Sunset  
A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE  
  
 
 
 
 

 
 
Director's Statement

 

Peace on earth. Can we ever really achieve it? It has long been the most elusive ideal throughout the history of mankind. Today we are surrounded by conflict. Conflicts like the war in Darfur, the Iraq War and the 60-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict make it difficult to even conceive of a global peace. And what about our local wars – gangs, drug dealers, racism, etc.? Everywhere we look conflict wants to control us. What can we do if we’re not directly involved?


I believe there is an answer and it doesn’t include fighting. In my lifetime I’ve witnessed a number of events that seemed impossible. Among them were the “Velvet Revolution” – a non-violent overthrow of the Czechoslovakian Communist Government – the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain. For the most part, these events were relatively peaceful. But how did it happen? Remembering my visit to Czechoslovakia the summer before the Velvet Revolution I recalled an obvious stirring of thought and a growing interest in religion that led to the rebuilding of many churches and the enthusiastic attendance of mid-week church services. I began to wonder what, if any, role spirituality and religion may have played in the Velvet Revolution and other peace efforts.


In 2005 I was fully introduced to what is, today, a relatively unknown peace treaty that occurred in Portsmouth, NH more than 100 years ago which ended a war between Japan and Russia. This war has since been referred to as World War Zero because of the large number of nations supporting each side. The peace conference was hosted by the U.S. and President Theodore Roosevelt received a Nobel Peace Prize for his organization of the event. Living just outside of Portsmouth, I took a natural interest in this peace treaty and decided to explore it further. During my research I came across the idea of multi-track diplomacy, which states that many official and unofficial groups and individuals are necessary to produce a positive result. Immediately I reverted to my question of what role religion and spirituality played in reaching peaceful solutions. Surely the idea of multi-track diplomacy included religion and spirituality. As I continued my research I looked for opportunities to link spirituality to the events leading up to the Treaty of Portsmouth.


Not being a typical angle taken with such events, I felt it would be a good opportunity for a documentary that could shed light on the importance of spirituality and religion in support of peace. In the case of the Treaty of Portsmouth, members of both the Japanese and Russian delegations spent time in religious services or prayer. The Russian negotiator kept a journal of his spiritual insights during the negotiations, while Japanese delegates attended a spiritually uplifting meeting hosted by Sara Farmer at the Green Acre Baha’i School in Elliot, ME.


Making this affair even more interesting is the fact that it happened in the U.S., which was not involved in the conflict up until that point. Americans had no real reason to care about this treaty or these foreign combatants. Yet they did. There were countless stories of the selfless love and sincerity shown by locals wanting to see this conflict resolved peacefully. They held special church services, meetings and activities for the delegates and it wasn’t just the residents of Portsmouth either. There are reports of people everywhere praying in their own way for a peaceful resolution. Mary Baker Eddy was one of these people. A spiritual healer and church leader, Mrs. Eddy had proven on numerous occasions the effectiveness of prayer without being immediately present.


I have been asked what the significance of such spiritual efforts mean for us today. This documentary gives what I believe are concrete examples of people effectively working for peace from a spiritual/religious standpoint today. I became fascinated with the spiritual and religious overtones of the Peace Treaty of Portsmouth, and found these elements to be not only vital but also to suggest that spirituality is an essential dimension for attaining global peace.


 

 
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