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The ability to remain positive is mankind’s saving grace. Even at times when mainstream media tends to portray only the negative happenings of the world, the importance of remaining inspired cannot be overstated.

Positive developments are taking place on Planet Earth, even if they are not receiving the attention they deserve. For example, let’s take the recent announcement of the annual Sean MacBride Peace Prize. This year this award goes to two island communities that, in different circumstances, show proof of a profound commitment to peace and social justice.

Lampedusa, a small island in the Mediterranean, is the southernmost part of Italy, and closest to the African coastline. It has been since the early 2000s a primary European entry point for migrants and refugees. The numbers of persons arriving has been rapidly increasing, with hundreds of thousands at risk while travelling, and over 1900 deaths in 2015 alone.

The people of the island have displayed an extraordinary example of human solidarity, offering clothing, shelter and food to those who have arrived, in distress, on their shores. The response of the Lampedusans stands out in stark contrast to the ‘Fortress Europe’ policy.

To give but one example of the heroic actions of the people of Lampedusa, on the night of 7‐8 May 2011, a boat full of migrants crashed into a rocky outcrop, not far from the shore. Although it was in the middle of the night, the inhabitants of Lampedusa turned out in their hundreds to form a human chain between the shipwreck and the coast. That night alone more than 500 people, including many children, were carried to safety.

On the other side of the world, Gangjeon village is the site of the controversial 50‐hectare Jeju Naval Base being constructed by the South Korean government, at a projected cost of nearly $1 billion. The waters around the island are protected by international law as they are within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Jeju Island has been dedicated to peace ever since around 30,000 were massacred there from 1948‐54, following a peasant uprising against US occupation. The South Korean government apologized for the massacre in 2006 and the late President Roh Moo Hyun officially named Jeju an “Island of World Peace”.

This violent history helps to explain why the people of Gangjeon Village (population 2000) have been protesting non‐violently for around 8 years against the naval base project. About 700 people have been arrested and charged with hefty fines that amount to over $400,000, fines that they cannot or will not pay. Many have spent days or weeks or months in jail, including a well‐known film critic Yoon Mo Yong who spent 550 days in prison after committing multiple acts of civil disobedience.

Well, if you need inspiration to “remain positive” you need not look further. Amazingly, these happenings are taking place every hour, every day, and around the entire planet.

The annual Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be formally awarded on Oct 23, 2015 in Padova, Italy.

-- Editor

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