As 2015 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the state of the United States and the state of the world. It would be easy to look at the GOP presidential candidates, at the mass shootings in the United States, at the acts of terror recently committed around the world, at the refugee crisis and at the endless wars, and feel only despair. But as I go about my day, instead I choose to focus on the reality that in one week earlier this year, the Confederate Flag came down and the Rainbow Flag went up (signifying the ability of anyone to marry in the United States). I think about the millions of people that are doing good in the world, that are tirelessly fighting for equal rights, justice and a better world for all of mankind.
If you’re reading this, you’re one of them. Because of you and other members of The Whole 9 and The Peace Project communities, we’ve been able to continue our work this year, spreading love and bringing peace through art, community and focused action.
With Baltimore burning, we organized a peace march in Los Angeles and invited citizens of all types to join us, raising their voices and walking the walk for peace.
Designed and constructed a Peace Center in the community that we built on Bantayan Island for those that lost everything in Typhoon Haiyan.
We went back to Bantayan, which is a resort island, to train seven members of our community in massage therapy and were thrilled to see some of the members booking massages before training was finished. An hour massage earns them more than some were making for two days work — providing a skill that will help lift their family out of poverty.
Continued to support the education of several dozen children in Sierra Leone.
Held The Peace Project’s 6th Annual Call for Artists and Traveling Exhibit that included a special exhibit, Gaza Rising, that featured the art of ten artists from Gaza.
Produced two outdoor art festivals “Affair of the Arts” in Culver City, California.
Opened six exhibits at The Whole 9 Gallery and hosted dozens of events designed to sell art, raise funds, build community and spark discussion of important social issues.
Every day I come into contact with people worldwide that, against odds most deem insurmountable, are creating change and I don’t think about how many things are wrong in our world, but about how many things that these peace warriors are making better. I know (because I’ve seen them), that miracles are not only possible, but that they’re happening around us all the time. I know that these miracles are happening not only because “God” wants them, but because you want them, I want them, and the people working for them, want them.
Creating change is hard and often it can seem overwhelming — when I feel this way, I work to remember that I can change the world every day simply by changing how I behave. I can be kinder to the less fortunate including the homeless or downtrodden I meet on the street, offering them at least an acknowledgement of their existence and a kind word if I can’t offer financial help. I can be more patient with my children and more understanding of my family and friends. I can try to understand someone else’s viewpoint instead of only trying to advance my own. I can be more careful of the communications I put out into the world including on social media and try to engage people in discussions with an open mind instead of blurting out what I may think (like “Are you kidding me??!!”). And as importantly, I can take an active role in our political process and work hard to elect better leaders – leaders that are honest and that base their decisions and use their power to create change based on what their constituents want and need, not on the wants and needs of major corporate donors that fund their campaigns.
Our plans for the first six months of the New Year include fundraising and building a Peace Center in Sierra Leone, Africa, and supporting the Bernie Sanders campaign for President of the United States — it is my belief that the single greatest thing that would cause positive change for the most people, not just here in the United States, but around the world, is to elect Bernie Sanders as the next President of the United States. Please don’t hesitate to email me directly if you’d like to learn more or get involved.
There are also many changes we’ll be making around The Whole 9 and The Peace Project in the new year, all of them with one intention — to bring concerned, conscious and creative citizens together to make this world a more beautiful place – a place with more art, more abundance and more joy for all. I hope you’ll join us.
In the meantime, thank you for showing up and helping us create more Peace on Earth.
TheWhole9 l The Whole 9 Gallery l The Peace Project