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Learning about Initiatives of Change. Zarcero, Costa Rica 2019

Personal Empowerment to Generate Global Transformation

Tuesday, 26. February 2019

Fifteen years of planting Initiatives of Change seeds around the globe. It is wonderful to witness how each person impacted by the ideas of Initiatives of Change finds its own path to challenge this world in a positive way. My commitment to the ideas and values of IofC started in 2003 after my participation in the Caux Scholars Program. Sometimes visible, sometimes quietly I keep spreading the message of change.

Carlos Solís, Pilar Griffin, Gerardo Paniagua Zarcero CR 01/2019

Carlos Solís, Pilar Griffin, Gerardo Paniagua Zarcero CR 01/2019

Three generations keep alive the seeds of Initiatives of Change in Costa Rica. Each one of us from diverse backgrounds and having experienced the movement from different perspectives according to our participation in different programs: The America of Tomorrow 1962, Caux Scholars 2003, Action for Life 2004, Keswick to Caux 2008, Encuentro de las Americas 2014. We are not the only ones; our country has been influenced by the values of IofC for a long time. Some of our politicians and community leaders have been inspired and challenged by these values and ideas though the years. This time, life brought us together with a common purpose - to plants seeds of change.

Thanks to the initiative of Gerardo Paniagua, I was invited to share the values and ideas of the movement with members from the local government and other members of civil society. Gerardo is a farmer and member of the Municipal Council from Zarcero, Costa Rica, who in 2005 participated in an IofC Dialogue in Brazil and had a moving experience of reconciliation. Taking advantage of a short visit I paid to my natal country, I gladly accepted his invitation to gather and to start preparing the field for planting.

The inhabitants of this beautiful and small Central American village face some of the global issues and concerns we hear about in the news. Statistics on the quality of life in recent years reflect an increase in violence, pollution, deterioration of natural resources, immigration, corruption, social disparity, and a loss of values and humanity. A change is not only wanted, but a change is needed!

Introducing the vision, mission, and history of IofC, illustrated by experiences of change and transformation that I have witness around the globe, was the first step to engage a community of change makers. Essential to fostering change is stopping and taking time to understand who we are, what groups and communities we belong to, accepting our weaknesses, and choosing the strengths that fuel our leadership actions. Who we are defines where our values are applied. The awareness of diverse values helps us to be open-minded and tolerant.

So, how and where do we start?

Initiatives of Change shares two fundamental tools to guide change from personal to global level:

  1. Four absolute values: Honesty, Unselfishness, Purity, Love and,
  2. The practice of ‘Quiet Time’.

Not often in our daily lives do we take the opportunity to participate in physical and temporal spaces that allow us to stop and review which areas we should transform and listed for guidance to know where our energy is more needed to impact this world positively. In our short time together, we had a taste of this kind of reflection and sharing.

'Change starts with me', 'If I change, my nation changes'; we often listen to those phrases and they keep floating around in our heads and hearts. Talking about change is overwhelming. However, we cannot be discouraged. We are part of an autopoietic universe - a universe that transforms and self generates continuously. We finished our first gathering on a positive note remembering the 'butterfly effect': A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome. Therefore, the small flapping of our own wings could produce an unimaginable outcome and the little seeds that we plant today may sprout and grow to produce abundant fruit.

Finally, an inspiring suggestion was made by Carlos Solis, who started his journey with IofC almost sixty years ago.  He offered to meet and support the journey of young members of the community with interest in working with the vision of IofC.  These individuals are full of energy and have great potential of leadership. There is always more to give, as the planting season never ends.

Author: Pilar Griffin 

Maria del Pilar Griffin, International Educational Consultant, Specialist in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, Doctor in Pedagogical Mediation and Master in International Law with emphasis in Human Rights, has participated and facilitated dialogue and connection settings among diverse community groups in USA, Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. She is a Caux Scholars Alumni and Action for Life 2 participant.