Welcome back to ReadTheSpirit and the 2nd Annual Interfaith Heroes Month!
We know that many of our readers are just returning to your desks today — sorting out endless New Year’s “To Do” lists. But, please: Wait! Pause for just a moment with us!
Sip that well-earned cup of coffee (or tea) and focus with us for a moment on what really matters in our lives: spiritual connection — improving relationships among family, friends and communities.
The goal of Interfaith Heroes Month is to honor some of the brave men and women around the world who have risked crossing religious boundaries to help heal the world. We’re doing this deliberately in January, a dark-cold month in the Northern Hemisphere — and the month when Americans already are poised to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We’ve got an entirely fresh approach to honoring King’s memory awaiting our readers this month!
TODAY, we’re pleased to introduce a global network of women who are celebrating with us. You’ll hear more about these remarkable women throughout January. (For example, poet Judy Neri will share a soul-stirring reflection in our special coverage of King later this month.) And there’s much more in store …
For today, we asked Mary Liepold, one of the top voices at the PeaceXPeace movement (read that as “Peace-by-Peace”), to write today about the importance of sharing real-life stories.
(Also, please read some of our special Heroes-page stories, including the one about Chiara Lubich, an ordinary woman whose real-life story led her to organize a global movement for spiritual reconciliation.)
CAN OUR STORIES
SAVE THE WORLD?
My friend David Crumm has invited me to share a few stories across our two websites, and I can’t think of a better way to lift off a shiny new year.
I live for stories.
And I live by stories.
I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that makes the world better by sharing stories across religious, cultural, political and geographic divides.
We focus on women’s stories because we think the world has had enough of his-story in which wars are the main events and the winners shape the telling. It’s high time for something new. Women have so much to bring to this challenge. These days, we’re even seeing physical evidence that the communication centers in women’s brains are larger than those in men’s. Add the historical evidence that we’ve been left out of the most important conversations until fairly recently, the shape our world is in, the potential that new technologies have created — and you have Peace X Peace, multiplying the power of women by the power of the Internet.
The potential for freelance diplomacy to outweigh the freelance warfare called terrorism and all its official, state-sponsored analogues is what gives me hope for the year ahead — that and knowing God loves us more and better than we love ourselves.
We hope to see more women in positions of power everywhere so that future conversations will be different. But we aren’t looking for a typical revolution, where the wheel turns over and someone else lands on the bottom. We’re aiming for power with instead of power over – what Swanee Hunt calls “less swagger and more sway.” Power with depends on knowing your partners: hearing their stories, sharing your own and shaping the agenda together.
The heart of our website, www.PeaceXPeace.org, is the Global Network. It’s a kind of virtual village well where women meet for conversation. One of the features of our homepage is a series called Voices from the Frontlines. We invite women everywhere to submit photos and brief first-person stories about what matters to them and what’s going on where they are in the world. Since we started the series in June we’ve received more than 200 stories from many of the 118 countries where members of our online community live.
We’ve also released a book, “Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli and Palestinian Women,” which profiles 30 women on each side of the uneasy conversation that has recently deteriorated into open war. You can hear some of the voices from our founder Patricia Smith Melton’s book on YouTube.
HERE is a sampling of stories from our site.
First is an especially timely voice out of Gaza. Meet Eman Mohammed, a young journalist living in that troubled corner of the world, which is torn by conflict once again. Through her stories, she describes her struggle for professional recognition and the satisfaction she takes in going where women have not gone before.
You’ll meet Judy Neri in more depth later during Heroes Month here at ReadTheSpirit. She’s Jewish, American, a poet, mother, grandmother, and lover of peace. But why should I describe her, when she does it so well for herself? Visit her page on our site and on January 19 read her story here on this site.
When Pat Morris arrived in Ohio for graduate school, straight from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands with her small son, it took her a while to believe that classes actually would be held on the days the mercury fell below zero and the snow rose over the windows. If you are very, very good, some day you may have a chance to hear Pat Morris sing. For now, you can read a bit of her story on our Web site.
The artist Huong experienced a change of cultures that was even more dramatic — from the chaos of Vietnam in 1975 to the peace of an Inuit village in Alaska. After many years of absorbing that peace, Huong was ready to create the almost 2,000 images of war and peace that are currently filling a two-story gallery here in Washington, DC.
Laura Musimbi is an environmentalist like her better-known Kenyan sister Wangari Maathai. The organization she founded is proud of its grassroots (and bamboo roots) success.
Like Eman Mohammed, Nadra Mahdi is a journalist in a culture where this is not considered a role for women. She posts her stories from Sudan, and she always manages to find at least a grain of hope in what she sees and hears.
Peace X Peace is not anti-male. We welcome men who are willing to take an equal part in a women-led Circle – our model for the small group where all are equal and affirmed. And we applaud the complementary energy of couples like our dear friends Len and Libby Traubman, who are making almost superhuman contributions to Middle East peace and the future of the planet. But we especially welcome women’s stories. Please join us and post yours today, at www.peacexpeace.org.
PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.
Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those
(Originally published at http://www.ReadTheSpirit.com/)