23 NOVEMBER: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WORDS

The Museum of Words (Museo de la Palabra in Spanish) is a non-profit organization, part of the Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation (Fundación César Egido Serrano in Spanish), whose ethos is to promote art and the use of dialogue as a tool to achieve peace between different cultures and religions. The museum is situated in Quero, province of Toledo, Spain. The museum started its journey of national and international presence with the motto: “the word is the bond of humanity” on 23 November 2009. It is the wish of the César Egido Serrano Foundation and therefore, the museum with its strong institutional support proposes to the United Nations (UN) for proclaiming the 23rd of November as INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WORDS. Thus this date has become the International Day of Words, albeit yet to be proclaimed. To celebrate the International Day of the Word as Bond of Humankind, from November 23, 2014, the Museum of Words honours to writers -whose works promote peace and concord between humans-with the title of “Ambassador of the Word”.

The Museo de la Palabra supports and encourages dialogue between different peoples, ideologies, religions, cultures, and sensibilities. It is a unique virtual museum of the world in which nothing is exposed, and that survives in the network, creating and promoting their cultural activities from this platform worldwide which is realized as a result of the communication of people of different cultures, ideas, and beliefs. As the main tool of the Fundación Cesar Egido Serrano, it allows the development of activities, whose main character is the word -spoken, written or in its various manifestations.

The main objective of the Museo de la Palabra, as an emblem of the Fundación César Egido Serrano, is to put value in a basic concept: “the word is the link between the people and the language is the structure that unites as individuals”. Hence, the word becomes the main tool of culture, understanding, and détente. And the word -dialogue- is the priority in relations aimed to overcome conflicts and violence. Therefore, the César Egido Serrano Foundation aims to the international diffusion of an idea: “The Word as a link of humanity, and against all forms of violence”. This is an effort that has to be made in all areas of public opinion, and at all levels to ensure that words and dialogue become the only weapon for the resolution of conflicts and differences amongst people.

I am convinced and totally support the foundation’s vision. In support of its vision, I would like to instance here the dialogues held between Honorable Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the opposition political parties. A total of 234 political leaders from 70 political parties and alliances took part in the weeklong (from November 1, 2018 to November 7, 2018) dialogue that lasted for 24 hours and five minutes. They discussed the ways of holding a free and participatory election in the talks. I would like to welcome all as they have given the opinion in favour of participation in the election. The outcome of the dialogue not only has stopped opening yet another new chapter of political uncertainty for the country and hence the conflict among the political parties on participation in the forthcoming National Parliament Election 2018 but also Kept the continuation of democratic trend and current development pace of Bangladesh that is marching forward. This was possible only through humble dialogue. It has also brought us some lessons which we have to take into account. Therefore, the word has to be the bond of humanity and the only way to resolve conflicts and eradicate of all violence must be dialogue. That without a doubt is the only way towards a lasting peace among the peoples, without discrimination of political or religious ideas. The Charter of the United Nations (UN) may be stated here: “We, the peoples of the United Nations, are determined to preserve succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in the fundamental rights of man, in the dignity and value of the human person, and with such purposes to practice tolerance and to coexist in peace as good neighbors” The precept of UN can be clarified by the following example: Bangladesh is now facing the largest forced movement in the shortest time of over 1.1 million traumatized Rohingyas. They have been forcibly displaced from their homes in Rakhine, the State of Myanmar where they had been living for centuries. Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina is resorting to dialogue instead of force with the International community and joining the high-level events on the global refugee issues organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for resolving Rohingya Crisis permanently. She is trying to create awareness among the world leaders for the abolishment of discriminatory laws, policies, and practices against the Rohingyas and creation of a conducive environment and a “safe zone” inside Myanmar by building trust and guaranteeing protection, rights, and the pathway to citizenship for all Rohingyas. Simultaneously, the Bangladesh Government is providing them with basic necessities and has already allocated over 6,000 acres of land for the Rohingya people. As a developing country with her own set of challenges, Bangladesh has provided shelter, protection and hope to the forcibly displaced Rohingyas. By doing so, Bangladesh has not only saved lives but also has stabilized the entire region by containing the crisis. Given the scarcity of land and other sociocultural and environmental impacts, Bangladesh is going to relocate them to a newly developed island where they will have better living conditions and livelihood opportunities. This is the responsibility of the leadership of the countries and must be the inheritance to future energetic and enthusiastic generations to establish the UN Charter. The awareness, commitment and the belief that the word is the bond of humanity, is the value that can prevent civil strife, national and international conflicts, and even world war, despite the continuing threats. Peace is no longer a wish, common sense leads to the belief that it is the only way. It is not an easy task, I know, but I am hopeful about the future. We all talk about utopias. Many of those utopias are now realities, have come into being. Time has been passing. But still much remains to be done. We must continue dreaming and offer the resources available and selfless contribution to achieve our dreams. Therefore, I would like to request the United Nations (UN) to proclaim, promote and celebrate 23 November as “INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORD” as for the peaceful advancement of world society, that dialogue, and therefore the word, is the only means of understanding among the peoples. I agree to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that affirms that “Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion (Article 18), of opinion and expression (article 19) and that education will promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations and all ethnic and religious groups (article 26)”.

Thanks to the César Egido Serrano Foundation and the Museum of the Word for appointing me as an “Ambassador of the Word”, on the 23rd of November 2018, in commemoration of the anniversary of the word as a bond to humanity—coinciding with the date that the Museum of the Word opened. I am deeply humbled by this appointment and for this tribute. And I try to reflect the same that is the non-violence ideals of the Foundation in my writing. Along with foundation’s vision: Using the Word as a Tool against Violence, I would like to quote the English words “The pen is mightier than the sword” first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu or The Conspiracy and few inspiring words of a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar and theologian Jalal Uddin Rumi whose work highlights the power of literature in its ability to transcend time, language and geographic locations: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder”. We hope these words of wisdom will inspire us to harness the power of positive thinking and become a tool for generations to come for resolving current conflicts. We can convoke by saying “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” I would like to add another quote of Rumi, the medieval Sufi mystic whom Time magazine calls “the most popular poet in America”, from “The Big Red Book”- a poetic masterpiece celebrating mystical love and friendship from Jalaluddin Rumi translated by acclaimed poet and Rumi interpreter Coleman Barks: “All religions. All this singing. One song. Peace be with you.”

We all should work to persuade with kind words rather than aggressive actions. Then, Love will find its way through all languages on its own. Writers should take a solemn promise to sing like the birds, not worrying about who hears or what they think, put their words on tired minds to awake and open up their heart and mind to the beauty that lies within them. For a beautiful future, “We should stop wars, resolve conflicts, eliminate negativity, tribalism, nepotism, corruption and all other vices but together we must drop our weapons.”- And I would like to set the following examples to get these few precepts across to my readers : 6, 264 pirates of 26 different groups, who operated in the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest-the Sundarbans that plays an important role in the economy of the southwestern region of Bangladesh as well as in the national economy; offers its resources to around 1.5 million people to earn their livelihoods ; stretched over more than 10,000 square kilometres in Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal, have formally surrendered their arms before November 1, 2018. To rehabilitate this former bandits, Government of Bangladesh has taken up a rehabilitation initiative called “Shunarbaner Hashi” to stop their criminal activities and help them return to normal life giving every bandit legal assistance, cash donations, employment opportunities, a mobile phone set; sewing machines and Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) cards to pirate families. The Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh declares “Sundarban” as the zone free from pirates on 1 November 2018 at a function through video-conference from her official Gono Bhaban residence. And the ‘Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord ,1997’, signed between the Bangladesh Government and the United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts that controlled the militia, allowed for the recognition of the rights of the peoples and tribes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh and ended the decades-long insurgency between the militia and government forces.

Therefore, we should use the word to stop the violence and reach for peace, resist hatred and think unity, love. We should take an oath to make peace between one another. We should engage ourselves in service aimed at the welfare of human beings irrespective of caste and creed. In this context, the saying of World Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) may be mentioned here. “Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayers? Making peace between one another: enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.” On a final note, the world we live in will not be a utopia though but a better place only when everyone will be considered human enough to be respected and loved.

This is an endeavor from my part to live up to the high responsibility and trust associated with this esteemed appointment (Ambassador of the Word) by the venerated institution “Fundación César Egido Serrano” and the “Museo de la Palabra”. You can learn more about the Spanish organization and its noble mission at the links below: https://www.fundacioncesaregidoserrano.com/en/