Your Mission for 9/11, 2008
Tomorrow, I would like us all, as interested and concerned citizens of the world, to photograph and record the world as it is now.
Wherever you are.
Whatever you are doing.
Take notes of the moment.
Celebrate the renewal of life.
Celebrate a new spirit of the day.
Cherish the moments and images.
Pray at 11:11 am and 11:11 pm.
Listen to the wind and the world around you.
Record your thoughts and feelings in words and images.
Consider how this day is different than the one seven years before.
Reinvent 9/11 as a day when the Flowers in the Cracks can be found.
Reinvent 9/11 as a day when we can engender Global Understanding.
My thoughts on this September 11th
My proposition is to change history.
To restore history.
To make history.
Tomorrow is September 11th, 2008. It is the 7th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There are children, like my niece and my nephews, and the twins of my long-time friend from college, and so many children, who have grown up in a world wherein an aura of suspicion and doubt of our world cloud the air much thicker and even more noxiously than the fireballs, plumes of smoke, and whirling asbestos-laden particulates that obscured the air of downtown Manhattan on that fateful morning.
Yet the children are joyful. Innocent. Happy. Playful. It is not they who stress over the world so much as the parents, bombarded as they are with patriotic or sectarian propaganda, real-time news, and real-life worries and stress from all sides.
How can we ensure, to the best of our ability, that such children’s simple joys last through their lifetimes, even as the hammers of strife, conflict, crisis and all-too-human cynicism try to darken their lives? How can we ease the stress felt in the hearts of those struck through by the trauma of the current world conflicts and crises?
My hope is by celebrating our Flowers in the Cracks, and by fostering Global Understanding.
This weekend, on Saturday, the 6th of September 2008, Franklin Pham led and directed the first scene’s shooting for his first film, The American Dream on the campus of San Jose State University (SJSU). It is a movie tied to the theme of what is real, and what is a dream. It is a movie tied to the legacy of 9/11. Franklin is both part of Flowers in the Cracks and the Global Understanding movement. His movie is an homage to the lives of those who died, and to those who suffered and still suffer. His movie is a balm offered to our world in pain, and expresses his commitment to and vision for natural ethical principles.
What is the dream we each hold in our hearts? How can we turn those dreams into something more real, more profound and happy than the harsh and cynical reality we each face when we look at the world around us? What is true, when we look into the mirror of our souls? I was utterly pleased and happy to help Franklin make his own dream — of being a filmmaker — become a truth, and a new reality. For one day, we shed cynicism to engender joy. We fought against a world of terror and tragedy by sharing our hearts, our minds, our laughter, our smiles and by making new friends.
This week and last, all sorts of ludicrous reality has been occurring around me. Movies and television series I am helping to make. Romantic smooches and chaste amor! An online game in the theorizing. Owls and starlight. The befriending of a homeless man. Helping a family in need. Having people I have just met devote their trust to me and call me “brother.” Working with clergy and business people. Seeing my heroes in real life, like Greg Mortenson, who wrote Three Cups of Tea, at the University of San Francisco. Tales of chivalry and romance. Tales of magic and miracles. Huzzah! is in the air. The Green Knight is back in the saddle.
As many of you know, I ran Green Knight Publishing 1998 - 2005. I let it lapse for a while there. Perhaps it is time to rebirth that business and domain name, and raise the shield and lance once again. To tilt at the windmills of our minds and hearts. For the past few years, though, I have wandered in my own Wasteland. I needed a break from Silicon Valley life. I needed my own time in the wilderness.
Beginning on Epiphany, in the year 2006, I began a few new quests in my life. The first was Flowers in the Cracks (flowersinthecracks.blogspot.com), which I began along with Ilona Leiberman. It is an artistic movement. The second began with the 2006 project Razumijen, which has expanded and resulted this year, in 2008, with the launch of the Global Understanding Institute (globalunderstandinginstitute.org, globalunderstandinginstitute.blogspot.com). The movement was begun around the same time as I was preparing my work on Razumijen by Karl D. John: Valentine's Day 2006. This year, we are taking it to the higher level, with plans to incorporate it as a non-profit in California, and hopefully, to spur a worldwide evolution.
Ironically, as I was typing this, I got an automated call from the director at Greenpeace. His welcome voice asked for my feedback. I think I will call him back. I'd like to speak to him personally. Then, shortly thereafter, still typing this, I got a call for a free home security system worth hundreds of dollars — if only I’d put a sign up in my front lawn. Now, if only I owned a lawn!
Then, the third call I got was from my friend Eli, who I played World of Warcraft with earlier this year. After I left the game, and the World of Warcraft, he remains a friend. Long after the peace breaks out, friends still remember you. He also told me about the death of his grandmother, about his relationship with his mother, and about the crush he has on a girl named Elizabeth. Eli is 13 years old. He's a great kid.
Finally, I got a call from Franklin Pham and Harshi, who are heading up to celebrate the end of the day at the local book shop, Books, Inc. on Castro Street in Mountain View. Franklin Pham is the writer, director and producer of The American Dream, a movie presently in production in San Jose and Mountain View, California. Harshi is the lead actor. Franklin found my lost wayward notebook. Huzzah! He's on his way right now to deliver it to me. Harshi and Franklin both laughed at how a huge crowd of people at San Jose State University shouted down a religious zealot on campus who was trying to pontificate and accuse everyone around them of being a sinner.
God, if you believe in him, is the world’s most ironic comedic director. Whoever is directing this day has just given me a number of thematic messages:
• Let's work together to create sustainable and secure environments.
• Let's remember our friends long before, and long after, any wars die down.
• Let's collectively try to ameliorate the pains and sufferings of the world.
• Let's keep in touch with our friends and our families.
• Let's make new friends and families too!
