By Siegrid Raible

In June of this year Pasos participated in what has become an annual event in New York City. The outdoor weekend event held on Governor’s Island under the auspices of an arts organization called Figment encourages people of all ages to engage in creative interactive artistic activities. Pasos members encouraged visitors to create panels for a peace quilt. Pasos provided the materials which included fabric, markers, buttons, cut outs and finger puppets; each participant brought his or her imagination. Recently I had an opportunity to review the panels and was taken by one panel which simply asked “How?” It is a simple yet thought provoking question especially after this Summer’s and Fall’s news headlines.

Starting in July the news was filled with the devastating stories of a downed civilian jetliner over Ukrainian airspace, a new war between Arabs and Israelis in Palestine as well as the old on-going wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. In the Fall ISIS and Ebola filled the news with disturbing reports of unimaginable human suffering at the hands of our fellow human beings and a deadly virus. The steady drumbeat of death, disease and destruction can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. How do you overcome these feelings? The panel with its one word question inspired me to explore how we could go about building a more peaceful world.

The answer came to me via the concrete world of bricks and mortar.  Manhattan, where I live, is undergoing a transformation as new and more modern buildings replace the old twentieth century skyscrapers. Looking at these half-built massive towers I saw that in order to construct a building you need many materials – the most basic of which are the bricks or concrete blocks which one by one create a new structure. A thought occurred to me:  if we want to build a peaceful world we need to create it – we must become the building blocks for a peace-filled planet.

Each one of us can create that world by becoming involved in one particular peace-related activity. We are all busy with family and economic demands. There is often very little time left to get involved with another organization, event, etc. But in order to build a more hopeful and peaceful world we must find a way to become involved; if your passion lies in social justice or ending violence find an organization in which you can devote some time, however small, and your effort will be rewarded by knowing that you have contributed to bringing about a more just and less-violent world. Just like the panel which when woven together becomes a quilt, each one of us can make a difference when we become involved in our communities.

The need is great, but we are many and each small contribution will, with time, lead to the world we can only now imagine.

What will you do to build a more peaceful community?

Please share your ideas with Pasos.

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