This photo is a favorite of mine. I took it while on tour in Ireland. In the photo are two of my favorite people on this earth. On the left is Morten Wolf Storeide, who is from Norway. On the right is Brother Seamus Byrne, who is a monk from Ireland. They stand at the base of a tower that was built by the Irish monks in ancient times as an escape from the Norse, who would come to kill and destroy them. To see these two beautiful men – one of Norse heritage and the other of Irish monastic heritage – together as dear friends in this historically painful spot is a testament to the healing that can happen when love and peace reign supreme. It is easy – perhaps too easy – to look at the global picture and become cynical about the idea of human beings ever living together on this earth in peace. After all, for thousands of years up to the present we have demonstrated again and again how impossible we can make it to be at peace with each other. It seems almost an alien concept to us, this ‘peace’ idea. After all, I don’t think the way you do about lots of things, so how could I possibly live in total peace with you, right?
What is ‘peace’?
Is it the total absence of disagreement? Is it some kind of utopia in which no one has a differing opinion or an opposing view? I don’t think it is either of these things. Peace is a state of existence in which human beings with widely diverse views do not consider the inflicting of physical violence an option for intellectual discourse, period. Peace is not some gloomy place where people have all had a frontal lobotomy. Nor is it an idea that only makes sense to hippies and flower children. My friends and relatives, if humanity does not learn what real peace is, and find a way to it globally, well… I think we all know the answer.
So what will it take?
After countless centuries of war, it will at the very least take plenty of healing, education and enlightenment for humanity to find a worldwide peace. Or it may very well take a global cataclysmic event large enough to draw all of humanity together. Climate change would be such a thing. Regardless of the catalyst, the onus is on us. Peace will not be achieved by an angry minister shouting that he doesn’t care about offending someone he disagrees with any more than it will be achieved by an angry fundamentalist taking the life of another human being because he disagrees with them. Both are guilty of hate, and hate is not the way forward for humanity on this earth. We must learn – or relearn – the meaning of love. We must learn the power of humility, compassion, empathy and kindness. These virtues are not the traits of weakness. They require great strength and wisdom. This is the way to peace. Peace is not void of turbulence. It is the ability to navigate that turbulence with love….
Oh, by the way, Morten Wolf Storeide is the facilitator of The World Drum Project, a global vision that has sent a handmade drum to every continent on earth for people of all walks of life to touch it, play it and pray for world peace and healing.
And Brother Seamus Byrne is a healing music recording artist and spiritual teacher who has traveled the world sharing his message of grace, compassion and love. Both know the meaning of peace....
As always, I continue to pray and work for world peace, and ask you to join your unique and beautiful prayers, positive energy and love with mine....
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As a new year begins, we look ahead and consider what it may bring. What does that mean to First Nations people? What do Indigenous, Native people hope for when considering the future? Here are some things I feel most American Indian and Indigenous people would agree are the dreams of new beginnings....
The other night, Leonardo DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in ‘The Revenant’, a film which has a fair amount of First Nations actors. At the end of his acceptance speech, he strongly asserted that it is time the world heard the voice of Indigenous people. I applaud him for making that statement. For centuries, the Native voice has been twisted and misunderstood, forcibly silenced or utterly ignored by mainstream America and the rest of the western world. Humanity needed to hear that voice. It still does. The damage of the silent Indigenous voice can be seen globally, as the world now wrestles with human-inflicted climate change and an epidemic of dangerous religious extremism. The wisdom in the old ways of First Nations peoples is needed now more than ever, and that only comes if the world will listen and hear that voice. Also, if the voice of Native people is truly heard, mainstream society will no longer be able to ignore the continued use of tired, antiquated stereotypes and racially offensive terms and imagery which are in prominent every day use still today. A new voice for Native people requires those outside of our communities to join their voices with ours to affect positive change of all kinds.
There is a new day rising in Native communities across North America. I see it in my own Lakota community. There is a new generation of young, Indigenous people who are finding a deep strength in the traditions of their culture, and are passionate about ensuring a positive future for not only Native peoples, but for the planet and the world. First Nations communities everywhere are turning back to the traditional foods that once nourished a strong and healthy people. Native communities are looking at alternative energy sources like solar and wind to power the homes of their people. We have always known the way. We have just never had a voice. Part of the reason for that is the perpetuation of false, fantasy type imagery of our people by the mainstream society. How can you hear the voice of a people and take it seriously when all you know of them is a ridiculous stereotype? You cannot. So the new direction for Native people will require a new view of who and what we are (and were) by those outside of our communities.
A New Day
We can, and we must change. Humanity has no guarantee from the universe that we are to remain. What Indigenous people around the world have always known is that we are part of the web of life. We are not above it. We have always known that what we do to the delicate balance of that web, we do to ourselves. We must return to that balance. We must seek the wisdom of old ways for a new day. Native people have always known the way to a new beginning. Perhaps the time has finally come for the world to listen....
John Two-Hawks - Grammy nominated Native American Flute Music Recording Artist, author, activist and speaker. FULL BIO