I want to share the following story that was originally written by Murat Yagan, an Abkhazian Elder and peace educator, who has been mentoring our community development and violence prevention programs since 1999. Our non-profit organization, New Horizons Support Network, Inc. is committed to sharing this story everywhere we can now. Having successfully presented this story, once again, as the centerpiece for our March 25, 2012 (Almost) Annual Abkhazian Dinner, we came away with certainty that this story must be shared now to a growing audience.
After thirteen years experience with this story as an introduction to our community development process, we know it to offer an experiment that can lead to social change, if done with a serious minded group of people.
In keeping with our renewed and expanded committment to sharing this story, New Horizons is now beginning to present the original story (edited by Sue deVeer) as an online interactive process.
You can see our series of “Bus Ride-related stories” that expand on the main story (posted and linked below) at:
And the main Bus Ride story, edited version by Sue deVeer at: http://zonesofpeacenh.blogspot.com/p/bus-ride-story.html
We very much hope that others will read the main story and pass it on., as well as our follow up posts and join your peace mission with our's.
Our Bus Ride Story
Excerpted from “Building Up a Kebzeh Community” by Murat YaganEdited by Sue deVeer. Posted by permission of Murat Yagan and the Kebzeh Foundation.
Imagine you are taking a trip from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska, on a bus of 50 passengers. No one knows each other. You anticipate the trip will take seven days, sleeping in the bus overnight, a non-stop ride.
Soon after the bus takes off, a passenger gets up, walks to the front of the bus, turns his face to the passengers and addresses them:
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for a moment. We are engaged to a trip of seven days together. It is a small adventure. I want to propose that we use this time together by experimenting with an interesting social game. "
Passengers ask: “What kind of social game, can you clarify a bit?"
“I am a community development educator and an author. And, I am proposing that we fifty people on this bus use our time by doing something transformative with it. If you will agree to it, by the end of this adventure, we may reach, step by step, a higher consciousness, personally and collectively, that can enhance our human potential, and thus effect our families and our communities.
“We are a group of fifty people here. We do not know each other; it may seem at a superficial glance that we do not have anything in common. But if we extend our thinking a slight step further, we can see that we have at least one thing in common; we are travelling companions. We can never know what will be the unforeseeable events on our way; any pleasant or unpleasant incident may draw us to a sharing from which some bonds may develop. These bonds may grow into friendship so close that with a deliberate effort, this group of fifty people may turn into a community.
“With this great potential at hand, I am suggesting that we apply a formula to our time together which comes from one of the most ancient teachings of mankind. The peoples of this ancient tradition, which goes back to before the time of Noah’s ark, learned to live together and with all of life, cooperatively in peace and harmony, by applying certain principles that still survive today though the peoples are now widely dispersed.
“I am proposing that by applying the formula I am offering we can turn this group of people, who even do not know each other, into a community by the end of this bus ride. Any group of people can be turned into community: a town, a city, a nation or all the inhabitants of a planet, using the proper formulae”
There are some voices from passengers saying: “Let’s try it.” Some discussion takes place between the passengers, and finally they say, ”Okay, okay, we all agree. "
The speaker says: “That is fine. Since everyone agrees, let's go ahead: Now, the first condition for any group of people to become a community is to want it.
“The second step is to have a common object of interest. This common interest can be anything; a common hobby, a common goal to reach, an ideal, a belief. In our case here we are seeking to have a lovely time together and this is precisely the link which allows us to consent to our experiment here.
"The third step is that the participants should generate an experience of unity. This unity should engender a general sense of overall well-being in the group; a certain special kind of vibration. This vibration is the final element that will lead the group to becoming a community.
“Now we come to how to generate this prevailing vibration in our group. In the tradition I use as my system of education, there are 14 essential human traits that develop the character of community. Unfortunately among many today these characteristics often remain undeveloped or underdeveloped. This is why there are so few real communities now, at least as I would define “community.” Only as these innate characteristics are genuinely practiced in human relationships can communities truly develop and be sustained,
“As you will see as we embark on our experiment, human beings are like the pebbles on the beach; if we collect them into a pouch and carry them with us, they will rub against each other, polishing one by the other. In many ways our bus is like that pouch and we, sitting here on it, are like the pebbles. On our journey from New York City to Anchorage, we will polish one another when we apply the formula I am offering. This formula, when applied to humans engenders a community with the proper vibration for social unity and personal transformation.
“Using our formula, our main task will be to strive to put these 14 human attributes to use in all that we do with one another each and every day. And to willingly, self-assess our day-to-day commitment and actions as we direct these attributes to our interactions with one another.
“The benefits of this experiment will become clear as we proceed. We shall grasp these benefits and their significance as we move along, practicing the greater expression of each of these natural human traits in our conversations and daily interactions together. For at first we will need to make the effort to consciously practice these human virtues, until they become a new habit, no longer requiring conscious effort to apply, making it one’s natural and spontaneous way of behaving.”
At this point the speaker offers each of the bus riders a sheet listing the 14 attributes and guidelines in order to take a daily personal inventory for the adventure on this bus ride.
Here our story ends.
You can find a list of these 14 attributes at this link. If you attended our Abkhazian Dinnerevent, you can also find this in your events handouts on page 4.
For stories related to these 14 attributes and their application, see this link.