Regain Your Self-Love in 3 Steps


I’m an idealist, an optimist and sometimes, a realist, but in all the things that I do and believe in, I believe that we are all selfish people. We do things not for others, but for ourselves, and if others feel as if they are being appreciated because of what we do, then that’s great for everyone because everyone comes out happy but essentially, we are self-serving people – at least that’s what I believe in.

Earlier this afternoon, a friend of mine send me a text asking me “What do you always practice to love yourself?”

The question, provided me with a lot of information and it had to do with one thing that we all search for in life, HAPPINESS. We all want to happy and we all want to love and to be loved in return. There’s no denying about that but in this time and age, most of us get sucked in to our jobs that we forget the meaning of love and happy.

I don’t think any of us can remember how much love and happiness we were born into.

We were the product of love and happiness (doesn’t matter the situation by which you were conceived, because someone loved doing it and was happy to do it is the reason why you were conceived in the first place). We are the very product of someone or a couple’s love for each other (or sex) and were happy to commit to that act (at that point of time).

For the more religious, we are the product of two individual’s love for God and his commandments to procreate.

So, while we are the product of love and happiness, why do some of us struggle to always be happy and loved?

Well, our environments and experiences play a big part but more importantly, WE are responsible for what we choose to happen to us. We are responsible for how happy or loved we want to be, no one has the authority to do that because they do not have that control over us.

And how do we learn to be happy or to love ourselves enough to not be distracted by what happens around us?

Here are 3 simple steps that you can practice. It’s the same one that I practice.

  1. Spend time with yourself, for yourself.
    Do the things you want for yourself. You don’t need to constantly be around people all the time. I’m a social person but I do appreciate being alone and I do enjoy being alone. Watch movies at the theatres alone. Laugh out loud alone. Get reconnected with your inner self. That’s what’s most important.
  2. Love yourself first before you learn to love others.
    You’ll get to this stage once you’ve spent enough time with yourself. When you know what you love, you’ll learn how to love others the same way you want to be loved. Not everyone may agree with how you choose to love them because they have their own opinion on it but at the very least, you’ll know that the relationship will not work out and you can move on without having to hate the person. For you, it’s just, incompatible. That’s all. No hard feelings.
  3. Share your love.
    There’s only so much love you can keep to yourself. Sharing your love will help others learn to heal and move on with their lives. I’m not asking you to begin planting love seeds everywhere you travel (as much as you’d want to be Don Juan) but walk with a smile on your face, with a skip in your step and with a song in your heart.

There’s no one size fits all remedy to this. Everyone does things differently and experiences things differently but if you’ve never tried this before. Then you probably should.

This was written with Lots of Love

Why You Should ‘Fail Your IPPT, Go For RT’


Don’t get me wrong when you read this. I’m not asking you to lead an unhealthy and unfit lifestyle. NO. I believe that you should keep yourself fit and healthy and lead a great lifestyle but this post gives a great reason for all NSmen out there who want to earn the $500 coveted GOLD for your IPPT but are unable to because you are just not fit enough to run.

So, to begin, let me tell you first that I come from a sports background, creative background and business background.

I used to compete in short and long distances, do the long jump, played a winger in my school’s rugby IVP team and played a defender for a local club. I also happen to perform a lot and write a lot as well. Professionally, I now run a business merging these elements and I am definitely passionate about National Service (6 Commanders Award, an appearance on TV and a MHA Award surely does it right?).

I’m not boasting but some people just need credentials before they’ll believe anything they read (I know plenty of my friends do!). So, there you go. Of course, it’s not an awesome track record but if you really want to know how you can earn that $500 or more without getting a GOLD for your IPPT, then you can read on, otherwise you can stop here.

Okay, so you decided to continue. That’s great!

Taking into account that you probably only receive $16.15/- for every half a day recall (I could be wrong but I’m just working with a number) for you to come and take your IPPT, should you get GOLD, you’ll earn $500, SILVER gets you $300 and a PASS with Incentive gets you $200.

So, your total amount earned for a day would be $516.15 (GOLD), $316.15 (SILVER) or $216.15 (PASS with Incentive). Not bad for a 4 hours of work right?

If you’re familiar with the Marshmellow experiment, then you’ll love this because delayed gratification could get you more, and here’s how it works!

