- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What truly can bring peace to the world? For eons, governments have been trying to legislate peace. Document after document, resolution after resolution, have tried, top down, to exert that control over human nature.

Calculations, negotiations and determinations have not succeeded.

Human nature itself has to change. Peace has to be an inside job; it can’t be legislated by governments. We must first be it,then spread it. But where do we start?

I’ve been shepherding the Children’s Cloth of Many Colors for eight years now, since its inception at a peace ceremony in the Secretary of the Army’s conference room at the Pentagon, where an eight-year old girl determined to start a children’s version of a similar quilt made for the millennium.

In that time, I’ve experienced the great love that has come forward from children in schools, refugee camps, orphanages, scout troops, neighborhood groups, homeless shelters, families. With each section, the loving force-field of the quilt has increased. Thousands of children from 25 countries and 28 U.S. states have now contributed. The quilt is in excess of a third of a mile long at this writing.

Now, we’re adding the contribution of the children’s love to the upcoming Global Peace Festival, entitled, “One Family Under God.” Children, after all, are the purpose of the family.

On July 30, as Ethiopian children were preparing their section for the Children’s Cloth of Many Colors, Ambassador Samual Assefa said, “we’ve had way too many war heroes. What we need now is peace heroes. Peace needs to come from the people!”

Perhaps the next evolution of human consciousness isn’t a giant stratospheric leap into new dimensions, but simply a relaxation into love - a remembering of an innocent time when we felt safe, special and protected. A time where we had no defenses, no calculations; no competition; just the happy, innocent fulfillment of our own unique expression. Perhaps it’s a remembering that we’re loved by God, and that we’re safe.

The Children’s Cloth of Many Colors contains this energy. I believe that is why it’s the soft, powerful force that it is. Now, we’re preparing to show new pieces of our peace quilt at the Global Peace Festival on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, August 9. Sections created by children from all over the United States, as well as from the D.C. embassies, have been arriving daily.

Veronica Musiol, 16, from Severna Park, Md., gathered 33 children to illustrate the “garden of my community.” Some of the children were from her swim club, some from her church, some were children she babysits. Each child contributed a flower for the quilt section, illustrating their special contribution to Veronica’s “community.” Intergenerational gifts came forward when local quilters contributed six hours to teach the children quilting skills. Veronica says, “I realized how important a person’s community is to them. If everyone is active and knows people and talks to them, things would be more peaceful, and people wouldn’t be hurt. There would be fewer suicides because people would feel cared for and supported.”

For the past few months, in preparing for this festival, I’ve experienced a new kind of energy. There’s a depth of love - a unique, helping-hand kindness that has been coming forward, as interfaith leaders from many walks of life are banding together to create this event. Last week’s planning meeting included Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and some from other spiritual paths.

The planning for this event has emerged into a real feeling of family, and the genuine caring for each other’s success and welfare that this entails. Color and nationality seem to make no difference. In fact, there is an appreciation for diversity, and the unique gifts that each brings to the table. Serving each other in kindness and caring is the norm. People break into song at a moment’s notice - a very telling thing.

Can you imagine what it would be like, if a whole society were based on these principles? If we were all feeling and acting as one loving, happy family? This event is meant to show the way.

Gerry Eitner, a resident of Warrenton, Va., is the founder of the Communities of Peace program and its signature project, The Children’s Cloth of Many Colors. She gives workshops on peace, has been a delegate to the United Nations Millennium Forum, a member of the U.S. team for the Earth Charter, and has been active in interfaith programs.

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