UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter

POETRY: "Doves Without Wings"

Doves Without Wings
(a tribute to peacemakers)
by Bok Araneta*

if cast into the world of broken dreams
where darkness looms over the gloomy sky,
where shams and drudgeries silently echo
the pains and cry of wounded souls,
what is there to live for?

but lo and behold!
life is not always what it seems to be
for while walking in the untainted roads of life
where fear and trembling shook our being
where life seemed senseless
and without meaning
a miracle, a glimmer of hope started to unfold

gifted with beautiful wings, DOVES,
calmly smiling, appeared in the sky
though darkness abounded,
their radiance lightened up the skypouring blissful joy to those
with restless hearts

though nestled in a serene and tranquil dwelling place
they descended high above from the sky
they gave up their wings so they may walk
in this world of broken dreams
unfazed by the world's flirtation with hatred and anger
they spread their message of peace and joy
giving hope to a seemingly hopeless world

for their voices are like sweet music
that soothes the troubled soul
their faces like Helen's which launch a thousand ship
and even without words, they paint a thousand smiles

to our dearest DOVES WITHOUT WINGS,
let your presence guide our journey
let your peaceful spirit enlighten our being
let your strength be our courage
that we may boldly go where no one dares to go
let your heart teach our ears
that we may listen the sweet melody of silence
let your faith proclaim the truth,
the truth that we would willingly live and die for
but above all, let your radiance always shine
upon the earth so that TOGETHER
we may help others find the way.

*MCD Batch 2008
UP Hotel, Diliman , QC
April 19-May 01, 2008

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.