"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
December 28, 2001

"Short, therefore, is man's life, and narrow is the corner of the earth
wherein he dwells."
- Somerset Maugham.

At this time as the year comes to a close, most people tend to reflect on events, both personal and external, of the year. Some do this as a form of evaluation to determine their net gain or loss of emotional and/or material well-being.

It is good to be introspective, to assess our strengths and weaknesses, and to plan for the future. It is also a time for soul searching, especially when there are so many spiritual and cultural activities around us, such as Hanukkah, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Ramadan, Christmas and Kwanza. For many, this is a time of spiritual and moral uplift, which is a good thing.

Sadly this year there is the horrendous tragedy of the destructive attack on the World Trade Center and the White House when thousands of innocent lives were lost, causing immeasurable pain to many families. America felt violated - and angry. That the defender of the 'democracy' and the "free world" should be so violated was unthinkable and dishonourable, and could not be endured nationally - physically and psychologically. America reacted and retaliated with its might, and a new war against Afghanistan commenced.

It seems that our civilization (and its continued maintenance) is being sustained by violence and war. Most of the people with whom I relate on a daily basis do not support violence or the 'might is right' approach to solving disputes. Yet in today's, as in yesterday's world, this appears to be the preferred methodology of choice. Look at what humanity is doing: bombing of the WTC; Afghanistan war; ongoing Palestinian/Israeli violent conflict; killings in the Sri Lanka elections; ongoing Hindu/Muslim strife in Kashmir; just concluded (?) war in Bosnia/Kosovo; recent genocidal killings in Rwanda; slaughter in East Timor; Catholic/Protestant conflict in Ireland, and the list goes on.

Are we (those who do not advocate violence) nave? Do we look at the world though different prisms? Recalling Gandhi's "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" should favor our thinking.

We like to therefore ask you - all of you - not to think of us, who advocate non-violence, as nave. We believe that the prevailing method is going to result in the demise of humanity; that we are fashioning our own Armageddon, sooner, if we don't stop the madness. Let us therefore dedicate some of our time for the cause of non-violence, for peace and love, not violence and war. Let us resolve this as a promise during this holy month. America spends $1 billion a day for war. Why not find the same money for peace! $40 billion can go a far way for peace.

In our niche community in New York, many are already helping in their own way to propagate this idea. Here, individuals and organizations are working against many odds to do their bit. Dr. Taj Rajkumar does welfare work.

Christine Persaud gives food free to those in need. Guyana Watch donates time, service and medicines to the unfortunate in Guyana. Project Aim High similarly donates medicines, toys, and educational materials to needy Guyanese. The New Concept Democratic Club, the East Indian Diaspora, GOPIO, the Guyana Youth Corp, and others are community conscious. While some provide succor for the body, others, like the Rajkumari Cultural Centre, the Association of Artists and Writers, GuyanaArts.org, the ICP group, the Natraj

Cultural group, and the many other cultural and religious organizations of all faiths, nurture the spiritual and cultural demands of the community.

There is a genuineness and true spirit of altruism in many people within our midst. Most people are prepared, willing and ready to support good causes, time-tested values, and, yes, non-violence. We think that it is a sacred duty and an obligation for all of us to join in the cause of peace. History is replete with events of amazing examples when people are properly motivated to do the right thing - for the furtherance of justice, fair play, and peace.

We laud the true peacemakers. South Africa has accomplished the remarkable Turn around after decades of interracial hostilities. Even if everything is not working out as expected (as there will be detractors), their heart is in the right place; and truth and good always triumph. We hope that the concept of truth and reconciliation grasps the minds of peoples and nations, that our minds become free, and that we truly become our brother's keepers. So that Happy Hanukah, Eid Mubarak, Merry Christmas, etc. have real meaning, and not be hollow, empty and vacuous.
Shalom, Merry Christmas, Eid Mubarak
Shantih to all.
Gary Girdhari
Queens, New York