Because you can retake as many times as possible in a year should you fail your IPPT, that increases your ‘earning power’ and if you signed up for RT, you have to complete 20 sessions. During the period that you are taking your RT, you are still allowed to go for IPPT and you still have the opportunity to earn those monetary incentives.

So, this is what you may want to consider.

Retake your IPPT countless times is going to be ridiculous but let’s set it at 20 times for the whole year. So for every IPPT that you go for, you earn $16.15, multiply that by 20 and you earn, $323!

Attend 20 sessions of RT at $16.15 per session, multiply that by 18 because you want to take your IPPT on the last 2 sessions before you end and wing it. So, over 18 sessions, you earn $290.70!

Now you take your final IPPT and you get a GOLD, so that means you earn $516.15!

So, in total, you would have earned $1,129.85!!

Now, of course, when you attend your RT sessions, you also need to be mindful that it’s a great opportunity for you to network with others.

But if you’re not looking at the big number and prefer to look at the Time Spent vs Income Earned (or Return on Investment), then of course, going for GOLD on the first try is what you should be going for because you would have made $129/hr in comparison to my alternative solution, $6.89/hr.

Which scheme works well for you is something that you have to decide.

One thing for sure, I enjoy going for RT because I just have time to spare in the evenings and since I already do my exercises on my own, why not just go in a group and get paid for it anyway. I make new friends, expand my network and possibly reconnect with old mates of mine!

On the job front, as long as there are people still going for RT, we are still ensuring that the PTIs have a rice bowl.

Teater Pelajar 2014


Teater Pelajar 2014 Trophies

Teater Pelajar 2014 Trophies

I haven’t written much this year in view of my busy schedule but the next few posts deserves an entry.

Going into the competition, I was only informed a month before the auditions date by a friend of mine, who teachers at Tanjong Katong Girls School. The information for the competition was just received then and she wanted to send a team to the competition and had sought out for my help, knowing that I train students for drama and have also taken part in competitions as well as sent students for competitions and have also judged drama competitions.

But this competition, was new for me. I’ve never watched the competition much less know what it’s all about but as with most things I do in life, I do it because it’s a challenge and because I know I will enjoy the process.

Training the girls was a challenge, for all of us – Teacher in Charge, Students and Myself. My friend was juggling between her work and this, the students were juggling between school, CCA and tests and performances and me, well, I was pretty much just trying to see how much time I can have with them.

My minimum time required – 6 Days, I ended up with only 5 days.

With the theme made known as Storytelling focused on Folklore, that made me feel at ease since I’ve been doing so much Malay Folklore over the years of teaching drama and I also run ‘Pentaskan Ceritamu’ under By Definition Pte Ltd to schools. So, there was absolutely no way I was going to let this out of my sight.

Meeting the girls for the first time, I had a plan in mind. An idea of sort with nothing concrete but I really needed to know what the girls knew and understood about Malay Folklore. Apparently, not much with the exception of one person who seemed to know almost every single story because she had been helping her teacher previously prepare slides on them. I guess that worked to our advantage.

Ideas aside, I took a few days to prepare my script and on the day I was to pass the script, it rained so bad my motorcycle broke down in the middle of the expressway! So, that’s how I lost ONE PRECIOUS DAY.

But all that aside, I was lucky because these girls were already drama trained. I could skip the basics and jump right into the script and directions. But I had another challenge, not everyone was present at the same time and my rehearsals were often only 1hr long with them since most of the time, they’d be chatting away BUT these girls were committed and dedicated to giving the best that they can.

And that’s what they did with 4 days of rehearsals with me before the preliminary rounds, followed-up by another two days of rehearsals with me, with the final script that had an additional character in. With that, the school holidays set in and they were left on their own to prepare with preparations with their teacher in charge.

The next time I saw them, was during the Finals.

I never had the chance to do any final rehearsals with them and off they went on stage, and perform they did. While they didn’t get as much applause as another group did, they sure did score the right amount of points because they walked away the winners.

Teater Pelajar 2014 Champions

Teater Pelajar 2014 Champions

With the Guest of Honour

With the Guest of Honour

This victory for them was sweet for me as well as I walked away with the ‘Best Scriptwriter’.

