Silk Road - Part 3: What Peace Looks Like (cont.)

Take-The-Lead-movie-14

Take-The-Lead-movie-14

This is a continuation of the inspiration for the song “What Peace Looks Like” on my new forthcoming CD, SILK ROAD – Inspirational Journeys Across Planet Earth. If you missedPart 1 or Part 2, please go back and get caught up!

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I wrote about the awakening of my social conscience in Silk Road - Part 2: What Peace Looks Like.  I was teaching in three schools in the inner city zone of South Central Los Angeles when the Rodney King Riots broke out in 1992.  Fast-forward now to the last eight years:

Hundreds of hours of travel and as many hours of pre-performance quiet added up to my reading some truly inspiring books, many non-fiction, and watching incredible call-to-action documentaries and films based on true stories. (Take The Lead starring Antonio Banderas, based on the life of well-known ballroom dancer and instructor, Pierre Dulaine, for example.)  My inner experience of these stories, along with my earlier teaching sent me on the road to "What Peace Looks Like," one of the issue songs on my new about-to-be-released CD, SILK ROAD.

3cups

3cups

Stones

Stones

In 2007, I was on tour with my inspirational concert “A Canvas Of Colors.”  Very early one morning in the airport bookstore, I was browsing through the new non-fiction books, and  Three Cups of Tea laser-beamed out at me.  I had never heard of it until that moment.  While on that tour, my life changed again:  I couldn’t stop reading about how one man, Greg Mortenson, changed thousands of lives by committing to a singular goal: providing education for thousands of girls in countries where their schooling has traditionally been ignored.

Later, I dove deep into Greg Mortenson’s follow up book, Stones into Schools. It's the continuing story of Greg’s incredible life work that goes forward today.

WhatIsWhat

WhatIsWhat

In 2009, I discovered another truly life-changing book, again, at the airport: What Is The What by Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng.  This is a book that I believe should be required high school reading the world over.

What Is The What is the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, aLost Boy of Sudan.  Dave Eggers teamed up with Valentino and wrote the book as a novel, since Valentino’s early stories are the war-torn memories of a very little boy.  The book is Valentino's true account of running for his life one night at age 6, as a terrifying army on horseback tore through his village, slashing, burning and killing villagers in its wake.

Valentino survived unbelievable odds over the course of a decade.  As a little boy, he joined the long trek of the Lost Boys and walked for hundreds of miles. This story traces his fight for survival as he grew into a young man.  Today, he is building a sustainable future for the youth of his newly formed country, the South Sudan, through his organization, The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation.

wardance

wardance

Another extraordinary story stole my heart in the documentary film, War Dance.  It’s about children from the Acholi tribe growing up in Patongo, a remote war refugee camp in Uganda.  After the camp’s primary school wins the regional music competition, the students prepare and head to the national competition in Kampala.

The film follows several youngsters in their daily lives in Patongo.  As each one prepares for the music competition, they are preparing to step beyond the borders of the camp for the first time since they arrived as war refugees.  One of them is Nancy, a 13-year old girl.  She is on the bus that takes the group to the city of Kampala for the competition.

When asked by one of the filmmakers what she most looks forward to on this trip, she answers, “I want to know that peace looks like!”

Her unequivocal answer made me literally fall off my chair.

peace b

peace b

When I heard Nancy say, “I want to know what peace looks like,” I started writing one weekend.  I was called into action and the writing became the foundation of “What Peace Looks Like” whose lyrics I co-wrote with Peter Link.

“What Peace Looks Like” traces the horrors the children have faced in all of these experiences.  More importantly, the song instructs us with one overwhelming truth.  This truth runs through all of the stories in the books and films, and in my own direct experience.

The truth is this: the lesson of the children.  The lesson of the children is love.  Love IS what it’s all about.  Love IS intrinsic to humanity.  Love IS what conquers all.  And love IS sometimes the hardest thing to demonstrate in one’s life, in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

These true stories taught me one more time that as leaders, parents, teachers, and families of planet earth, we must constantly stay in touch with that life-force – that innate, inherently active quality called love.  Love is the antidote for all the ills on the planet.  These children are living proof.  And we must demonstrate that childlike love and trust in every department of our own lives and with each other.

“What Peace Looks Like” and its lesson from the children absolutely set the tone for me in this new forthcoming CD, SILK ROAD – Inspirational Journeys Across Planet Earth.

Next up:  A look at “On My Way To You” a gorgeous inner journey of the heart.

Here’s a further list of inspiring books and films:

FreedomWriters

FreedomWriters

Books:What Is The What by Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson From Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson The Freedom Writers by Erin Gruel Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

GodGrewTired

GodGrewTired

Movies:War DanceThe Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank The First GraderGod Grew Tired Of UsTake The Lead with Antonio Banderas

There are many more that I could list here, but these pieces I found to be particularly provoking.  It’s a short list.  Please comment and feel free to add your own inspiration to the list!

What Peace Looks Like Music by Peter Link Lyrics by Peter Link and Julia Wade

“I want to know what peace looks like” The girl of Uganda said, “I want to know what peace looks like” She’s spent her life in fractured war But now she’s stepping through a door That takes her far from harm

“I want to know what peace looks like” The boy of the Sudan said, “I wanna feel what it feels like I want to have enough to eat I want to feel my mother’s heat As she wraps me in her arms”

“I want to know what peace looks like

My wish, my hope, my dream A night without the nightmares I want to know the inner calm The thread of self-esteem I want to know what peace looks like And I want to feel it too Yes I do”

Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war The roar of their misfortune; The hopelessness that lies before And still they live to love again

Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war The roar of their misfortune; The hopelessness that lies before And still they live to love again

Because that’s what children do Yeah that’s what children do

And if they can do it We can do it too Yes if they can do it We can do it too

“I wanna to know what peace looks like” The child of the ghetto said, “I wanna go where peace is known I’ve had enough of hopelessness A cracked out mom and fatherless And the gangs that haunt the streets”

And oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war The roar of their misfortune; The hopelessness that lies before And still they live to love again Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war The roar of their misfortune; The hopelessness that lies before And still they live to love again

Because that’s what children do Yeah that’s what children do

And if they can do it We can do it too Yes if they can do it We can do it too!