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February 20, 2014

The Ingredients of Peace

In my last article, I gave an introduction about my peace formula, the BRaVO Scheme:

  • BReaking the barriers between different ethnic groups, religions and cultures
  • be the Voice of the people of Mindanao and of those whose issues and concerns are not much heard
  • create Opportunities to give our people a better life that they deserve

As I bring you to the world of peace advocacy, I would like to share with you the different principles that I have come across in my own journey as strongly influenced by Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Leadership, along with words and wisdom from Mahatma Gandhi and Desmond Tutu. These became the principles of the BRaVO Scheme, which I would say are some of the right ingredients in achieving peace.

If you want to contribute to a peaceful nation, here are some of my ingredients that would require filled cups of the following:

1. Yu, u Nobuntu

In the culture and tradition of the Africans, Yu u Nobuntu is the highest praise that can be given to someone indicating that he or she has this wonderful quality: ubuntu – a central tenet of African Philosophy – the essence of what it is to be human. There are two parts in this concept. The first is that the person is friendly, hospitable, generous, gentle, caring, and compassionate. In other words, someone who will use his or her strengths in behalf of others – the weak, the poor and the ill – and not take advantage of anyone. The second part expresses openness and large-heartedness. They share their worth to others.

My dear brothers and sisters, we all should be Yu, U Nobuntu. Some of our successful Christian leaders have been consistent servant leaders in accordance to how Jesus served his people. As for my fellow Muslims, they embody the values of how the successors of Prophet Mohammad, called the Khalifat Rasul Allah, were as messengers of Allah in enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong. The Indigenous People’s Yu, U Nobuntu is exhibited by being the best caretakers of our environment.

With Sr. Fidelis of Assumption College

With Sr. Fidelis of Assumption College

 

With Indigenous People

With Indigenous People

 

2. The Human Family

“If we could but recognize our common humanity, that we do belong together, that our destinies are bound up in one another’s, that we can be free only together, that we can survive only together, that we can be human only together, then a glorious world would come into being where all of us lived harmoniously together as members of one family, the human family.” – Desmond Tutu

We have to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Let us live out the true meaning of family: despite challenges, we still remain united.

3. The Human Differences

“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another. We should be generous in our judgements of others, for we can never really know all there is to know about one another. The key here is REACHING OUT to others. ACCEPT every person you see with openness.” – Desmond Tutu

The Christians speak of Unity. According to the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:10:

“I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”

Similarly, the Qur’an speaks of unity:

“O Mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may seek mutual understanding, not that you despise each other. Indeed, the most honored among you in the Sight of Allah is the one who is the most God-fearing. Indeed, Allah is all knowing, All Aware.” – Qur’an 49:13

4. The Power of the Fingers

“When you have a hand and you have only the separate fingers, it is easy for people to break the fingers. But when you put the fingers together, it is difficult to break them. Let us come together and be one, let us be people of peace, let us be people of harmony.” – Desmond Tutu

5. Inequality in Death

“Inequality in death results from our separating ourselves from one another in life. In war, for example, we keep score of our casualties to see who is winning… We become unable to see their dead as we mourn our own… Perhaps only we care about each other’s dead can we truly learn to live in the same world together without our irrational prejudices and hatreds.” -Desmond Tutu

My brothers and sisters, this is the thought of being selfless, the thought of not just thinking about our own welfare, the welfare of our families and own loved ones, but of HUMANITY. We may have our own relatives, loved ones, children, friends and families; but we often forget that in this Kingdom, a Kingdom created by God, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all connected to one another.

6. The “Ting”

“Have you seen a symphony orchestra? There is a chap at the back carrying a triangle. Now and again the conductor will point to him and he will play “ting”. That might seem so insignificant, but in the conception of the composer something irreplaceable would be lost to the total beauty of the symphony if that “ting” did not happen.” – Desmond Tutu

We should all be the “TINGS” of Peace. We should be the “TINGS” of our own people, our own families, our own future, and our own communities. Now ask yourself, how can I be the “TING” of my community?

