09 Nov Satish Kumar – Eight thousand miles for peace
Activist and editor Satish Kumar made a big impression on Centre for Imagination intern Shatakshi Kabi.
Fifty-five years ago, when the echo of a nuclear test had become a recurrent experience in the world, two friends, 25 and 26 years old, started walking. Penniless and vegetarian, they walked for more than 8,000 miles to the capitals of the then four nuclear-armed countries – Washington, D.C., London, Paris and Moscow, beginning from Mahatma Gandhi’s grave and ending on John F. Kennedy’s grave. Making it into the Kremlin, 10 Downing Street, and the White House didn’t make as much of an impression on Satish Kumar as the cup of tea he shared with Martin Luther King, Jr. They called it a Walk for Peace in protest of nuclear weapons. Wow. That’s all that echoed in my mind when the now 81 year-old Indian activist, Satish Kumar, inspired our school with the life he’s lived in his talk last week.
Wow. That’s all that echoed in my mind when the now 81 year-old Indian activist, Satish Kumar, inspired our school with the life he’s lived.
A journey fueled by trust
“We had two legs and these two legs could take us where no other airplane, train or car could take us. So let’s walk.” With this thought in their minds, Satish Kumar and his friend, E. P. Menon, began their journey, leaving behind disquieted friends and taking with them no guarantee of their survival. They walked through mountains, forests, snow, and rain without having any money in their pockets or enough meals to look forward to. What drove them forward to take another, and another step towards completion of their journey was trust – trust in the universe, themselves, and each other that they would make it. This word was constantly emphasized by Mr. Kumar as the greatest tool to penetrate peace into every part of the world. Every conflict which exists between nationalities or communities is generated because of the fear among them due to mistrust, which makes violence a way of defense to procure safety. In his words, “If there is trust, weapons would never be needed”. One word, and it can atone for every hateful relationship in the world.
Sleeping in a million-star hotel
“If I don’t get food one day, I’ll say this is my opportunity to fast. If I don’t get a shelter one day, I’ll sleep out under the stars and that will be my million-star hotel. If I die while walking for peace, I’ll consider that the best way to die.” Being able to listen to Mr. Kumar say these words made me feel extremely privileged to have an opportunity to sit in the same hall as someone who had achieved such a unique perspective about life and had the prowess to inspire such a vast crowd within the span of an hour. He even struck at the significance of something as overlooked as food and labeled it as one of the imperative aspects to begin with, in order to gain anything in life. Making sure that every person in this world is able to fill their stomachs with healthy food each day will prove to be a massive leap towards the betterment of self and therefore our environment.
Consolidating compassion and care
As all of us students are gradually stepping into adulthood, our focus is suddenly only revolving around prospects of our college applications, career decisions and other facets of our own futures. In the midst of being on tenterhooks with all our worries, we have somehow scattered our values of compassion and care towards others, which has made the process of improving the state of humanity, even within this small circle that we live in, turbulent. In that one hour, Mr Satish Kumar wiped off the dust which had coated all these values within us, values of trust, love, compassion, and the urge to work towards generating peace and happiness among all human beings. He gave a beautiful message which trailed on with me which was, “If you ever get the mad thought of pressing the nuclear button, please stop and have a fresh cup of tea”.
Shatakshi Kabi, Woodstock Student and CFI Intern
Scholarships for Peace
Woodstock’s Scholarships for Peace initiative presents opportunities to gifted young people from conflict-affected regions. We hope that by giving them the gift of a Woodstock School education, we can help them grow into enlightened global citizens who can work together to build healthy, sustainable societies.