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Thursday, July 19, 2007


Please read Parts 1 and 2 first by scrolling down.

It is a challenge to attempt to share what I learned at the Third Women’s Peace Conference held in Dallas, Texas from July 10-15. The bridging of cultures, religions and politics flowed beautifully through the conference. Unfortunately the media missed this.

A number of times I heard “Where attention goes, energy flows.” In various workshops women were urged to contact their newspapers and ask for more attention given to efforts for non-violent peace efforts. Peace should be a sustainability initiative. We should be made visible to each other. In 1948 the United Nations created and passed the Universal Rights. (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html) It will have its 60th anniversary in 2008. Perhaps it is time to call forth the implementation of these universal rights!

Each of us can contribute and make a difference in our own way.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Consultant for the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa is a beautiful example. She wrote “A Human Being Died That Night” and in 2007 was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award. She told us that we live in difficult times and we must work for peace, justice, compassion and community with others.

She spoke of non-violence and we “…must avoid falling into the pit of hatred.” Her organization is about truth and reconciliation in South Africa. Forgiveness is a healthy response to those horrors that occur…Truth will out…People become traumatized by abuse, horrors and are unable to often verbalize. She said the story of forgiveness begins with a trauma. Forgiveness is a possibility that we can dialogue with our enemies.

When loved ones are tortured, maimed and killed, they lose their sense of self. When people are tortured, it becomes their identity. Trauma is the unmaking of self. Vengeance makes them suffer and injures their emotions. She spoke of her work into assisting others to dialogue by testimony and witnessing about the past. It is a beginning of forgiveness.

When looking at perpetuators, one sees the pain of guilt and denial. She spoke of having each side look into the other’s eyes and it becomes power and this leads to compassion. Power lies in our center and it takes the risk to dialogue with others. Guilt locks people in denial and justification. Forgiveness evolves into remorse and then apology, thereby alleviating the guilt. She gave an example of a perpetuator standing before one of the victims who had his family killed. It took awhile before each could look the other in the eye. When they finally accomplished this, the perpetuator apologized and a healing began to take place because the apology was accepted. When there is the act of truth and reconciliation, then the deep pain in the soul is resolved.

Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams said she is now age 56. She is a dynamic woman. She has been active in getting most countries to sign the Ottawa agreement to ban land mines. The U.S., China and Russia have not signed the treaty. She has led a mission to Dafur and said they are using rape as a tool of war. It is the Genocide Olympics.

Jody Williams said she is a spiritual vagabond. She champions human security and peace. She is sick of the wimpization of peace. Peace is not a rainbow or a dove. That is serenity. It is not Kumbawa. Peace is people security and not state security. Human security means threats are minimized. It means the needs of the people are met. The basic needs of the majority should be met. She sees the important issues to be water, rape or killing. She is tired of hearing that state security is taking care of needs. State security is about preserving.

Re Dafur: It is about cleansing. Rape is about destroying families. Peace is not about the absence of war. This is about men who send other men’s children to die…Violence is a choice.

Isms are intellectualized. Violence, bigotry, prejudice is a choice. We have to learn to make other choices or we die. She was asked about 9/ll and replied that at that time to ask why was treason. Know your history. She gave her email address and said I don’t want to hear any whining. Don’t email to whine. She suggested researching http://www.hwr.org/ - the Human Rights Watch.org. She spoke of cluster bombs. Cluster bombs maim children and women. There is disinvestment in Sudan.

If every person gave one hour a month and agreed to do something, then we would hit critical mass and a major change would occur. It does no good to just talk. Take action.

This was stated in another way the following day when former Ambassador Swanee Hunt spoke. “Pacifists have to put their bodies where their mouths are. There are no women on negotiation teams and this is why warlords say women compromise.

Hunt was Ambassador to Austria during the Bosnia War. She told several stories because being so near the war zone, she was well informed. A Muslim family was captured and the father killed outright. His liver was cut out and his son was forced to eat it and then watch his mother being raped.

Hunt told another story. Even though the UN was bringing in flour, it had not reached some of the people. In Sarajevo, a Bosnian young woman had no food and she met a 70 year-old man. He took her to his home where she met his wife and they fed her even though they had very little food. They lived in the basement of a burned-out building. When she left, she was given a small packet of beets, cabbage and sauerkraut. She shared her story that the man and his wife had managed to have a small garden where they grew beets and cabbage. They gardened by flashlight after dark because of the snipers. The man and his wife were Muslim and she was Christian. They remained friends.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 was given to Aung San Suu Kvi of Burma. Her party won 80% of the seats in a democratic election in 1990, but the military government refused to recognize the results. She was not allowed to accept her award and was incarcerated. She is still under house arrest today despite the efforts of many to have her released.

I experienced a wonderful encounter with a delegation of nine women and one man from Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. Larisa Cherepanova is the Director for the Center “Women Together.” She was the interpreter for the rest of the delegation and yet we all communicated. One of the women is a designer for clothes and her designs are beautiful and outrageous. Another teaches school. Larisa is a poet and a songwriter and singer with a beautiful voice. I have been invited to visit them in Novosibirsk – and doors can open for me to take them up on their offer.

I attended the circle gathering led by women of Gather the Women, of which I belong and it was a beautiful experience of coming together and sharing. This organization has a great on-line forum where we can communicate with each other. Women may also create a circle in their own community. http://www.gatherthewomen.org/.

A woman vendor was selling bracelets of silver beads. In the center of each bracelet was one black bead representing that it only takes one to make a difference. Each of us can be that one.

The conference ended Saturday night and I left with my mind filled with so much information along with stories that were happy and stories that were extremely sad. What I am taking with me is the message to expand awareness. Take an action. You don’t know where it will lead you.

Find a cause and commit even if it is only one hour a month.
Peace is security. Peace is using non-violent methods to settle conflicts.

The greatest thing we can do for our self is to give up prejudices, bigotry, and hatred. Only by doing this can we find our own inner peace.

It is awesome to contemplate a meeting of over one thousand minds from all over the world and each one of us points of light and each one making a different in her/his (yes there were men attending) way.

Why do I call this the Quiet Revolution? It is because there is change and women will not be put back into a toothpaste tube of being considered no better than a breeding animal for men’s pleasure. Women all over the world are gradually realizing that they have worth and want to end the discrimination against them. Women are now gaining education and now want an equal voice. Women do not want to dominate. They are asking for balance in an unbalanced world. Their voices are now being heard and will become louder in a non-violent way. This is the way of the Quiet Revolution.

I want to say that I would have never attended this conference if I had not been a student of Ramtha for twenty years. The Ramtha School of Enlightenment is an academy of the mind and by applying what I have learned, doors opened for me to do what I have done. Now, I know more doors are opening and where they are taking me – well who knows because I am making known an unknown.

Bettye Johnson, July 19, 2007


Please read Part I first by scrolling down.

The Peacemakers, Inc. hosted the Third International Women’s Peace Conference held in Dallas, Texas from July 10-15, 2007 and was first incorporated in 1987 with the first conference being held in 1988. Founder of the Peacemakers, Inc. was Vivian Castleberry, an editor and reporter for the now defunct Dallas Times Herald newspaper for 28 years. The current president of Peacemakers, Inc. is Carol Crabtree Donovan; a practicing attorney in Dallas and this is why the International Women’s Peace Conferences is held in Dallas, Texas. I found the women of Dallas open-minded, warm and dedicated to making a difference in spite of the fact that there was no media coverage and this was commented on. I find it hard to think this was an oversight. Discrimination?

The broad spectrum of topics covered in the workshops and presentations was more than addressing the atrocities of the world. Education was a focal point and the women in the third world countries want education, technology and communication skills. The conference was also about women reaching out and helping women. It was also about using non-violent methods to settle conflicts.

Before the opening session, we gathered in the great open area of the conference center where each of us was given large flags representing every country, island, and protectorate in the world. I was handed the flag of Georgia (Russia). We began moving in a circle towards a microphone and when we reached it, we gave the name of our flag’s country and everyone said three times: “May peace prevail in ____.” We then moved on and handed our flag to a woman who placed it in a holder. By the end, we had a tight circle of flags. It was very profound and moving.

I learned about the United Nations from Gillian Sorenson, former UN Secretary-General and now Senior Advisor at the UN Foundation, a national advocate on matters relating to the UN. I realized after listening to Sorenson, how ignorant I have been about the United Nations.

During her session, she said: “This is a critical time in the world. Goodwill is not enough. Prayer is not enough. It requires action.” War and conflict have reached new depths and spawned cultures of violence in Africa.

Bigotry and hate are all learned. In the past 13 years 3-1/2 million people that include children, women and men have died in Africa. Women need to find their voices. Women must be an agent for change. Women must raise awareness and funds. Women must hold governments accountable. We can counter-balance. We must find work for the men and women. We cannot wish. We must look for kindred spirits…

Optimism and confidence is contagious. Pessimism is contagious. We must begin in our own communities. We must speak up to the media and our governments. Do not be intimidated. Research and then name and shame the manufacturers of weapons and oil. In the U.S. there have been and are manufacturers of land mines. Find out who the war profiteers are. In other word, ‘knowledge is power.’

Organize, teach, speak, and dramatize. There are 20 million refugees. A mature nation earns its reputation. Sorenson spoke of the United Nations. (http://www.un.org/) There are non-governmental organizations involved. There are 193 countries that belong to the UN. Around the world there is a leadership deficit. We need vision. Sorenson then spoke of Nelson Mandela. She quoted him: “Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world.”

Sorenson spoke of the UN Association of the U.S. (www.unausa.org/) - a non-profit organization that promotes education because it creates confidence, freedom and opportunity. An example is a woman from a tribe in Africa. She now has a cell phone and when she has a goat she wants to sell, she calls other villages and finds out the price goats are selling for. Now she has information and knows what to ask for her goat when she takes it to market.

Peace begins at home. See what needs to be done in your own community. Educate yourself about what is happening in the world. Pick an issue and commit.

There are 13 global environmental treaties that have gone into force in the last three decades – but the U.S. is party to only part of them. Why? The Senate refuses to ratify them and this means the U.S. has no role in their implementation. The treaties that have yet to be ratified are:
· Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species since 1983.
· Convention on Biological Diversity in force since 1993.
· The Kyoto Protocol
· Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
· Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Sorenson recommends voting. Go to your local offices of your U.S. senators and representatives. Call and find out when they will be home and take a delegation.

Sorenson spoke at a second session. She has been in senior positions pertaining to the United Nations for over 20 years. There are civil societies – non-governmental organizations that are called NGO’s. These organizations are designed, organized and led by citizens, i.e. citizens groups. Civil societies have influence and power. Example: The Rotary Club has worked with the UN for ten years to eradicate polio and it is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their next issue is Clean Water. What is happening is that NGO’s are doing what governments won’t do. The UN global meetings for women have connected women globally.

What are the assets of NGO’s? Their assets are the media, lobbying and know how to build support in Congress. They can push, prod and shame governments. The UN is not perfect, but it is the best we have and we can make it better.

We can give an issue a face, i.e. land mines. Go after the manufacturers. Under the Human Rights division of the UN there are 150 NGO’s. The UN cannot respond to 150 groups who have differences of opinions. Unfortunately between NGO’s there is competition, wasted energy. Do your homework. The most recent issue is the Child Soldier issue.

There has been bad press regarding Family Planning. There is propaganda that the UN is for abortion. This is not so. Once the UN funds one of 100 countries asking for help, it is up to that country to determine to be pro or anti-abortion. The UN is neutral.

The U.S. hasn’t given a dime in six years. Regarding the International Criminal Court – the U.S. is absent, but has asked the Court to prosecute the Sudan. Soft power versus Hard power. Hard power is might and guns. Soft power is persuasion and as an example, it is values and moral issues. And then there is Smart Power, which is leadership. NGO’s for the most part fall under this umbrella. It has the elements of compassion and intellect.

People have power if they become organized and focused. There must be accountability. There needs to be more women in political office. In the U.S. Senate only 16% are women and in the House of Representatives there are only 16% women.

The UN Family Population Fund – the U.S. had $30 million in 2002 earmarked and Pres. Bush has withheld this.

The speaker from the League of Women Voters told us that politics affect all aspects of our life. The most effective ways to contact your representatives are 1) Personal visit; 2) Faxing; 3) Telephone. Letters may take up to 3 months to reach national representatives due to the anthrax scare. On-line petitions have very little impact. E-mailing – your email may get lost in the shuffle of the thousands they receive.

Do your homework. Know the issue. Have talking points of who, what, etc. Be ready to listen. Know the financial implications of what you are asking for. Be courteous. Be brief. Shake hands. Write a think-you note. Do a follow-up and build up a relationship. Thank of creating a coalition of groups in your community. Talk to unelected people of authority also.

The above model is suitable to use on any level of local, county, state and national representatives. Most of the people in prison fall into 3 categories: 1) childhood abuse, 2) substance abuse, 3) illiteracy. Do they have a positive role model in their life?

I overheard two women talking and one asked, “Where are the people from the Sixties? The reply was, “They went to the corporate world for comfort and now they are afraid of being poor.” I did not interrupt, but I thought those answers were only part of it. They had their leaders, i.e. John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated and the fear struck home as it was intended to do.

I heard mention of Open Source Technology – free technology and found this site: http://www.oftc.net/oftc/ I attended a workshop titled: Leveraging for Technology. This was put on by WorldPulse Media http://www.worldpulsemedia.com/. Within this organization is another tool for women called Pulse Wire. Utilizing the Internet enables women to be a great force in the media. We need voices for women and children of ethnic cleansing.

Women in Afghanistan are making baby bouncers out of rubber tires. We have to move from giving advice to listening to what women need and want to build their own websites. Jensine Larson, the founder and CEO of WorldPulse, is building her website to enable women to be powerful in their own right. She is using Craig’s List as a model. Women everywhere are clamoring to be heard – to connect. They are risking and daring to be bold.

Larson has been to Burma where she has seen first-hand the results of ethnic cleansing. The Burmese Army of 4000 members is known as the “School of Rape.” Betty Williams told the story of a little girl she interviewed at a relocation center. The girl was under the age of 12 and in her village had to watch her mother and father dig their own graves. The soldiers then raped her mother and then had the parents stand facing the open graves and shot them in the back of the head. The little girl and her brother had to cover the graves with dirt and the girl was then raped. The soldiers led them on a forced march through the jungles and she was given 1 small bowl of rice a day. When she stumbled and fell, she was raped, beaten and forced to march. This lasted for days. Williams said that the girl has since died.

An outstanding presenter was Sharon McCord of the Peace X Peace non-profit organization. She gave a list of Internet resources to enable women and men to become web savvy. You can find out more by going to http://www.peacexpeace.org/

I attended a workshop regarding genital mutilation. I personally heard the story from a 29-year-old woman from southern Kenya. Lucy came to the U.S. ten months ago and her mission is to make people aware of the horribleness of genital mutilation and perhaps something will be done. She said it is a cultural thing and not religious. It is prevalent in Africa. In her tribe they took 29 young girls when Lucy was age 3 and performed the ceremony of genital circumcision. She was tied town and a rope put in her mouth while the surgery was performed with an unclean instrument. She screamed from the pain and so did the others. Today only 4 of the original 29 are alive. At this age she was betrothed to a man who gave her father some goats.

Her tribe also had another custom. It wasn’t proper for a girl to have flat breasts so they took her down to the river and attached an animal to her nipples and they were stretched until her breasts became enlarged and over the years grew quite large. In another tribe it was the opposite. The girls had heavy iron weights put on their breasts so they wouldn’t grow. She is now in constant pain.

At age 9 she moved out of her parents house and lived with her grandmother until she was age 12 and married to the 54 year-old man who gave her father 50 cows for her. She was wife number five. After her so-called wedding night, his other wives cut her vagina and while she screamed from pain and bled, he entered her and laughed because he thought she was enjoying it. Between ages 12 to 15 she had two forced abortions and she finally found the courage to run away. She became an activist and became known in Tanzania where she encouraged women to declare their freedom. She was caught and taken to a forest where she was raped and a coke bottle shoved up into her vagina. Lucy is beautiful and laughs. When asked why she laughs so much, she said that if she didn’t that she would die.

And then there is Odette from Rwanda. I met her the first day of the conference. She has beautiful mahogany skin and arrived at the conference from Costa Rica where she received her Masters degree from the university there. She originally was from Uganda and came from an extremely poor family. Somehow her father managed to send her to the mission school for 3 years and she excelled. One day he told her she could not go back to school. When she asked why, he told her that she was a girl. He had to save the money for her brother to go to school. She screamed and cried so much that he took a cane to her and beat her.

When the head of the mission school met her in the village, he asked her why she hadn’t returned to school. She lied and told him she was a refugee and had no money. A Catholic priest overheard the conversation and he left money for her education. She managed to complete high school and continued to seek knowledge. I’m not sure at what age she met her husband, but he was in the government service of Tanzania and became ambassador to Japan. Odette shook her head in amazement while telling me her story. “Can you imagine? I became an ambassador’s wife!” She also was amazed that she had attended a dinner for the senior Bush when he was President.

Then there was Linda from Dallas – a schoolteacher. When she began teaching, she told them to give her all the problems. They did and she taught them love – self-love. Some of them went on to become engineers, lawyers, and other professions. She is making a difference.

Rita Johnson went to Costa Rica 15 years ago and in that time has worked with the Costa Rican government to establish a Peace Army. The President of Costa Rica is Óscar Arias Sánchez who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his negotiations in Central America. Costa Rica is the only country in the world that has no military army. Instead they have a Peace Army. Costa Rica is a model for non-violent negotiations and a model for peace.

Each of can make a difference in our own way. It only takes one to make a difference.

Bettye Johnson – Part 3 to come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


There was a gathering of women from all over the world and a quiet revolution was occurring. The Third International Women’s Peace Conference put on by the Peacemakers, Inc. was held in Dallas, Texas from July 10-15, 2007. This was a monumental occasion with keynote speakers including three women Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

When I first learned of the Third International Women’s Peace Conference in Dallas, Texas, I felt a strong pull to attend and I did. It was a journey of discovery and learning. It was an auspicious period for me because this conference was sandwiched in between Al Gore’s 7/07/07 Live Earth and 7/17/07 Fire the Grid. It was also meaningful for me because Dallas is the city of my birth in the 7th month – July.

I had no expectations, however I soon learned that this was a gathering of female warriors – peaceful warriors. Some had been militant and won Nobel Peace Prizes. Others came from a background of repression; bigotry, hate, torture, rape and almost every vile thing a man can do to a woman. I have named this A Quiet Revolution because it was non-political and crossed all religious boundaries. The time is now for women to exert their power in a non-violent way. There was no ‘bashing’ of men. It was a meeting of great minds who want change. In fact, men are welcome to join the women to make this a world where women and children are safe and conflicts can be settled by non-violent methods.

At the airport while waiting for the shuttle to take me into Dallas, I met a beautiful woman from Kenya who had just flown in from Boston. I thought it was interesting that we were two points of light coming from the opposite sides of the U.S. and meeting in Dallas to form a ‘V.’ Over one thousand women from 43 different countries and 32 U.S. states convened to discuss peace and to discuss peaceful solutions to the torture, abuse, killing and maiming of millions of women and children as well as men. We were women from various ethnic, religious and political backgrounds. Missing from this landmark event was the media. Time and Newsweek along with CNN, NBC and CBS should have covered this event.

Joining me on Wednesday was Louise Oliverio and together we attended workshops together and separately with each of us learning. There was no mention of forming protest groups, carrying signs and banners. No. This was a meeting of planning strategic plans of action using non-violence avenues.

Keynote speakers and Presentation leaders included such notables as Betty Williams, co-winner of the 1976 Noble Peace Prize for her work in uniting Northern Ireland to become what it is today. Her thrust today is helping the children of the world.

Gillian Sorenson, former UN Under-Secretary General, UN Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations and currently Senior Adviser of the UN Foundation – a non-profit organization shared with us her knowledge of the United Nations. I learned that I really knew very little about the United Nations other than the Security Council. There is much, much more occurring in the area of human rights. She said that it is not a perfect organization but it can be improved.

The opening ceremony featured the Honorable Leticia Shahani, Ph.D., former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and later a Senator from the Philippines. In addition to her inspiring speech, the entertainment was spectacular and I was particularly taken with an acrobatic group of women who title is “The Fools” from New Mexico. They do acrobats on stilts and are awesome.

Betty Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate gave an emotional speech to the entire gathering. Betty was a co-recipient of her Nobel Peace award for contributing to the ending of the strife in Northern Ireland. She is a powerful woman whose thrust now is to champion the rights of children. Betty has traveled all over the world and she has had to deal with politics, economics and culture. Referring to Ireland, she said that she and her friend, both Catholics contacted Protestant women. They were all tired of the killing and maiming of children, husbands, brothers, sons and began day by day with a ‘cups of tea’ campaign. They would go into homes and over cups of tea began to find out what the others needed and wanted. She also said that on 9/11 35,615 women and children all over the world died from torture, rape and atrocities and no one noticed.

Williams is now building the first City of Peace for children in Italy. She has formed the World Centers of Compassion for Children International and is asking for contributions. The land, which was earmarked for disposal of nuclear waste, has been given to her non-profit group. To learn more of this please go to www.wccci.org. Betty shared that after she received the Nobel Peace Prize that she was asked to come to the Vatican by the Pope. As she walked through the palace, she noted the many paintings and sculptors by Michelangelo. Just as she was leaving the Pope said something needed to be done about world hunger. Betty replied, “Why don’t you sell some of these Michelangelo’s”. It was a long time before she was asked back.

We were a colorful array of women from around the world dressed in native garments and each with smiles and hope. There were folded paper cranes done by children of China. In China the crane is a symbol for longevity. We also had representatives from the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. There were women from many countries who head important organizations and all want to end violence towards women and children and to educate them. The service organizations of Dallas were well represented and there is an active organization representing refugees and attempting to find them homes. I learned of a ‘concentration’ facility in Taylor, Texas where illegal immigrants are incarcerated with most of the fathers being separated from their wives and children. The children are threatened with removal from their mothers if they don’t behave.

I understand there is a great deal of resentment against illegal immigrants. I can understand this, but if one were to reason it, instead of protesting wouldn’t it be better to become active and attempt to resolve this issue through non-violent methods? Instead of targeting the illegals, perhaps it would be better to go to the source of why they are coming into this country. Corporate America brings them in to work in their sweatshops. Immigration periodically rounds them up and sends them home. They are then recruited by Corporate America and it is a non-ending ugly game. I suggest targeting the ones hiring them. I urge each of you to research and find out who is behind the influx of illegal immigrants. Instead of complaining – take action.

Among the many women I met, there was camaraderie of compassion and enthusiasm to make a difference that by-passed cultures, religions and politics. There were Muslim women from the U.S. and other countries wearing their scarves. They interacted with women of Christian faiths. I spoke to one woman from Israel and her organization works with Palestinian women wanting to end the war. It is – as I understand it – illegal, however these two groups get together and ‘break bread’ by cooking meals for each other. My understanding is that these women as a whole want to end bigotry, injustice and prejudice.

I heard another term used for women who have been abused as ‘wreckage women.’ Dr. Sharon Welch, Chair of Religious Studies, U. of Missouri asked, “Is the U.S. a fool of force and a fool of history?” She quoted from a N.Y. Times article October 5, 2006 where the US Army and Marines have prepared new countersurgency doctrine that draws on lessons learned of Iraq and “makes protection of civilians bedrock element of strategy; doctrine warns against overly aggressive raids and mistreatment of detainees and stresses rapid development of local security forces.” It is something to think about this almost turn-about-face. There are nine points in the new manual. She went on to say that conservatives have a lack of compassion. We need to look at our trickster awareness and ask are we “artisans of hope, artisans of molding, artisans of design?”

There was a spectacular workshop on Leveraging for Technology. This will have to be another email. However, I will say that women can become changemakers and the greatest force for women in the media. We need voices for women and children of ethnic backgrounds. In Burma, the army of 4,000 is known as the School of Rape. Women all over the world do not trust mainstream media. There are three crucial areas that need to be addressed: women trafficking, HIV/AIDS and water sustainability.

A woman from the Navajo tribe in Arizona asked for help because the newspapers are giving us a diet of murder, robbery, sports and war. The Navajo Indians are sick from the effects of mining of oil, coal, uranium and power plants on their land. Large corporations are stripping their land and the air is polluted and the ground water poisoned.

The second Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was Rigoberta Menchu Tum, an indigenous Guatemalan of the Quiche-Maya ethnic group. She was the recipient in 1992 for her contributions for the ending of the Civil War that lasted from 1960-1996. This beautiful woman who said she was Mayan, shared her way of becoming peaceful within herself. She had seen many members of her family killed and this adversity fired her to do something and make a difference. This is what Rigoberta Menchu Tum said:

“We can make a light. We can make a difference in the lives of people…” She spoke of the Mayan calendar, as being an important date – a time and the time is very large. “This date is a beginning again…It is cosmology – a dark time and it is when we can begin anew…It means humans are good. We can begin again….My theme is how to develop creativity. Creativity is born out of our experiences…Many of us have suffered to take on leadership roles…Everyone who has suffered must work their way out and can be well again.”

She went on to say, “I have had many successes and this is to say I have lived fully…those of us who have suffered must find our spiritual fortune within us…Our spiritual fortune gives us a different perspective…” She has done a lot of meditation with a candle and she looks into it and feels the light. She takes a bath with flower petals and feels the negative energies coming out of the body. “What happens is we women don’t want to do it for us…We want to have someone to love us and for us to love ourselves.”

“We can be a leader who will be lights to others…It is important for leadership to be balanced…We have to cry. We have to laugh and that is when you will be well…Times are dark now…Values are lost…There is no connection between young people and adults…What is my success today is that we are a small energy in eternity…We are a small part of the total wisdom…That’s when we live with humility…We live in two clocks. One is the money clock and the counter-clockwise is the spiritual clock. The two clocks need to get to a time when they can coincide…

“We need to recover our values and our beginnings of family, society and schools…When we start an initiative we gather others to us…Some will say you’re nuts and others will say you are taking a step forward…Don’t ever lose your self-esteem…The majority is waiting for someone to do it for them. Ask them ‘what are you doing for women, children, poverty?’ and if they say ‘I can’t. You do it.’ Then say ‘Yes you can do it. Try…’ Peace is harmony and there is a misunderstanding of peace. Peace is harmony. We need to rescue the sentiments of peace.

“We need to have goals…I love life…Contribute to resolution of conflicts…There are many ways to support social transformation. By sending energy you can heal others and ease their pain and give hope…The key is to be well within me (you). We can build technology, hospitals, and scholarships for poor girls. Don’t do it for power…It’s a process and we have to change our mentality…To take leadership, women must have values. If not, we have nothing…Never give up the struggle.

“Try to make your dreams come true…Don’t say some day. Say ‘today I can do it. In my life I do those things today.’ Do not stay in the suffering…Take baths with flower petals.” Rigoberta Menchu has written 30 children’s stories. She said, “Be happy. Make parties. Plant trees…Life is what you want to make out of it.” She is now running for President of Guatemala this year.

This was the ‘up’ part of the conference. I have not included the stories of some of the women and that will be covered in Part 2 along with opportunities for making a change. On Friday night I heard Jody Williams from Vermont, a Nobel Peace Laureate speak and I will share that in part 2.

I attended a small reception for Betty Williams. There were only 25 of us there and I wondered how I managed to get an invitation. I learned more about her foundation and I urge those reading this to go to her website. At the suggestion of some women I met and spoke with, I facilitated a discussion forum on Saturday with the topic being Mary Magdalene. On Wednesday evening the Dallas Tourist Bureau hosted a reception for those of us attending. I learned also that Dallas County officials are now all Democrats having ousted the entrenched Republicans.

More to come…Bettye Johnson, July 17, 2007