When I was about to give up in the middle of a hard workout, my friend David told me, “Piero, exercise is for those who can. Always remember that, and exercise for those who can’t.”
I just read a magazine full of touching stories of those who were affected by the bombs that went off at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Those are stories of pain and courage, of lives lost and lives saved. Stories of loss and recovery, of lost dreams and also new ones. Stories of separations and encounters. Stories of people coming together in the middle of the chaos to create new lifelong connections. Stories of bravery and of eternal gratitude. Stories that make me give thanks for everything I have, and move me to hug, and kiss, and express love for everyone.
I have a connection with Boston; that’s where my sons live. So when I go to Boston I experience the good feelings of being reunited with them. This in itself makes Boston a very special place for me. But Boston is much more than that… Boston is a vibrant city, a great cultural center where people from all over the planet, many of them college students, live together in harmony. And the Marathon is an expression of unity in diversity: people of all sizes, shapes and colors running together, volunteering together, cheering together, and celebrating life together.
Long distance running is very demanding, and can produce deep emotional experiences. Maybe the struggle to keep going when one is depleted of energy is what transports runners to that realm where they go beyond whatever limited conceptions they have of themselves and come to understand that we are all in this together. As I write these words I am wearing the One Planet United shirt we did for the Marathon, many years ago, which reads, “We all belong to the same race!”
I was moved to tears when I read the stories of those affected by the bombings. Those stories made me think again how fanaticism — be it religious, ideological or political — can separate us, and persuade some individuals to inflict unimaginable pain on other human beings. But those stories also gave me more reasons to continue doing the work I do to bring more peace to the world.
Maybe what I do is not a lot, but at least is something, and I am happy that I am doing something. I am happy that the Forces of the Universe have led me to do the work I have been doing through One Planet United, the Silent Peace Walks, the Dialogues in Diversity, the DAPA workshops, and the writing and speaking opportunities that allow me to spread messages of compassion, understanding, acceptance, peace, and unity. I am happy that through the work my friends and I do, we are helping people touch that source of peace that resides within each one of them, because it is from this inner peace that we bring peace in our families, communities, nations, and the entire world.
I hope the stories of those who lost their lives, those who were injured, those who would love to run a marathon but can’t anymore will continue to inspire me in the years to come. I hope I may remember those who will overcome immense challenges and cross that finish line to prove that there are no permanent defeats, only the ones we accept ourselves. May I honor them through my dedicated work for peace everyday.
I feel that I have been called to do this work, and that I have a lot of work to do. I am calling you to join me, and join other peacemakers throughout the world. Help us. We have work to do. Reflecting on what David said during that workout, I invite you to consider that we must do this work because we can do it. And we must do it for those who can’t.
Many runners will be running for those who can’t. Many will run to support worthy causes, or to honor their loved ones. I see the best of humanity in them. I know that they have already been touched, and that they already are kinder human beings. I hope they may continue to tap into this beautiful energy and engage in the work of changing the world for the better after the race is over.
So here’s my invitation:
Let’s be kind with one another.
Let’s hug each other.
Let’s express our love.
Let’s have fun together, all of us.
Let’s celebrate life.
Let’s renounce all violence.
Let’s work together to bring peace to our world.
Let us , each one of us, do something, anything, to bring more peace to our world, because everything we do for peace, no matter how small, adds up to bring about a culture of peace that one day will prevail in our world.
And for those of you who were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, those whose lives were deeply affected that day, I want to thank you for inspiring all of us to be kinder, more sensitive, more compassionate, more spiritual, more HUMAN human beings.
We are with you.
We cry together. We get puzzled by the insanity and violence together, but along the way we find one another, we hold hands, we find strength, we move forward, we smile, and we understand that we are all in this together.
Peace, my sister.
Peace, my brother.
Peace and Unity!