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, where greed was virtually unknown, where the rare arguments and disagreements were settled calmly and with ease–and where some, despite Western encroachment, maintain that lifestyle today. Today!
They are the Ladakhi. They live in the shadow of the Himalayas in Northern India, 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. In her book, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, she 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 ways threatened their way of life just as they have 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,” 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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