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Beslan: How Do Peacemakers Keep Going?
an article by Joanne Tawfilis

We were unrolling canvas in the gallery to start sketching a mural for a gala family and children's festival in the famous Austrian Vienna Woods, when a voice from another room called for us to come and see the horror of Beslan unfolding. The attack on School Number One in Beslan, Russia killed more than 330 people, more than half of them children.

Watching the news, on any channel, European or otherwise is so frightening these past days. I could only reflect about how human beings have come to a point that they do not think twice about blowing up innocent children or worse yet, shooting them in the back.

Since that moment, statistics continue to change as the days pass with the discoveries of the missing and the funerals being held and televised throughout the week. Politicians line up to blame one another and help agencies rally to support the suffering with medical supplies and aid. Images of grieving parents and friends are blitzed across the television screens to be forevermore emblazoned in our memories, just like the images of the twin towers from September 11, 2001 and countless other violent conflicts and events.

Many people around the world might empathize and sympathize with dissidents and freedom fighters, and those with causes that are burnt passionately into one's soul. But who on this earth, can ever justify an end to the means of the killing of innocent people and in this case, harmless children?

I read a passage recently that states history repeats itself, but people are the ones who repeat history. Sketching a joyful mural seems somewhat difficult to me today, and the only motivation I have is to remember the words of Mother Teresa, "Give the world your best anyway" (See Internet reference).


Question(s) related to this article:

How do we keep up our spirits in an age of global terror?,

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I just found this wonderful blog on optimism in dark times, and feel like sharing it as widely as possible.  It is by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a scientist whom I met at Yale several years ago, but who has returned to be deeply involved in the struggle for justice in his homeland of Palestine.  It is posted on his blog at


Overall life is good and people are good.  Some people do foolish things once in a while: oppress, kill, steal land, destroy trees etc.  But life continues and people survive, adapt, and struggle to get to a better place.  Here in Palestine, the apricots (Mishmish) are in season and they are as sweet as can be.  Our village is known for Faqous (of the cucumber family) which is now also in season.  While Israeli colonizers took most of the agricultural land around the area, we still have some Sahouri Faqous and we still struggle to reclaim our rights. . ...more.

This report was posted on September 15, 2004.