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Peace begins within: Free program offers tools of personal peace

Peace Education Program
Silverton Grange Hall
201 Division St.
10-week course
Thursdays, 7 p.m., starting Oct. 3
Participants can take all
10 classes or drop in for one or two.

Sponsor-funded, the course is free
to participants.

For information: 971-273-6728 or
facebook.com/silvertonpep

Information on Prem Rawat and
the Peace Education Program may
be found at The Prem Rawat
Foundation at www.tprf.org.

By Brenna Wiegand

A proven, revolutionary program toward peace is being offered, free to all community members beginning Thursday, Oct. 3 in Silverton.

Local building designer Michael Finkelstein, a facilitator of the 10-week course, said the Peace Education Program has proven itself revolutionary in some of the toughest situations, including a prison in San Antonio, where its resulting drop in recidivism led to the creation of a restorative justice department at University of Texas.

“The program provides the chance to think about your own life and the direction it’s going; what I call the facts of life,” Finkelstein said. “These interactive workshops aren’t based on any certain belief system but on the fact that we are alive and that’s a special thing… Its content is based on excerpts from the talks Prem Rawat has given all over the world.”

Finkelstein has heard Prem Rawat speak several times since becoming acquainted with his work 40 years ago.

Born in India to a prosperous family, Rawat left his native land as a teenager to travel to Europe and America, with a desire to know the world. His driving idea was to promote, to every person, an optimistic vision of life, a vision of peace, both individually and collectively. This ideal continues as strongly today, some four decades later.

In November 2011, Rawat was invited as keynote speaker and inspirer of the “Pledge to Peace” launched at the European Parliament. The Pledge to Peace, a call to peaceful action, was the first of its kind ever presented at the European Union, to which 37 institutions signed.  In 2012, Prem was awarded the Asia Pacific Brands Association’s Brand Laureate Lifetime Achievement award, reserved for statesmen and individuals whose actions and work have positively impacted the lives of people and the world at large. Nelson Mandela and Hillary Clinton have received the award. Speaking in a specially prepared video for the Nordic Peace Conference in Oslo, Prem emphasized the real possibility of peace in our lifetime.

“Peace needs to be in everyone’s life. It is not the world that needs peace; it is people. When people in the world are at peace within, the world will be at peace,”  Rawat said.

Finkelstein is someone who believes it can happen. When a formal peace curriculum was developed five years ago Finkelstein began dreaming of bringing to Silverton.

“It really is something I’d like to see happen –  less strife; less fear and more enjoyment – I think we can do that,” Finkelstein said. “This is different from political or social peace, it’s peace within yourself – an approach that hasn’t been tried before. Governments have been trying to create a social peace but without the essence of it, it doesn’t work.”

The news is dismaying; we don’t really know what’s going to happen but we know we’re here now and that we can enjoy it and have respect for others as well – a fundamental human need that goes across all cultures, he said.

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