Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peace Jam 2008 - Global Call To Action

I had the incredible honor of being asked to teach my seminar Chasing Sustainability at PeaceJam 2008 today and I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it was.

Peace Jam is an organization started 12 years ago by two folks from Colorado, Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff who had a simple idea.  Why not get Nobel Laureates to get together and help inspire young people all over the world to fix the problems that they see in front of them.

While most people would have stopped right there, thinking the task too hard and the hurdles too big, Dawn and Ivan pushed ahead and contacted the Dalai Lama who loved the idea.  They then began to cold call Nobel Peace Prize winners and pretty soon, had an organization on their hands with the simple goal of changing the world by inspiring young people.

I taught my course in the morning to a small group of kids (a last minute venue change kind of messed things up) but had a great response from them and subsequently ran into a number of people who had wanted to attend but couldn't find the venue.  Such is life, you can only control what you can control, but it was a good seminar nonetheless.

The highlight of the day for me though was attending the press conference and being able to listen to the Laureates in attendance speak and answer questions.  It was truly inspiring. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Adolfo Perez Esquival, all spoke eloquently about their experiences and their excitement at being involved. 
What struck me most about these amazing folks was that they were just regular people. While they have all accomplished amazing things, they are just normal everyday people who would not tolerate injustice and stood up and said no. Their message was clear and simple - Do Something!  They were totally inspiring!  Imagine what the world could be like if everyone acted this way!

The Laureates and Dawn and Ivan (who may be Peace Prize winners themselves soon as they have been nominated) announced the start of what they are calling the Global Call to Action, a ten year intiative to enact 1 billion acts of peace throughout the world that attack the 10 core problems the group has decided are most problematic to the planets survival.
  • Equal access to water and other natural resource
  • Ending racism and hate
  • Halting the spread of global disease
  • Eliminating extreme poverty
  • Social justice and human rights for all
  • Rights for women and children and their role as leaders
  • Restoring Earths environment
  • Controlling the proliferation of weapons including nuclear weapons
  • Investing in human security
  • Breaking the cycle of violence
It's a really amazing campaign and one they have already had a lot of success with.  Any child can sign up by going to the site and you can read accounts of projects that the laureates have undertaken with the kids who have come up with them.

I could go on and on, but I won't.  It was an honor to be among such genuine leaders and be a miniscule part of what they are trying to accomplish. Pretty amazing stuff.  

I'll post the audio as soon as i have it cleaned up so you can hear for yourself.



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