Friday, September 19, 2008

Unite for peace

Michigan has an opportunity to take part in a historical, inspirational and transformative day Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center. Two visionary leaders will be traveling from opposite corners of the world and the country, to bring us all together in an experience of uniting for peace.

Michael Bernard Beckwith, the dynamic African American pastor from one of the largest congregations of Los Angeles, and Gandhi Peace Prize winner Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, from Sri Lanka, will lead us in meditation, prayer, dialogue and song. Their goal: to focus our attention and intention on the possibility of creating peace and harmony in ourselves, our families, our community and our world.

"Dr. Ari," as he is affectionately called, has worked for 50 years for the "awakening of all." He emphasizes practicing loving kindness, compassion, service and equality. In his words, "We are one human society ... we are all members of one living world." His message is very important for all of us.

Michael Bernard Beckwith combines the power of Martin Luther King with a force that motivates listeners to have confidence that a unified, peaceful future will be a reality.

His 8,000-member Agape International Spiritual Center lives up to its name. Its congregation celebrates a love of humanity that seem boundless and world changing. With his wife, Rickie Byars Beckwith, who composes inspirational music and directs the 200-member Agape International Choir, Michael travels the world working for peace.

Maybe Michigan has more in common with Sri Lanka and Los Angeles than we think. We can follow the lead of Ariyaratne and Beckwith, and trust ourselves to make a better world, starting here. Sept. 21 is an opportunity to decide to not tolerate intolerance; to agree to recognize our common humanity; to support one another; and rise up together.

Come to EMU 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace. Join millions around the world. Make history!

Colleen Mills