Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Center for Spiritual Living hosts discussion of genocide and war

Center for Spiritual Living hosts discussion of genocide and war
By KATHERINE LEAL UNMUTH
The Dallas Morning News,kunmuth@dallasnews.com

People of many religious and ethnic backgrounds gathered Sunday to exchange stories of genocide and war. The event was held at the Center for Spiritual Living and sponsored by the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress.

"We are obsessed with our own tragedies, and sometimes it's hard to acknowledge others' tragedies," said Mike Ghouse, chairman of the event.

Panelists discussed the Holocaust, the impact of colonization on North American and Toltec Indians and the war in Darfur.

The event also touched on the situation in the Gaza Strip, and Ghouse, who is Muslim, acknowledged that people had contacted him to say they were upset that he included Palestinians in the discussion.

The Rev. Petra Weldes, a minister at the center, told the audience that people often respond more quickly to tragedies such as the earthquake in Haiti. "If we can respond to a natural tragedy, then why can't we respond to a manmade tragedy?" she asked.

The presentations were not academic. Instead, they focused on people sharing their feelings about the events in order to raise awareness that there is much suffering in the world and to promote peaceful coexistence.

"Genocide is still going on," said Rick Halperin, director of the human rights education program at Southern Methodist University. "For many people, it happened 'back there.' "

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Courtesy of Dallas Morning News http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-worldpeace_25met.ART.State.Edition1.4bca07e.html#slcgm_comments_anchor

Comments (7)
Posted by Rev. Petra 23 hours ago

It was such a powerful evening, I was greatly moved as part of this event, and pleased for our Community to sponsor it.

What became noticeable clear to me as the evening progressed is that as we continue to remember and reflect on these unspeakable tragedies, it does not further healing to approach them with anger, hate or the need for vengeance. We have learned that violence only begets more violence. the silence must be broken, truth and hope spoken, and a new understanding that we must respond swiftly and positively to the slaughter of humans by humans. Realizing that no one group is always responsible and no one group is always the victim helps us stop the "us vs them" perspective, and begins to move us into the "we must work together".

It is truly astounding that our media continues to spend its time showing the extreme sides and positions all over the world, rather than focusing on the moderate, reconciliatory voices that seek peace, justice and understanding. Thank you, Ms Unmuth and the Dallas Morning News, for being willing to cover this event and this story!

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Posted by Kamran Cheikh

Katherine, I would like to thank you very much for covering this event. There were alot of insightful speeches by the speakers at the event and each one of them brought their own unique perspective to these very dire tragedies that have occured throughout history. To solve these issues we as human beings must continue to come together to witness the signs of these tragedies and find solutions to prevent them from occuring. I thank all of the guest speakers,volunteers and attendants for their support and participation in this event. We are looking forward to next years event as we hope to have a full day conference with discussion about many different genocides, holocausts and tragedies that have been occuring throughout human history. Please also give support to the next upcoming initiative of the World Muslim Congress, Project Soam, which should be occuring in the next few months,some information about the project can be found at www.holocaustandgenocides.com

Kamran Cheikh is a Board Member for the World Muslim Congress and the Foudation for Pluralism. He is also on the steering board for the organization Muslims for Peace, Justice and Progress(MPJP). Additionaly, he is a researcher for the think tank organization the Deen Research center(DRC).

Kamran Cheikh, Assistant Chairperson
III Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides
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Posted by RElghonimi

Katherine, thank you for this article. We are grateful for your presence with us and in conveying its significance. We truly appreciate Mike Ghouse's dedication to human dignity and the Center for Spiritual Living's hosting of the event.

You noted that it was not an academic program yet I just wanted to mention we did have an academic talk during the program. I am a graduate student at UTD in history, and I presented a historical analysis of Jerusalem. It is interesting you chose not to mention it in your article as many audience members were powerfully impacted by it. I am grateful to Mike Ghouse for letting me know of the neglect of this area in the article. Many attendees thanked me in reminding all of us that Jerusalem was notable for 1219 years of coexistence and openness to travel and pilgrimage under Islamic rule. They expressed amazement that they had never before heard this type of academic proof that inspired such faith, hope, and love. Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together, coming and going. It is a precedent of hope and optimism that should be emphasized and appreciated rather than covered up - and of course, instead of the ad nauseum ideas of inevitable conflict or cultural clashes that usually surface.

Reem Elghonimi
Steering Board Member,
Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress (MPJP)
www.mpjp.org

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Posted by LeonardEllis

Indeed, a very sincere, informative and heartbreaking event, as we were awakened to the atrocities committed by our fellow human beings on our brothers and sisters. A sense of oneness was present, and one of sadness as I learned about horrific events until now unbeknownst to me.
Asking why and how of these past events will perhaps awaken our humanity, preventing future tragedies. Perhaps, but each and every one of us must hold the vision of a just and peaceful world. Each of us must do our part, to speak up when we see injustice, to truly be our brother's keeper. Yes, we can hold the vision, and we can be proactive about it, because a vision without action is just a hallucination.
Len Ellis
Dallas Peace Center

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Posted by MikeGhouse

Thanks for the report, indeed, we were able to acknowledge the tough issues and face them squarely, we also learned that we can find the way out of the quagmires without compromising the truth. I cannot thank enough the contribution each speaker and participant made towards the success of tonight’s program.

Humility was flowing in every one’s veins tonight, there was no acknowledgment of all the great things each speaker and commentator has made, and instead they were simply introduced by their first names. It did not bother them at all, they did not even pay attention to it, because it was not important to them, it was their message that was important to them. They listened to others, without ever lessening others. I am proud to be a part of this group for your humility and being good communicators and listeners. They had long crossed the threshold of "me, me and me alone person", to "we, we and us", and I salute them all for the same.

Of the several accomplishments tonight, a few are as follows;

1. that other peoples suffering is as legitimate as ours,

2. that some one related to us through faith, ethnicity or race has been a butcher too,

3. that it takes courage to see ourselves as perpetrators and accomplices as well,

4. that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel when politics is stripped,

5. that we can value others suffering without lessening our own or theirs,

6. that the overriding desire to highlight my own gets softened, easing our own pain

7. the sense of responsibility for creating a better world was present in us.

We could have done a full hour session with the theme and presentation of each speaker, and God willing we will have a full day conference on the subject.

I hope to gather every one’s speech and include in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Pluralism. I will be compiling a full report and publish on the websites and Blogs

Mike Ghouse is a Dallas based Speaker, Writer, Thinker and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and television networks offering pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day including Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, Peace, India and Civic issues.

Mike Ghouse, Chairperson
III Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides
http://www.holocaustandgenocides.com/

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