Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 30: Joy

This morning, for the first time in a month, I could drink morning coffee. I enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast the last day of a one week stay at the 5-star Tokyo Righa Royal hotel (first use of my breakfast coupons). Yumbo!

As I enjoy the end of Peace Month, and 2 billion Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, the rest of the world is largely oblivious. Those of the Jewish faith are celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Japanese are enjoying a five-day weekend until Wednesday, others are engulfed in daily living. CNN news has tales of strife, with an undercurrent of anti-Islamic demonization. Can't we have more joy?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 29: Goodwill

At sunset today I was in Shibuya-ku, at the Tokyo Camii (Tokyo Mosque) for the end of Ramadan. Three Japanese friends joined me, hoping to see people celebrating the start of Eid and the end of Peace Month. We stood on the beautiful porch of the mosque and greeted the worshipers as they finished their sunset prayer. Over 200 men slowly filed out, greeting each other and welcoming us. It was unclear, however, if Ramadan was over yet: at 9PM people would go outside and look for the new crescent moon - if it was spotted then Eid would begin, if it was overcast, then the declaration in Malaysia would be used. We were urged to join with others for a meal in the large assembly room downstairs, and found ourselves welcomed to share a meal with the spiritual leader and pleasant people of many nations. I felt some cross-cultural uncertainty (discussion was in Japanese, English & Arabic, among an energetic congregation eating heartily) but the stronger undercurrent was kindness, welcome, joy, and greeting. It was a highly-memorable meal, and for an hour or so I felt I'd suddenly traveled abroad. It was a time of substantive goodwill.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 28: Dignity

The end of Peace Month will reaffirm the commonplace in my life, bringing to an end a certain sobriety, dignity, even nobility. The Peace Month effort is outward-looking: aiming to reduce & eliminate armed conflict and injustice. Yet much of the impact thus far to my participation has been to me. I've shared a condition described elsewhere as "in the world, but not of the world" - a detachment not aloof but without the anxiousness of the surrounding herd. My quest for peace will continue, without the dislocation of dehydration & hunger, but some subtle perspectives achieved from this month-long challenge will likely be eroded. Gross & immediate bodily pleasures and associated egotism will distract my attention, just as absorbs people all around. The Peace Month Challenge has not yet been a catalyst for world peace, but Peace Month 2009 has been successful. One day remains...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 27: Amorphousness

Part of the challenge to doing Peace Month in tandem with Ramadan is the amorphous start & finish timing, both for the month overall and for daily timing of dawn & dusk. Ramadan begins when the new crescent moon is sighted, and ends similarly when the first slice of crescent moon appears. This date varies in different places, as does dawn & dusk. These naturally precise instances don't fit our human-generated time structures very well - we don't actually know the start or end of the month until it's upon us, and each year it changes when judged by season or the Western calendar. Sunrise & sunset are charted to the minute for major cities, but for those in the suburbs or the countryside, the instant of transition is nebulous & tricky to chart, unless a nearby mosque is calling Fajr or Maghrib prayer. Fasting (sawm in Arabic) should continue until darkness makes black & white threads indistinguishable, or perhaps until no remaining thread of light appears. The end of Ramadan & Peace Month will be this Friday night... or Saturday night -- or Sunday night... The following day a festival begins, Eid al-Fitr. For those who've successfully challenged Peace Month, it will be a time for congratulations. But it's also a time to boldly critique war and the horrible impact of violence upon innocent non-combatants. Please work for Peace.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 26: Grazing

I'm amazed this month to see the importance of eating & drinking in my normal daily living. Not having a morning cup of coffee, not having lunch, not taking a break for a glass of water or a snack... Then traveling around town, especially visiting places I'm not normally resident (thus far this month: to London, Oxford, Paris, Tokyo). Many tasty treats are on display, at least some of which I'd have enjoyed. But this month I've stepped away from daytime consumption. Please make my sacrifice somewhat worthwhile: whenever you are reading this, can you do something today for Peace?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 25: Isolation

Over one billion Muslims are fasting everyday for a month during this Ramadan. They do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours. For Peace Month I've similarly gone without food or drink from dawn to dusk. When talking to people about Peace Month, I've been surprised how little they know of the Ramadan fast. Many people are surprised to hear that even liquids are not allowed. Media reports the start of Ramadan, and the end; but largely outside the public eye is the month in-between: a period of struggle, success and inspiration. I hope the Peace Month Challenge becomes steadily popular, and more non-Muslims will use the chance to challenge themselves and to see the world somewhat differently. I've learned a lot, though at times it's felt a lonely struggle. I'll also continue to increase my efforts for peace.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 24: Polarization

It's a tragedy that many people become adults with no ability to listen to ideas they disagree with. Demonizing those with different views is an aggressiveness that should be discouraged. Political leaders who mock civility set a terrible example. Those who incite violence should be sanctioned. It is foolish to claim "you're either with us, or against us" - especially when key information is unknown, or details suppressed. It's important that platforms for discussion & debate be constructed and maintained. Otherwise we give up to the noisiest voice, the power of the truncheon, or mob rule.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 23: Humane

