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language: English
Title International Museum of Peace and Solidarity  
Subtitle Interview with Anatoly and Vladimir Ionesov  
Date 6. Oktober 2001  
oraganization International Museum of Peace and Solidarity  
Author Mr. Founder Anatoly Ionesov  
Museum The Samarkand Peace Museum Project, Uzbekistan, Samarkand  
Short version 124 Words  
Long version 2805 Words  

 Short version

The Peace Department of the Theosophical Order of Service (T.O.S.), which has been in contact with Anatoly and Vladimir Ionesov, shares their vision for a world at peace, ecologically sound, and governed by a respect for universal human rights and values. One of the projects of the Peace Department, “Artists for Peace”, is in the process of compiling a booklet of artistic contributions to send to the museum for inclusion in their permanent display. The department looks forward to a long and fruitful association with the Peace Museum. Following is a brief interview the department conducted through post and e-mail, the first joint effort of the T.O.S. and the International Museum of Peace and Solidarity in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

 Long version

An Interview with Anatoly and Vladimir Ionesov
Deni Gross

The Peace Department of the Theosophical Order of Service (T.O.S.), which has been in contact with Anatoly and Vladimir Ionesov, shares their vision for a world at peace, ecologically sound, and governed by a respect for universal human rights and values. One of the projects of the Peace Department, “Artists for Peace”, is in the process of compiling a booklet of artistic contributions to send to the museum for inclusion in their permanent display. The department looks forward to a long and fruitful association with the Peace Museum. Following is a brief interview the department conducted through post and e-mail, the first joint effort of the T.O.S. and the International Museum of Peace and Solidarity in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
DG: Your museum seems to devote a great deal of emphasis to promoting art and hosting art exhibits. Why do you consider art such an important element of the peace process?
The art brings together all the best in the world and represents for the man a sample of harmony and perfection of life. Through the art the world of the man acquires completeness, joy and truthfulness of being. And what can fasten the splitted life of the man stronger than harmony and order? Any harmony (order) is, first of all, denial of ignorance (delusion) and affirmation of knowledge (truth). The art withstands war just as harmony withstands chaos. We say, knowledge is light, ignorance is darkness. The art is the top of knowledge and a "ray of light in the kingdom of darkness". All wars, collisions, violent conflicts occur in "darkness" (ignorance), "in the darkness of incarceration", in lack of living being. The art is the light which lights up to the man the way of his freedom and salvation. When the art speaks, the mouth is silent for the truth is looking at us through the art. And where the truth is, no words are needed. That is why the art is really a life-belt for the man passionately rowing in rough waves of sea elements of our universe.
One more reason why we devote a great deal of emphasis to the arts is that the language of visual arts is a universal one easily overcoming language barriers and getting the message of peace and harmony to the hearts of people of every nation of the globe. There is also a term "art therapy" - we feel it has a healing and inspirational impact too on human beings. As you might have noticed, we try to pay a special attention to children's art programs since we believe with Mahatma Gandhi: "If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children".
DG: I am sure that the citizens of your country, especially since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, are interested in revitalizing and retaining their ancient cultural heritage and traditions. How can the citizen of any country retain a strong sense of national spirit, joy and pride in their heritage, while at the same time working for peace and unity among differing nationalities and traditions?
Each culture (ethnicity) has always its own niche of life, its own "home" where the relations between nature and society are in optimal balance. But the entrance to this home is open only for those, who has not lost its originality, who has its own configuration of culture. Because every "niche" in nature is unique, but in conformity to human community each "niche" is individual. If culture has lost its individuality, then the way to the niche is closed. The faceless culture does not know its place in life and it is doomed to wanderings. It is strange everywhere. As a result, its destiny are wars and violence. From time to time, by borrowing, more precisely by occupying another's niches, it tries by all means to squeeze into the forms disproportionate to its configuration. But to be in strange "home" for culture means to be in the state of real conflict with the environment. The disproportionately large niche for culture (i.e. available cultural opportunities of people) makes it vulnerable and unprotected because there is not enough warmth in the niche and all the time something or somebody is falling through it, there is lack of light and hence too many superfluous movements and dangers. There is eternal conflict between the needs (too much space to be put in order) and opportunities (too small human resources) of the society. The life in such a niche brings suffering to the people and derivates vanity, nervousness, intolerance, rage, aggression, envy and violence. Therefore, it is so important for culture to be in its own "body", to find its own individuality, its own face, its own style of life. Diversity of cultures, based on their individualization, is a major precondition of peace, nonviolence and survival of the human race. Culture (ethnicity) deprived of its individuality, originality, is a source of enmity and chaos. But how to establish this individual diversity of cultures among the global universalization of the world community? How paradoxical it would seem, it is possible to tame (stop) the faceless universalization of the world (or "mechanical solidarity" according to Emil Durkheim) only by escalating of feedback of every separate culture with the global community. The question is about the free interaction (or "harmonious solidarity") of cultures with each other, but not about one, even most advanced, culture which leads all of them to follow it.
