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A creative blog by Lisa Schultz on The Whole 9

Lisa Schultz has spent a lifetime observing the human parade. Now at the helm of The Whole 9 and The Peace Project, she reports in on her findings and asks that you join in.

What a difference six years make.

What a difference six years make.

Shortly after launching The Peace Project about six years ago, I took my first trip to Sierra Leone, Africa. I specifically remember friends telling me that I was being irresponsible — that as a single mom, I was risking my child’s future by going. Concerned, I called up photojournalist Pep Bonet whose photos had inspired The Peace Project and asked whether it was safe. He laughed and said “Sierra Leone is the safest place in the world right now.” I suspected that, as a photojournalist who shoots some of the most dangerous spots in the world, his perspective was a little skewed, but I trusted it enough to get on a plane.

When I first landed in Sierra Leone, I saw many things — a few really struck me. One was seeing people crawling on the ground because they didn’t have crutches, couldn’t afford crutches and even if they could, had nowhere to purchase a pair of crutches. We decided to tackle that problem with one of our most dramatic efforts to date, Operation Rise, whereby The Peace Project with the support of Edward Bockarie and a team of about 200 concerned citizens, medical professionals, amputees and others, distributed 10,000 pairs of crutches to polio survivors, war victims, women and children across the entire country on World Peace Day 2011.

The other thing that immediately struck me and captured my heart were the children — the bright eyes and the smiles of children who had never really known enough to eat or anything new to wear. These children inspired the first program we implemented in Sierra Leone — a child sponsorship program where we matched about 30 kids that were orphans, amputees or children of amputees with individuals and families in the United States and in the UK. Three of our children, Marie, Zainab and Mashel Michael Bangura have a father who is a double hand amputee — both of his hands were cut off during the war. I quickly came to believe that our time and energy could be better spent on other programs in Sierra Leone as well as in other parts of the world, but we’ve continued this program for the initial group and watched these children grow up.

During an impromptu art class during my first trip, there was a girl sitting on the outskirts of our circle. I was told that her family didn’t have money to send her to school and she was too ashamed to join us. We subsequently included Kadi in the program too.

In April, when I went to go and pick up my son, Tejan, I spoke with Kadi’s father and he told me that she was doing great in school and that she wanted to go to college to be a bank manager.

On Saturday, Edward Bockarie (head of CAPS and our trusted partner in Sierra Leone) and Musa Mansaray (a member of the Sierra Leone amputee soccer team and another one of the original group) met with all the children, took photos and did an assessment of each. Today, I went through the photos and read about each child’s hopes for the future — futures that include becoming a lawyer, teacher, banker, and caterer, and I thought about the little girl that didn’t want to join us six years ago and about all of the sponsors that have contributed year after year including Heidi Huber-Kalin, Heidi Mages, Diane Connaughton, Michele D’Acosta, Eliza Wyatt, Cecelia Casey, Kelebek Travers, Liz Beckman, Sandra Cooper, Meg Zuern, and Robert Gonzalez.

I think about how to change the world most of each waking day and although most of my visions include big dramatic ideas like Operation Rise, I realize that quite often it’s the little things we do day after day, year after year, that can change a life — that can change the life of a family and can ultimately change the life of a community.

When I despair of making a difference, I often remind myself of the story of the boy and the starfish. In it, a boy is walking on a beach where thousands of starfish have washed up on the sand. As he’s walking, he bends down and picks one up. A man sees him and says “What are you doing? Look at all of those starfish — you can’t save them.” The boy throws the starfish in the water and then turns to the man with a smile “I saved that one.”

Thanks to all of our sponsors and the children that have joined us on this journey. We may not be able to save everyone, but if we work together, hopefully, at the very least, we can save each other <3

The Bernie Sanders Walkout: Why Everyone Should Applaud

Yesterday after Bernie Sanders nominated Hillary Clinton, hundreds of his delegates simultaneously walked out of Wells Fargo Arena and into the press tent. Fed up with the continual double standard that enables Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and many of those in power in the United States to behave carelessly, irresponsibly, unethically and in some cases, illegally, a somewhat spontaneous protest was organized to protest the main stream media’s cover-up of these transgressions and the silencing of the voices of those interested in shifting the status quo towards true democracy and equality for all.  Read more about this at http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-ele…

At a moment which should have one of triumph for Hillary Clinton, it became clear that there is a huge faction which will remain united not behind her, but against the corrupt system which she perpetuates and represents.

