Mimi started the Blog Blast for Peace as a way for folks to all say in unison that our greatest desire is for peace. Blogs give a good way for folks all across to globe to express that wish together. Although there are nations that block Internet access in a variety of ways it is still a channel through which there seems to be a greater freedom of movement for ideas. We've all heard about how Twitter and such facilitated so many protests across the Middle East or allowed for news from eyewitnesses to other events over the years to get out when authorities had silenced official news sources. It's just an empowering forum for folks who refused to be stifled when it really matters.
No doubt there will be lots of reasons people give today for participating. Aside from the obvious desire for a more peaceful world, which seems like such a broad, general, Miss America sort of thing sometimes, I want to put a face to why I want peace. Though we could touch on wars that are occurring all across the globe and how to end them I think we are better served by preventing them in the first place. Consider the quote in the graphic above as you read.
As you know I went to Seattle back in September. I did all the typical touristy things and had a wonderful time. I bought a bunch of stuff, some of it was for me and some was for other people. As I was looking for some small thing for my girls I came across a gentleman who etches names on grains of rice and then places them in small glass vials with colored liquid to magnify the rice so it can be read. The vials are turned into pendants or key chains. I thought they were kind of cool and unique little souvenirs and the price was right so I decided to get one for each of my girls. When I wrote down their names for the man he immediately looked at me with a sly grin and remarked, "Greek names." (I don't actually use their real names here on the blog) I smiled back and said yes because we are Greek. We continued to chat pleasantly. I paid and bid him a good day before leaving. Later I decided I wanted one for myself and that it would read Lime on one side and Michelle on the other.
I returned to the shop where this gentleman works and made my request. We greeted each other and talked a bit during which he revealed he was Turkish and had come to the US 13 years ago not knowing any English at the time. As he worked I asked how exactly he got into doing such tiny work, noting he did it without a magnifying glass or even glasses on his face. He smiled and said he had been an electronics engineer in Turkey. I asked if he hoped to return to that field one day. He nodded and said he had tried but since 9/11/01 it had become impossible because his specialty was electronics engineering as it related to air traffic control. He shared how, once he had learned English, he had applied for a job and progressed in the hiring process only to be told he should withdraw his application due to being from a Muslim country. As he told his story it was related without any trace of bitterness, just very matter of fact.
At this point I began to well up as I considered how bright a mind he must possess to be in that field and how he had been reduced to carving the names of tourists on grains of rice. I said I was so very sorry for the discrimination he had faced in this country. He shrugged and replied, "I did not come here for myself. I came for my daughters." Then he beamed as he told me the eldest was now in medical school. I was dabbing my eyes quite a lot by then.
We continued to talk as he worked. When he was done and I had paid I took him by the hand, looked into his eye as I told him, "I wish only blessings, prosperity, and peace for you and your family. I am sorry again for the discrimination you've had here but at the very least, in this place Greeks and Turks can be at peace with each other."
I participate today because no one who is willing to transplant themselves for the well-being of their family and then work hard to learn a new language in order to apply his or her skills should be met automatically with suspicion. Greeting a stranger with immediate suspicion is no way to build understanding which leads to peace, but it is the way to create bitterness which leads to conflict. To this man's credit he seemed to have none but one could understand if he did.