Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Make Love Not War

The flames in the Himalayas have died down a bit over the past week. How could it not with troops assuring that "calm" return to Tibet and the adjacent areas in China proper. The Chinese Muslim Uighurs are no longer in the news. Nepal's election experienced a hiccup but is proceeding with its former Maoist rebels taking the lead. And humble Bhutan had its election with no antacid required.

In all these situations, the actions of the Bhutanese King certainly stands out as enlightened self-less service to his adoring subjects. His unwaivering selflessness constitutes real leadership in a world that seldom produces such. Yesterday, I prepared a list of global conflicts taking place right now or within recent history that was not all inclusive to be sure.

Are you ready? Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, Tibet, Haiti, Nepal, Kosovo, Georgia, and Argentina.

What's more, this lengthy tally does not count the citizenry of other countries who are generally unhappy with government policies or direction but choose not to riot or otherwise act out violently. If one added those countries, even the United States could be counted along with many others experiencing general discontent. You only have to look as far as the unfolding Presidential elections to know a deep malaise engulfs our nation.

Taken as a whole, what are we seeing in these crises? Could it be that statesmen-like leadership evidenced by selflessness, harmlessness and the will-to-good is pervasively lacking?

In all fairness, the current crop of elected officials or dictators, benevolent or not, have few real leaders from which to learn the rudiments of a new
lighted way that would include "education and exposure to spiritual values to live by, including the rule of law, right human relations and a sense of personal responsibility" (Beacon, Roy, p. 18.) But no one would argue that almost without exception our expectant world lacks enlightened political leaders. Pure and simple.

Thus, when we see such a selfless person or persons, it stands out. The Dalai Lama and the Pope, who were highlighted in this blog two days ago, are certainly examples of enlightened political leaders, but three others have shone forth.

Tusumba is his name and saving wildlife his mission. As the deputy governor of Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was given a baby bonobo by villagers who had apparently killed the rest of the chimp's family to obtain the prized gift. Tusumba made the unusual decision to raise the animal with his family rather than treat it like a pet, and it had a profound impact on the man.

After leaving office in 2004, this nascent environmentalist experienced one of those ah-ha moments--instead of corralling animals into preserves that were in essence "live meat lockers" for poachers, why not have the animals live among the people in their natural setting? After all, the usual game reserves were only necessary because of the intrusion of people in the first place.

Thus began a peaceful but potent revolution based on Tusumba's quiet, but motivated leadership. In the ensuing years, he with others showed the natives how saving the animals could bring needed development to the area, including schools, roads and medical clinics. The top-down government model was thrown out and in its place "conservation groups asked the villagers what they wanted, delivered it themselves and made conservation a condition of delivery."

What emerged is an area that now covers over 10% of the country where the villagers run their own reserves. The bonobo and other animals have free reign in these uncommon sanctuaries. If work needs to be done, the locals do it, from portering, to building, to tracking. The result? Villages are empowered and thriving. Children are attending school. The animals no longer face the end of a gun barrel.

And Tusumba is not done yet, after all he is only 45. But this story is not about one man's legacy. Rather, it is about one man's energy igniting the populace.
Ironically, in a country with so little peace at a national level, the former politician's inspiration came from a chimp species known for its sexual cavorting in order to make peace between and among packs. TIME magazine, which highlighted these animals on April 21, 2008, revealed:
"Bonobos were recognized as a separate species only in 1933, less because of their physical distinctions than because of their peaceable, highly sexual ways. The bonobos are now cultural and commercial darlings. A raw vegetable restaurant in New York City calls itself Bonobo's. California sex therapist Susan Block has developed a conflict resolution protocol dubbed the Bonobo Way: 'You can't very well fight a war while you're having an orgasm.' "
That these frisky primates started all this is not a bad thing. The peaceful bonobo chimps may be contributing their energy to the cause. Hey, we'll take whatever help is offered. Any being who knows to make love not war, must be on to something big. The Dalai Lama may have competition.

Enlightened leadership has led the way in two other unexpected places, Iraq and Afghanistan. The peoples of these two war-torn countries are benefiting from the evocative response of indigenous politicians to their invocative appeal for peace and liberation after years of violence. The ultimate response is not yet known, though the immediate reaction is promising.

Former Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi has been a controversial figure ever since he encouraged the United States to depose Saddam Hussein. But, lately he has begun to redeem himself by leading the Popular Mobilization Committee and the Baghdad Services Committee at the request of the Prime Minister. Under his leadership, 3,000 volunteers were recruited in Baghdad to operate 120 neighborhood watch committees, which "provide intelligence, report trouble, help settle returnees to their homes and the like. They have been crucial in stabilizing the city neighborhood by neighborhood' " (WSJ, 4-12/13-08, p. A9.)

While settlement issues demand much time, more importantly Chalabi himself takes Shiite leaders into Sunni areas and vice-versa. He proudly pronounced: "We just did two reconciliation meetings where hostile tribal chieftains invited each other just because they heard we were coming." What's more, mosques are being returned to their rightful owners and inter-sectarian prayers are held. Though some Americans may question Chalabi's motives, his advocacy for the people and his local moral authority are making a significant difference in Iraq. This just proves that enlightened leaders need not be saints.

And finally, we hear of little progress in Afghanistan. But amazingly information has been emerging that villagers there might be taking matters into their own hands to bring peace. How? Local leaders are forsaking NATO's military model that initially "freed" their country and are surprising us by utilizing indigenous peacemaking methods. This is undoubtedly a culturally sensitive process
with the added benefit of leadership by a group which inarguably increases its potency. What a novel idea.

Roger Roy, an esotericist who studies energy patterns, spoke of these efforts:
"One example has been the use of the peace jirg concept, a village method of dealing with disputes whereby the party that is guilty sends a delegation to make restitution. A tribal assembly of Afghan and Pakistani elders, as well as teachers, businesspeople and politicians, are being brought together to begin to deal with the border insurgency surrounding Kandahar through dialogue using the jirg model. This may be the first step of bringing light into the consciousness of peoples living in the [mountain areas]" (Beacon, p. 18.)
Thus globally, light is making its way into the minds and hearts of some selfless leaders who are pouring it upon those with whom they come in contact. This is hopefully just the beginning of a long-awaited redemptive process to bring light into the consciousness of ALL people through awakened spiritual leadership.

Of Note: No, this is not the Himalayas. Rather it is West Texas where Marie recently vacationed. Stay tuned, you will be entertained as I was with her pictures from this trip for months to come. Thanks, Sis!

Today's Weather Report: The upper sixties temps made me jump for joy. The clouds did little to temper my enthusiasm. Hey, a little rain would be welcomed to get rid of the remaining snow and add a wee bit of moisture to the soil. With the lake down several feet last year, we can use it all. Every drop.

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