Caux 2004: Narrowing the Gaps
01 October 2004

For many of our readers, the overriding news image of the summer of 2004 will be the agonies of Darfur, Sudan, where tens of thousands died in ethnic attacks and hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes.

The harrowing pictures of starving children may seem a million miles away from the peace and beauty of the Swiss mountains. But Mountain House in the village of Caux, high above Lake Geneva, holds a key to the resolution of such tragedies. For the last 58 years, the Initiatives of Change conferences there have urged people to tackle war and poverty at their roots—in the hatred and selfishness which so easily grip the human heart.

Since 1946, when the first official delegations to leave Germany after World War II met their former enemies at Mountain House and laid the foundations for reconciliation and reconstruction, Caux has brought people together across the gulfs of race, religion, nationality and class. While other forums focus on presentations and action plans, Caux’s emphasis is on the heart-to-heart encounter—and on the shared assumption that change begins not with someone else, but with oneself.

At the core of the Caux experience lies the search in silence for new beginnings, and the challenge of eternal values of honesty, purity, love and unselfishness. Each year, people return home with the determination to make changes in their lives—and with new, and sometimes far-reaching, approaches to the problems around them.

Among those who attended this year were Palestinians and Israelis, North and South Sudanese, people from the conflict-ridden Great Lakes area of Central Africa, representatives from Indigenous communities around the world, Muslims and Christians from Nigeria, police and young people from the inner cities of Europe. This year’s theme was ‘Narrowing the gap between ideals and interests’ and the challenges of global economic justice were high on the agenda. This issue of For A Change offers a glimpse of the myriad encounters, presentations, workshops, performances and personalities that made up the summer.
Mary Lean