Ivan Illich, a great South American advocate of the poor, was once asked whether the most powerful way to change a society was through a violent revolution or by education and democratic reform? He replied that it was neither: Instead you must “tell a new and powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story.”
In many parts of the world it is vital to offer a new vision of hope to counter the vicious circles of despair, fear, anger and violence. It is vital to move beyond stories of victimisation to stories of empowerment; to move beyond stories of 'them' and 'us' to stories of inclusion. That’s why all our communications aim to convey hope and frequently challenge conventional notions about what is possible in the areas of individual and social transformation, cross-cultural relationships and reconciliation. Honest conversation and story-telling are used extensively to convey both ideas and deep life experiences.
Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. This is a collection of commentaries on important events and trends.
If you would like to submit a story of change or a reflection for possible publication here, please kindly send it by email. The editors reserve the right to refuse contributions that use intemperate language or vilify others and which do not in our view encourage productive dialogue.
Frédéric Chavanne, who lives in Paris, wonders what will be the consequences on our society that have been traumatized by these events and hopes that they will force us to more unity and a deeper concern for what needs to change in our society and world wide.
Edward Peters reflects on the recent events in Beirut and Paris. What resonates most deeply for him in the present crisis is the struggle between love and hate, between dignity and demonisation, between humility and arrogance, between responsibility and blame.
Howard Grace, who has talked alongside a young Nigerian Muslim to 60 Sixth Forms, sent this letter to the Newbury Weekly News on 19 November, wishing to address the alienation between Christians and Muslims. A slightly amended version was also published in the 27 November issue of 'the Friend', which is the national UK Quaker weekly magazine.
What has been the historic role of Britain that has led to the present day tragic situation in Israel/Palestine? This was the theme engaged with by a very mixed group of over 70 people as part of the Thatcham Festival. The mayors of both Thatcham and Newbury were present and both spoke very appreciatively at the end of the evening.
As Europeans oscillate between fear and compassion at the sight of the masses of refugees entering Europe, one thought which probably hasn’t occurred to many, is that among these people are potential rebuilders of their war-torn countries.
Early in October, I joined a day trip to Calais organised by Exile Writers Ink, a human rights charity, based in London. Our group included people born in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq and Eritrea. Our aim was to meet refugees from our own countries.
With refugees pouring into Europe by the tens of thousands, our attitude to this ‘crisis’ may not be everything. But if we don’t unmuddle the thinking in our heads, the consequences could be catastrophic – for them and for us. As Europeans we need to reboot our brains, shedding the notion that these people are a threat, and coming to see them as a gift instead.
In an era of growing extremism and polarisation Howard Grace reflects on the need to move beyond being trapped in our national, religious, family, and personal mind sets. What might IofC's role be in seeking a uniting narrative.
Ten years on from the 7/7 bombings, one of the survivors remembers those who helped her and the people who lost their lives in the atrocity. Jacqui Daukes was on the Piccadilly Line tube train which was blown up between King's Cross and Russell Square. Twenty-six people on her train were killed.
South Sudan, the world's youngest country, marks its fourth annversary of independence on 9 July while struggling to end a conflict which has cost thousands of lives and displaced millions of its citizens. David Nyuol Vincent, one of South Sudan's 'Lost Boys' who has become an ambassador for peace in the midst of this ongoing conflict, reflects on one step in response to the crisis.