I LOVE this concept.
I recently visited the British Museum in London and saw the 'The Tree of Life' (pictured below). It was made by four artists from Mozambique using decommissioned weapons.
In 1995, a project was set up by a Bishop in Mozambique (Dom Dinis Sengulane) called 'Transforming Arms into Tools' (TAE) which basically encourages Mozambicans to hand over their weapons in exchange for useful tools and items such as ploughs, sewing machines, bicycles etc.
Mozambique experienced a lot of unrest and went through a civil war between 1976 and 1992. Millions of guns and weapons entered the country (most of which still remain hidden or buried in the bush) and therefore the TAE project was set up to eliminate the threat of those hidden and missing weapons.
In one particular case, a whole village gave up and exchanged their weapons for a tractor... how awesome!
The weapons that are handed in are decommissioned, cut up and turned into sculptures in Maputo, Mozambique.
Tree of Life... Made by artists: Cristovao Canhavato (Kester), Hilario Nhatugueja, Fiel dos Santos and Adelino Serafim Maté. Maputo, Mozambique, 2004
Having seen this sculpture and the story behind it, I wish that more countries around the world would work on setting up similar projects.
Weapons are a threat to our existence and they encourage and breed violence.
We need to be able to raise our children in a world where they use words to resolve disputes, where they can be patient enough to work through difficulties without having to resort to violence and killing, even in the 'name' of self defence.
When I watch the news, I hear about deaths and killing sprees using guns and knives, amongst other weapons on (what seems like) a daily basis.
Some deaths are caused by governments (okay a lot of them) and some by random adults and even teenagers that are full of anger and torment.
The common thing between these people; they have access to weapons and believe that using them will provide them with a solution.
It is heartbreaking. There has to be another way forward and we need to showpeople that way, just like they have in Mozambique.
Inspirational writer, Mattie Stepanek once said:
Wars should be fought with words, not bombs, not weapons. And calm words. I think that wars should be fought over a chessboard and a cup of something to drink.
How can we possibly argue with that?
Let's make trees, not war.
This post first appeared on http://www.accidentallyreflective.com