Transformation from War to Peace

2003-04-13

Richard Moore

Friends,

This transformation thread is not something I dreamed
up on my own. It is a response to a change in the kind
of mail I've been receiving.  Since the Iraq invasion
started, people in many parts of the world have been
inspired to dig deeper, to think harder, to listen to
their hearts -- seeking solutions to our crisis.

People seem to be realizing that the Iraq episode is
not an exception -- it is rather the epitome of where
our civilization is heading.  People are seeing that
the war cannot be opposed on its own, rather the
direction of our civilization must be shifted.  I'm not
sure why these kinds of realizations are being inspired
by Iraq in particular, but they are.

Below are two such pieces.  They are very different and
yet very much the same.  One is called "Revolution for
Global Peace" and the other "Transformation from War to
Peace".  One is from a German-speaking academic, and
the other says it is an "American Indian message to the
world".  (Both appear to be genuine.)

I put the American Indian piece last, since it is
longer.  But I hope you have time to look at it.  Those
of you who have been following my work probably know
why I consider that piece especially important.

---

When one is lost, it often helps to think back to where
you went wrong in your wanderings. Sometimes the best
strategy is to go back to where you lost your way and
start again.  Our civilization has lost its way.  I
suggest that we must look deeply at the question,
"Where did we first lose our way?".

Was it merely the coming to power of the
Rumsfield-Cheney clique?   Was it the elections of
Reagan and Thatcher and the launch of the neoliberal
globalization program?   Was it the assassination of
JFK?  Was it the industrial revolution and capitalism? 
How far back do you go before you can find a time we
were not lost?  Were we better off under kings and
aristocratic rule?   Under the Catholic Church?  Under
the Roman Empire?  When were there EVER good old days? 
When were we ever not already on the path to where we
are now?

I came to the conclusion some time ago that we need to
look back very far indeed before any credible case can
be made for the existence of societies worth emulating.
We must look before the advent of civilization --
because the history of civilization is nothing other
than the history of ever-expanding power hierarchies. 
It is the history of ever-more sophisticated means of
control, and every-more-efficient means of
exploitation.  To the extent we cannot see this, we
only provide evidence for the efficacy of the
propaganda-education-media-matrix machine.

I've often pointed to the Native Americans as a
particularly valuable place to look.  Their cultures
were a broad canvas, serving as a not-bad rough
representation of the kinds of cultures we evolved from
ourselves, before the advent of systematic agriculture
and civilization.  (I am specifically not including the
Aztecs and Incas, culture which were already on our
same civilization path.)  Equally important, the
(other) Native American cultures were studied and
documented in great detail, and many eloquent expressions 
are available from Native Americans themselves ("Black Elk
Speaks", and the like).

---

The piece I've forwarded at the bottom is especially
relevant to this question of "Where did we go wrong?" 
It deals with the time when certain tribes made the
transition from habitual warfare to peaceful
coexistence.  They made this transition long before the
arrival of the White Man, and they seem to have come up
with a somewhat stable and worth-examining system.  A
system which allows for local autonomy while providing
order on the larger scale.

Our own cultural ancestors faced that same transition. 
The dominant solution in our case was not peaceful
co-existence, but rather the conquest of the weaker
tribes by the stronger ones.  Bush is simply the latest
example of someone carrying that millenniums-old banner
forward.

regards,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
From: Institut für Globale Friedensarbeit <•••@••.•••>
Subject: D.Duhm: Revolution for Global Peace (regarding the Iraq war)
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 15:56:30 +0100

    The Revolution for Peace
    Third comment regarding the Iraq War
    (Dieter Duhm, March 2003)
    http://www.tamera.org/english/aktuelltext/Irakdd3.html

[extracts]
I want to say the truth and still serve peace. I thank
the peace movements and the demonstrations all over the
world. Maybe never have so many people demonstrated for
peace as now (March 2003). A thanks - for this time -
also to the German federal chancellor Gerhard Schröder
for his consistent "no" to this war. The demonstrations
must not stop now. They can start a historic change for
the whole world. We need a global peace plan for a new
earth.

