Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 10: Cameraderie

Peace Month is an excellent challenge. It is also a great way to focus attention on problems in our world and the gaps between people that remain unbridged. Thus far, daytime fasting is not a major problem or a huge difficulty in itself, but it is tricky to handle in social relationships. Food & drink are a key part of so many social activities. People living in communities where many or most fast for Ramadan have differing challenges than people living in places where those fasting are a small minority.

Further, the goal of Peace Month is peace. - building links between people, between faiths, between nations. But Peace Month fasting might misfocus attention on the fasting individual. Simply instilling a 'holier than thou' image is unhelpful. How can we effectively highlight peace?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 9: Change

Peace Month has launched me on an unfamiliar & challenging path. I'm OK with major changes in routine; perhaps most people wouldn't be (that's why challenging Peace Month is not for everybody).

Being knocked from accustomed patterns provides opportunity to see & feel new perspectives, and to sense the previously overlooked. I feel new sensitivities: in coarser terms to light and smells, but also with people. By eliminating grazing for food and digestion from daytime activities, I'm more aware of assorted things happening around me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 8: Community

Who lives & works in my community? Who travels through? I live in the center of Stockholm city, and when going out of my house there are many people about, of all ages & types. Typically I don't look around much at unknown people, but during Peace Month my gaze is lingering longer. This seems natural, perhaps because my system is a bit addled, unaccustomed to its new nutritional regimen; or maybe I hold my nose a bit higher in consequence of dehydration. Anyhow I've noticed some people walking alone who look happy. I want to be such a person. I certainly can try to smile more... seems trite, but it's better than grim.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 7: Commiseration

Suffering is easy to find. Many people suffer now. History reports all kinds of suffering; more occurred unreported. But speak of suffering with other people... Many people have a particular outrage or theme which fires passion. Other violations merely trigger a pre-existing wrath. The point is made: "we have suffered" - and the topic shifts... most sufferers now subordinated.

If our world were examined by outsiders, surely our tribal allegiances would give cause for wonder. We carry in our heads perennial themes, arguments & visions. Though led to war, our allegiances are seldom questioned or doubted. Indeed, we're deceived by narrow alternatives: if not "a" then "b" or "c" or "d"... when our true choices are far wider: if not "a" then meadow, or laughter, or puppy, or patience...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 6: Respect

Assorted business this morning brought up some websites highlighting rigidity in my thinking. I found sites describing North American Indian cultural activities taking place in Europe:

I was surprised. Why?
Seeing those cultures being valued and honored in a distant land was unexpected & unfamiliar. In the USA where I was brought-up, we were poorly taught about the history & cultures of native Americans. Their tragedy is ours, and it continues: vilification and theft of their homelands. Certainly in North America active indigenous communities still exist, and groups of people studying Indian lore. But I was surprised to see this in Poland & Denmark... I shouldn't have been... I'm glad to see some of the riches and insights of indigenous people being studied & celebrated. Our human heritage is much more than modern industrial consumerism and urban-focused administration. Let a thousand flowers bloom... especially in Peace Month.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 5: Sneezing

Sneezing with a cold today. Ugh.
My main observation today is surprise: at the end of daytime & fasting, though it's been about 18 hours without food or drink, I'm not highly hungry or thirsty. I expected more angst and emotion. Yes I've an appetite, but feel basically balanced. But if I were being forced into fasting my feelings might be very different...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 4 of Peace Month: Snacks?

Today I must do something more active for Peace. What will it be?

For the moment, my observation is about snacking & eating. After working awhile, I need a break (in part because my computer is setup at chest level & I mostly work in a standing position). At break time I'd normally wander for a hot drink or some food. ...yet now I'm fasting... But clearly the driver isn't hunger or thirst, but rather wanting a change of scene, to have a break, to do something else for awhile. This understanding offers possibilities: setup a meditative corner, and an exercise station, and deliberately bypass mere habitual munching.

Eating & drinking are also of course often very social activities. Lunch meetings and coffee time, as well as breakfast with my pretty wife, are quite different when one party is not eating at all... Having someone just hanging about, even if not hungry, dampens the gusto of friends & other diners...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 3 of Peace Month: DPRK

I had a sore throat today; gargled with gin (seeking the curative powers of the juniper berry) and uncharacteristically spit it out. These three days I've not felt deeply hungry - rather, I've wanted to snack, more as a habit, marking time.

Today I setup a place to buy Peace Month goods.   Shop now!

I didn't do much directly for the cause of peace today. Did layout of a recent visit to the DPRK on my blog:

Since North Korea is a primary flash point for sudden hostilities, perhaps my simple observations could help peace... I hope so.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 2 of Peace Month: Dry

Today my body was still slightly sore & dehydrated from competing in the Swedish Veteran's Athletic Championships on Friday. (Plus I drank schnapps and we slept away from home last night). It was a hot sunny day, and we drove around the countryside in our rented car. Perhaps I moved around somewhat slowly? I saw people eating at some roadside kiosk and had mixed feelings - such food & drink are not very nutritious, but certainly convenient. I saw a few older men who looked perhaps of Middle East origin talking together outside a department store; are they perhaps fasting? Are they speaking together about Ramadan?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Day of Peace Month: Tough!

The first day of Peace Month was Saturday, 22 August. Through most of the day I took part in a scholarly workshop on Japan / Korean relations at the Utrikespolitiska Institutet (Swedish Institute of International Affairs). Chairing a panel on Economics & Society kept my mind off food & drink very effectively. But the lunch break was a challenge: a huge elegant top-quality sushi buffet which I couldn't sample thanks to Peace Month... I didn't look too closely, but my colleagues sure seemed happy chowing down those tasty treats. Things got really tough in early evening, as my wife Aimee & I were among friends in a lovely garden for a crayfish party, held once a year. Sadly, the party started at 5:30 and sundown in Stockholm was 8:27... I could serve people snacks and take photos, and participate in the singing, but as people got progressively merrier and smacked their lips over beer, schnapps, crayfish and other delights, I began to feel increasingly thirsty, and started to pay more attention to time in the last 30 minutes. But I knew that good food & drink awaited. Future days surely won't be as tough as this one...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peace Month (& Ramadan) start 22nd August

Well, the Islamic Association in Stockholm has determined that Ramadan starts here on 22nd August. So tomorrow (21st) is a day of preparation... I'm rather happy, because I've the Swedish Veteran Athletics Championships tomorrow, competing in two events (shotput and discus); it will be nice to drink water - I'll cherish every drop!

I found an online timetable of Stockholm times for Fajr & Maghrib (dawn & dusk) at:

Another website is at:

Once the format for Peace Month is clear, there perhaps may be little need to consider Islam & Ramadan... but for every day I fast, one billion others also are fasting. I reckon I'll feel some solidarity, especially as the rest of the world will be largely oblivious to our efforts at sacrifice, self-learning, and peace.

When Does Fasting Start?

It's easy to say "Peace Month overlaps with Ramadan" - but when does Ramadan start? If you are Muslim, it's easy to know from your mosque and community when Ramadan begins locally. Even then, there is variation between parts of the world. But for non-Muslims, it is tricky to know. Ramadan officially begins the evening of the first day of the lunar month. So publicity that "Ramadan begins on the 21st" may mean that the first day of fasting is the 22nd. Tonight I will go to sleep expecting to start the Peace Month fast tomorrow. Here in Stockholm, going without food & drink the first day runs from 1:30AM to 8:30PM; it promises to be a long day...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Get Ready for Peace Month

I'm looking forward to this year's Peace Month challenge. Here in Stockholm it begins on the 22nd August 2009. For Peace Month details look on the website: