After reading my post on Day Two, a friend asked a perfectly reasonable question: “What is the takeway for you each year you attend this Forum?”
My answer: exhausted as I am, back home after the third and final full day of the Forum: I feel, as I’ve heard said in another context, “touched, moved and inspired” – an energized exhaustion. I’m ready to go another round, and when the next Forum convenes at Augsburg (March 7-9, 2013), I’ll be there, Lord willing.
I’ll likely do a fourth post in the next few days, attempting to summarize the many takeaways from this years Forum. These takeaways will all be simple: in short, I came to conclude, as I was driving home an hour or two ago, that the Forum’s official theme: “The Price of Peace”, is essentially an identical twin of the occasional play on the phrase that I heard the last three days: “The Prize of Peace”. They are tied to each other.
You can’t win the prize, without personally and individually paying the price. Peace is not a spectator sport, where you simply pay for admission and watch the action.
In many and diverse ways the assorted speakers and performers demonstrated these ‘twins’. But that’s for later.
As before, video of today’s major sessions, featuring F.W. deKlerk and Naomi Tutu (Desmond Tutu’s daughter), are archived here (see first two programs archived there).
A small photo album of my experience today is below.
I need to comment, briefly, on former S. Africa President F. W. deKlerk, this years honored Laureate.
I’m like most people: there’s far too much information, too many issues, and too little time to absorb more than a smidgen in particular areas or passions. In this manic 21st century, we all become ‘specialists’ in our own bias or interest. This causes intellectual shortcuts about everything else which result in generalizations that often are not fair or accurate.
I’ve been involved with Augsburg and the Peace Prize program for the last four years, and when I heard that F. W. deKlerk had been engaged as speaker for this years Forum, I wondered why.
Apartheid came to mind of course, and we’d seen Invictus (excellent), and most everybody knows about Nelson Mandela, and I wasn’t aware Mandela and deKlerk were co-laureates in 1993.
September 15, 2011, I wrote Forum Executive Director Dr. Reed a short memo: “I know F.W. deKlerk has been engaged for the 2012 Forum/Festival. This summer I had occasion to read Naomi Klein’s NYTimes Bestseller “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. It might be good for you to take a look at Chapter 10 of that book pp 245-275. Its “Democracy Born in Chains: South Africa’s Constricted Freedom. The book, now a few years old, is widely read, and in many ways prophetic of our present day.”
Said book wasn’t especially kind to post-free election South Africa.
So, I had “[pre]judged the [deKlerk] book by its cover”.
Rushing to judgement is always a dangerous proposition.
Yesterday, President deKlerk made my day, as described in yesterday’s post, here. Here he was, a real human being sitting three feet or less from me, one of the most important persons I’ve ever been in proximity with, identifying with and obviously moved by those First Graders singing from the heart….
Last night we were one of those privileged to meet him in person, and have our photo taken with him. Lynn and Donna Elling were with us – we had our photo taken together – and I gave Mr. deKlerk my card which features the website, A Million Copies, which honors the immense contributions to peace of Mr. Elling and Prof. Joe Schwartzberg.
President deKlerk put the card in his pocket, and if I’m lucky he’ll take a look at the site sometime.
The two personal close calls with the human being deKlerk opened up a greatly enhanced listening space for me when I heard him speak this morning. His remarks on-line speak abundantly for themselves.
As for me, I’ve learned once again that important lesson: never pass up the opportunity for personal contact with someone you don’t think you’ll like. Maybe you might learn something…about yourself.
Thanks Nobel Institute, Augsburg College, and everyone who made this years Forum possible.
It was great.
Here are a few photos from today (click on photos to enlarge):
Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Institute here