We are witnesses to a wrong civilisation in which we,
ourselves, belong. We are experiencing a war by two
barbarian cultures and governments. The barbarism of a
US-American government and the barbarism of a
dictatorship in Iraq are two aspects of the same
devastating history, and the same continuum of
violence.The same injustices are happening here as in
Afghanistan, in Israel/Palestine, in Chechnya, in the
Balkans, in Latin America, in Africa, Indonesia and
almost everywhere on the earth.

There is hardly any island left on the earth that is not
besieged by this world-wide disease. It is a similar
form of barbarism as previously in Chile or Vietnam
just with another amount of concealment and propaganda.

(....) Murder is transmitted to us in a sterile way by
means of figures, tables and electronic technology. The
daily mass-murder has become a inconspicuous part of
our whole life-system. Behind the clean medicine, the
cosmetics, or the stock exchange figures stands the
nameless misery of the tortured creature. This torture
has long since become global. The keyword for it is
"globalisation". It is the globalisation of violence.
But we need the globalisation of peace. The life forces
of evolution must be steered in a new direction. (....)

We, the ones who are standing behind these words, can
no longer remain spectators in a Disneyland where the
war is presented as a computer game. Awakened by our
own thoughts, we can no longer look away from what is
really happening on the side of the victims. We have
friends in Palestine and in Israel. Others have friends
in Iraq. No human being who looks to what is happening
there could accept the war for a single second. The
children, the friends and beloved ones who are dying
there could be our own. The cruelty of a dictatorship
regime (Saddam Hussein) cannot be ended by means of the
cruel killing of humans and animals in a war, they
would only be continued with different means. We
experience this now in Afghanistan and in Chechnya.
(...)

We are here to build up a new life form. Our pacifism
is militant and absolute; this means unconditional. But
it is free of hatred, for it has surpassed hatred. The
absolute NO lies beyond hatred or revenge. Those who
have said this NO don't need to hate any more. It is
not an emotion, it is not a religious belief, and not a
philosophical or religious position. It is pure
existence and truth. We say NO because any other
statement would be self-denial. We say NO because
otherwise we would no longer feel trustworthy and
secure in front of each other. We say NO because we
want to become truthful again in our own friendships
and love relationships. At the same time, we connect
ourselves with a YES as powerful to life, yes to all
creatures, yes to a joyful coexistence and co-operation
of all living beings - toward the One (....).

 > Forwarded by:
  Summer-University 2003  "Movement for a Free Earth" 
  July 28th - August 6th of 2003
  IGF - Institut für Globale Friedensarbeit (Institute
  for Global Peace Work), Monte do Cerro, P-7630 Colos,
  http://www.tamera.org  
  •••@••.•••
  Tel: +351-283 635 3-06, Fax: -74  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Delivered-To:•••@••.•••
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 22:39:29 -0700 (MST)
From: Evan D Ravitz <•••@••.•••>
To: misc. groups
Subject: American Indian message to world 

(Lest we forget how civilization got this far... Evan Ravitz)


    COMBING THE SNAKES OUT OF ATOTARHO'S HAIR
    A Transformation from War to Peace

Both the Charter of the United Nations and the
Constitution of the United States of America are
founded on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Great Law of
Peace.  We, the carriers of the Haudenosaunee
traditions consider it our duty to remind the world of
the basic principles and spirit of the Great Law for
bringing peace and harmony to human relations.

In our teachings, there was a man named Atotarho. 
Atotarho is described as a powerful evil man who spread
fear and death everywhere he went - visually he is
represented with snakes coming out of his head and as
having a crooked and misshapen body.  He was a
cannibal, a sorcerer who killed and maimed people for
his pleasure and caused dissention, exploiting people
to feed his own selfish greed.  The world was at war. 
Sound familiar?

Long before the Europeans came to North America, two
men, Dekanawida and Ayonwatha taught the warring
nations about the Great Law of Peace which brought
peace and established the Confederation of Five
Nations. Over 200 nations allied themselves with the
Confederacy and accepted the terms of equality and
peace.

