More Than One Way to Go Green
I anticipate harvesting my first radish tomorrow. There is one that is just begging me to pull him up. I know for certain that I will not be winning any awards for my first garden, but considering that this is my very first time to grow anything, this radish might as well be the Pulitzer Prize. I love him and his slightly less developed friends. I already know how I will prepare this first radish as well, but for that tasty info, you will have to tune in later.
This past weekend my colleague Amanda and I took seven of our students to the Greater Texas Peace Jam in Houston. Peace Jam is a national organization with local affiliates. The purpose of the club is to unite high school (and middle school, elementary school, and juvenile justice students) with Nobel Peace Prize Winners. Students study the lives of the laureates, and then create projects that serve their local communities and promote peace. Peace Jam is an amazing organization and does tremendous work with and for kids. The Nobel Laureate at this weekend’s conference was the incredible Shirin Ebadi of Iran. Dr. Ebadi was the youngest female judge in Iran. She currently serves as an attorney for Iranian political prisoners and others who have suffered injustice, mistreatment, torture, and human rights violations at the hands of the Iranian government. Although she stands less than five feet tall, she is a bundle of energy and has a contagiously joyous spirit. I am always impressed by how joy-filled people can be who have suffered so many injustices. Although her government confiscated her Nobel Prize, seized her personal and legal documents from her law office, arrested without cause her sister, and imprisoned her in solitary confinement, Shirin Ebadi is hopeful, generous, filled with love, and infinitely patient. She believes democracy will come to Iran. From what I have learned about the people of Iran in the past few days, and from earlier experiences with thoughtful, generous, intelligent, freedom-loving, Iranians I tend to believe her. If the Green Revolution in Iran is any indication, the youth of Iran are willing to give up their personal safety to peacefully bring about change in Iran. Their courage and persistence in inspiring. I have never been punched in the face. I have never been beaten, I have never been oppressed by my own government and then discriminated against by the rest of the world, but I imagine if even one of those things happened to me, I’d find the nearest bed and crawl under it—especially if I was less five feet tall.
In addition to speeches from the laureate, the weekend involves workshops, service projects, and team building. Our students got to interact with students from a variety of backgrounds while completing work that hit at the root causes of violence, poverty, and crime. One of the workshop presenters was the founder of the Institute For Sustainable Peace and he spoke to the students about dialogue and mediation. The man was about my parents’ age and he used to be a trial attorney. About eleven years ago he switched his practice over to one based on mediation. He was sent to the Balkans to help open up a dialogue between the conflicting groups of the region. He has since worked in Sudan and with Muslim and Jewish groups in Houston. What he had to say about the value of dialogue over debate was so relevant to our time. If we want peace in our society it starts with listening, not yelling. It starts with a willingness to understand rather than a desire to condemn. I think every single American politician and most members of the American media should have to take his workshops.
Until then, I can at least rest assured that seven thoughtful teenagers from San Antonio, Texas are doing their part to promote understanding and peace in the world.
And I grew one radish.