Each culture has its own opportunities, its own strong and weak features of self-consolidation in the world, and this self-consolidation is possible only through communication, comparison, interaction. For as far back as in the Five book set of Moses it was noticed that any knowledge (about oneself and the world) is always comprehension of distinction. It's necessary only not to forget, paraphrasing the warning of A. Gertsen that it's not possible to liberate culture externally more than it is free inside. The future "coalition of cultures" of the humankind, about which Claude Levi-Strauss wrote, cannot be divided into peoples, big and small, strong and weak, advanced and underdeveloped. It will be a living single whole universal human entity, where each "cell" (separate culture/ nation/ group) will perform its own individual function with the common task of maintaining and transformation of Life of the Human Race.
DG: Your beautiful city of Samarkand is almost 3000 year old. How has Samarkand continued to survive and prosper for so long? What must “youngsters” like the United States do to ensure such a long, illustrious history?
Samarkand has survived due to its beauty and tolerance. It was/is a meeting point of many peoples, each of which had an opportunity to carry and realize its own understanding of beauty in its multiethnic mosaics of cultural diversity. The peoples were tolerant, because every ethnic culture in the history of Samarkand established itself through beauty. At all governors Samarkand always remained itself since the beauty is always self-sufficient. Its beauty has always attracted people, cultures and religions, reconciled them in oneness and diversity.
Maybe this experience will be, to some extent, useful to your nation, the United States of America. It is currently a big multicultural country, which hosted many millions of immigrants from around the world. And as far as we know, different ethnic communities in your country do preserve their own culture, language, religion.
Generally speaking, progress and viability of each culture is determined by the optimum correlation (balance) of traditions and innovations, that is by the ability of culture with highest conservation of all most positive in the traditional (old) to be at the same time upmostly receptive to all most positive in the innovatory (new).
DG: One of your museum’s major projects is what you refer to as “The Great Silk Road”, in which you desire to promote “partnership and cooperation between local and foreign business”, thus revitalizing “the traditions of this ancient bridge between East and West.” Can you elaborate on this? Also, why do you think trade is vital to peace efforts? Once money is involved, aren’t there bound to be more conflicts than cooperation?
Violent conflicts and wars are always split, violence, deficiency (lack) of living being. Trade is always directed to the completeness of life. The purpose of trade is to give what is not available. That is, according to its definition, trade can be treated as an instrument of providing the completeness of life, the top of this completeness is peace (non-violence, freedom). Where the trade (money) brings collisions and conflicts, we should blame not the trade, but just insufficient development of trade, which is determined to provide people with well-being and prosperity. The trade, as life, is strong by its diversity. First comes the desire, then it is followed by the goods, and with them ideas, traditions, all the best is accumulated with the goods in the hearts of people, then it sprouts and gives shoots. Really, we can call the fair trade an ambassador of peace. And the history of Samarkand - town with great trade traditions - is a confirmation to it. For many centuries it was the heart of the Great Silk Road, road of dialogue, trade and cooperation. Within the framework of our project "The Great Silk Road" we try to use citizen diplomacy to put in touch and to bring together local and foreign entrepreneurs and specialists in a variety of fields and to promote international tourism. For example, we established a bridge of friendship and cooperation with the Chinese city of Xi'an - beginning point of the Great Silk Road - and organized several exchanges of delegations between Samarkand and Xi'an.
DG: Why do you believe that a modest, citizen-run organization such as yours (or our own Theosophical Order of Service, for that matter) can make a any real difference in the affairs of the world, pitted as we are against strong and powerful governments and rich, influential corporations, whose agendas are often anything but peaceful and cooperative?
