My Films

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blog: Finding strength to work for peace

A blog that I had written in Janurary of 2005.

Since I received news that I was rejected from the Rotary Peace Scholarship last September, I have had time to reflect on how and why I want to work for Peace. I received notice the day before I left on a trip to shoot the first documentary in a series called "Portraits of Peacemakers: Families for Peaceful Tomorrows." It was difficult news to bare, and I must say I spent the entire plane-ride crying. I didn't know if I could go ahead and make this film. I felt rejected to my core. If five people sitting around a conference table didn't believe that my work for peace in this world was valid enough in offering me a two year scholarship to top university to study peace and conflict resolution. Then would anyone find my films worth watching?

But I was there in midst of New York and it was the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I had a camera in one hand and a list of questions in other. I wanted to ask these people who had lost their loved ones on 9-11 how they had found the space in their hearts to work for peace. Over the next couple of days as I documented and interviewed people and I did find life getting easier to bare... I was however still searching for my place: Where do I belong along the path to peace?
Prior to my rejection I had been searching for a way to work for peace in a more practical way... I know that I am a filmmaker and that ultimately my greatest contribution will be through my filmmaking. But I wanted working for peace to be apart of my daily life. I had a seen an ad in the back of the LA weekly classifieds that said: "Work for Peace, California Peace Action". A few weeks after I had returned from my NY trip, I gave that number a call.
It has now been over two months since I began working at CAPA. CAPA is a peace and justice-lobbying group whose work is mostly for anti-nuclear proliferation. I work for them as a grassroots organizer/canvasser. And so three times I week I spend about four hours a night knocking on doors throughout various neighborhoods in Los Angeles looking for people who hold similar views on issues of nuclear non-proliferation, missile defense, and the occupation in Iraq. I get people who want to see changes on these issues to become a member of CAPA, thus activating their political voice to say a resounding NO with the 90,000 other members of Peace Action nationwide.
This job as a grassroots organizer has been perhaps the most challenging work that I have ever done. I have gotten sick to my stomach with nerves before heading out to canvas. Perhaps it just a fear of talking to so many people, or maybe it's a fear of talking to those few who are so angry that they say something incredibly hateful towards me. But when the night is over, no matter how many people I have met who have felt motivated enough to become members, I feel great. I feel that I have spent a hard day working for peace. That even if I didn't get people to become members, that I have talked to people about these issues and let them know that there is a proactive way of voicing our concerns.

So now I am preparing to reapply for the Rotary Peace Scholarship... and I feel that I am even more stellar of candidate this year than last. I know today I speak with more confidence and articulation on my drive for peace. Not only am I gaining personal skills... I have met some incredible people through California Peace Action, other people just as concerned about these issues and just as active about seeing changes happen. And I am so grateful for that. I had spent the night of my rejection writing in my journal "Everything happens for the best, everything happens for the best" over and over. If it wasn't for my rejection I may never replied to the "work for peace" ad in the paper... and then I wouldn't be where I am today.