible when a community comes together and chooses Life and Love.  We can, as John Lennon urged us, Declare Peace.

Roses of Peace coming your way... convinced of the power of the arts to help build peaceful communities, I am helping launch a big Peace Project for 2018 .... watch this space for news coming very soon!

Wishing you all petals of peace - remember to stop and smell the roses :)