One of the greatest champions for universal love, equality, and peace for all humankind was Dr. Martin Luther King. His ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is still one of the oft quoted and most memorable of his oratorical exhortations. That was August 28, 1963. Dr. King’s dream, at that time, for the black population of America has many similarities to the other disenfranchised and marginalized people around the world seeking freedom from oppression and violence so they too can walk into equality, prosperity, peace, and love.
Selfless Champions for Peace, Independence, and Equality
India achieved her independence because a great Indian, Mohandas Koramchand Gandhi [Mahatma, as he came to be called], cared so deeply and so completely that he made it his life’s work to effectuate those ends. He suffered mightily in this quest and lived a meager existence for such a mighty, but peaceful warrior. He was jailed many times for his strong commitment to this cause, but his people stood united behind him at every juncture and provided him with the armor to overcome such obstacles. It was a long, painful, and arduous journey, but in August of 1947 his dream for a free India came true reinforcing the promise that his work was not in vain.
In 1932 Iraq was given independence from the British. (Sadat, 2009, pgs.64, 66) In 1947 Palestine followed suit, but was for a time under control of the UN. Israel was given statehood soon thereafter. Many wars in that region have followed since those deals have transpired. Most have been over borders dealing with sacred religious places/institutions and/or control of valuable resources such as oil and gas. All have left most people untrusting and wary that peace can or will actually be achieved in our lifetimes or perhaps ever.
By far the greatest champion of peace and democracy for Pakistan was Benazir Bhutto. [1953-2007] She, too, suffered terribly for her commitment to this noble cause. She was excommunicated from her society [self professed], jailed, and persecuted because she wanted to bring about change. Change for the betterment of her people. In 2007, while she was bringing her cause to the people for support, a murderer took her life, but this untimely death should not stop the process or prospect for making peace a reality.
What can be done now?
Jehan Sadat, the wife of the late Anwar Sadat quotes her husband as saying “…politics can be the ‘art of the impossible’”. (2009, p.61) And the way I see it the process of peace can also look, outside looking in, like it might be an impossible dream, but that does not have to be the case. It first takes a subtle mind shift and then more minds join in and before long we have a movement. This movement soon forms a tidal wave of
change and hope. I believe we are on the brink of such a tidal wave at this very moment.
Queen Rania of Jordan is another role model for cross cultural education and child welfare. She has launched a number of not-for-profits and other educational initiatives both private and public to help address what is amiss in our world today with regard to educational inequality, violence against children, and opened doors to an interfaith/cross cultural dialogue toward tolerance, understanding, and acceptance across the world in hopes to tearing down stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims and the Arab world.
There is a movement of youth oriented people from across that region [Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Pashtoun region between] who desperately want peace, equality for all people, and access to education. They are hungry to take a leadership role in brokering peace on the grander scale and thirsty to drink from the trough of freedom. There have recently been meetings with high level officials and peacekeeping groups to press this point home. [See Peshawar Declaration posted by Indrees Kamal on Facebook] The time is ripe to make this happen.
Previously, attempts toward peace have been transacted by top officials from the USA or elsewhere and the tones of much have been westernized and democratized in origin, neither quite perfect for this scenario. At this time this movement toward effectuating peace is coming from a tidal wave of people in that part of the world who are tired of being marginalized by their corrupt leaders and the violent constraints and demands of the Taliban. For decades now they have been caught between bad and worse with no end in sight. Many have become refugees living in outposts with inconsistent power and nonexistent sources for clean water because they constantly live in fear for their lives and their families. Nobody should have to live like this!
What needs to happen in order to make peace a reality is a heavy dose of cultural/religious sensitivity tempered by them [these emerging leaders] taking the lead and us, in the USA, allowing this to evolve without express expectations as to outcome, but lending support as need be. For instance, much of Afghanistan and the outlying regions are subject to tribal rule which I might liken to local municipalities in the USA. These tribal elders must partake in this process in order for this process to be lasting and durable because these are the people with influence in their society.
Many people believe that corruption in the highest level of their governments has not only been problematic in working toward peace, but has also helped ensure Taliban are able to continue their violence against their people unpunished. Government officials need to readily embrace changes that will make their people safer, increase access to education for all people alike [including women and children] because education is what will bring them forward and allow them to compete on the world platform economically and politically. Leaders will need to appoint an independent judicial committee to bring the Taliban to justice for the wrongdoing they perpetuate against their people, and provide avenues for human rights protections to all people.
Peace cannot occur in isolation, but has to work in tandem with aid used for reconstruction and rebuilding efforts on the ground. Entire communities of people have to learn new, or improve upon, skills/methods that can help them to feed their hungry people and to replace the opium crop that promises to keep the Taliban in money and their people oppressed by terror. New businesses will need to be established and funded much like the Marshall Plan did in post WWII Europe such that people who have not previously participated in wealth generation have opportunities to do so now. Education is an important component in bringing the people of this region up to that of the rest of the world. Educational opportunities need to be equal for all. Human rights need to be honored as we are all part of the human race and no life is worth more, or less, than another.
I have walked you through some historical events targeted at increasing awareness of human rights violations, understanding religious and cultural sensitivities, and pointing out brokers of past peace or freedom in other countries around the world. While the journey toward peace can be convoluted if we are patient, efficient, and compassionate in working toward this end result we can achieve great results. We can commit ourselves and our world partners to increased safety and security for all our people. We can help shape the future of education and turn the tides on illiteracy, we can usher in a universal code for human rights and equality for all people, we can make the first serious advances toward thwarting poverty and lifting all people into economic prosperity. As President Obama so eloquently said, during his campaign, “Yes, we can”. Let us now join hands to bring peace to the people in this war torn region and let us do it now!
Sadat, Jehan. 2009. My Hope For Peace. The American University in Cairo Press.
Kamal, Indrees. 2009. Peshawar Declaration. Facebook entry.