Best Scriptwriter

Best Scriptwriter

I hope these girls will continue to put in the same amount of effort, commitment and dedication to their studies as well as their life.

And I must say, that I am impressed by them because when they began, they admitted that they grasp of the Malay Language was not as good compared to now. Imagine how much of a difference drama can make to any student if they had the opportunity to explore the many uses of the Malay Language beyond the classroom.

Because the Malay Language, just like any other language, needs to be used often in order for it to come alive. And for schools which do not believe in sending students for such competitions, I do hope they’d reconsider because the experience, though cumbersome for you as teachers, will bring greater benefit to your students in the long run.

Best Actress

Best Actress

The experience they get just from participating alone, will bring out the best in your students.

You’ve got to trust me on this because I was a student that enjoyed taking part in such competitions/performances.

Overcoming The Wall – Seeking Solutions for Peace


I promised that I would share a transcript of my speech. So, here it is.

This is dedicated to my Peacebuilder friends back at University of California, Irvine, especially to my fellowship supervisor, Dr Paula Garb, who’s a conflict negotiator as well as to the other groups of peacebuilders that I had the opportunity to meet.

I also dedicate this to my Israeli and Palestinian friends who now have some peace in their lives. 

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Introduction

A very good evening fellow Singaporeans. It brings me great pleasure to be standing here, once again, surrounded by many who believe in peace and in making a positive change, not just in Singapore but overseas, in Gaza.

At the last event that we organized, the war or massacre had taken the lives of 800 Gazans. Today, a month after that event, after more than 2000 dead Gazans and 69 IDF soldiers dead according to IDF or 150 IDF soldiers dead according to Hamas, a truce is finally in place.

A truce, that would perhaps be considered a victory in all instances to Gazans. A victory, because several deals critical to restoring normal life were reached in the demands for a truce by Hamas, which signaled a defeat to Israel, in my opinion.

When this event was first planned, there were many concerns. Some of those concerns were:

  1. How many people would turn up, compared to the last event?
  2. Would this event still be relevant if a truce was called?

And we agreed, that while numbers mattered, it was important that this event continued nonetheless because a truce does not mean that the conflict is over and more importantly, the Singapore community also needs to learn and know that civil activism is a long process and change cannot happen overnight.

At the last event, I mentioned that it is important for us to ‘Respond, not React’, in any given situation, to ensure that we are aware, responsible and accountable for the actions that we choose, and not let it be a knee-jerk reaction to a situation.

Purpose

Today, we are to talk about solutions for peace, positive peace that will ensure the walls that separate Israel and Palestine, can be overcome.

This truce we see today, this is negative peace. Peace in a volatile situation whereby conflict can erupt at any time. Peace in a situation where there is still much distrust. Peace in a situation where civilians on both sides, still do not have access to each other.

Steps & Solutions

Step 1

To achieve positive peace, to overcome the wall, the first and most important step is already in place – the truce.

Step 2

The next step, is for both sides, civilians especially, to begin talking to one another, to engage one another in conversations to build trust, to build relationships with one another, to find commonalities with one another, so they know, that at the end of the day, they want the same thing, share the same hopes and dreams.

This, I learnt from my mentor, Eboo Patel, who is on Obama’s Council for Interfaith Relations, who shared that to find peace, conflicting sides must find commonalities that they can work together and agree on.

Putting Theories into Realities

Commonalities, is also something that all of us, not just here in Singapore, but also in many parts of the world, share, when it comes to this conflict.

Most of us believe and agree that the occupation must stop and I also believe that we also agree that violence is never the solution to resolve any conflict.

But a conflict such as this, requires a lot of people power, not just from the people in Palestine, but internationally and a conflict such as this, also requires a lot of support from the international community because this is not just a conflict between two states.

It is a conflict which involves citizens of the world, just like any other conflict in any part of the world. And we, cannot afford to sit comfortably in our homes, as bystanders to this conflict, only sending our prayers in private and messages of goodwill through Facebook, because a conflict such as this, requires a visual, it needs to be seen and it needs to be heard.

It needs to be seen and it needs to be heard, so governments can get involved. It needs to be seen and it needs to be heard, so people involved in the conflict know that they have support from the global community. It needs to be seen and it needs to be heard, because activism requires action to be taken.

