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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World
Number 8 June 2001

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 · Globalize peace!
 · Abandoned shoes
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 · Struggle abandoned...
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Towards a Culture of Peace

Abandoned shoes*

Abandoned shoes. That is what always remains of a riot. And sometimes holes in walls, traced like garlands from firing, depending on where it is. And these feet, that are now bare, do they always run? If so, where to? Have they realized only while fleeing that they have lost their shoes? Have they not lost their bodies as well?

In any case, the street is deserted now with nothing other than trampled shoes, remains of a struggle that must be explained in the article that accompanies the picture.

She clicks. It is urgent, It has to be faxed to be printed the next day. She puts away the shoes along with all the questions on the feet; silence too is in the camera. She will write the article back in the hotel.

In the room, the television hurls pictures of the crowd in movement. She cannot identify partisans of each camp, they are so similar. And in any case she doesn't quite understand why they are fighting since they all want the same thing : freedom, to be home, probably to be happy. She too wishes for the same and that is what everybody wants in their country. Yet people die… She scrutinizes the picture, forgets the commentator for a moment in order to find the shoes in the crowd. If only she could put a face to these feet, she wouldn't be so obsessed. But already the crowd is shouting, running falling and dust covers the feet. She barely had the time to notice that these feet were living. But till when? Especially now that they are far from their shoes.

She writes her article, the description of the violence here; it is similar to yesterday's. Too bad.

The plane takes off. In a few hours, he will finally meet the protagonists of this fight that has been in the news for the past weeks. He tries to forget the picture that has been haunting him since the previous day: shoes on the first page. He mechanically opens the newspaper -- today bare feet illustrate the article. A column of bare and dirty feet, tired of walking. But whose feet are they? The journalist did not find it right to name them; he agrees with her. How does it matter whose they are? They shouldn't be without shoes far from their home.

He tucks the article in his pocket. Perhaps he will show it to the people he will be meeting soon and ask them to identify these feet. They are so similar these feet: the same colour, the same form, the same desire to stop walking. In a fit of hope, he would like these people to agree that the feet need to find their shoes immediately, and that they should stop losing them! His small suitcase is heavy. Inside it lie all the wishes of the people who have stopped listening to each other. Then there are unfeasible demands and contradictions. There is also a beginning of peace, that he must prepare in the Treaty.

She sits opposite him in the waiting hall of the airport. She saw his face on the television in the hotel room, surrounded by tense smiles of the men who steal shoes off their feet. Her heart beats as she looks at the suitcase, and in her womb, she knows that a small heart is beating as well. All she hopes for is that the small heart grows in a world where shoes do not die in the dust of the road.

Béatrice Coletti (France)

* This text is the work of a student enrolled for the programme Humanitaire et Solidarité at University of Lyon-2. It was written as an answer to the question How to think of peace? for an exam of the course entitled "Promoting a peace culture" taught by l'Ecole de la Paix of Grenoble under the aegis of a UNESCO chair. The aim of this programme was to give pedagogical tools and knowledge, pertaining to various dimensions of peace culture, to students who are current and futur players of humanitarian organisations.

block print
"Lost shoes", Wakin

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