A better way

...Near Tiloknath temple, Lahaul

Image: Near Tiloknath temple, Lahau; Photographer: Himalayan Trails on Flickr – Creative Commons attr. 2.0 generic

Imagine a world without war

Imagining a world without war is not as difficult as it sounds.

Long before that moment in 2005, when hope for a non-warring world nearly left my heart, I learned of a peaceful culture, an ancient culture, where the people lived in harmony with the land and each other for hundreds of years. There greed was virtually unknown. Rare arguments and disagreements were settled calmly and with ease. Despite Western encroachment, some in this far-off, seemingly inhospitable land manage to maintain that peaceful lifestyle today. Today!

They are the Ladakhi. They live in Northern India, in the shadow of Himalayan peaks, in one of the most punishing climates in the world. Yet they enjoy an abundance of good health, plenty of free time to party and play, and faces so serene tourists photograph them because they beam with a happiness few of us experience in our day to day.

Hope for humankind

Thanks to linguist, author and activist Helena Norberg-Hodge, we know a great deal about the people of Ladakh. Her book, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, tells their story. It is a story filled with hope for all humankind.

For literally hundreds of years, despite harsh extremes of weather—some of the most extreme on Earth—the Ladakhi succeeded brilliantly in their economical, bountiful, joyful lifestyle. Then we westerners came to shame them into thinking they were poor and backward. Our new, “improved” version of society, with its greed, speed and need threatened their time-honed way of life just as it has every culture into which we have injected ourselves. Yet the people of Ladakh shine today like a beacon of refuge and safety.

It is their story that first inspired, and continues to drive, my vision of the world of Ordinary, for if one culture has learned to live in harmony with the Earth and each other, surely the rest of us can learn to do so.

On the next page, “Learning from Ladakh,” thanks to Norberg-Hodge, I’ll show you a bit more about this far northern region of India and its people who lived so happily, healthily and well before we westerners brought monoculture, Barbie’s and Rambo to the region.

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We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, © L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.

Previous: A World at War

Next: Learning from Ladakh

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