Change through activism can happen, but let’s do it through peaceful, nonviolent means.

Example 1

In 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, organized peasants, farmers and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. He led several peaceful campaigns nationwide and advocated for others to practice nonviolence and truth in all situations.

He was a man, who lived a peaceful, nonviolent life and was active in civil society. Without him, we may not have India today and the concept of nonviolence would not have been well-known.

Example 2

In 1955, a young pastor and other civil rights activists held demonstrations, drawing attention to racial discrimination, demanding civil rights legislation to protect the rights of African-Americans. The young pastor, was of course, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and his peaceful mass demonstrations attracted more than 250,000 protestors to Washington D.C where he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Through his peaceful demonstrations, positive change was made and African-Americans now have equal rights as any other Americans.

His peaceful demonstrations took close to 10 years of activism before a change was seen.

Importance, Impact & Effects of Actions

And if we, Singaporeans, truly believe in this cause for Palestine, that they deserve to be recognized as a state and that the walls have to be brought down, then we need to continue to be civilly active, to participate in civil activism that is peaceful, to help push for statehood for Palestine.

And being active in civil society is important because change can only happen, when there is enough pressure on the people in power, and the people in power will always listen when there is a large crowd of people who believe in the message that is being delivered.

While it’s true that the internet is a great platform to gather people and to hear opinions, but the internet only gives a number, which could be a number of people internationally or from bots. But when people come together in numbers, in real life, those numbers become a reality and that is what’s most important.

The impact and the effect that the news carries on the number of people who ‘Like’ a certain cause or page is vastly different as compared to the impact and effect when a news outlet covers an event with thousands of people involved.

Newsworthiness counts as well in civil activism.

If a police officer arrests one of the speakers here today because he wasn’t registered to speak and one of you records the incident, and this incident goes viral, it will get picked up by the news outlet because it is newsworthy.

Not only that, the police force will also be put under pressure to answer queries as to why a peaceful gathering with people speaking peaceful things are being arrested in a democratic country, in a space where individuals are supposedly allowed to speak freely without the need for a permit?

Conclusion

So my dear Singaporeans, we can also help to seek solutions for peace to overcome the wall, even though we are far from Palestine.

We can take theories, and turn them into realities by taking action, by remaining active in civil society.

Ask our friends to contribute actively in online discussions, to participate in events such as today and to encourage others to join in as well because the impacts & effects of what we seek for, is the long-term effect beyond the truce we see today – a recognized peaceful statehood relationship between Israel and Palestine, without walls.

This is a journey, a very long journey that we need to carry on because though the conflict may be age old, but the people involved aren’t and while our activism may die out, the people involved in the conflict might die should the truce be breached.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

END NOTE:

The irony of mentioning about the Police because even though I was a registered speaker with NParks, they still came up and approached me because I wasn’t one of the approved 3 speakers under the permit issued (I was informed that permit classified this event as ‘Religious in nature’).

Rebuild Lives in Gaza from Singapore


After seven weeks of war between Israel and Gaza, they have finally come to a truce. 

While the war may have seen more than 2000 Gazans (Mostly civillians consisting of females, children and elderly) dead and 69 according to IDF/ 150 according to Hamas (IDF Soldiers) dead, this truce is more of a victory for Gaza than it is for Israel.

It is a victory for Gazans because, they have won demands to:

  • Remove Israeli blockade of their borders. This increases the current crossings from 2 to 5, with Rafah border under negotiation with Egyptians.
  • Widening of their fishing zones
  • Lifting of money transfers

Moving forward, there are major reconstruction and rebuilding of life work that needs to be done.

Homes, Schools, Hospitals, Places of Worship need to be reconstructured but normal life, needs to resume most importantly.

The living will continue to live without the dead, will envision and will forge a better future ahead for themselves as how their fallen friends and families had once hoped for.

Most of these rebuilding and reconstruction will be reliant on one very important key resource – CLEAN WATER.

As such, being far away from Gaza, the least we could do, from Singapore to Palestine, is to contribute what we have in excess, our wealth. 

So, let’s try to contribute and encourage others to do the same as well so that we can collectively be a part of the rebuilding process in Gaza.

