Dr Rama Mani, Founder, Theatre of Transformation Academy, Research Associate and Convenor, Enacting Global Transformation Initiative, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, spoke to Jim Paymar at this year’s Spirit Of Humanity Forum
JP – What has the SOH meant to you?
RM – It has been a beautiful space to be. That it is in Iceland, a city which wants to be and is becoming a city of peace. It is a country that has 100% renewable energy. It has made a conscious choice to be in harmony with the planet, as the people have been for hundreds of years. The Forum has chosen to be here, with such depth history and connection to the Earth, which is what the Forum is all about, reawakening the Spirit of Humanity.
JP – Tell me about your upbringing?
RM – I grew up in India and ironically now with people running out of passports who are 18, until I was 18 I didn’t have a passport. I truly grew up in India. I was well educated but I never imagined leaving India because all of my passion were caught up with profound issues in India, profound issues of injustice that burnt my heart between people, religions and injustice against women. I grew up with a profound passion for justice and a belief that we could create a beautiful world.
JP – Do you see anything in the SOH Forum that can help change what you grew up with in India?
RM – I have come profoundly to know, having spent my earlier professional life working in the political arena, what I realised it is only through the reawakening of our sense of humanity, that needs to be rekindled in each of us. The second part, the spirit of creativity that makes us uniquely human. The capacity to empathise with others again and the capacity to know no matter how difficult the situation becomes, we are creativity beings that can, in adversity use our creativity to find new ways.
JP – Do you become more hopeful when you get together with people at the SOH?
RM – I do. Sometimes people go off to a place with like spiritual people and it feels good, but then the bubble bursts. But what I like here is people have not simply come to escape the tough life they are living, the conflict, the suffering they want to transform, not as a form of escape but to expand and connect with others to find better collective solutions to what needs to be done. We are enriching ourselves and others by finding new capacities.
JP – I was part of one of your sessions, a word that resonated was collective, collaboration, the ability for people to get outside of themselves to be part of something greater. How do you bring that out of people?
RM – You became this extraordinary woman and I could feel her. What you said was that she sees the best in everyone. I loved it because I could feel that. I think that is what I love, I love meeting someone and being able to see all kinds of worlds and beings inside them, and then creating the space for that to come out and all of us can be charged with that depth of humanity. That is a great joy. We have come to such a place in humanity where not one of us, the age of gurus of some great genius is over, the only way will be if we can harness our collective and creative intelligence, or wisdom, and co-create the new. Harnessing the past, those who has shaped or inspired us, as well as pulling the kind of future each of us know, but collectively can bring into reality.
JP – With all the dilemmas we face, do you remain optimistic, and if you are is it growing?
RM – Yes, only because all of my work is in the area of greatest suffering, I work with humanitarian workers, and refugees and peace workers in Syria. I am in and out of Palestine. In the Congo, in India in the slums, over there, everyday I witness and learn, and I am inspired by the testimonies of transformation of ordinary people who are extraordinary. If they can, we all can. If they are creating a paradise under the bombs, in the midst of suffering, behind the walls of separation, in the slums of filth and deprivation. We can.
JP – If you had the opportunity to speak to all 7.2 billion people on this earth what message would you leave them?
RM – You are right. The power of love is so much greater than the love of power. Thank you for teaching me that, you are right.