By Caroline Anderson
Peace X Peace
There is work to be done in every community to understand our neighbors better, and to create a more cohesive and peaceful existence. Peace starts at home, and home can be a model for peace around the world.”
Our honoree for the Community Peacebuilding award, is an organization that was born in Southern California, but that seeks to tap broadly into the power of women to find “new solutions to old problems.” It is an interfaith organization that brings together women of diverse faiths to discover common values.
Like Peace X Peace, the Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope (S.A.R.A.H.) was created in the wake of 9/11. The founders, including Sande Hart, who will be accepting the group’s award on December 5th, wanted to provide a safe place for women to dialogue and create connections in the face of increasingly divisive world politics. But from this initial dialogue the S.A.R.A.H. “sisters,” as they call themselves, decided that action was also necessary to foster more peaceful communities.
One of the hallmarks of S.A.R.A.H. is this combination of talk and action. Sande Hart describes her organization’s power as providing a space and an opening for collaborative leadership and cooperation. The key way they do this is with their annual Interfaith Weekend of Community Service, which gives individuals the opportunity to work with people of diverse backgrounds while also giving back to their community. During the weekend people from various faiths, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, join to take part in activities including collecting gently used clothing for local shelters, volunteering at charity stores, spending time with at-risk youth, and more! The fourth annual weekend will be held next May.
How does S.A.R.A.H. work to build peace? According to Sande Hart, it is successful because the organization recognizes the vital importance of collaboration: They strive to support the efforts of others doing similar work, and to be creative about finding new venues and experiences through which reconciliation and sustainable peace can be fostered.
S.A.R.A.H.’s model demonstrates the importance of building peace and understanding in all communities, not just those torn apart by bombs and guns. There is work to be done in every community to understand our neighbors better, and to create a more cohesive and peaceful existence. Peace starts at home, and home can be a model for peace around the world.