Clean Water 4 Gaza

Clean Water 4 Gaza

And do join us this Saturday, 30th August at Hong Lim Park for another Peace Gathering event. This time, we will be hearing speakers talk about solutions to overcome the wall. 

Overcoming The Wall - Seeking Solutions for Peace

Overcoming The Wall – Seeking Solutions for Peace

I will be there. I hope to see you there as well. 

Open Letter to President Obama


Dear President Obama,

I am Abdillah Zamzuri, a 2013 Community Solutions Program (CSP) alumni, a program sponsored by the U.S Department of State and I am also the first Singaporean to be on this program.

As a fellow of the CSP working and developing a project on ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, I was attached to the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where I worked with a group of students who sought to bring peace on campus. The student organization, Students for Global Peacebuilding, had successfully organized the first ever Peace Week event in January 2014.

As President of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Country’, your continued silence for Israel’s onslaught and genocide of innocent civilian Palestinians in Gaza is unbecoming of a family man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

You and your governments’ cowardice to stand against your biggest lobby and economy contributor is not representative of a government that believes, propagates and advocates for democracy and human rights. You and your government, in fact, only believes, propagates and advocates for democracy and human rights for Israel and Israel only.

A man without a backbone to stand for what is right, is not a man at all. You, Mr President, is looking a lot to look like that man, a man who has been demasculinized. Be a man, do the right thing. You would resist if you were illegally occupied. You would resist if your family was being harassed physically and mentally. You would resist if you were not able to sleep in peace every night. If you wouldn’t resist, then I pray that your family will have the opportunity to have such an experience, so that you can learn to empathize with others.

I plead and urge you, to dig deep into your soul to take the right course of action by being a good friend of Israel and to take all necessary action required to stop the genocide, the same way your government have intervened in previous conflicts. Wouldn’t good friends do all they can to help if they see their friend committing a crime? Wouldn’t good friends be the check and balance for a friend that has overstepped the line?

Should this job and task be one that conflicts your moral values, then perhaps, you should step down from your Presidency or you will very well go down in history as the President Without Moral Guts, just like all the other World Leaders who have stood at the side to continue watching this ongoing genocide.

The world needs to have peace.

The wall needs to be brought down so that people living on both sides can begin to have dialogues, to learn about one another, to have an understanding of one another, to clear misunderstandings with one another, to build trust with one another and most importantly, to love one another.

If there’s one thing that I have learnt from the many sharing sessions organized by the U.S Department of State representatives speaking on Conflict Resolution, is that to resolve conflict, parties need to focus on commonalities.

In this conflict, PEACE is a commonality shared by the GLOBAL COMMUNITY.

In this conflict, GENOCIDE is a common word to describe the situation in Gaza.

In this conflict, WAR CRIME is a common word that has been used to describe what Israel is doing.

Yours Truly,

2013 Community Solutions Program Alumni

A Peace of Singapore


It was an idea sparked through a Facebook comment exchange with a fellow friend, who suggested that I should organize an event to support and call for peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as I was expressing my unhappiness with what was happening there.

That was all it took and not before long, the status update, although only shared 33 times, provided an opportunity for me to be linked up with a few other individuals who were keen to join and organize one, which eventually led me to ‘From Singapore to Palestine’, who coincidentally were also planning to organize and was looking for people who could help.

Facebook Status Update

Although there were those who ridiculed the idea or suggested that rather than organize such an event, it would be better to just send prayers, I knew that it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to only send prayers because I was raised and taught that prayers alone will not bear fruit because it also requires effort. And I had friends there, I knew people there and I knew that they needed HOPE.

Hope, to encourage and motivate them to carry on with their daily struggle, and hope cannot be felt through prayers alone.

So, that was how it began for me.

Right up to days before the event, we weren’t sure if we would receive the Police Permit approval but we did, at the 11th hour and the turnout at Hong Lim Park on 26th of July at 4pm, was encouraging and motivating.

Planned for only 3 speakers, but we ended up with 8.

Regardless, thank you everyone for your attendance. Your support has given hope to my friends involved in the conflict.

There will no doubt be another of such event in the near future.

To those who left early or didn’t have the opportunity to attend and be a part of it, here is a copy of my script.

