While this could be refer to scientists' contemplation of what designates a planet with the recently found "puffy planet" HAT-P-1, it is also an allusion to the interdependency of this world. In the period of global communication and economics, where goods and diseases spread faster than migrating birds, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of our neighbors. For their problems today will be our problems tomorrow and our solutions will come from helping them find their solutions.
Desmond Tutu was one of nine Nobel Peace Laureates to take part in PeaceJam's event at the University of Denver last Saturday. He exhorted us not to turn our backs on the needs of people in Africa who are dying of AIDS because they don't have medicine. He warns us that boundaries are now porous, "Things that could be contained 'over there' are now upon us... Ultimately, we can only survive together." This sentiment was echoed by PeaceJam founder Dawn Engle when she pointed out that you are not safe from avian flu, even if it starts in Hong Kong.
She continued Mairead Maguire's imagery of getting to the roots of the problem as applicable to both violence and poverty. Mairead's imagery is that violence is the flower that comes out of the roots of injustice. So if you want to prevent the flower from blooming, then it os worth stopping the bud from growing in the first place, which means removing the roots of injustice.
There are others who are also working to deal with resolving the root causes of injustice. For example the Micah Network's Stand Up campaingn towards the Millennium Developmental Goals on 16 October 2006. The idea is that if more than 10,000 people globally stand up against poverty, it will be recorded in the Guiness Book of Records. What it is and how to do this, can be found here.
Like PeaceJam, the Micah Network are also looking beyond treating poverty to dealing with the root causes. A recent conference in Thailand has led to their leaders calling on local churches globally to release their potential to become agents for peace and reconciliation in communities fractured by war and violence.
This would be an answer to the Dalai Lama's prayers. The Dalai Lama comments that last century somehow became a century of violence and bloodshed and that to move forward this must become the century of dialogue. To move forward we must work on "inner disarnament". For example, learning to focus compassion on others instead of selfish thoughts will eventually lead to healing of both the other and ourself. In his vision this would lead ultimately to the abolition of weapons and war. In the interim it would reduce needless hateful escalations and improve humanity's ability to overcome the challenges that threaten its very survival.
Links: Washington Post Telluride Watch Ekklesia Houston Chronicle
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