Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Learn from the San People!

In 1997 I was privileged to work with the San people in the Kgalagadi desert.  We had a workshop where internal leadership struggles in the San community surfaced as a major issue.  I asked them to make a drawing of what peace looks like.  Without hesitation two people, one on each side of a flipchart on the ground, started to draw this picture.  Explaining this to the rest of us, they said:  "People are spiritual beings.  That's why we don't draw feet. And we're all connected to the animals.  Hence the animal heads.  Peace happens when people who are ready to fight pause; put down their weapons on the ground; sit down and talk to each other; and then exchange their weapons to seal the peace."  Remarking that they had painted only three phases, I asked them what would the fourth phase be.  They said: "We will only draw one person, because the two of them are one now." 

Isn't the courage to talk instead of fight the first step to peace?  And why can't all wars be prevented in the same manner as most of them end: through dialogue?

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