————————————————————————————————————————-
A Peace of Singapore
A very good evening, ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, fellow Singaporeans, it brings me great joy, to be here with you today, in what, would go down in Singapore’s history, as the first ever peace gathering.

A peace gathering, that is an irony in itself, because this gathering, could not have taken place, had the peace, between Israel and Palestine, been broken.

So, while we celebrate, this achievement of being able to organize this peace gathering today, and will be celebrating the end of Ramadhan with our loved ones. We, are gathered here today, because we believe that peace is important, because we, reject violence and because we, reject the sufferings that people have to go through because of violent conflict.

Today, I will speak and share with you about my beliefs, my personal experience and how, I am involved in this conflict, and the perspectives that I see.

My dear friends, like many of you here, I am affected, by the pictures and videos, that have been shared on Facebook. I am affected, by the physical violence that continues to kill and injure civilians. I am affected, by the speech violence that I continue to read in the comments on Facebook.

Violence, my dear friends, is beyond just the physical violence that we are so familiar with, but violence, can also come in the form of words. Words, that cause emotional hurt, to people that we love or to strangers. Words that serve no other purpose than to cause discord and unhappiness between people.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, violence, is often a result, of OUR REACTION. Like a volcano that erupts, and blows its lava up into the sky, causing destruction to everything and anything in its path. Or like a young child, who hasn’t learnt how to express its emotions properly, throws a tantrum when the adult fails to understand its message or request.

That is how violence is. It is destructive, it is noisy, it does not make you or me happy and it is extremely challenging to control. To exercise self-control from being reactive, is not easy my dear friends and we all know, that when we react to situations, we often end up in regret.

So the question then, why do we still continue to react, when we can choose to respond.
We are all humans, gifted with the use of our intellect, to be able to tell what is right, and what is wrong. To be able to assess, and understand, the repercussions of what we do today, will have consequences in the future.

Because when we respond, we are in control, of our decisions, of ourselves. When we respond, we determine the outcome and we, are aware of the consequences. Most importantly, when we respond, it is an informed choice that we have taken.

And I learnt about making choices to Respond, and not to React, when I was serving my National Service and I understood about the importance of Responding through the life of people that I met when I was serving my fellowship in the US.

About a week before the end of Ramadhan last year, I flew to the US and spent 4 months, completing my fellowship, at the University of California, Irvine, as advisor, to a student group called, Students for Global Peacebuilding.

It was there, that I had the opportunity, to not only learn about Peacebuilding, but also to meet the very people who have committed their lives, to peacebuilding work. The circumstances which led them on their journey, may not have been the best, but they certainly believed in the importance of positive peace, as how it is called in the peacebuilding community.

I met a church pastor, who at one time was so adamant about blowing up a mosque, that he had already prepared himself, his family and his congregation to die, in the name of God, when he realized he was wrong and turned instead to peacebuilding work.

I met a gangster, who at one time, never wanted to be a gangster, but because of his environment, he ended up in one. He, who at one time, wanted to quit and was ready to quit after the last mission given to him, but he ended up paralyzed, because he had received two shots in his back, one of which, hit his spine.

I met a Muslim, a Briton, who was the founder of an organization that served to kill non-Muslims, but was arrested before he could commit that act.

And I met a mother, who lost her daughter through violent conflict. She was a PhD student doing her research in the area, helping others.

And all of them, had one thing in common – they believed in peace, no longer interested in the violent activities that they had once engaged themselves in, because they could have caused destruction to others, and to the people they love.

Besides meeting such inspiring individuals, I also worked with students from the Olive Tree Initiative, students who were passionate about the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, students who had travelled to the region to learn in-depth and to gain experience first-hand, and to listen to the stories from the people involved in the conflict, from the settlers who live in constant fear to the academics and the policy makers, and they returned home, more confused than when they first embarked on their journey, because they no longer saw the conflict as how they previously did.

During one of the classes that I was a Teaching Assistant, we had guests from The Parents Circle Families Forum, who were on campus to share their experience of losing a family member directly to the conflict.

The Parents Circle Families Forum, is a group of people who had come together to provide emotional support to one another. These individuals, have lost a family member to the conflict, and consist of both Palestinians and Israelis.

