ON NOVEMBER 16, people representing different faiths, ethnicities, cultures and traditions will walk side by side through the Mall of America as an example of what we all can do: come together to create peace. The founder of the Beyond Belief Walk for Peace, Michelle Ploog, says she is committed to showing fellow human beings that it can be done despite our differences.
“Throughout my meditation practice, I have become very clear on my life’s mission: To connect people through love, joy and accepting differences to create a world of peace,” Ploog says. “One component that interferes with our ability to connect with each other are the belief systems we carry, be it religious, political or otherwise.
“Connection and peace are out beyond our stubborn opinions and righteous convictions. To develop sustainable peace, we must start with acceptance of ourselves, then begin to accept the differences of people in our lives, and finally we accept people’s differences outside our comfort zone. It is a constant practice and opportunity for growth. So when my mission became clear and the direct conflict for peace became clear, the mode for bringing people together developed into the Beyond Belief Walk for Peace.”
Michelle, a TV personality and experienced registered teacher of Yoga, is a self-proclaimed “agent of change.” She has interviewed inspirational people and has taught Yoga to an array of students, from Taylor Swift to victims in recovery from the sex slave industry to players for the North Carolina Hurricanes.
She spoke with The Edge about her latest philanthropic endeavor, the Beyond Belief Walk for Peace, which takes place from 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Mall of America. The walk will be led by a team of spiritual leaders of all traditions and peace advocates from throughout the Twin Cities. Traditions range from Baha’i to Catholic, Buddhist to Islamic, Jewish to Pagan, Atheist to Hindu — and it will involve people from yoga studios to community centers to coffee shops to city blocks.
Michelle, why do you call the event “Beyond Belief?”
Michelle Ploog: Well, that’s a fun play on words, isn’t it? For one, it’s where peace is created: beyond our belief systems. It is a walk to say, “I am committed to creating peace with people beyond my belief systems.” Rest assured that everyone is encouraged to be who they are, believe what they believe and feel safe. The walk is a place to respect and accept differences, not take them away. The second definition is that the walk is inspiring and peace-creating beyond what we could possibly believe or imagine.
How do you define peace?
MP: Peace is not just the absence of war, or indifference. Peace is the full experience and acceptance of life. Peace resides at the seat of the soul. It is the eye of the storm and the stillness underneath the water’s surface. It is found inside each of us and can be mirrored outside of ourselves. There are two quotes that come to mind:
“Everything will be OK as soon as you are OK with everything.” — Michael Singer
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” — Rumi
What can a walk in the Mall of America do to raise consciousness about peace — and what will onlookers in the mall experience?
MP: We are the bridge builders. We are bringing people together that may otherwise never connect, and thereby, opening a pathway for them to share the common good they both desire. The participants will have a miraculous experience of connection to humanity, the world, and consciousness. Our fantastic keynote speaker, Joan Steffend, will speak to the soul of the crowd to inspire the movement.
Press outlets from around the Twin Cities will be sharing the story of how many people came together for the common mission of peace. Viewers will see that it is possible for people of all different cultures, religions, and races to come together for peace. Onlookers will be invited to join!
How can someone participate in the walk?
MP: The walk is open to everyone. We request that you register via our website at www.beyondbeliefwalkforpeace.com or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/beyondbeliefwalkforpeace. This will give us a better idea of how many people will be attending. We welcome and encourage you to bring large groups of people, wear peace or slogan t-shirts, and invite all of your Facebook friends to the event with you! The more people who show up, the more vibrant our energy will be and the more people can be impacted to start their own practice of peace.
How do you think humanity will achieve true peace?
MP: Peace is a practice that each person needs to commit to in order for global change to happen. We each make a small or large contribution every day by how we choose to live. As we hold ourselves accountable to do the inner work, we are able to make an outer change.
Each of us has experienced to some degree the exact things that have leaders at war with one another: greed, dominance, envy and other challenges. We have to commit to overcoming these obstacles by choosing unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, curiosity, trust, respect and joy. Peace is created in the world when individuals become the catalysts for peace within their lives by taking a stand (or a walk!) for peace. The individual at peace will lead by example.
This is why attending the Beyond Belief Walk for Peace is vital for anyone wanting to see peace in the world. Together, we can create peace beyond belief!
For more information or to participate in Beyond Belief Walk for Peace, contact Michelle Ploog at 612.584.9249 or firstname.lastname@example.org and visit
www.beyondbeliefwalkforpeace.com and www.facebook.com/BeyondBeliefWalkForPeace.