Peace Building in District 5495

Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24
Dear Friends of Peace,
Imagining Peace before you fall asleep may predispose the subconscious mind to enable pleasant dreams. Dreams that may provide guidance if you choose to embark on the:
37th Ripple of Peace: Go on a vision quest of Peace.
Native Americans marked the transition of young boys into manhood through vision quests. An adolescent boy was sent into the desert or forest for several days or longer, dependent only on himself for survival, until he received a vision of what his future would hold or what direction his life was to take. Today numerous spiritual and adventure oriented tour companies sponsor vision quests, with guided activities leading up to and  following participants' solo journeys into the wilderness.
If this idea call to you, check out what is available in your area and online. Then sign up for a guided quest to clarify your vision of Peace. Or consider going on an extended solo camping trip or taking short trips in nature, to contemplate what Peace is for you. Chances are that your foray into the territories of self reliance and silence will offer up new insights and inspiration for creating Peace in your life.
From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.
For those of us that have settled into the latter season of life, the idea of embarking on a traditional vision quest may be a daunting consideration. Still, as the journey of a thousand miles represents a grand trek, the visions along the way will only be revealed once we embark.
May you receive your vision of Peace
Past District Governor Larry Horton has been accepted into the Peace Activators Program in partnership with Rotary, Positive Peace and the Institute for Economic and Peace Partnership.
Larry will be traveling to Evanston for 20 hours of Activator training in late August. He will then commit to two years of programs to spread the message of Positive Peace in the region as an Activator in the North American and Caribbean Program.
“I’m truly honored to be selected and I’m excited to see what service opportunities open up for my fellow Rotarians and non-Rotarians,” said Larry.
According to the Rotary Positive Peace Activator Selection Committee, the Selection Committee was both surprised and delighted by the high number and quality of applications. The final selection of Activators reflects the diversity of applicants and was based on a careful balancing of factors, including commitment to and experience in peacebuilding; geographic location; and organizational affiliation.

Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24

Dear Friends of Peace,

I hope you gave your body the gift of bodywork or just moved a bit more than usual. Newton's First Law of Motion, "A body in motion stays in motion: a body at rest stays at rest," serves as reminder of the benefit of "staying in the game of life."

When you've expended enough energy, recuperating in the:

"35th Ripple of Peace: Create sacred space in your home.


The space in our homes conducts light and energy and can detract from or add to our sense of Peace. By creating sacred areas within our living environment, we can maximize the positive effects of our outer space on our inner space.

Identify an area within your home that you choose to designate as your sacred space, a place where you can get away from busy-ness and stress to find inner safety and Peace. Imbue that area with love and harmony by declaring your intention for its use. Then arrange the space to suit its purpose, including a place to sit or meditate, an altar, or whatever comforts you. Burn incense and candles in your space to help create a peaceful atmosphere.

Use your sacred space daily to practice spiritual rituals, pray, meditate, read uplifting books, or listen to Peaceful music. Notice how the Peace from your sacred space begins to permeate the rest of your house.

From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

I was introduced to a western version the Hindu puja practice while living in a spiritually focused artist collective. This variation of an ancient tradition placed emphasis on maintaining a inner and outer sacred space.


The physical puja served as a reminder of the commitment to this practice. Through this practice I developed an awareness of the benefits resulting from honoring the commitment.


A commitment that is practiced to this day.


May you know and be Peace.


Thirty years ago, when I embarked upon my spiritual path, my ability to create any semblance of sacred space was severely hampered by childhood trauma. I was advised, "If you can't do anything else, keep a clean kitchen."
That seemingly simple practice, similar to "wax on, wax off," resulted in an awareness of the power of intention. I invite you to set an intention to practice the:
"36th Ripple of Peace: Imagine Peace before you fall asleep each night.
Most of us are intimately familiar with the problems and conflicts in our lives and in the world. By using our imaginations each night before we go to sleep, we can become increasingly familiar with what is like to live in Peace. And the more we know what it feels like to be Peaceful, the more easily we can access our inner Peace whenever we choose.
Right before you drift off to sleep, imagine what your life is like when specific conflicts are resolved and when Peace pervades your life. Put yourself in the picture of your mind's eye. Make it real.
  • What does the sensation of Peace feel like?
  • Where are you and what are you doing?
  • What do you hear, see, smell, touch and taste?
  • Who is with you?
  • What do you feel?
  • What is different in you life?
Feel grateful for your imagined Peace as you fall asleep.
Repeat the exercise each night, carry the Peaceful feelings with you throughout the day, act as if Peace prevails, and notice how your life begins to change.
From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.
Setting the intention to imagine Peace is as easy as keeping a clean kitchen. By frequently doing the dishes the mess can't build up. By imagining Peace before you fall asleep each night, you are cleaning the kitchen of your mind.
May you experience the sweet dreams of Peace.


Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24

Dear Friends of Peace,

Compassion is the gift that keeps on giving. While the gift of compassion is extended to others, the act is reflected onto the giver.

The practice of compassion may be ensured by the:

"33rd Ripple of Peace: Create a Peace theme for the year.

It is common practice to set goals for ourselves at the beginning of a new year. Unfortunately, many of us abandon these goals within one or two months.

Instead of establishing goals this year, consider creating a theme for yourself that relates to Peace. A theme gives you a solid framework for your choices and actions throughout the year, while being flexible enough to accommodate occasional slips.

Pick one theme for the entire year. Cultivate inner Peace, being more compassionate with others and participating in events or organizations for Peace are excellent Peace themes.

Consider expanding your theme by creating a specific activity for each month. If your theme is to cultivate inner Peace, for example, you might begin to read inspirational books in January, start meditating in February, add walks in nature to your routine in March, and so forth.

Post your theme where you will see it every day and be patient and gentle with yourself as you go through the year. If you miss an opportunity to act on your theme, just reaffirm your commitment for the next time.:

From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

Now sharpen those pencils and write your "To Do" list for Peace.

May you know and be Peace.



Dear Friends of Peace,

Some of you may have thought, "Great ... another thing to do in my already busy life!" Yet, that's the value of a To Do list  ... they help us get things done that are important to us Peacebuilders.

One of the most important things we can do is honor the physical vehicles known as our bodies. An effective way "To Do" this to surf the:

"34th Ripple of Peace: Explore various forms of bodywork and movement.

Tensions accumulate in the body. Plus, many of us unknowingly hold our bodies in certain postures that may help us suppress deep feelings or reinforce self-limiting thoughts. Bodywork and certain forms of movement can help us relax, enhance the flow of energy throughout our bodies, and open the door to new freedom of expression and Peace. They may even aid in certain physical and emotional ailments that interfere with our feelings of contentment and ease.

Examples of bodywork include many forms of massage, the Alexander Technique, Hellerwork, Tragerwork, the Feldenkrais Method, Rolfing and reflexology, acupressure, therapeutic touch, and polarity therapy. Examples of movement include dance, Eurythmy, the Continuum, Tai Chi and Qigong.

Find out what is available in your area and explore the types of bodywork or movement that appeal to you. If you find yourself strongly drawn to a particular form of bodywork or movement, consider taking a course or getting certified as a practitioner. 


From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

I often reference the quote, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I invite you to begin your journey to honoring your body with a single breath.

When I began my journey, I was encouraged to "follow my breath." By following the breath into our nose, expanding the belly, gently holding for a moment and slowly exhaling through the mouth, we develop an awareness of an often-unconscious activity that sustains our body.

Once this awareness is developed, the benefits of bodywork and movement will become fully known. 

May you know and be Peace.


Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24
Dear Friends of Peace,
The joy brought by playing with young children is infectious, in a good way. The opportunity for our inner child to express itself can result in neutralizing matters that distract our adult selves. 
A great way connect with young children is by practicing the:
"31st Ripple of Peace: Become involved in a religious or spiritual community that speaks to your heart.
The communion of spirit that occurs in a religious or spiritual setting can enliven our personal sense of Peace. The more aligned we are with the philosophy and practice of the group, the greater the benefits.
Find a community, however large or small, traditional or new, with which you feel a heart connection. Attend meetings or services and take part in group activities on a regular basis.
From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.
Those of us that are blessed by being part of a religious or spiritual community know the value of this ripple. Earlier today. I met a new member of my church. He then introduced his five children ranging from one to thirteen years in age.
Following the introduction, I spoke with our Youth Services Director about a creative fundraising project. I'm looking forward to sharing the project with our new member and his family.
This wouldn't happen if I wasn't already surfing this ripple.
May you know and be Peace.