• Let's try to minimize religious and political intolerance in the world.
• Let's face even the most difficult of crises and conflicts with truth, trust, laughter and good spirits.
• Let's create and live out our dreams.
• Let's celebrate together.
One day, I will have that green lawn, and then, I can get the free security system. Or possibly not. I might feel secure enough just to have the lawn. I might be happy to let other people have their lawns, and for me to simply keep a few flowers alive in my apartment.
Why 11:11 on 9/11?
There are two special moments I wish to focus on tomorrow. Morning and evening. 11:11 AM and 11:11 PM. I wish these both to be moments of prayer and peace.
Between 9/11 and 11/11, we have two months to work towards armistice in the world. For it was on November 11, 1918, at 11:11 am when the guns were “All Quiet on the Western Front.” That was the day and the precise moment of Armistice.
Armistice: temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents : truce.I wish to establish a new tradition:
Each day, at 11:11 am, we may pray for thanksgiving for the armistices we have found in the past. The making of truce, and establishing of peace between enemies. At 11:11 pm, before we go to bed, we can pray for peace in our world tomorrow.Rather than just a “Veteran’s Day”” we can remember our current active duty servicemen and women, and our veterans twice a day. We can pray for those who established the truces of the past, and pray for the success and well-being of those diligently trying to preserve the peace in the present and future.
Beyond that, I wish to call for the establishment of a new ”Armistice season”:
9/11 - 11/11 = Armistice Season - A time between 9/11 and 11/11 when the interested and concerned citizens of the world would pray, talk, meet, learn and work for the end of war in the world.A time for truce. It is entirely natural. Historically, wars tended to peter out around this time of year in the northern hemisphere. People abandoned armies to go gather food for the winter. Harvest season. School season. It is a time when plowing, reaping and sowing is required for us to eat our harvests. It is a time when children should be returning to school, educating themselves about their world. It is a time for reflection on the fading of the final flowers of the year. When we could reflect on death in nature by the falling of the leaves. When we could celebrate the last of the migrating birds winging north, and the last green before the snows of winter fell.
The children of the world can learn many things this season, and in seasons to come. How to live in peace. How to ethically and morally consider the natural results of war. For the ends of peace are prosperity and creativity, while the ends of war are death and destruction. Prosperity or death. Butter or guns. A benefit or a peril for us all. For mothers and children, as well as for husbands and fathers. For widows and widowers. For those who are alone and without love and family in their lives. We can make choices when there is peace. We can consider what we wish to do about our world. Perhaps talk to our enemies. Perhaps find ways to make peace last more than 60 days. Or 60 years.
Between 9/11 and 11/11, we have two full months to engender a movement for Armistice in the world. This 11/11 will be the 90th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. The War to End All Wars. The Great War.
It will be the 89th Anniversary of the first Armistice Day, which Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919. Veteran’s Day is a United States specific holiday. Ironically, the movement to change the day to Veteran’s Day was begun by Al King, who in 1953 wrote to his Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the day for veterans of all wars, not just World War One. On May 26, 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower signed that into law.
As we all know, the armistice was surely temporary. It did not last. Humans find ways to come into conflict, to create crises where none existed the day before. There are no dearth of excuses to rain death.
The lasting legacy of the First World War was Armistice Day. The day where many around the world wear the poppy. In Europe, they are blood red, symbolizing the extreme deaths of an entire generation of young men and women sacrificed for nationalist patriotism and the enrichment of the few for the impoverishment of many.
Armistice Day, spiritually, is not the same at all as "Veteran’s Day." This is a modern redefinition of 11/11, born out of the post-World War II and Vietnam era Cold War legacies of patriotism. Yet to truncate the day to simply "Veterans" ignores the civilian price paid during the wars of the world. It limits the definition of acts of heroism to only those that wear a uniform. We know the truth to be broader and more universal than that.
Therefore, I ask for us to consider tomorrow a special day. The opening of a two-month window into the world to celebrate the renewal of peace. For this is what Armistice means. The season of the Grail Quest wherein war and strife give way to healing. The healing of the land. The repair of our buildings and our relationships. The healing of our hearts. The transformation of our world.
Human Rights Month
Between November 11th (11/11) and December 10th (12/10), I also call for the establishment of Human Rights Month. This is to celebrate, on December 10th, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is fitting for us to move from a period of honoring truce and peace, to then recognizing the human rights we should enjoy during the establishment of that peace.
This December 10th will be the 60th Anniversary of the passage of this historic document. It was inspired and written in great measure by the mind and heart of Eleanor Roosevelt and her colleagues at the nascent United Nations. Google it. Right now. Read it.
These are your rights. These are the rights of every person on Earth. We should take a month each year to measure ourselves on how we are doing in regards to guaranteeing these rights. And if we are failing as a global society, this should be a time to recommit to these ideals, and fix any problems we know we can. We can work to garnering the interest, concern, and requisite approvals and funding for the redress of any grievances. We can change our world for the betterment of all.
If you have read this far, you have my thanks. Many others would have said, "Yeah, whatever," and hit delete or turned the page or the channel. Now consider your commitment to the ideals I have put forth. Consider your specific objections and differences of view. I am calling for your commitment and your own life energies to see my vision of the future become reality. Imagine I do get hit by the bus. Imagine, even if I survive, I cannot change the world alone. Help me. Carry on this vision to the world.
Talk to everyone you think can help. Artists. Children. Teachers. Parents. Neighbors. Friends. Your lover. Family. Your congressperson or boss. The ice cream man. Your clergy.
In advance, you have my thanks. Let's make tomorrow different than every other September 11th, before, or since!
My best to Eli and Elizabeth, and to you all!
Onwards to adventure!
Copyleft 2008 Peter Corless "It's Okay to Distribute, As Long as You Attribute!"