SHOWING SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE SUFFERING IN UGANDA FROM REPRESSION AND VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
SOME WORDS OF EXPLANATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT
about the idea from around the world and different religions
“Our journey for peace begins today and every day. Each step is a prayer,
each step is a meditation, each step will build a bridge.”
(Preah Maha Ghosananda, 1929-2007, was a pacifist Buddhist monk from Cambodia.)
“We remember that hate cannot drive out hate but LOVE can;
violence cannot drive out violence but PEACE will.”
(Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, President of the opposition NUP party in Uganda.)
“Love becomes our moral compass and our reason to keep putting
one foot in front of the other in a happy and hopeful way.”
(Fr Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan Catholic priest who preaches non-violence.)
“Blessed are the peacemakers…. Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you.”
(Jesus, from the Bible: Matthew 5:9 & 44.)
“Repel evil with good; then your enemy will become your closest friend.”
“He will replace with security the state of fear that they are in.”
(Prophet Muhammad, from the Qu’ran: 41:34 and 24:55)
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk
then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“As you press on for justice, be sure to move with
dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love.”
(Martin Luther King Jr from America, 1929-1968, was assassinated
for his peaceful messages of justice and equality.)
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable
faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
(Mohandas Gandhi, a pacifist Hindu from India, 1869-1948 – some of his ashes
were scattered at the source of the River Nile in Uganda.)
“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed
toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us
will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death
again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”
(Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013, was finally President of South Africa after being imprisoned for 27 years because of fighting for independence and equality.)
All these quotations are from people who advocated and lived out non-violent resistance as the only way to bring about peaceful change in the face of injustice.
And they all talked in some way about journeying, moving forward or walking
the way of love to bring justice, peace and equality.
WHAT STEP-BY-STEP WALKS ARE ABOUT
Step-by-Step Walks are about our intentions to move forward in solidarity and peace as we “accompany” Ugandans who, in 2021, are living under a de facto military regime. These walks can even be done in complete safety in our imaginations, at any time or place, if we are unable to walk.
We can all take one step at a time, no matter what our spiritual faith or religious beliefs are, no matter where we live in the world or what our circumstances are, no matter what our political affiliations are, or our age or (dis)ability.
Everyone is invited to join in, either on your own or with others,
in STEP-BY-STEP Walks of solidarity with Ugandans working for peace and justice.
Thousands of Ugandans have already “disappeared”. There are daily abductions and illegal detentions during which innocent people, even children, are tortured and killed simply for being associated with an opposition political party which nevertheless consistently advocates non-violence. No one who has been arrested or abducted has yet been brought to trial. Peaceful demonstrations demanding the release of all political prisoners are not tolerated.
The world is still unaware because of the lack of media coverage and the international community lacks the will to take action for complex reasons, not least that of self-interest. For more information about the situation, go to Crisis in Uganda in 2021.
WAYS OF WALKING STEP-BY-STEP for PEACE and JUSTICE at any time or place
- On your own, with your family, in a group, with your community – or even in your imagination;
- In your house, garden, compound or yard, church, mosque or park;
- A route of your choice or an organised route;
- Make your daily walks to work or shops or fetching water a Step-byStep walk for peace and justice in Uganda;
- Walk through a labyrinth (see below for explanation) in your home or garden or laid out in a public space;
- On specific days (see below for suggestions) – or on any day, every day or whenever you want to;
- In silent reflection or making conversation, singing or chanting;
- Carrying a stone or pebble representing a “disappeared” person (with or without names written on it) to lay in a special place or back in your home;
- Carrying a banner, flag or placard, or wearing red or T-shirt or beret with appropriate inscription;
- Place your feet on paper and draw an outline round them. Decorate with appropriate symbols and words about your Step-by-Step Walk.
Step-by-step walks can be done at any time, but if you want to organise a community, national or international event, here are some possible dates.
- May 12th – the day of the swearing in of the President of Uganda and Eid al-Fitr
- June 3rd – Uganda Martyrs Day which commemorates the first young Christian converts who were killed between 1885 and 1887 because they refused to give up their faith, the largest number being burned on June 3rd 1886.
- June 21st – 25th – CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) is being held in Kigali, Rwanda
- June 21st – 9th July – United Nations Human Rights Council in session
- July 20th – Eid al-Adha
- October 9th – Uganda’s Independence Day (1962)
SHARE YOUR STORIES, PHOTOS and “FEET” with us all
It would be a great encouragement to Ugandans, as well as to others taking part, if you would be willing to share something of your Step-by-Step Walk, however insignficant it may seem to you. We would also like to add photos of the outlines of your feet and other photos.
Because it isn’t possible for you to post photos directly onto this website, please send them to me by email or post them on a social media platform and then share the link in the form below.
PURPOSE OF LABYRINTHS
Labyrinths, as a way of walking with intention, were mentioned in #4 above. They are different from mazes in that there is only one way in from the outside which leads you, and everyone else, through to the centre. Unlike walking through a maze, which is designed to confuse and challenge, you cannot get lost in a labyrinth. The way out is the same as the way in.
Labyrinths are an ancient form of pilgrimage and spiritual activity that goes back thousands of years and are used in many religions. As a spiritual and emotional journey, it can take on significant meaning. There is something powerful about travelling deep into the centre, deep into the heart – of oneself, of life, of God, of humanity, of creation – and of suffering. As you walk round, it sometimes looks as though you are almost there – and then the path takes you away from the centre before finally bringing you back. It is also encouraging to know that others, both before you and after you, will walk the same way into the centre and then back out again, to continue living in the world and changing it peacefully.
In this context, as a way of walking in solidarity, it is suggested that you might carry a stone or pebble as you walk to the centre of a labyrinth, step-by-step along the same trail that others have also used, and lay your stone down to build a cairn in the centre with stones brought by others.
Labyrinths can be marked out on the ground by drawing lines in the earth or laying out lines of stones, candles, sticks or flowers to mark the edge of the path, or by cutting the grass short along the winding pathways. If there is no space to lay one out large enough to walk round, you can instead draw a small labyrinth on paper or the ground and then use your fingers to ‘walk’ it.
These are the simplest layouts for labyrinths but you can search for more complicated designs online or visit one already laid out (but make sure it is a labyrinth and not a maze). Here are maps of where labyrinths (and mazes) can be found in the UK and worldwide.
Please help ensure that no one feels alone whilst suffering in Uganda.
If you haven’t already signed and shared the Petition to the United Nations about the situation in Uganda, please also do that: https://www.change.org/Human-Rights-Violations-in-UGANDA-2021. Not enough people have signed yet to make a real impact on the UN.
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