Yesterday, Keith Knight, one of the most prominent African American cartoonists in the U.S. and someone who has ripped back the veil on brutality against black men with his police brutality series, stopped by The Whole 9 Gallery. During the course of our conversation he asked “What do you think about what’s happening?” To which I replied “I see a big connection between the white privilege that enables transgressions like Hillary Clinton’s email server and the DNC’s bias and campaign rigging and the white privilege that enables white cops to murder black men in some of the most heinous ways and then walk away without punishment. Until the rules are the rules, nothing is going to change.”

But something is changing — Senator Bernie Sanders has awakened a sleeping giant called the active conscience of the American people and now the genie refuses to go quietly back into the bottle. Activists and those who are passionately concerned about the future of our country have streamed into Philadelphia, the birthplace of our democracy, and staged protests against the corruption of the system, against inequality and against horrible policies including the TPP.

Because these people have invested their precious time and their hard-earned money, yesterday Nancy Pelosi announced emphatically that the Democratic ticket will oppose the disastrous TPP which would enable the continual outsourcing of jobs that Americans actually want (the erosion of jobs like these have caused the erosion of America’s middle-class). Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/nancy-…

Just weeks ago, the Democratic Platform Committee voted to support the TPP, despite Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises that she would oppose it.  Coincidentally, all of Bernie Sanders’ appointees to the committee voted against the TPP while all of Hillary Clinton’s appointees voted for it.

Other policies that have been adopted by the Hillary Clinton campaign because Bernie Sanders and those involved in the movement have refused to give up include a plan for free/low cost college tuition for families making less than $125,000, raising the minimum wage, and improving healthcare for seniors, etc.

I, along with many others, have been targeted and continually criticized for continuing to protest against the corruption, to call for accountability, and to demand better policies. I’d like those who are slinging insults because all of us won’t simply “fall in line” to take a hard look at what is really being accomplished by those willing to put in the work. It’s hard to dispute that real change is happening not because of Hillary Clinton, but in spite of Hillary Clinton — change that will help to create an United States that can be truly united in equality, and liberty and justice for all. If we keep pushing and the Clinton campaign and those surrounding it adopt (and keep emphatically stating support of) policies that matter to all of us — policies that protect equal rights, women’s rights, that protect our health and the earth, and that lift everyone, those policies will be put in place. And then the unity will happen — not around a person, but around the vision that we share of a fair and just country that provides opportunities for everyone.

I am so proud of the commitment I see from those around me who keep raising their voices and spending their time and money to ensure this happens.

Rise up <3

About Orlando: Shut up and vote.

Like millions, I was shocked and horrified about yesterday’s massacre in Orlando. In the midst of a busy day, I spent a lot of time thinking about. In the midst of all the images I saw yesterday which included heartbroken mothers who had lost a child (sometimes their only child) in the massacre and a Syrian father, broken-hearted, saying goodbye to his five children as they lay in light teal-colored body bags before him, I thought about the massacre.  Amongst the continued stories of voter fraud in at least six states in the United States and the reality that 2.5 million ballots are left to be counted in California (including mine which I cast early at the Board of Elections in Norwalk to ensure that it was included), I thought about it.

As I read posts of people sending prayers intermixed with the story about California’s Secretary of State (who is in charge of voting in CA) actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton in California  http://www.pe.com/articles/riverside-803…) and the other story of Rajiv K. Fernando, an investment banker and major donor to the Clinton Foundation, and to Clinton throughout her political career, who Secretary Clinton appointed to a State Department Advisory Board (and who subsequently resigned under mysterious circumstances) and who now is a super delegate who pledged to Clinton before she had another opponent – http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-d…), I couldn’t help but see the connection.

Early on when Bernie Sanders was campaigning, people kept insisting he was a one-issue candidate and that his issue was getting money out of politics.  After seeing how this resonated with the Democrat’s progressive base, Hillary Clinton adopted this idea.  Unfortunately she couldn’t raise the money needed to keep up with Senator Sanders, so the DNC quietly rolled back Obama’s ban on contributions from federal lobbyists  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/…) and the money from lobbyists (many of them representing huge corporations) began flowing into Hillary’s campaign.

I haven’t posted about Senator Warren’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, just as I didn’t post about how she, one of Bernie’s only longtime progressive allies in the Senate, didn’t endorse Bernie, but in forming an opinion on this endorsement, I think it’s critical to think about the money trail and the reality that while one of Elizabeth Warren’s main issues has been breaking up the banks, she is supporting the candidate who is financed by the big banks.

Some people may not see a connection between all of these issues, but I spend a lot of time thinking about how to create a better world, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are all related.

You see, when people feel that their votes don’t count as they did when Hillary was announced as the Presumptive Democratic Nominee last Monday (a day when not one US Citizen voted, but an AP journalist took it upon himself <supposedly> to poll some unpledged super delegates and secure enough for Hillary so that they could announce her as the nominee even though counting the superdelegates before the convention is outside of the DNC rules).  Or when a winner is declared in the largest state in the US before 2.5 million votes are counted (40% of the total) and funny coincidence, the person in charge of the elections is actively campaigning for Clinton, people stop voting.  And when people stop voting, they go to sleep.  And when they go to sleep, our democracy gets stolen from us and we end up with legislature like Citizens United which allows unfettered spending on elections.  And then our trusted public servants get sucked into the system and become a shadow of those we originally revered while we shrug our shoulders and say “All politicians are corrupt.”  And when politicians get sucked into the system while simultaneously receiving massive campaign contributions, they often make stupid decisions like denying climate change, signing to extend the Monsanto Protection Act as Obama did recently  http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press…), sanctioning the sale of weapons to tyrannical governments, dropping bombs on innocent children, and the refusal to place greater controls on guns including background checks and bans on automatic weapons like the AR15 which was used in Orlando and in San Bernardino recently.

And when all of these things happen, communities get destroyed, people get sick and often they die.

So I would like to ask one thing of every single person that is heartbroken about what happened in Orlando — take the :30 you spent sending prayers to those affected by yesterday’s massacre and multiply it by 1,000 and spend that time actively campaigning to fix our broken system and elect leaders that will make the right decisions when the bullets are flying — not just in the United States, but around the world.

We like to believe we are powerless because it releases us from the responsibility of having to take action, but we are never powerless…except when we aren’t paying attention and we honestly don’t really care.

Vote as if millions of lives depend on it. They do.

Bernie. Bernie. Bernie!!!!

Shortly after Bernie announced his candidacy, several of my most politically aware friends began spreading the word and I began my Bernie 101 — little by little learning about the years of service Bernie had provided his constituency and this country.   If you’re still unfamiliar with your work, I urge you to take a look at this video chronicling many of his fearless fights for what is just and right for veterans, gays and lesbians, workers and the environment.

Since launching The Peace Project and traveling to some of the most devastated countries on this planet, my perspective has changed and I’ve realized the incredible (and negative) impact the United States and our policies — most particularly our insatiable thirst for oil and power that manifests as devastating military aggression — causes futures for millions through incalculable loss of lives, property and futures.

A few months ago, I read a story that a friend shared about an American woman who had lost her daughter to cancer. Her words and the inexplicable grief and profound loss caused me to really understand for the first time, at a visceral level, what it would feel like to lose a child and I thought “Holy Sh*t…through our indiscriminate military aggression, through campaigns like “Shock and Awe” and the Iraq War, through our support and initiation of regime changes like the one in Libya and Honduras, through humanitarian disasters like Guantanamo Bay, we cause millions of mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters to needlessly feel this kind of grief. For our own completely selfish financial gain.

There is a major difference though that makes this loss of life that we dismiss so easily, so profound — the people that experience it typically also have to deal with the destruction of their homelands, their communities and their houses. All because our needs trump their lives.

This is the legacy of many of our politicians including Hillary Clinton, and if any of you reading this wonder why I seem to dislike her so much, you now have your answer.  I often walk a mile in other people’s shoes — people who I’ve never met and who have no voice — and when I do I feel the rage that comes from having someone carelessly kill your child, destroy your home and tear apart your community.

Having a woman president is only important to me if that woman exhibits the qualities that will keep us out of war, that will prevent the senseless killing of other women’s children and who will work tirelessly to create the same thing that mothers around the world work for every day — a world where there is more harmony, more abundance, more honesty and more love for all humanity and our environment.

The only candidate that exhibits these qualities is Mr. Bernie Sanders and I not only support him, but I do so with my heart full of love and admiration for this man who has been a tireless public servant, who has inspired millions of people across the country and around the world, to not only believe that we can have a better world, but to make it happen by working for it.