Dear Friends of Peace,

Many of you know I experienced a near death experience thirty years ago. This life changing experience coincided with the beginning of my journey to become a man of faith.

Faith that introduced the importance of practicing the:

"32 Ripple of Peace: Cultivate compassion.

The road to Peace is paved with compassion.

Compassion is often seen, as it is in the Buddhist tradition, as more than a sense of sympathy or the recognition of another person's suffering. It encompasses a sustained commitment to help alleviate that suffering. True compassion requires that we allow ourselves to feel the pain of others without shutting down our minds or closing our hearts to them.

Cultivate compassion within yourself for the people in your life and throughout the world. Open your heart. Practice seeing through the eyes of another.

Remember to be compassionate towards yourself as well.

From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

"Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living beings, man will not himself find Peace."

                                                                  Albert Schweitzer

May you know and be Peace.


Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24

Dear Friends of Peace,

Maintaining silence can be an excruciating exercise. Throughout our lives we have been conditioned to "express yourself, stand up, speak out!" Yet with practice and intention, we can achieve the ability to maintain silence at a moment when we might "need" to say something.

This practice will contribute to benefiting from the:
"29th Ripple of Peace: Be attentive to your body's messages.

Our bodies are storehouses of thoughts and feelings. They send us messages that can help us maintain our Peacefulness.

Pay attention to what your body tells you. Notice how your body reacts when you are tense or anxious and how it feels when you are calm and serene.

Chances are that feelings of anger, frustration and fear cause your muscles to tighten, your head to hurt, or your stomach to churn. Your whole body may seem tense or tightened. These feelings of contraction may precede full blown thoughts of anger, fear, or other emotions that can disrupt your inner Peace.
As you become aware of subtle tensions in your body, you can experiment with ways to release that tightness and to relax. You might take a walk, go swimming, meditate, get a message, practice yoga, or listen to soothing music. You might purposefully alternate contracting and relaxing the major muscles in your body until you feel at ease.
Practice interpreting and responding to your body's signals to sustain your sense of contentment and Peace.
From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.
Our bodies are the vehicles by which we navigate the earthly realm. As with an automobile, these vehicles may require a major overhaul without regular maintenance. By being attentive to your body's messages, you are honoring this incredible means to experience life.

May you know and be Peace.

Dear Friends of Peace,

Paying attention to our body's messages can be a life saver, especially as we age. By listening to the subtle messages and gut feelings we will stick around long enough to benefit from the:
"30th Ripple of Peace: Play with young children.
Anytime we connect with the playfulness of a child, or see the world through a child's delight, we open a channel to Peacefulness. In addition, our willingness to meet a child on his or her terms serves to strengthen that child's sense of safety and well-being.
Make time to play with children. Ask them what they like to do. Allow the child within you to surface. Tell stories. Invent new games. Be silly. Roll in the grass. Color, paint or draw. Sing goofy songs. Laugh.
Notice how fast the time flies.
From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.
I recently introduced the idea to create a Peace Pole comprised of painted ceramic tiles to a local Interact Club. During a recent work session, I saw and heard joyful expressions from these "children" that are quickly becoming young adults.
My hope is they come to know the inner Peace, they brought me. 
May you know and be Peace.
On April 5-6, D5495 Rotary Peace Fellowship Subcommittee Chair Tony Cerato attended the 21st Annual Spring Peace conference at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
The highlight was seeing our own D5495 Peace Fellow Mustafa Rezaie present a talk on humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. 
After applying via D5495, and being selected by the Peace Centers in November of 2021, D5495 Rotarians answered the call to help Mustafa when he could not depart Afghanistan due to the unrest and Taliban takeover. Thankfully, we were able to move Mustafa, his wife, and two young daughters to Pakistan, and eventually to North Carolina. 
Rotarians from Pakistan and North Carolina helped make this happen. It was truly a Rotary International collaboration of many months that resulted in the positive outcome.  Mustafa has excelled at the Duke-UNC program.  His wife is learning English, and their two girls, who attend elementary school, are now fluent in English.
Mustafa is holding his Certificate for successfully completing the requirement for the curriculum of study at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. In May he will receive his master's degree.
We hope all of you in D5495 are proud of what you have made possible for Mustafa and his family.  Rotary has given them hope and a new life.  Thanks for supporting The Rotary Foundation and The Rotary Peace Centers.
A reminder:  we are still taking applications through May 15. Spread the word.  Please go to and click on the Peacebuilding Tab, and then to our Peace Fellowship / Peace Centers attachments.  Call Tony at 719-351-6616 or email him at with any questions.
This picture from l-r: 
Mustafa Rezaie,  D5495 Rotary Peace Fellow 
Susan Carroll, Managing Director Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center
Tony Cerato, D5495 Rotary Peace Fellowship Subcommittee Chair

