Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous GariwoNetwork

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A Garden of the Good in Jordan against hatred and terror

by Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo Chairman

Gabriele Nissim at the Garden of the Good

Gabriele Nissim at the Garden of the Good

To those who purpose hatred, war and violence, we respond with love, peace, non violence and forgiveness.

Is this madness, a utopia, an illusion, or an empty speech?

No, it isn’t. It is the greatest material and spiritual interest of the human being, as Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote. We develop our power and strength when we cooperate and act all together. We too often forget that, as human beings, we are very fragile beings on this earth. We are overly presumptuous when we think we can achieve results on our own and to the expense of others. Many times we are so stupid that we don’t even realize that unless we join all our forces, even our planet runs the risk of being ruined by the climate change that we ourselves have caused with our neglect and selfishness.

Today there is a danger in the world. People believe that closing themselves behind walls to remain with their own religion, territory, nation, and ego will make them happier. It is not true. Only sharing, peace, and a taste for plurality make us happier. Great doctors such as the Italian scientist Umberto Veronesi wrote that when people take care about their fellow human beings, they feel a sensation of well-being inside their brain. Good is in our DNA. Good is in human nature.

The reason is very simple. The human being is a social being. To be happy, we need to cooperate with the other human beings. When, instead, we shut our doors, we feel fear and anguish. There is nothing worse than closing oneself behind a boundary and living with the idea of the enemy in one’s mind.

The Christian message “love your enemy” sounds as absurdity or nonsense. How can we love those who do harm to us? Actually, that message invites us to free our souls from the obsession of an enemy. How heavy and depressing it is to feel hatred toward the others, and not find the strength to forgive and start over again! Those who hate the others and live in resentment and envy lead a very miserable and unhappy life.

However, there is a key issue. Good is always a free choice. Temptation can lead us to a wrong direction. Many times the humanity has taken the wrong way, embracing bloody regimes and launching itself into meaningless wars.

This is why we have a duty which, as Socrates had understood, will continue as long as the humanity exists: we must educate young people to responsibility and the value of Good. In Athens Socrates tried to wake up the conscience of citizens and teach what was right or wrong. There was no given remedy. Man had to learn to think by himself and see the world from the point of view of the others.

We of Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous, have thought that there is an innovative way to educate people to love and respect the other. We have called this as the diplomacy of Good.

We want to create in every country, in every nation, in every town a Garden of the Righteous, in which we shall dedicate trees to the best figures of the humanity.

These individuals are like masters, teaching us to practice virtue. The Righteous we honor urge us, like Socrates, to question our conscience. You can’t pass on Good with precepts and lectures, but first of all with positive tales and examples.

We like the idea that the Gardens become like a great theatre, in which we can educate people to the most beautiful and important relationship between human beings: friendship and the enthusiasm for love that represents the greatest antidote against the sick imagination of the enemy.

And what is the key lesson of every Righteous human being? We can find the best definition of this in the Bible and the Koran. Those who take care of even a single person and save his or her life, save the entire world. This is no rhetorical sentence: every time a human being suffers, is humiliated or dies, it is the whole humanity that loses a part of itself. If a piece of this world falls down, this is everybody loss. This is why we are all responsible for the safety of the entire world.

Why did we choose Jordan, after creating a hundred Gardens in Italy, Europe and the Middle East? I remember we have recently done so also in Tunisia and in Neve Shalom with Israelis and Palestinians.

The reason is that Jordan is an exemplary country in the face of the issues of our time. It has welcomed millions refugees. It is an example for its inclination for peace. It is on the forefront in the defence of the planet from the effects of climate change. It is a wall against the terrorist threat.

There are two fundamental things to say about the inauguration of this Garden of the Good.

First of all, Jordan has sought to launch a message, which is important for the whole Middle East: the equality between men and women. This is why the honoured figures include two great women such as Haifa’a Al Bashir, the president of the Jordanian Women’s Union who has done so much for women and children, and Zaha Jarnadaneh Manko, the founder of the Zaha Cultural Centre for Children.

And then I would like to remember two victims of terrorism, such as Prime Minister Wasfi Al Tal, murdered by the terrorists of Black September, and pilot Moath Al Kasasbeh, burnt alive by Daesh.

Remembering these figures in Jordan today means telling the world that the battle against terrorism can be won by teaching young people about the fundamental value of human life.

Those who tell people that they’ll go to Heaven by murdering human beings, and use the name of God to justify such criminal deeds, actually want to kill God Himself. They will build a hell for the entire humanity.

As Yasmina Khadra, a great Algerian and Muslim writer, taught us in his book The Attack, true heaven can be built only by saving lives and caring about human beings on this earth.

This is the great moral message we want to launch today from this Garden of the Good.

Analysis by Gabriele Nissim

27 October 2017

Garden of the Good in Jordan

inauguration ceremony

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