7. The Calling: The Cooperation Management Paradigm

Muslims, Christians, and Indigenous People must stand up and rise to condemn violence and aggression against the innocent. We should call on all the sectors of the Philippines to help bridge the gap between peace and development in Mindanao. In the Cooperation Management Paradigm of a good friend of mine, Major Jake Obligado, has proven that the resolutions to the conflict in Mindanao is a shared responsibility of all sectors of the Filipino society. Peace and Prosperity in Mindanao should be everyone’s concern.

8. The Two Levels of Peace

All of us should seek to promote peace on two levels:

a. Peace within oneself

A person can achieve inner peace by creating harmony and balance between his main emotions and his spiritual self. Peace should start within us. We can never be good advocates of peace if we ourselves do not have inner peace.

b. Peace With Others

Both Islam and Christianity emphasize on the rights that people have over each other. Both seek to preserve peace in society by training and urging its followers to fulfill the rights of one another. Also, for Muslims and Christians, salvation is not possible by just fulfilling the rights of God; one has to fulfill the rights of other human beings as well.

Therefore, complete peace is peace within oneself and peace with others. These are the keys to a harmonious society.

9. Peace and Freedom: A Different Perspective

People often connote Peace as the absence of war and Freedom as no restrictions. But for me, both Peace and Freedom are ways of life.

In the statement of one of the groups I’m involved with called Young Moro Professionals Network, an organization that commits to and upholds the fundamentals of Islam and the strengthening of the Ummah, peace-building and economic developmentm and the pursuit of the Bangsamoro aspiration, we said that,

“Our brothers and sisters in the South should be given books not bullets, teachers and not tanks, learning not alienating, real freedom not token freedom. Freedom for us means we are able to access opportunities for us to lead a quality of life like all the rest of the Filipinos.”

10. Recognition of Cultural Diversity and Autonomy

We should always believe in our potential. This goes even for the younger generations. If we can create an understanding of peace, we can create a better society. We should recognize the diversity of cultures and allow some form of autonomy to exist so different sectors can have more control on their own. We should all meet with things that work for all of us.

11. Leadership: A Commonality

A Leader may be called different names by different strokes or folks, from North to South, Black or White, Muslim or Christian. But no matter how different these names seem to be, the word Leader just means one thing: SERVICE FOR HUMANITY. A True Leader does not seek his own interest but the best welfare of others. He does not serve for himself but for what God made him to do so. It is only God, Allah, Bathala or may it be other different names that you call HIM that tells our purpose and mission in this world.

As Morshed Abul Ala would define Islamic Leadership,

“It is leading and serving humanity to the way of Allah the Almighty.”

This definition just shows our commonality. YOU and I are different, but that’s just a part of life. The fact is our humanness connects us. It is what makes us step outside our culture, outside of our religion.

12.I Love You, I Care For You  

Sometimes, these simple words are difficult to say even to our own families and loved ones. I want everyone to shout I LOVE YOU, I CARE FOR YOU for these words express Unity and Oneness with Humanity, which is what we should be doing to achieve the Peace that we have all been longing and hoping for.

13. Peace takes work: Be a preacher of peace 

As John Kennedy said,

“Mankind must put an end to War or War will put an end to mankind.”

We should do our part in peace-building. We cannot just sit down and watch the realities in Mindanao and the different kinds of violence we have in Manila. We should be the caretakers of our own communities.

There are a lot of ways and means to make a difference and contribute to peace. Peace is not just about the absence of war but development and wellness of a person and society. Again, Peace, mga kapatid, is a way of life. It is as simple as teaching your brothers and sisters the good values of being a Muslim, Christian or Katutubo. It is as simple as being an inspiration to others to do good for humanity.

Let us all be Preachers of Peace by living out our Faith and by become good examples to others by being active peace advocates.

A Piece of Peace by John Rhel David, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement Mural Artist & from Pasimuno Group

A Piece of Peace by John Rhel David, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement Mural Artist & from Pasimuno Group

Many people ask me what I have learned from all of my experiences in this Peace Journey, and I say, Peace is indeed a way of life. It is a great gift from the Almighty. We all should love Peace for it to enter our hearts and minds. Letting it enter our heart and minds reflects our relationship with others. Our relationship with others in the sense of humanity is a part of God’s ultimate task for us. Building a Culture of Peace is a long-term commitment. Each one of us needs to make a commitment to take part in making the necessary transformations towards a Culture of Peace.

Why don’t you try these ingredients and share with me your own journey?

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