This artlicle was first pulished in AFJN’s January-March Newsletter
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Global Peace Initiative for Women (GPIW) held an international conference in Kenya on the theme of Healing Communities Through Love and Compassion. Much was said about the existence of deep-seated anger, frustration, and suffering in our communities. Some of these proceed from political lies, social and economic grievances, ethnic tensions, scramble for resources, terrorism, environmental degradation, religious intolerance, and the legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism. I was invited to attend and speak at the conference in Nairobi.
The conference included the blessing of water and fire at Lakipia Nature Conservancy, the first of its kind on the African continent. The ceremony combined traditional Saisho Homa Ritual performed by the Shinnyo En Buddhist Order and local rituals, songs and dance from the surrounding community elders, youth, men, and women. This ceremony aimed to purify, heal, and awaken people to their innate compassionate nature towards all life, and to ignite the light of hope and courage. Their goal was to burn away delusion and ignorance, smooth suffering and inspire altruistic action.
With determined political will, those who are suffering can forge a new path. This will require the involvement of female religious leaders as well as a change in the hearts and minds of individuals in order to find solutions. Women, the most afflicted by these conflicts, must not be underrepresented at round tables when it comes to finding solutions. For this reason, GPIW has brought together women, men, and youth leaders to strengthen efforts to rebuild broken bridges of peace, reconciliation, and to rededicate themselves to working for harmony and love for one another and the environment we share.
To end the circle of violence we must transform all institutions of violence into institutions of peacebuilding, human rights, freedom, good governance, good stewardship of the environment and advocacy for the poor and oppressed.