I am beyond thrilled and proud to have cast my vote early yesterday in Norwalk to my daughter’s chants of “Bernie. Bernie. Bernie!” And I am thrilled to have donated, phone-banked, canvassed, and organized events to support him. My time and money has never been so well spent.

Tomorrow California votes. I believe it is one of the most important dates in my lifetime — I wholeheartedly believe that if Bernie Sanders wins California, he will take it all the way to the White House and we will walk and work beside him in creating a nation and a world where more people have more and we have less of the one thing that we must stop — the United States’ never-ending military aggression.

When you vote tomorrow, I urge you to think carefully and vote wisely. It is not an overstatement to say that millions of people’s lives will be depending on it.

So you say it’s your birthday…

So you say it’s your birthday…

51 years ago today, shortly after I was born several months premature in a small town in Southern California, I was taken from my biological mother and cared for by nurses in a hospital until I was well enough to be sent home with my adopted parents.

About 15 years ago, I contacted the adoption agency that placed me and they sent me the first photo that was ever taken of me. Unlike most first photos, I wasn’t shown cradled in the arms of my mother, but was shown held out at arm’s length by a woman from the adoption agency so that she wouldn’t be in the photo.

Last year on my 50th birthday, my daughter Willow and I tore up that photo and with tears running down my face, I said “That’s not me anymore.”

There’s a deep pain that comes from being given away that most people can’t understand — it’s a feeling that caused me to approach my first 50 birthdays with a feeling of dread.

Last year I broke that pattern and this morning, as I woke and thought about my life, I realized that this feeling of not being wanted is one that has allowed me to connect on a deep level with people around the world that feel disenfranchised and alone — it’s the foundation for the compassion and desire for unity that drives me, drives my life and drives my life’s work.

Right now I’m looking over at the sleeping face of my beautiful daughter and looking forward to heading to Sierra Leone on Friday to finally bring home my beautiful son, Ahmed Tijan Sow, who like me, is lucky enough to have two mothers who have loved him.

Honestly, in this life, I’ve never sought to make lots of friends or make lots of money, but as I think about my life and what I’ve accomplished with this worldwide network of people who believe in peace, justice and equality for all, I deeply know how rich and loved I am and I smile and think:

Happy Birthday to me.

Thank you to all of you who have allowed me into your lives in so many ways. Let’s continue walking hand-in-hand to create a better world <3



2011 Peace Project submission by Rebecca Rose.

Giving Thanks

This morning, my daughter Willow woke up smiling and said “Happy Thanksgiving, Mommy.” Even though the hour was early and I wasn’t yet ready to wake up, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to have a daughter who greets each day with a smile and the complete belief that it’s going to be another great day.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel lucky for all that I have — for my beautiful daughter, Willow, and my son Tejan, who will be here very soon. Because I know, often with a heart filled with grief, how many others don’t greet the day knowing that they will have plenty to eat, drink, and will be able to move freely through their day.

I know as we celebrate a day of giving thanks today in the United States, that what we have comes at the heartbreaking expense of an entire nation of Native Americans — people I’ve dreamed of enough times to know that at one point I was part of this nation.

I know what I have — excellent health, healthy children, a beautiful home, a life filled with purpose, switches I can flip to turn on electricity and taps from which running water pours freely. I know. I know that I have freedoms many people in this world have never known and opportunities that most people dream of.

I am surrounded by friends that have lent incredible support to my vision as well as allies who, like myself, work every day to create a better world. I have family that I can call on, most especially my brother Craig and his wife Cynthia, if I am every in true need of a quick save.

I know this and today I give thanks for all of this unashamedly — for the abundance that has come into my life. But as fervently as I give thanks, I am also sending out a plea to the universe and to my fellow humans — I fervently hope that we all wake up and know this one thing:

Those of us with the most to give thanks for, also have the most to share. May we awaken to this reality, open our hearts and share our resources and gifts with others so that each day, those that have less, will have more.

In my lifetime, I hope that more parents around the world can wake on a morning of Thanksgiving and have their child say, with the faith of a child, “Happy Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a great day.”

Thanks to all that have graced my life.

Love and compassion are necessitites.

Love and compassion are necessities. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
~~Dalai Llama

Michele D’Acosta and I were having a conversation a few days ago about the change that’s needed in this world and the movements that are working towards that. She articulated so perfectly that the success of any movement is it’s ability to inspire compassion — in a sense to bring people together around our shared humanity — the things that we share in common with those that we have mistakenly been led to believe that we are so different from.