Are you passionate about promoting peace and making a lasting impact?

Do you wish to learn from the experts behind the Global Peace Index? Would you like to join a global community of peace leaders?

If your answer is yes, then you should apply for the free IEP Ambassador Program. This six-week online certification program provides an opportunity for individuals with both extensive experience in peace as well as those new to the field to gain concrete knowledge and resources to help foster peace in their communities.

But hurry, the deadline to apply is 19 April 2024. Don’t miss this opportunity to join this global movement and become an IEP Ambassador!

Apply today and start your journey towards a more peaceful world.
Click here for more information on the Positive Peace Academy.

Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24

Dear Friends of Peace,

From the Buddhist perspective, the practice of nonattachment is an essential step in the pursuit of enlightenment. The ills of humanity would be healed if our collective consciousness embraced and practiced this principle. While the butterfly may not know it is capable of creating a tornado by flapping its wings, we have the awareness that we must be willing to lighten our load before embarking on our personal path to Peace.

 Before departing consider practicing the:

"25th Ripple of Peace: Use audio and video tapes to deepen your inner Peace.

Listening to what experienced teachers and professionals have to say on topics related to Peace can confirm and expand our own ideas. Their perspectives may trigger new insights about how we might attain inner Peace or add new images to our personal pictures of Peace in the world.

Find and listen to audio tapes or watch video tapes that contain inspiring messages from people that you admire on subjects that have meaning to you. Select those that offer ways to enrich your inner Peace.

From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

Along with "old school" audio and video tapes, the internet is a repository of Peace recordings. By using the "inspirational Peace talks" search prompt, I found a plethora of recordings on this topic.

If you find a talk that is particularly inspiring, please share it with our group.

May you know and be Peace.

Submitted by Robert Wertz
District 5495 Peacebuilder Chair 2023-24

Dear Friends of Peace,

While the great poets, such as the Islamic mystic Rumi, can serve as sources of inspiration for the Peacbuilder, it is important that we avoid the trap of comparison.

If that happens consider practicing the:

"24th Ripple of Peace: Practice nonattachment.

Change may only be the only constant in the world. Nothing stays exactly the same for any length of time. Remaining attached to the "way things are" is an invitation to disappointment and unnecessary suffering.

Notice how life changes around and within you. Pay attention to how the people in your life change over time and how nature alters itself through the seasons. Think about how your house and the items in it, your work, and children have changed and are changing. Be aware of how you feel different from day to day, sometimes from minute to minute.

Practice letting go of any attachment you have to people and things as they currently are. Allow yourself to Peacefully and lovingly accept impermanence as a natural part of life.

As you improve your ability to remain detached from the way your life is at any given moment, you are likely to discover that you experience less stress. You may, instead, find yourself increasingly Peaceful.

From Ripples of Peace: 111 Ways You Can Help Create Peace in the World by, Rae Thompson.

On a spiritual level my Higher Self or super conscious has an attachment to the outcome of a Peaceful reality on the Earthly plane. My ego suggests that given the current state of affairs things may get worse before they get better.

When things get better, the work of the Peacebuilder will be of greatest importance. During the interim, nonattachment will prepare the Peacebuilder for this important work.
May you know and be Peace.