Some otherwise advanced nations, such as the USA & Japan, brutishly execute criminals. This is wrong for assorted reasons. First, many of these people are being punished for horrific crimes: no right-minded person would do such things. Almost by definition these people are crazed, and their surrounding community shares some at least some responsibility. More importantly, we have the chance to be humane, to belatedly attempt somehow to make things right. Butchering the butchers is not a proper response, as there are surrounding family and friends (both of victim & perpetrator) then further brutalized. A peaceful community should care about its weakest, misguided or callous members. Perhaps they must be imprisoned, but the prison system need not be a chamber of horrors. We have the capacity to be humane, while still protecting our community. We should be humane. The possibility exists of people being unjustly convicted, and also of some who might make some form of restitution. I hope to live in a humane community.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 22: Poise

Poise and balance are best recognized when lost. Can we create balanced communities? Maybe not all people in the community will be balanced, but the social services and community-wide activities can be well-designed (or not). People can be better encouraged to be considerate and friendly with each other. This sounds simple, but when a community is marketed and positioned and recognized as being a desirable place to live, property values rise, the tax base improves, and thus even better services become possible. We can each do small things to make the community better: pickup a few bits of trash, heartily greet neighbors and other community members, purchase locally-produced products and services that then recirculate funds through the locality. Positive community spirit can start with the poise and energy and welcoming spirit of even one individual.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 21: Detachment

A dynamic is generated between attention and perceived need, as wants & needs impose themselves on attention & consciousness. We've the choice, though not always the strength, to recognize and to satisfy needs, or to note need and detach, or to not be bothered

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 20: Need

Accept the challenge of Peace Month - you'll see a new world in new ways, even without leaving home. Perhaps you'll also grow to recognize the need, the many needs, of people all around. When yourself in a state of need, while in want of liquids & nutrients & refreshment, you are open to sensing the needs of others -- satiety smothers this sensitivity. 'Seek and ye shall find...'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 19: Pain

An hour after doing rigorous abdominal exercises yesterday, I had painful cramps; they continue somewhat today. Perhaps lack of food has contributed to some type of imbalance? Whatever this case, a key fact emerges: fighting for peace can be painful. Warfare & hostilities are the foundation of certain corporate & military interests - peace undermines their operations. Some people are passionate about revenging themselves upon others - we risk our health standing in their way. But War brings more pain, indiscriminately. Look at the crying faces of mourners, whose tears herald the wider guilt of those indifferent or inhumane. Can we take up their pain and nurture it toward positive ends? Even in the midst of pain, we each in a small way can generate grace & kindness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 18: Enthusiasm

Our modern societies offer much leisure time, but depression and melancholy are all around us. People often lose sight of challenge, joy and enthusiasm.

Perhaps Peace Month can help.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 17: Forgiveness

I feel angst for the waste and needs of the world. Selfish and powerful people are certainly responsible for much suffering. Who are these villains? Can Peace Month be a chance to forgive the wicked?

These people will probably never see their errors. Indeed, they'll likely use deceit, malice and savagery to their last breath. Isn't it foolish to acquiesce to their aggressiveness? Shouldn't such rot be identified, exposed, and eradicated? Appeasement simply makes us accomplices.

It would be wonderful if somehow the suffering generated by foolish sociopathic behavior could be recognized by the guilty. There are surely paths to conversion. But what might force reflection on wrongs?

Some such people might respect their family, their mother, close friends, etc.

Practicing satyagraha is a key step, "holding fast to truth" and refusing to assist what's wrong. Justice should ultimately prevail. Yet each of us also decides our own action(s), and inaction is an active choice. Each has responsibility for promoting his or her own understanding of justice. Amidst such a clamor, foundations for communication & peace are important.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 16: Thanks

I'm still surprised that Peace Month brings quiet & composure in the midst of fasting. I truly expected more suffering. When breaking the fast at the end of the day, I feel thankful for the bounty before me. I can deeply enjoy a calm meal with my wife Aimee, who typically prepares our fine food. In comparison, others around the city seem to be frantically feeding & continuously chomping!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 15: Sobriety

One of my experiences this month has been clearheadedness: during the day without food or drink, my body is not as usual processing assorted intake. No morning coffee, no tea, no lunch, etc. This kind of sobriety is very positive. Surprisingly, it includes calmness.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 14: Commitment

Peace Month is about half finished - today was the full moon. I'll certainly continue fasting & achieve the Peace Month Challenge, and will redouble my efforts in working for peace.

Sometimes during the day I feel tired and listless, but those are exactly the times to dig deeply, draw forth metabolic power & kindle extra energies. I'll communicate better with others in my community and Fight for Peace!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 13: Smell

Appetizing smells have been remarkable, not because they seem stronger during Peace Month fasting, but because I appreciate them more. They're all I'll get as food-based nourishment, an experience to appreciate, not simply a quick prelude to eating.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 12: Corporeality

Fancy ideas are fine, but after 16+ hours without food or drink, walking around a city filled with delicious diversions, it's clear being unable to eat or drink is a heavy burden. Life needs physical sustenance, and a great many hours each day are spent dealing with such needs. Now I'm redirecting those energies, and fighting for peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 11: Antagonism

Some people are positively intrigued by Peace Month until they consider the parallels with Ramadan; then they become antagonistic. But these people often know little of Islam and other faiths. I support secularism and choice of faith, and dislike religious-led efforts to ensnare entire populations (for example, the Corpus Christianum before the Reformation forced all in a region to profess faith and serve Church-led authority). Let's allow for some measure of individual interpretation in religious effort. Don't condemn in ignorance!