Today we see most power manifesting because of it’s ability to divide people and control them, but the greatest power of all, the power of love, is contingent on nothing more than recognizing ourselves in others and then allowing our hearts to open and join together.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the situation in Israel and Palestine. And I just can’t shake the overwhelming belief that a huge disservice has been done — not just to the Palestinians, but to the Jews who have been robbed of the ability to understand and know the people that were natives to the land before the creation of Israel, and live and love in peace with them. I think about the incredible slyness of those that only seek power and because of this, have worked to convince these two groups of people who once lived peacefully together, to hate each other, to fight each other in a seemingly never-ending battle of lies and dominance, disrespect and dismissal while most people around the world shake their head and lament “It will always be that way.” In spite of this, time and again, a crack appears, the light shines through and love blooms. It is evident in the tireless work of individuals like Eliyahu McLean and Mahomed Akbar Khan.

During the siege in Gaza, Dan Reed wrote something that I’ve been thinking about ever since. He wrote that the Palestinians would need to use love and unity to change the situation. I scoffed at the time, but I lie awake at night sometimes trying to manifest an idea that is big enough, strong enough and powerful enough to overcome the decades of hate that has been sown and harvested by those who seek power to the detriment of nearly every person in that area. I am not sure I have the exact idea just yet, but I have a spark that will hopefully grow into a flame that can create a light bright enough to drive away some of the darkness.

And while this idea is nurtured, I have art and the hope for a better day that, despite the attempts to dim them, is alight in the eyes of these children in Gaza who remind me so much of my children and every child I have met throughout this cruel, crazy, beautiful world.

Photos by Basel El Maqosui

We’ve got the whole world in our hands.

We’ve got the whole world in our hands.

Back in 2012, filmmaker Michele D’Acosta and I, along with Edward Bockarie and Elias Bangura traveled throughout Sierra Leone not only distributing crutches to those that didn’t receive them in The Peace Project’s effort, Operation Rise, where we distributed 10,000 pairs of crutches across the country on World Peace Day 2011, but talking to people about what makes peace in the wake of the verdict proclaiming Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes.

At each stop, we met with concerned citizens and the disabled community and explained our mission: to empower people to live better lives. The globe that you see in this photo was used to collect donations for our proposed Peace Center and as we traveled from city to city, if you watch this video: https://youtu.be/J2DbExFMIJE?list=UURJkI8OjpM3wUyp3X77Xi_g, you’ll see that some of Sierra Leone’s most badly disabled citizens including those afflicted with polio and those that were blind, reached into their pockets and often pulled out whatever they had to show that they wanted to be part of the solution.

For reasons that don’t bear explaining, our work took a detour shortly thereafter, and the money we collected is still in the hands of our trusted partner in Sierra Leone, Community Association for Psychosocial Services.

For three years I have vowed that we would make good on our promise to the people that made a decision on whether to eat that day or donate and thus, I’m thrilled to share that we have plans to go back to Sierra Leone and, in conjunction with one of the most honorable human beings I know, Edward Bockarie, and his team from CAPS, will be building the Peace House in Kailahun adjacent to one of the most notorious sites of violence during Sierra Leone’s civil war, the Slaughter House. Architect Stephen Gardner once again raised his hand and together we’ll start working on designs post haste.

This work is funded in many ways: one of them is our annual Call for Artists where we ask artists from around the world to join hands with us to co-create a more just world by simply sharing your art. Thus far, artists from over 60 countries have participated, lending their creativity to creating incredible change.

Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer, painter, illustrator, graphic designer or simply a doodler, I invite you to lend your voice and your art to this cause that we all share: creating a better world for us all.

Visit www.thewhole9.com/thepeaceproject for details and to take a look at this year’s early entries including those from Vince Mattina, Brian Leighton, Jesse Hunter, Jen Ditchik, Angie Brooks, Susan Stone, Kenneth Vick, Lily Nava and Rickey Hoefnagel.

This revolution will not be televised.

As I look around the world in which we live and see death, destruction, violence and hatred, I wonder how humanity has gotten so divided — people are derided, misunderstood, and complaints and insults are hurled at strangers like stones while those throwing them pat themselves on the back for a job well done — proud of their accomplishments…of their accomplishments…of their accomplishments of what???

