Catalyst House

Arun Gandhi to Receive an Ambassador of Peace Award
in Los Angeles July 10th 2014

An Event Dedicated to World Peace: Join in and Be the Change!

Gandhi_Arun-Photo_HEADSHOT_2011_Photo_Credit_Scott_Kafora_rdax_250x333Dr. Arun Gandhi will be presented an “Ambassador of Peace” award, plus give Keynote Address, July 10th at the “Third International Hispanic-American Poetry Congress” held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The “Ambassador of Peace” award will be presented by 1985 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (“IPPNW”) participant, Dr. Ernesto Kahan who is a physician and poet. 

Dr. Gandhi’s book, Legacy of Love” is being translated into Spanish, published, presented, and available for sale for the first time at the “Third International Hispanic-American Poetry Congress” July 6 – 12th. The Spanish title, “Legado de Amor,” is being translated by distinguished Venezuelan Poet Carmen Rojas Larrazabal, available online, and in print by: “Editorial Pescar con Redes de Luz.” Dr. Gandhi will receive a certificate from the “North American Academy of the Spanish Language” for his contribution of “Legado de Amor” into the Spanish literary archives.

Dr. Gandhi will also be presented an official diploma of recognition for his leadership role in cultivating World Peace and Nonviolence through Education on Friday, July 11th at the Los Angeles City Hall.

The events mission is to bring international poets and writers together to explore the meaning of the word “Peace” through, literature, arts, and music. The Congress aims at inspiring “reflection into action,” guided by the universal words and wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” The goal of the Congress is to create awareness, understanding, and unity in diversity, activating each other’s consciousness and renewing our profound commitment to “World Peace” through artistic expression and empowering each other as “Positive Change Agents.” 

Highlights for the upcoming program include, participation of the former United States Poet Laureate, Mr. Robert Pinsky, who will present his first Spanish poetry book “Ginza Samba,” followed by a poetry recital accompanied by Jazz music. Also, distinguished French philosopher, Mr. Guy Crequie, a spokesperson for UNESCO, will offer two presentations on World Peace. The event also includes:   

• Art Exhibits 

• Book Presentations  

• Colloquium and Literary Discussion Panels 

 • Concerts 

• Documentaries Presentations  

• Historic and Cultural Tour 

• Literary Lectures 

• Music and Folkloric Dance Performances 

• Poetry Recitals 

• Theatrical Performances  

• Workshops

Participants in the upcoming event: Los Angeles Children’s Choir, Grammy Award winner Pauline Aguirre, Museum of Tolerance, Heal the Bay, Placido Domingo, Dr. Luis Alberto Ambroggio from the American Academy of the Spanish Language, UNESCO and many others.  

The event will be produced by “Arts and Poetry for Peace Foundation,” Artistic Director Mr. Alfie Martin, from Warner Brothers Studios. This event is endorsed by the World Academy of Arts and Culture through UNESCO. See more @ www.sipeaiberoamericana.com.

Dr. Arun Gandhi interview for event publication: Arts and Poetry for Peace Magazine  

1. How can we create unity in diversity in the world through the significant contribution of peaceful social movements such as the “Third  International Congress of Poetry” dedicated to world peace in this great endeavor?

Answer: The work of peace begins with changing the self. “We Must Become the Change We Wish To See in The World” was Gandhi’s way of life. This means that we have to learn to embrace diversity and build relationships that are based on love, respect, compassion, understanding and acceptance. We must transcend the narrowness of patriotism and nationalism. While we may be proud of being American or Hispanic or Indian we are just a small part of the whole of humanity. We must recognize that when we have selfish attitudes of caring just for our family or our country then we are not aware of the pain of others in the rest of the world. We cannot be happy if the rest of the world is unhappy. We cannot be secure or stable if the rest of the world is not secure and stable. Our destiny is linked to the destiny of all. It is only when we allow these positive emotions and attitudes to dominate our thinking that we can truly work for peace and achieve it.

2. With extremes of wealth and poverty, how would your grandfather Mahatma Gandhi guide us to justice and equality?

Answer: Economic disparity is the result of materialism and materialism has the tendency to make us selfish and greedy. We think only of ourselves and how to make more money and possess more wealth. Then we do not care about others. In a materialistic world people are dispensable, profits are not. My grandfather advocated compassionate capitalism. Make money but share it in a constructive way with others. Charity today is motivated by pity and so we create institutions and programs that oppress the poor and make them perpetually dependent on charity. What we need are institutions and programs that will help rebuild the self-respect and self-confidence of the poor and help them stand on their own feet and become productive citizens.

