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October 31, 2017
Qatar Air Flight to Doha
Today is a tricky day. Maybe the climate being so hot-cold-hot makes it volatile. One day in October seems like July, the next day is gusty like March. Maybe this day really is a node in the yearly cycle- Samhain is a Celtic holiday known as the end of the year. Maybe the gods have plans that I cannot predict much less plan around.
Jonathan and I are flying to Kathmandu for an international peace conference, AVP, Alternatives to Violence Project. We were to leave on Oct 30 with Qatar Airlines. But at the last minute our airplane was grounded for mechanical failure. We got no compensation and had a hard time rerouting our flight the next day, the day known as Halloween. My friend told me, the airline gave me a bad trick with no treats.
Seriously, why fly to the opposite side of the world to discuss, share and stand between the gap at this AVP conference? I will see old AVP friends who work in Israel, in India, in Uganda, in South Africa, Indonesia, and Ukraine. I will face the privilege that always blunders into our work. I want to be aware and try to act with more compassion and equity. There are 3 great social movements that helped move the world closer to a peaceful, more just society in the last century, so how can we build on them. The three movements I’m referring to are Mahatma Gandhi’s sataygraha and shanti sena; the civil rights movement in the 1950-60s in the US; and the huge effort among many peacebuilders to move the League of Nations to the United Nations. All these movements are still a work in progress. AVP is about personal and societal change. AVP workshops confront my quandaries and dilemmas. In an AVP workshop I laugh more than I cry, and I usually do both.
To be open this week, I’ll share the questions I am asking myself, “What assumptions do I make about others because of their accent, their appearance, their divorce, their religion or their sexual identity?” “How can I start honest conversations which early on include my own weakness and struggles?” “How can I stay grounded and listen to my neighbor (more than talk to them)?” “How can I be an ally to those who don’t have a voice?”
I am trained to be a helper. What is helping in the long haul? I want to share a meal (and make sure everyone gets fed), and maybe I’ll pay extra money for everyone to eat. But the money put into paying for the meal isn’t the point. Planning, sharing and learning together is the point. Beside my work isn’t about feeding a body as much as feeding our souls. Many people give money and feel that this charity is enough. I’m not traveling for charity, I’m visiting to change hearts, including my own.
This trip to Nepal is short. Two years ago we spent 2 months in India and a month in Nepal. Now I will return to the US in 2 weeks to continue seeing my psychotherapy clients. I hope to arrive on Nov 1 to Kathmandu. I’ve left the US on Halloween and I’ll arrive on Mexico’s “Dia de los Muertos” I pray for guidance from the Great Spirit during this auspicious time. Namaste.