In case you haven’t been following the adventures of John Siliphant and Mark Peters and haven’t had an opportunity to click on the links to their blogs from my own, now is the moment to tune in.
The two have been in India since February, mostly in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on a year-long service journey. They’ve made tremendous personal and financial sacrifices and plunged themselves into a difficult environment to push their internal growth through external service. Always going with the flow and looking for ways to turn every moment into service, they’ve gotten themselves involved in projects big and small that have moved countless people throughout Gujarat, India, and the world (as attested to by my uncle’s friend in Los Angeles who got quite excited when he learned that I knew Mark, whom he had read about in the Gujarati newsmagazine Chitralekha).
Recently they learned that the Government of India would require them to leave the country because of visa rules. In true service-hero spirit, they decided to turn what seemed lost an unfortunate and costly detour into yet more incredible service.
Mark and John decided to collect letters of peace and friendship from the children of India to the children of Pakistan. The project was so simple and beautiful, not to mention simply beautiful, that momentum started to build and before they knew it, they were addressing crowds of thousands of kids throughout India and were gathering an unprecedented amount of peace cargo awaiting delivery. The government granted them an extension to continue their unique campaign, and it continues to gather steam as they move toward their October departure date to Pakistan. Their return to India will retrace their steps as they give Indian children letters of peace and friendship from the children of Pakistan.
To describe the ways in which the project moves me is an exercise in demonstrating the inadequacy of words. Searing through the old malice and penetrating to hearts of a people who have been locked into a blind ideological hatred, they’ve hatched a plan that gives voice to the cries of the future and the ghosts of the past wailing for a peace and reconciliation that never was. To the neighbors whose nuclear arms are poised to unleash armagedden, their work re-harmonizes the bitter and desperate calls from adults into the disarming symphony of children’s voices in overtures of friendship. Their project sings of Hope like an angelic choir of ten thousand kids on either side of the border. Governments talk of peace while buying arms. People like me think of peace while suspecting the worst. Its through the open arms of children that we see the real Hope, the real path.
When you plant ten thousand seeds, surely a few will sprout. When one tree can can produce a hundred thousand more seeds, our imagination opens to the magnified implications of the seeds of friendship that Mark & John are helping to plant. Fast-forward a hundred years and look back upon the moment that the light of peace came to the hearts of a generation of kids who changed the world because two pilgrims of peace were willing to be the change.
And the magic is as simple as that: Be The Change.