How did Dekanawida and Ayonwatha straighten Atotarho
out and comb the snakes out of his hair?

When Dekanawida was trying to bring peace to the
warring nations by forming the Confederacy and showing
people how to work together, he had trouble convincing
the Onondaga to join because they were lead by
Atotarho.  Atotarho enjoyed the power and fear he put
into people.

Dekanawida and Ayonwatha sang him a song to help him
calm down. They massaged his aching, crooked body and
then started to gently comb the snakes out of his hair.
As they did so, they taught him about the Great Law of
Peace.

Dekanawida and Ayonwatha worked gently and with great
patience. As Atotarho began to relax, he was
transformed and became straight, strong and whole
again.  Atotarho, after he was pacified, became head of
the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 
Atotarho learned the ohenton kariwateken, the words of
thanksgiving that come before any gathering of the
people.  As he began to understand his place in the
universe - a universe where everything and all people
are interconnected and equal - he could no longer
exploit the fears of others.

Instead of removing him from any position of power in
the new confederacy, he was given the opportunity to
act as chairman, listening to everything everyone else
had to say and presiding over discussions.  He acted as
a peacemaker and diplomat, listening to all the
positions carried from the people by their
representatives.  He made sure that relations were
conducted in a friendly and respectful manner.  This
position still exists in the modern day Confederacy.

In this position, he does not represent anybody or any
nation.  He does not force others to follow his way. 
He is a mediator for all of the nations and for the
Great Law of Peace.  It is understood that because he
had been so crooked to begin with, he understood the
opposition and imbalance that could occur among people.

The person who sits in Atotarho's place cannot be in
two canoes at once - that of war and that of peace - he
would fall into the river. Their paths naturally go in
opposite directions.  Atotarho realizes that if you
have everything, you have nothing.  He knows the
importance of keeping balance within the circle where
everyone is equal.

Where is our Atotarho today? Is there anyone who knows
how to comb the snakes out of the hair of our most
recalcitrant warring leaders so we can have peace? Have
we forgotten the lessons of the past?  Why is America
at war?

We are all like Atotarho. We are living in a time of
violence and destruction.  We all have snakes in our
hair.  Our minds are crooked and we are wasting our
energies.  But we all have power.  We have the power to
look after each other, to comb the snakes from each
other's hair, to straighten aching bodies and to learn
the soothing songs of peace.

There is no need to go back to the time before Atotarho
learned the Great Law of Peace.  We must bring back the
principles that Atotarho learned.

We must not be afraid. We must take on the
responsibility of making sure that all people are cared
for. We must give up our positions of dominance and
remember our connectedness to all people and all
things. We must remember the small condolence where we
wipe our eyes with the softest cloth so we can look at
reality.  We must take an eagle feather and gently wipe
our ears so we can listen and hear what is really being
said.  We must drink pure water to soothe our rasping
throats so our words are soft and clear, without sharp
edges.

We must ask ourselves, are we ready to hear the message
of Deganawida? Are we strong enough to learn from the
past?  Surely we have suffered enough. The mountains
are cracking.  The rivers are boiling.  The fish are
turning with their bellies up.  We must leave the
millennia of death and destruction behind.  We can link
our hands together in peace.  We have the United
Nations already, let's use it!

We can make the world safe and beautiful for everyone.
The Indigenous spirit can come back. Our brothers and
sisters from all parts of the world can teach us. We
can burn our good medicines and call on Creation, so
Deganawida's message returns like a light from the
east. We can respect each others' differences and live
in harmony together.

Now is the time for us to take responsibility for our
future and the future generations.  We must use our
voices and speak up!  Act out! We are not powerless. 
We have to let people know that we all have the power
to do something about this conflict and
misunderstanding!

    Kahn-Tineta Horn, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Mother, Grandmother
    Kahente Horn-Miller, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Mother
    Karonhioko'he, daughter
    Kokowa, daughter
    Grace Lix-Xiu Woo, Aunt, Sister, Ally
    Ekiyan, Mi'kmaq Son, Ally
    •••@••.•••
    •••@••.•••


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