Peace on Earth – War Children


Emmanuel Jal was born in Southern Sudan c. 1980. By the time he was seven, his father had left to fight with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and his mother had been murdered by government soldiers.

After that he was recruited by the SPLA and trained as a soldier.  For five years he fought with the army, but as the fighting became unbearable Jal and some of the other children ran away.

They wandered for three months, many of them dying on the journey until they reached the town of Waat.  Emma McCune, a British aid worker who was married to a senior SPLA commandant, insisted that at 11, Jal was too young to be a soldier and adopted him and smuggled him to Kenya. There Emmanuel went to school and even though McCune died in a road accident, her friends continued to help him.

Jal began singing to ease the pain of what he had experienced, he also began to work at raising money for street children in Kenya and his first single, “All We Need is Jesus” was a hit in Kenya and received airplay in the UK.

Jal tries to unite young people through his music – he believes that music can help overcome ethnic and religious divisions.  His first album – Gua – is a mix of Arabic, English, Swahili, Dinka and Nuer.  The title – Gua – is a symbol of the unity for which he is striving as it means ‘good’ in Nuer and ‘power’ in Sudanese Arabic.

His second album, Ceasefire, is a collaboration with the well known Sudanese Muslim musician Abd El Gadir Salim.  The collaboration between Jal and Salim demonstrates their vision of unity.  On the album they emphasize their musical differences as a symbol of co-existence.

Jal dedicates his life to the wellbeing of children, believing that music is a vehicle for uplifting the spirit and surviving tragedy.  The commonest theme of his songs is the campaign for peace – particularly in his native Sudan – and his condemnation of using children as soldiers.

A documentary about Emmanuel Jal called War Child was made in 2008 by C. Karim Chrobog. It made its international debut at the Berlin Film Festival and its North American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Cadillac Audience Award. An autobiography under the same name was released in 2009.

Jal’s charity, Gua Africa, builds schools and tries to help children and Sudanese war survivors.

Those of us who are lucky enough to live in relative peace should never underestimate the suffering caused by war or give up working to eliminate it.

The Moral Molecule


Creator(s): Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 – 02/28/1964)

Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=531280

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Butterfly Effects…


In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. (1)

We tell ourselves that only the big stuff matters.  That isn’t the case.  If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then a society is only as truthful and just as it’s tiniest act of truth and justice.

Stands to reason, don’t you think?

The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. (2)

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Photograph – UNICEF – Photo of the week, 19 September 2011
Pakistan, 2011: A man and his daughter cross an expanse of flood water in Digri, Sindh Province. More than 5 million people have been affected by monsoon rains and flooding. The crisis comes one year after the country’s 2010 monsoon-related disaster, flooding that affected 18 million people and covered much of the country in water. UNICEF is working with the Government and other United Nations agencies and partners to supply safe drinking water, medicines, vaccines and other critical relief.

(1) Albert Einstein

(2)Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 67

Ourselves and Others


Cooperation and it’s pre-requisite, reciprocity, require us to learn how to get on together but real human development needs us to be able to do this in a truly diverse and inclusive way.  Easier said than done.

So, how do we interact as individuals?  How do we see ourselves?  How do we see others?  Ourselves in relation to others?   Does it matter what we think about others and who they are and what they do?  How sure are we ourselves about who we are and what we do?  And what difference does it make anyway?

A fundamental feature of ethical and political thought is the attitude of an individual (“the self”) toward other people (“the other”).  One perspective acknowledges three modes of engagement.  First, is when the other is viewed as an object – a subject of research or victim of oppression that is merely a recipient of the actions and judgements of the self.  In the second mode, the other, is human, but the self claims to know the truth about the other completely, engaging him or her from a distance, offering certainty and authoritative direction, an example is the traditional relationship between a doctor and patient.  The third mode is one of reciprocity and mutual recognition; the self influences the other, but when the other speaks, the self must also be prepared to be called into question and, perhaps, to change. (1)

The real question then, as we learn how to live together, is how open we are to learning and changing in all our encounters with other people.  Especially when we believe (and we might even be correct) that what we think is right.

The human race is a complex, dynamic system of oneness – in spite of how we act. This type of system requires high levels of reciprocity if it is to function properly. And it is this interaction between ourselves and others – at all levels of society – that forms the basis for the creation of human environments where everyone can flourish.

TomorrowAnd in the beginning…

(1) Paul Lample, Revelation and Social Reality, p.226