When I returned from North East India in December, I wrote a blog that I entitled ‘extreme-everything-postcard-from-india.html Extreme Everything’. Exquisite beauty marred by outrageous human suffering, all the contradictions of a rich land of poor people; hope issuing from remarkable trainings with 70 young people challenged by the North-east’s intractable habits of violence.
This time as I return, I realise how close we travel to the edge of despair. Yet the good is there – in abundance: one woman and 11 men left two weeks of training in human rights and conflict transformation profoundly altered by the experience, half of them declaring their intention to multiply the experience back home in their mountain villages of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya.
The stories of the violences within which our friends struggle, live, work and, yes, play! land soberly inside our circle as we work on human rights case studies related to resource extraction, the rights of children and of indigenous peoples and the impunity enjoyed by state security agents. The stories of daily misunderstandings, insults, traumas and culturally-dictated norms of exclusion and derogation inform our work on conflict transformation and non-violent communication. Is there any violence at all that does not have at its root a neglect of the art of respectful, non-anxious, self-differentiated conversation marked by curiosity, compassion and courage?
So blessed by these twelve people who worked so hard through so many barriers of language and pronunciation and culture. I was changed by the experience. Their families and communities will be changed by them, no doubt. War-weary – and oh! so ready to multiply peace. Contagious peace meeting yearning for the same.