A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Peacebuilders of Narbonne

Fred, my host in Narbonne, included among directions to his flat the instructions to look up to find the Tibetan prayer flags once I'd found his street. I couldn't help but feel comforted even before I arrived, as Tibetan prayer flags probably meant I was going to the home of a Buddhist, and what is Buddhism all about if not peace?  Like most Couchsurfers, Fred has traveled extensively, and his travels to Nepal, SE Asia and India were in tune with  his Eastern spirituality. Before he visited India, Fred was warned that while India was enjoyable, it was far too strange and stressful for any Westerner to remain for long. Fred, however, fit right in, and while he possesses the quietude of Nepal, he also has the intensity of India. Fred is a professional chef, and though not currently employed, his professionalism was evident as he casually flipped vegetables in the air from a frying pan while explaining where we would be going for the evening. Our destination was 'La Fete des Voisins', a neighborhood feast that Fred would contribute to with his dish.
The enormous cathedral in Narbonne. It was never finished as  funds were needed to repel the English invaders.

 La Fete des Voisins was organized by a 20 year old organization called 'La Maison des Potes', or 'Friend's House'. The 'House' began as a political movement dedicated to fighting nationalistic and discriminatory policies against immigrants. La Maison des Potes has since grown to become more than simply an advocate for immigrants; it also assists them in settling in, and helps anyone in the neighborhood who needs help when discriminated against. And as was evident the night which I enjoyed at the neighborhood feast, La Maison des Potes also promotes community. It was good to see so many sharing and enjoying their food and their music, and it was good to see peacebuilding at the most important level. Thank you Fred and thank you La Maison des Potes for the example you are setting to the world!

My host, Fred

The office of La Maison Des Potes

These four young lads from Narbonne played their first gig  at  the neighborhood feast

Yann, a longtime worker for La Maison

The petitions for peace that I am carrying were passed around

I was invited to try some locally brewed beer after the feast

Fred, having borne my burden to the edge of town

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ken, it was the beautiful meeting and the beautiful symbol that your passage at "la maison des potes" for the neighbours' day.
    We are all neighbors and your hike connects us step by step.