Making Peace

By Michael Caduto

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. -Chief Si’ahl (Seattle), of the Suquamish Nation (1780-1866)

Voices of truth speak in ways that resonate with those who are ready and willing to listen in a particular time and place. In the spring of 2010, I was asked by members of the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College to help with a Peace Pole they were erecting in the Memorial Garden next to the church. Knowing that I had worked with members of the Abenaki Nation, and that I teach about Abenaki culture in my programs and writing, I was asked, “How do you say, in Abenaki, ‘May peace prevail on Earth.’ ”

I discovered that the Abenaki word for peace, Olakámigénoká, is a verb that reflects an entirely different concept of “peace” than we express in the English language. Olakámigénoká, “make peace,” is a linguistic window into the Abenaki world view in which peace is more than a state of tranquility that exists in the absence of violence. Peace is an act that one makes toward other people and the rest of creation.

In these times, many peace makers are being drawn to the inspirational words of Sri Krishnaji and Sri Preethaji, co-creators of the Ekam World Peace Festival—words that resonate with the iconic message shared by Chief Si’ahl some 175 years ago. Sri Krishnaji recently said, “Humanity cannot find peace while other living beings suffer. Separation is an illusion at every level…The truth is, we are one…We are one consciousness…inseparable from the trees, animals, Mother Earth…This individual wholeness is the true nature of our existence.”

During the past four years, Ekam World Peace Festival has grown into an annual worldwide meditation—a global movement to transform the human consciousness from conflict to peace. In 2020 more than ten million peacemakers and hundreds of public institutions from over 100 countries came together online for 3 days to shift human consciousness toward peace. In 2021 (September 17-19) the number of participants reached 20 million. Each day, several hundreds of thousands of individuals, families, business organizations, and institutions joined in meditating for one specific cause that brings peace. Daily proceedings can still be viewed on Youtube recordings available through the Ekam website (, including interviews with Joe Dispenza, Renowned Neuroscientist; Golriz Ghahramen, Author and Member of Parliament, New Zealand; and Satya S. Tripathi, Secretary General of the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet.

When individuals dedicate themselves to peaceful coexistence, a pathway opens before them. In April of 2006, the Quebec-Labrador Foundation (QLF) asked me to facilitate an environmental education seminar at their 50th anniversary Alumni Congress in Budapest, Hungary. During a gathering of conservationists and educators, the Director of Environmental Education for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority suggested that colleagues from the Middle East work together to gather folklore stories about nature from all around their region, and to use those stories to teach children about nature and environmental issues. A surge of energy charged the room when colleagues from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine agreed to collaborate on this project. These professionals had been working together for more than a decade as participants in QLF’s Middle East Exchange Program, which promotes peaceful collaborations among “conservationists without borders.” They had reached out to one another to build partnerships and friendships, despite the risk of criticism and ridicule from those who questioned the act of working across political barriers.

As environmentalists with first-hand experience in violent conflict, everyone recognized that one cannot wage war on other peoples without also harming the environment. For example, along the dizzying cliffs at the Gamla Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights, endangered griffon vultures ride thermals so close that visitors can almost touch the ancient birds whose wingspans exceed eight feet. This, the largest breeding colony of griffon vultures in Israel, was in decline until recent years due to issues caused by human conflict and environmental harm, including egg infertility, calcium-poor diets among chicks, electrocution by powerlines, and poisoning. When adult vultures can’t obtain enough calcium from small pieces of dead animal bones, they feed instead upon the metal fragments of old ammunition and shrapnel that litter the countryside as a relic of past wars, and in turn feed this to their young. Fortunately, a naturalist named Ygal Miller at the Hai-Bar (“live wild”) Carmel Nature Reserve established the first successful captive breeding and release program for griffon vultures, and populations have begun to stabilize. 

Events unfolding throughout the world make it clear that an essential part of our collective work to live sustainably is to make peace, Olakámigénoká. From the traditional teachings of Chief Si’ahl, to the dynamism of movements such as the Ekam World Peace Festival, we need to employ every means possible to find and establish a paradigm in which we transition from conflict to peaceful coexistence with other peoples and the natural world.

Michael J. Caduto—Executive Director of Sustainable Woodstock and founder of P.E.A.C.E.® (Programs for Environmental Awareness & Cultural Exchange)—is editor of The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales from the Middle East, author of Earth Tales from Around the World and coauthor (with Joseph Bruchac) of Keepers of the Earth.

Griffon vulture, Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve. This species is endangered in Israel, with a total population of some 200 individuals. (Photo: Michael J. Caduto.)


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