Bridging Generations with Love and Forgiveness in Afghanistan
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ―Rumi
After decades of war, the conversation in and about Afghanistan tends to focus on conflict, strife, and damage, but a recent effort focuses instead on the country’s cultural heritage as a way to enliven civil society.
Through a partnership with the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), the Fetzer Institute is supporting discussion groups among diverse members and generations of civil society. Artists, government officials, civic leaders, students and interested others are invited to come together to study and discuss the country’s long history of peace.
Focusing on cultural heritage, like the work of Mawlana Balkhi (Rumi), a 13th century Sufi mystic, organizers believe, can help resurface a sense of love and peace within people and communities.
“Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness,” said Professor Majid M. Naini, a leading Rumi scholar, “so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true global peace and harmony.”
“Love and forgiveness are keys to moving in that direction,” says AIL founder Sakena Yacoobi. “I really believe that to forgive and have love and share with one another—this is hard to do. Until you forgive you will not be able to give from your heart. I am trying to do that; I am trying to teach others to do that.”
Along with highlighting Rumi’s teaching, organizers are using additional poetry, art, and music from Afghanistan as pathways for dialogues as broad ranging as honoring differences, personal security, and women’s rights.
Participants express that the introduction to Rumi has given them hope for a peaceful society. One noted in particular, “I have become kind with my family and friends….I have become full of love for my people and my country…. I was harsh and strict about many issues. Now I want to help my people.” Others have said that this work has helped them be less angry in public and private life and has provided greater insight into the role of women in society.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Non-Governmental Organizations.