Let us all exercise the use of our imagination. You can choose to close your eyes and listen if you want to. If you are a parent, I want you to imagine this. If you are not a parent yet, I want to imagine that you have a sibling.

Imagine that you have a son/brother, your son/brother has always been a peaceful person and is also involved in peacebuilding work. Your son/brother, strongly believes in nonviolence and condemns war.

One day, your son/brother receives a reservist call-up. This reservist call-up, requires your son/brother to put on a uniform that another party recognizes as an enemy, and will kill on sight. The other party does not know or bother that your son/brother is a peaceful person because when the moment son is wearing that uniform, he is an enemy to the other.

So, your son/brother contemplates on reporting for duty because he does not want to kill anyone. And after much thinking, he decides that he should serve. He will serve because he believes that if he is on duty, he will be able to protect the other by being in control of his men. He will serve because he believes that he can educate and influence his men to take up nonviolence and join him in being peaceful.

And so, while your son/brother is on reservist duty, protecting the other side, he gets shot by a sniper because he was wearing that uniform, the uniform recognized as an enemy to the other.

How does that make you feel as a parent/sibling?

Would you take vengeance if you had the opportunity to?

These were the same kind of questions and emotions that went through the mind of this young man’s mother. And she decided that in order for her to move on, she had to find this sniper. So, she went in search of his sniper and eventually met up with him.

And what did she do?

She decided, that it would be better off for her, to forgive him, because that was what her son would have done. That was what her son believed in – nonviolence.

How many of us here would have the courage to be able to do that? To meet and forgive the person who killed our family member, in person.

This lady, this mother, that I’m talking about, is a real person. She did lose her son to the conflict, shot in the head by a sniper.

My dear friends, this lady, taught me what it meant to Respond, and not to React. Now, she travels to share her story together with many others from The Parents Circle Families Forum, to talk about peace and why as outsiders in this conflict, we should not be picking sides.

And I quote her, “Don’t bring this conflict back to your friends. Don’t choose which side to support. This is not a soccer team where you can choose sides to support. This is a real conflict. People die.”

If we had to choose a side, then choose peace. Choose peace because for as long as we choose to take a side, we are still supporting the conflict, if death does not come to the team we support, death will come to the other side. And this is not a conflict where we want to keep toll on the number of deaths, we want to have peace. Positive peace.

So, what is positive peace some of you may ask? Positive peace is a time of peace where people are able to trust one another. When we can trust one another, we can live in peace, happily, and that is what positive peace is all about.

And how am I involved in this conflict?

I have friends who are Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews. Not only have I met them, I have photographs taken with them and I share memories with them, and they, these two friends of mine, have memories with one another as well.

I fear for their safety. I fear for their lives. I fear for the lives of their family. I fear for the lives of their friends and students, who do not support this violence, who only want to live in peace with one another.

Ever since the start of this war, I have been keeping myself updated through them on what is happening on the ground in Israel. Trying to confirm with them, the authencity of the stories heard on the media and they have been actively demonstrating against the war and for as long as peace does not come to the region soon. They may die in the hands of a Hamas missile or an Israeli bomb, and it doesn’t matter which one will kill them, because when they die, I will lose a friend, or two friends.

Even my Israeli Jew friend is not spared from the violence of his own Israelis when he was protesting. The right wing Jews were there and had reacted violently towards the peaceful protest that my friend was involved in, because he, wanted the war to end.

Today, I hope that all of you here, will support for peace. I hope that all of you here, will side for peace and for humanity because the blood that flows out of an Israeli or Palestinian, is the same type of blood that runs through our veins.
Let us stop this war through nonviolent means, through education and through cultivating love and trust amongst, and between one another.

Thank You.

So being here today, let us spend the next 5 – 10 minutes, sitting in silence, in remembrance of the lives that has been lost, not just through this violent conflict, but also, the other violent conflicts that is happening around the world today, in Syria, in Myanmar, in Ukraine, in Iraq, because every single life is precious.

Every single life that is lost, is a life that could have made a difference to the world in a positive way. Because every single life that is lost, could have been the life of your own family member or a close friend.

So, let us all sit in silence, and reflect upon ourselves, how we, can choose to respond nonviolently from today onwards, through our actions and especially through our words.