Dec 072008
Authors: Madeline Novey

Over the weekend, Richard Reoch, world-renowned peace activist told people at his speaker series and meditation workshop “Making Peace Possible” that world peace is an achievable idea despite overwhelming public doubt.

Reoch, who said every person has a personal interest in peace during a time of increasing global conflict and war, said establishing peace starts with an individual before it is implemented in the war zone.

“World peace is achievable, there is no question about that,” Reoch said in an interview after his speech to about 110 people in the Lory Student Center Friday night. “Peace does not mean the absence of conflict in the same sense that no two snowflakes are alike. It is the idea that it is possible to appreciate and manage our differences with others; history shows that is possible.”

Officials said Reoch was a perfect candidate for the speaker series “Inviting Wisdom,” which featured six other speakers who shared insight on global and human issues and was sponsored by the Bohemian Foundation.

Saturday morning, Reoch continued a practical application of his Friday night talk by teaching a six-hour listening and meditation workshop in the Grey Rock Room in the LSC where they learned to achieve a more peaceful state-of-being.

Former global chief of Amnesty International in London, England and president of the Shambhala, a global network of Buddhist groups, Reoch, soft-spoken, told people Friday night that conflict, war and personal stress, a by-product of the two, is constructed in the human mind.

And while war creates extreme stress, Reoch said stress created in the home or as a result of the economy is equally legitimate and damaging.

“People are dealing with a rainstorm of fear with the turbulent situation with the economy,” he said. “The question is how do we deal with these stresses without perpetrating these problems.”

Reoch’s solution was that every person, regardless of their age or career, should take time to reduce aggression, which perpetrates conflict and war, to calm his or her mind and meditate.

No person can be effective in reducing the occurrence of negative global issues if they are too frazzled and without a sense of clarity Reoch explained and said that people need to learn to listen to develop peace in the home and mind.

Reoch first started his global peace efforts when he started working as a volunteer for Amnesty International when he was 23-years-old. After working on projects against the human rights violations in Tibet and the establishment of peace in India, Pakistan and other Asian countries, Reoch became the global media chief for AI and managed the department responsible for providing the media with information about the organization’s work.

Traveling around the world and presenting in “conflict” regions, Reoch most recently organized a Buddhist peace delegation that met with war victims, nuns and monks in Sri Lanka, an area ravaged by civil war off and on since July 1983. As a result of his actions, diplomats joined together to form the International Working Group, an international organization dedicated to furthering the establishment of peace on the island.

Over the years, the International Working Group has provided assistance to the more than quarter-million people trapped in the war zone on the island and is currently in the process of distributing tents and other supplies during the monsoon season.

Reoch encouraged people to achieve peace in their own lives in order to pass that on to others. He said people in the fields of social work, the mental health industry and law enforcement would benefit greatly from this idea as they are able to improve the often shattered and broken lives of domestic violence victims.

About 12 members of the Fort Collins High School Amnesty International group attended the talk Friday night and said that Reoch, as a prominent peace advocate and former Amnesty member, was a great inspiration for future human rights work.

“(Reoch) mentioned parts about listening without bias and I thought this was one of the most important parts because in Amnesty, this is something that is important with working with people,” said Ryan Campbell, a senior at Fort Collins High School and president of Amnesty International at the school, adding that he hopes the talk will help the organization to reach a greater number of people in the future.

“His message that we’re all concerned about peace helps to show that he’s not that different from you or I,” Campbell said.”

Bobby Elders, a personal friend of Reoch and community member and employee at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, said he enjoys Reoch’s talks because he embodies what he talks about in his ability to listen and slow down in life.

“He inspires me to look forward,” Elders said. “What he talks about is fundamental human nature; not just Buddhism. I really enjoyed seeing this and hearing him introducing this to people.”

Reoch said that he knows there is a future without war.

“We are in an era where it is more possible than ever before to achieve peace,” he said, noting that there is more institutions like the United Nations dedicated to this mission than in the past.

“Despite cruelty and violence, the human spirit is strong,” he said. “There is an indisputable point in history – all wars come to an end.”

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at

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