Just remember the wise saying of the Dalai Lama: "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito". So why should we not believe that we really can change the world to the better? Who said that the world is being moved by the giants? Who said that the rich and the big are simultaneously strong and powerful? First of all, the big force has always a big weakness. Giants are always lacking space in the life, they are less mobile, less flexible, less hardy and so on. And we are talking about them just because they are visible and too loud. We must not forget that in reality the most big and important in the world is being done unnoticeably, silently and measuredly whereas all the most insignificant, shallow, false and lifeless happen to be noticeable, loud and obtrusive. So, the air - the most important source of life - is not noticeable, but we feel lack of air by all our essence. We don't notice the health, when we have it, but as soon as we lack it, we start thinking of it. Secondly, the highest manifestation of force is knowledge and freedom. Your countryman sociologist Alvin Toffler once specified three levels of power:
1) power of force - power of lowest grade; 2) power of richness - power of average grade; power of knowledge - power of highest grade. We think, we can agree with him. Thirdly, all the large always consists of the small. Where is the large, the small is always present too. All the most big always germinates from the most little. Conflict between the large and the small in the society is an indication of immaturity of the social relations, immaturity of democracy, non-completeness of life. Big formations without the small ones are nothing. "The ocean, composed of drops, is great so as the continent is composed of grains of sand" - wrote the unforgettable Omar Khaiyam, who, by the way, lived in Samarkand for a while. Fourthly, all is one, one is all - this old popular wisdom sets us thinking again about the interdependence of the world. And let's repeat again, the force of this interdependence is in diversity. The depth and scale of diversity is always measured not by the big, but by the small and even by the tiny. "The criterion of the worthy or ideal being in general, - wrote the Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, - is the greatest self-dependence of the parts at the greatest unity of the whole".
Carrying out its initiative, self-dependence and freedom in action, the small more and more establishes itself in its individuality, originality, and in such a way expands and enrich the scale of the diversity of the humankind. We can say that the diversity of the world in the XXI century will be reinforced by the diversity of individualities. That is why, no matter how small our organizations would be, each of them, realizing its activities ( by its self-actualization), brings something new, unique and innermost to the world, and enriches, by its own creative energy, the living resources of the human diversity. Finally we fully agree with the statement of your compatriot Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that has".
DG: Uzbekistan is oriental; the U.S. is occidental. From birth, the citizens of our respective countries have been raised in different environments with different expectations and values. What do you see as the unique gifts, as well as weaknesses, of each culture? How can we combine the best of East and West to make us all better global citizens?
East and West are two parts of one whole. Any culture - Western or Eastern - cannot develop ALL positive features of the mankind. All of them lack something. For example, the philosophy was poorly developed in Egypt, Rome, Japan; sculpture did not get enough development with Arabs; democracy did not get acclimatized with the majority of peoples of the East. The Western world does not recognize collectivism and traditionalism of the East. The East does not recognize individualism and modernism of the West. Every type of civilization affirms its own dominant a. What is it rather than an eloquent illustration of their mutual complementarity's? What is not suffice to the West, it can and must take in the East (traditionalism, collectivism, conservatism, constancy, settled way of life, deep-rootedness, commitment to home, contemplation, regulation, serenity, irrational spirituality etc).What is not suffice to the East, it can and must take in the West ( individualism, liberalism, dynamism, openness, rationalism, commitment to reforms and progress, cosmopolitism, pragmatism etc). A remarkable idea for comprehension of this theme was expressed by Vladimir Solovyov: "We must examine the mankind as a great collective essence or social organism, living members of which represent various nations. From this point of view, it is obvious, that no people can live in itself, through itself and for itself, but the life of every people represents just a certain participation in the common life of the humanity."
That's probably, all. But the importance and significance of the questions, raised by you and touched by us, surely need continuation of the started talk and we invite you to join it.
It goes without saying that should you and your readers ever have a chance to visit Uzbekistan, we'd be very happy to welcome you and yours in our 2750-years-old home town of Samarkand and in our Peace Museum. Meanwhile we wish to say to all of you: "Assalomu Alaykum!" - Peace Be With You!
DG: Thank you so much Vladimir and Anatoly, for the information and photos of your wonderful museum and beautiful city and for your insightful answers to our interview questions. It is very exciting for our department to be able to work with you on this joint venture.

Deni Gross is the Director of the Peace Department of the T.O.S. , 2668 Plow Road, Birdsboro, PA 19508-8247, USA. E-mail: cfp@hotmail.com
Anatoly Ionesov, Director and Vladimir Ionesov, Consultant
International Museum of Peace and Solidarity, P.O. Box 76, UZ-140100 Samarkand
Republic of Uzbekistan. Phone: +998 (66) 233 17 53.

This text is a full version of an article published in “For the Love of Life” journal (issue No. 61, Summer 2001, p. 62-68) published by the Theosophical Order of Service, P.O. Box 41584, Tucson, AZ 85717-1584, USA.

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