Here’s an extract from our latest book about a long walk from India to Washington, written by the pilgrim himself, Satish Kumar. When you’ve read it, or the book, we hope you will be inspired to act, too.
Packets of Peace Tea
The Caucasus Mountains to the north and the Black Sea to the south provide perfect weather, not only for wine, but also for tea. One day we were passing a tea factory where we saw workers enjoying the winter sun during their lunch break. People looked at us with curiosity. We gave them our leaflets in Russian. When they read them and saw our banners, they asked us, “How is it possible to walk from India to Georgia without money?”
Our guides from the Peace Committee explained to them that we had actually been on the road for eight months. Some people were amused and others were amazed. Two young women came forward and asked, “If you have no money, how do you eat?”
“We depend on the goodwill and hospitality of people,” we answered.
“Are you hungry? This is lunchtime – we have a canteen in our tea factory, would you like to taste our delicious Georgian tea?”
“Of course we would. Any time is teatime!” I answered with a smile. They took us to their canteen. We drank tea and ate bread, cheese and jam while we talked about the menace of militarism and the horrors of war.
“We don’t know anybody who would support wars and bombs, yet our government spends more on war preparation and weapons than on many other useful things. We don’t know why they do it,” said one of the younger women.
“Politicians and military men think that power comes from the barrel of a gun; without tanks and bombers they feel naked and powerless – that is why they spend so much money, time and talent on defence,” said another woman.
As we were deeply engrossed in peace conversation, one of the women had a brainwave. She got up, left the table and disappeared.
I wondered what had happened. Had we offended her?
I need not have worried. Within a few minutes, she returned holding four packets of tea. She said, “I want to give you these four packets of tea. But this is no ordinary tea, it is Peace Tea, and it is not for you.”
“For whom are they, then?” I asked.
She answered, “I cannot go to Moscow and Washington, but you are going. I want you to be my messenger and deliver one packet of Peace Tea to our Premier in the Kremlin, the second packet is for the president of France in the Palais de l’Élysée, the third packet is for the prime minister of Britain, and the fourth is for the president of the
United States of America, in the White House.” We were dumbstruck.
“And I have a message for them,” the young woman said.
“What is your message?” I asked.
“My message is that if you ever get a mad thought of pressing the nuclear button, please stop for a moment and have a fresh cup of this Peace Tea! Then you will have a time to reflect that your nuclear bombs will not only kill combatant soldiers, but every man, woman and child who has done nothing to harm you. Not only that, your bombs will kill animals, burn forests, contaminate waters and obliterate all life. Therefore, think again, and don’t press the button.”
These were the most powerful words I had heard for a long time.
Another young woman said, “In any case, nuclear bombs are illegal. According to the Geneva Convention, it is illegal to attack a civilian population. Nuclear weapons cannot avoid killing non-combatant civilians.”
I said to Menon, “Now we have a new mission, to deliver packets of Peace Tea to the four nuclear capitals. Whatever the obstacles, whether we face a snowstorm or torrential rain, we have to keep going to deliver this Peace Tea to the four leaders of the nuclear countries.”
“Of course, Satish, this is a most inspiring moment,” said Menon.
We accepted the Peace Tea but had no words to express our inspiration and gratitude.
“It will be our honour to be your ambassadors,” we said to the woman, as we bid her goodbye.
The weight of the Peace Tea packets did not increase our load; psychologically and spiritually we felt light and uplifted.