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The Return of Rasur:
A forgotten poem points the way
to modern day peace


Roberto Brenes Mesén, legendary Costa Rican educator, was ahead of his time in understanding the importance of student’s inner life when he wrote the epic poem, Rasur or The Week of Splendor in 1946.  This mostly forgotten poem points the way to the wisdom of the heart as the secret to an elevated way of life. One of the most pertinent quotes his poem offers is “Before directing the lightning in the sky, we must first harness the storms in our own hearts.” 

Many people are deeply concerned about the violence that is increasing around the world from these “storms of the heart” and are seeking solutions.  But the only long-term answer to breaking the intergenerational cycle of negative emotional patterns that cause violent behavior is to educate our children differently.  As Gandhi said, “If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.”

Where do we start in educating our children differently?  We start with the teacher.  Through the character of Rasur, Brenes gave teachers an extraordinary model to emulate and, in doing so, paid homage to the value of this profession.  Education will not move us toward peace until societal attitudes improve toward the vocation of “teacher” and we provide the training they need to educate the heart. When teachers are supported to respond creatively to their calling and to model social and emotional skills, our children will begin to receive the rewards of a new education.

How, though, does this actually work? In recent years, there have been many scientific advances in our understanding of social and emotional learning and some integration of this knowledge into curriculum.  Now, in the Rasur Foundation project, the Peace Army of Costa Rica, this knowledge is used to teach two proven social and emotional skills in the schools. In this way, both teachers and children are actualizing their deepest potential and beginning to create cultures of peace in their schools.

Costa Rica is the ideal location for achieving this vision. With no military and with a peace education law that calls for its inclusion in every school, there is a sound legal and cultural basis for educating children differently.  Costa Rica can build on its reputation by becoming a model of skills-based peace education.  I believe that Rasur has resurfaced for this very purpose – so that Costa Rica may be inspired by its own poem to teach the world through the Peace Army, a growing force empowering its citizens to embody their highest ideals.

Wouldn't you like to see a country model how to consistently pass peace from one generation to the next? Of all countries, Costa Rica has the best chance of doing this and now the conditions are right to actually achieve this vision. Dr. Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize winner from Costa Rica, and the Arias Foundation have put their support solidly behind the Peace Army. We are relying on the longing for peace of people everywhere to help fund this project. I hope you will join us in seizing this unique window of opportunity that can feed dying hopes worldwide.

Rita Marie Johnson
Director - The Rasur Foundation

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