Sept. 11 a Day for Interfaith, Intercultural Dialogue

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), September 4, 2004 | Go to article overview

Sept. 11 a Day for Interfaith, Intercultural Dialogue


Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART By Arun Toke For The Register-Guard

In 1984, during an international peace walk in Central America for two months, I walked from one community to the next, talking and listening to the people of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

In 1986, 350 delegates from 30 countries dialogued on war and peace issues: nonviolent communication, war resistance, peace education, ecological awareness and international understanding at a weeklong peace conference at a Gandhian community in India. It was here that we visualized "Skipping Stones," a multicultural and ecological forum for global youths.

On my way back to the United States, I bicycled 2,000 miles on a solo trek in Northern Europe, meeting many people. Then in 1987, I spent six weeks at an international Quaker camp, working with rural families in the Sierra Madres of Northern Mexico.

These experiences developed my intercultural understanding. They offered opportunities for sharing realities and listening to others' dreams and visions. They made me feel at home in the whole world!

In the past decade, my life journey has taken a spiritual turn. Without this "spiritual" outlook, it would be impossible to keep sanity, especially since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

As I analyze that day and its aftermath, I see plenty of room for compassion and understanding in our national response. In our zeal to show military might, we have ignored human conditioning and lessons from history. Hate and violence can only breed hate and violence; they cannot bring lasting peace. I don't suggest that we ignore or reward terrorists; however, when we react violently, we create new enemies.

In the Hindu tradition, we are taught that anger, desires and attachments, ego and pride, jealousy and hate are our "real" enemies! …

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