3. What are your thoughts on international agreements and united response against genocide, human trafficking and colonization? Especially when we can see televised evidence of collective criminal acts against humanity as well as indifference and apathy in international response?

Answer: I think all of these activities are ways in which we exploit and oppress people because our individual as well as national relationships are based on what is good for us or what do we get out of the situation. We don’t really care for other people or other countries if we don’t get anything out of them. In the 1940s we created the United Nations as an organization to resolve international conflicts peacefully. But there again we don’t consider all the countries as being equal. We have the common countries and those that belong to the Security Council and then even in the Security Council we have five countries that wield the veto power. In addition to this disparity during the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union tore the world apart into two blocs and played one against the other. So, the whole purpose of the UN as a peacemaker has been destroyed. Now each country thinks it can protect and preserve itself if they become militarily strong. The result is that collectively they are spending $9.3 trillion on building weapons of mass destruction and raising enormous armies. That same money could eradicate poverty around the world and people could learn to live in peace.

4. How is your Institute of Non-Violence contributing to World Peace in the XXI century?

Answer: My Institute is too small for such big ambitions. Through the Institute I am trying to educate people and make them aware of the philosophy of nonviolence and how each one of us can become the change we wish to see in the world. If we as individuals do not change, the world will not change. Peace cannot be imposed by law. It has to come from within. If there is no peace in our own minds and hearts we cannot build peace outside in the world.

5. Tell us about your strategies for conflict resolutions in families, classrooms, villages, cities, countries and nations of the world. How can religious leaders make a difference to bring about a dialogue of peace and understanding among the people of the world?

Answer: Religion should be about love and peace showing us the righteous way to God. Instead all the religions of the world are competing with each other and instead of spreading love, understanding and acceptance they are spreading hate, prejudice and violence. Religion has become a mockery and is taking us away from God and we are meekly allowing this exploitation. We are like a herd of sheep who follow the shepherd not knowing whether the shepherd is taking us to greener pastures or to the slaughter house. When the sheep reach the slaughter house they realize where they are and then it is too late to do anything. If we want to be sheep, then we must be ready to pay the price.

6. How can western culture overcome individual pursuits in the path of the common good leading to world peace?

Answer: I don’t think it is about western culture or eastern culture. It should be about humane culture. We have distorted culture because of materialism, everything is about money. People think they can bribe their way to heaven! The best form of worship is serving the poor and the oppressed. Going to Churches, Temples, Mosques and Synagogues and praying for hours will do no one any good if they come out from there and lead a life of greed and selfishness. On the other hand one who silently works for the poor and the oppressed and never goes to worship will be nearer to God.

7. If peace is not just the absence of war, how can we approach our differences and find common ground to reach reasonable and sustainable collective agreements?

Answer: Conflicts are the result of our exploitative lifestyle. If we are honest, pure and treat people with respect and understanding there won’t be conflicts. The only way we can create peace is by creating harmony between people, between nations and between nations and nature. If there is no harmony, there can be no peace. Nature is not for exploitation. We must all co-exist in harmony or perish in crisis.

8. What would you say to the parents of the 200 girls that were taken hostage in Africa, just because they are a valuable exchange and sales item while they were in pursuit of an education?

Answer: My heart goes out to them and I will tell them that what we are seeing today and experiencing is just the beginning of dehumanization. Worse things are going to happen much like a cancer that is slowly growing and destroying from within killing the humanity in all of us.

9. Tell us how to end XXI century slavery as evidenced by human trafficking, children prostitution, televised genocide, discrimination of women in education and the work force, and internet use of war and terror leaders?

Answer: All of these evils are a result of the inhumanity that is growing like cancer within us. For hundreds of years we have pursued a selfish and greedy policy and we wake up only when a calamity strikes us. None of this can change by law. Change can only come through mutual understanding and respect. In our hasty modern world we have conveniently divided humanity into “Good” people and “Bad” people. We are told that if we eliminate all the bad guys we will be left with good guys and this is nonsense. Every one of us is capable of good or bad depending on what buttons are pressed. We need to recognize that bad people do bad things because they come from a bad place. So, unless we change the bad places that affect people adversely crime and conflict will continue — it will never be controlled. We focus more on the person who commits the crime rather than on the problem that caused the person to commit the crime. We need to eradicate the problem, not the person.

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