Complaints are a cheap and easy substitute for doing something — kind of like junk food. It’s a sickening diet that so many feast on feverishly as they pursue absolution of blame because what’s happening has gotta be someone else’s problem, right? That guy over there? The one holding the sign saying “Black Lives Matter.” Or maybe the police — hey — they signed up to protect and to serve, right? Or maybe it’s the fat bureaucrat that took away your rights while you were paying attention to football, or fuseball, or your PSP — while you tuned out, turned off and turned away, somehow the responsibility and the blame became someone else’s, cause in America, we have a lot of people that are masters of doing nothing. Of doing nothing except transferring the blame.

Transferring the blame.

While Nepal crumbles and Baltimore rumbles, so many grumble while others send love and light and prayers.  Prayers…come on…let’s be honest — in fact, let’s have a show of hands. How many of you prayed anyway? That love and light. Did you write it and forget? Those prayers… Did you take the time to understand what’s really happening and get down on your knees and pray those prayers. Did you get up and resolve to do something? Or did you just write it ’cause it sounds good and it satisfied some self-serving requirement that we’ve set up internally that allows us to think we’ve done our part while getting a few likes on Facebook.

Did you actually do anything? Anything?

‘Cause I can tell you this…those people in Nepal, they don’t need your love and light. They need your help and that takes effort and it costs money. Those folks in Baltimore? This country is fucking hurting. Yes. Pain. It’s what gets a lot of people up in the morning and what they feel when they go to bed at night. It’s what happens when money becomes the God that drives us to incarcerate our youth instead of educating them. It’s what happens when we no longer see kids as kids but as criminals that should be sent away and locked up before they’ve even learned that violence is not the only way to communicate. That kid is my kid and I love him. I love him. And I’ll fight for him — every single day.

Will you?

It takes a village. I’m part of that village. Are you? It’s time to shut up and stop the prayers, pull up those bootstraps and get to work. We need to take out our wallets and show that a better world is more important to us than a damn Starbucks double shot Macchiato with room at the top for cream.

That love and light? It’s a spark that starts in your heart. If you fan it with action, it becomes a flame that will light you up, turn you inside out and change you…and then miraculously it will change the world.

But nothing will happen until you do something…until you do something.

So do something. Anything. Do anything. Just do it now.

Cartoon by Keith Knight who uses humor and wit to peel back the layers and create the spark.

comments

A solid wake up call and call to action with a stellar illustration to background it all.

YES!! I love your spirit and your fight and your commitment to the truth.

LOVE WINS

“There are two ways to bring light. One is to be a candle. The other is to be a mirror that reflects it.”

Several years ago, introduced by Joann Lima Cella, Pepi Leistyna became part of The Peace Project’s story. Recently widowed from the love of his life who passed away suddenly from cancer, Pepi used The Peace Project’s 3rd Annual Call for Artists as one of the methods to help him work through his grief. Posting a photo daily — whether it was from a special place that he and Susan had visited on their worldwide travels, or simply a shot of something that once again called forth a loving memory and revealed the truth: those we love are never gone and they speak to us in mysterious ways — Pepi graced all of us with the story of his and Susan’s unconditional love. I was just one of few that was inspired by this gentle reminder that there is a different way to be in this world.

Although we were separated by time and distance, Pepi quietly became part of the fabric of my life of service…and I paid attention to his valiant quest to create unity and bring more beauty and peace to this world. A renowned scholar and associate of Noam Chomsky’s, Pepi seemed to have endless energy to champion the rights of those whose voices have been neglected — Palestinians were part of this list.

Despite his Jewish heritage, Pepi fearlessly revealed what he had witnessed on his many trips to Israel, but rather than focusing on all of the things that keep us apart, Pepi used his perspective and unique gifts to reveal the common humanity that brings us together and makes bridging the unbelievable chasm that has been created seem a little more possible.

This shot that Pepi took is on the wall that separates Israel from Palestine in Bethlehem on the West Bank and is a startling reminder that in the midst of hate, division, and decades of monumental misunderstandings and violence, a tiny seed can flourish to bring light and hope for a brighter future.

I learned several days ago that Pepi had transitioned unexpectedly — from this world onto whatever is next — hopefully a place where he will be reunited with the one he loved so much. I felt a sense of loss that one of the good ones…one of the peace warriors, and one of the few who is willing to put words into action to create a more loving world that he could see and sometimes touch, was gone. My condolences go out to his family including Tracy Leistyna Carey.

I will be ever thankful that Pepi touched my life, shared my journey and helped me to believe that ultimately (despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary) if we believe and act with grace and courage, love will prevail and win the day <3