A Lasting Peace will be partnering with Alive Center in Naperville, Illinois on March 5th from 5:30-8:30pm for a special event and vegan potluck. U.S. Congressional Candidate and Professor of International Human Rights in Chicago, Benjamin Wolf will be the main speaker and proceeds from this event will support Hesed House, World Relief and Reclaim 13.
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Diana Piedra feels she has always been an activist. Her heritage is half hispanic, the other half being a mix of German, Irish and English. Being hispanic made her feel she was not quite the same regardless of her family’s outward good fortune or popularity at school.
“I learned I could be popular and still be an outcast; made to feel inferior in some way,” she recalled. “I decided, I can be an outsider and it’s okay. I don't want anyone to have to feel this way. I’m not going to back down when it isn't fun anymore and I’m not going to just shove things under the rug. It’s going to take some bad ass warriors to make a difference in the world because we can’t just continue to gloss over controversial issues.”
Because of this heightened awareness coming from a multicultural family, she had a desire to fight for fairness. Spirituality had always been a strong force in her life, but still, became an unclear journey for her until she found yoga. Yoga gave her a space where she could pray with her whole body and everyone, from all different backgrounds, could come practice together and be accepted.
After the elections, Diana created A Lasting Peace. A Lasting Peace is virtual community based on an idea. It is the desire to create something sustainable and real in our society. Here especially in this part of the world there is a false sense that everything is perfect, she says.
“It isn’t perfect and it doesn't have to be. It is our rough spots and our differences that create the character of our culture and I believe we should celebrate all that,” Piedra states. “But there is animal abuse and sex trafficking and all kinds of real issues that need to be addressed. Refugees are not what we should be attacking at this time. Refugees are escaping places where these issues and worse are rampant. We need to stand behind the refugees and provide a safe place. I am compelled to bring forth injustices to create awareness and get people to act. Not to just throw money at a problem, but to humanize the issue. We call it a problem, but they are people.”
by Lorene Keller Smith
Walk a mile…
Just over a year ago, I was already heartsick about the political climate and the utter intolerance I was hearing from strangers and acquaintances and even friends. Somewhere online, I saw posts about women wearing a hijab to show support for their Muslim friends. So I decided to see what it was like.
I approached a fellow parent at my kids’ school who is a devout Muslim. I wanted to make sure it would not be insulting to wear this. She was very encouraging, and the next day, she gifted me both the scarf in the picture and a copy of the Koran. I have yet to read the Koran, unfortunately, but I did find a day to wear the hijab.
First I had to figure out how to wrap it. I started googling, and could not believe the amount of choices presented to me. There must be at least 100 different ways to wrap the scarf, including using foam pieces to create more height in back. And the variety of fabrics and colors was amazing as well. This can be as much a fashion statement as any we have in non-Muslim (western) culture. I settled on a wrap style that looked easier to replicate, made sure to cover all my hair, and went about my day as normally as possible.
My husband and I had to go shopping that day. We were both really nervous about going outside/in public with me dressed like this. This was about the time that people were first being accosted for wearing any kind of head covering, and we really were not sure what to expect. He must have asked me 50 times if I was sure about going out wearing this. I think we both half expected to end up in a fight before we got home (my husband is very protective of me).
We shopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Target that day. The only person who even acknowledged my hijab was an elderly Muslim woman in Target who was wearing one also, and gave me the biggest smile and a head nod. Of course I did not poll anyone for their thoughts, and I do not know what they said out of range of us. We got home without issue, and I wore it around the house the rest of the day. My teenage daughter also dug out an extra scarf and tried it herself.
Oddly, I did not feel repressed or limited by it in any way. I would not choose to wear it all the time (does having a choice make it less repressive?), but the only thing I really felt was toasty warm! I am not sure how I would feel about it in the heat of summer, but in the middle of winter, it added a delicious warmth (I am always cold). I did not feel that it masked my personality in any way.
I am thrilled to see more hijabs represented in the mainstream, whether that is in sporting events or makeup advertisements. I also would like to try this again and see if I get other reactions. Anyone want to join me?