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Friday, February 5, 2010

Protecting the U.S. homeland: waging peace instead of war


Photo left: Julie Costa of Global Volunteers


Since 9/11, the United States has understandably been preoccupied with defending itself against terrorists, and we continue to expend vast amounts of blood and treasure in fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


In the meantime, we’ve paid little attention to those who have chosen to wage peace instead of war, e.g., Julie Costa of Global Volunteers and Dr. Adil Ozdemir, a teacher and interpreter of Islam at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn.


A volunteer manager for Global Volunteers, Julie has personally served on volunteer teams at four domestic sites and in 13 different countries:


Julie speaks movingly of her experiences serving on volunteer teams, which have included helping build a preschool in a fishing village in Ghana, West Africa; holding abandoned babies in Romania’s former iron-crib; debating human rights issues with college students in China; and providing literacy based tutoring to Cook Islanders in the South Pacific.

“Every one of these experiences has changed me in a profound way,” Julie said. “It is a much more intimate experience than going somewhere as a tourist. Virtually everyone who returns from serving on a team says the same thing, ‘I got back much more than I gave.’ That has always been my experience, as well.”

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In his peace waging efforts, Dr. Adil Ozdemir (photo on right) a native of Turkey, reminds his students of the commonalities among major world religions:

The Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have several important foundational ideas in common beginning with monotheism, Adil explains. He points out that although there may be subtle differences among them, "each of these faiths teaches that every person deserves dignity, integrity, and respect with utmost love and care."


Adil reminds us that members of the above religions hold in common principles of human freedom and responsibility in caring for creation that ultimately lead to judgment and accountability. He notes that Islam, the youngest of the three faiths, honors Jesus, respects the Judaic and Christian prophets, and reveres the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, while at the same time offering new revelations by Mohammed.



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