'Peace Train' Event in Bay Area
By Salley Mahe

The United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith organization based in San Francisco, and the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization hosted an evening of interfaith hospitality and dialogue on January 23, 2004 at the Anubhuti Retreat Center in Bel Marin Keys, Marin County called the Peace Train. The event was an action in solidarity to support an historic bid for peace undertaken by grassroots leaders of the United Religions Initiative in India and Pakistan.

Above:Glimpses of the Peace Train event

At this Peace Train event in Bay Area, Dr. Ahmad Faruqui, a defense analyst and energy economist, based at University of California at Davis and Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor a student of Mahatma Gandhi and professor of Social Work at Fresno State, offered perspectives on the current state of affairs between India and Pakistan. Each spoke of the power of grassroots peace initiatives. Speakers indicated that while governments may remain intent on building up weapons, grassroots groups in India and Pakistan, such as cricket players, movie-makers and interfaith leaders, are choosing a different path - one that relies on the buildup of mutual respect, friendship and cooperation between Indians and Pakistanis. Forty of thee community leaders, representing different faith traditions in India will travel to Lahore, Pakistan in March 2005.

When they arrive, URI Pakistani leaders from different faiths will welcome them and together they will spend three days in assembly with leaders from other Asian countries sharing their practices for healing conflict and violence. Half a world away from Pakistan, a diverse group of guests joined this peace effort. They enjoyed a vegetarian meal and engaged in focused conversation about significant friendships that had surprised them and changed their lives. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, business leaders, elders, students, pastors and poets from the Bay Area took time to build bridges of friendship among themselves and they sent contributions, blessings and words of support and solidarity to their brothers and sisters in India and Pakistan 15,000 miles away.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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