The beginning of my involvement in the peace-building field came with my own personal struggle to bring peace within myself. Due to my personal experiences, at a young age I came to the conclusion that this planet was only a very sad place, that no real Peace could ever be achieved and that, somehow, it was human nature to hurt and kill each other.
The process that lead me to inner peace was a very personal one. Like with most people, it required first the destruction of the ‘dogmas’, the pillars of certainties that we build around ourselves in order to make sense of a world that most of the times seems to make no sense at all.
In my very personal case, the need to find peace within myself was the objective, as the apparent lack of meaning of the bad things I experienced in life was becoming unbearable. A trip to Japan sparked something inside of me and gave me a taste of what inner Peace is like. In my new path, I tried to follow that sense of Peace and I was put on a journey in which I met many amazing and inspiring people that helped me out in my desire of reaching inner Peace. This led me to take part in many activities: meditations, martial arts and personal pilgrimages to holy sites in Europe, America and Japan.
I somehow managed to be successful in finding peace within myself and my outlook on the world changed on many perspectives. One of them on the possibility of bringing Peace. After changing myself and consequently changing my mind about multiple issues, it became clear to me that Peace should be the most important goal, for everyone, since no other human activity can fully flourish with the constant threat and destructive impact of war.
One event that was particularly meaningful to me was the Inter-religious Peace Conference that took place at the Peace Palace in The Hague on the 11th of September 2013. There were 5 representatives from the 5 most popular religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The speaker of each religion gave insights on what religions can do to work together in order to promote peace, rather than hamper it, as has happened multiple times over throughout history, and still happens to this day.
After all the interventions were over, the microphone was open for the audience. The first person to come on stage had a very negative outlook about the situation and even about the event itself. He said that religions have only contributed to wars and therefore cannot help bring peace, and he concluded that the average person is powerless in front of these global dynamics, so there was no point being there discussing anything in the first place.
The moderator then asked “Does anyone have an answer to this question: what can the average person do to bring Peace?” The audience grew completely silent and the moderator was about to go to the next topic when he finally saw my hand raised, from the back of the room.
Invited to speak, I first clarified that I did not have THE ANSWER. But there were still a few things I could suggest to the average person.
We all ask for Peace in far away lands, but at the same time, more often than not, we don’t have peace at home. Peace is a state of mind, and there is no point asking for peace in the world if, at the same time, we are constantly in a war mind state with one another: we give strangers we encounter on the street a bad look, we ignore other human beings around us, we argue with strangers while driving and sometimes physical fights break out for the most trivial things.
We need to fix this first. We have to make Peace within ourselves first. Then within our family. Peace with our neighbors and peace with the strangers we encounter outside. A simple smile can be an extremely powerful Peace message.
My message was very well received and I managed to talk to many people afterwards. There I met Masami Saionji, Chairwoman of the World Peace Prayer society, who invited me to their Peace Sanctuary on Mt Fuji, which was another amazing experience, in and of itself. Since then I have been meeting more and more people who are actively involved in the peacebuilding process, and from whom I have learned allot.
The latest Peace event I took part in was the International Day of Peace at the Maarten Luther Kerk in Amsterdam. Thanks to the generous help of Pastor Andreas Wöhle and the careful direction of Shinji Kasema, a member of the World Peace Prayer Society, we organized a 12 hours long event (from 7 in the evening till 7 in the morning), which included artists displaying their work, musicians, singers, actors, dancers etc.
The background of the people present was very different, and this was the beauty of it. There were believers of different faiths, together with atheists and agnostics. The main goal and purpose of all the people present was one and one only: Peace.
After seeing the amazing success of that night, seeing people with such different backgrounds coming together, I can say that Peace is indeed achievable. If Peace is the genuine goal of a person, nothing will stop him/her and all the religious and cultural barriers that have always been used as an excuse immediately collapse when faced by the genuine Love for Peace.
Story: Ippolito Forni (35) works as a Security Analyst at a major energy company. He has also been involved in many Peace related activities for some time. The most important and significant ones for him were the inter-religious conference at the Peace Palace in The Hague on the 11th of September 2013 and the Night of Peace at the Maarten Luther Church in Amsterdam on the 19th of September 2014.
Artist: Shanti B.