March, 2006
Vol. 5, Number 3
The SNS Press E–Zine presents new perspectives for a better future in society, politics, religion, education, self-awareness and human relations.

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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

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This Month's Article

“I Know I’m Not Alone” — the Wisdom of Michael Franti

(Michael Franti, world-renowned musician and human rights worker, travels to Iraq, Palestine and Israel to explore the human cost of war with a group of friends, some video cameras and his guitar. His documentary film, “I Know I’m Not Alone — A musician’s journey through war in the Middle East,” inspired the following article.)

Sometimes there is no choice but to be courageous. It is not even courage or a choice, but something natural. Michael Franti, dreadlocks, colorful dashiki, guitar, walks through war zones — Baghdad, Palestine — making up a song from a single Arabic word he learned: “Habibi, Habibi, Habibi…” “My friend, My friend, My friend…” — and sings a mantra of hope.  Dusty dark eyed children leave their makeshift playgrounds of debris and twisted metal to gather around this strange man. They clap, jumping up and down. Adults living from crisis to crisis raise their arms and dance, momentarily free of dread.

Is peace so unreachable, so beyond imagination? In Michael Franti’s world, and in the world of so many dreamers like him, the answer is simple. Have a party, dance, sing, make music together, and share the basics — habibi — friendship. Be human.

So he went to Baghdad in the midst of man-made hell. Roadside bombs, spools of razor wire and concrete bunkers, fear and distrust, abductions, armed guards girdled by fear and body armor. He stands at a checkpoint face to face with a soldier. The image is incredible. A stark contrast of two philosophies of life. Soldier: grim-faced, helmeted, machine gun gripped across his chest, flak jacket, uncertain. Michael: guitar on his hips, protected by his smile, song on his lips, handshake, friendship in his eyes.

Behind the soldier’s protective gear, the face of fear: a son, a father, a husband far from home. Michael is trying to show that if we do not hide behind forbidding and aggressive barriers, there is no reason to hate or fear. Our protection is our nakedness — the celebration of who we are without forcing others to be like us. It is his very uniqueness that is his protection because he is not a threat to others.

Michael goes into Baghdad neighborhoods where his translator warns that he could be killed or abducted. What happens is “habibi” — a kiss on the cheek, food shared, people opening their hearts, baring their souls, telling their doubts, fears, anger and hope, spontaneous dancing.

The documentary film, “I Know I’m Not Alone,” produced from his trip, is proof that there is more that people have in common than what separates them. Even enemies, like the young Palestinian farmer facing the young Israeli soldiers at the wall of hate separating their lands have the same hopes. They feel that they could live as neighbors in peace, but they are caught in a web of animosity woven by others. Events are so out of control that they have come to think that their trap is their safety net! Michael shows us that hope is not totally extinguished if we are human together. There is no concrete wall or barrier of razor wire, no religion or philosophy, no army or insurgency that can protect us. Only in our humanity — our habibi, our beloved friendship — can we be free and happy. Michael Franti’s wisdom is to celebrate together what unites us, and confirms “I Know I’m Not Alone!”

© 2006 Richard Sidy

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Related Articles:

Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?

Related Poems:

Making Friends
Take Heart
March Madness


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Archives 2002: Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003: Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:

Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life

Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004: Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:

Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All
Poetry Diplomacy Science and Religion  Teen Help
Archives 2002 Archives 2003 Archives 2004
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