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Walk for Values

Texas has its second Walk for Values on 9 May 2009
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“Practice any one of the human values.
LOVE is the basis for all the values.
Action with love is right conduct.
Speak with love and it becomes truth.
Thinking with love results in peace.
Understanding with love leads to nonviolence.
For everything love is primary.
Where there is love there is no place for hatred”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

Around the world, it is a well-known phenomenon that people come together and walk to demonstrate their support for multiple sclerosis, cancer, anti-war movements, and human rights coalitions. But how often does one see people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, faiths, and from various walks of life come together for something more fundamental than those things ---something that unites us all?

Recently, residents of Greater Dallas, Texas, USA, did precisely that, taking Sathya Sai Baba's message on Human Values to the people of America. The first-ever Walk For Values to be conducted in the Dallas area, organized by the Sathya Sai Baba Center of Dallas, took place in Plano, a suburb north of Dallas. Houston had a Wlk for Values just last week, on 2 May.

For the first time, people from around the city came together to walk --not in protest, not to raise money, but to stand together for human values that are common to everyone. The premise of the walk is two fold: the first being to urge participants to pledge to practice at least one of the five basic human values --Truth, Right Action, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence-- in their daily lives; the second, being to bring awareness of values into the community.

Registering to walk
Walkers at Haggard Park - Downtown Plano

Saturday, 9 May, arrived under a cloudy cover, threatening downpour. Instead, there were brief sprinklings as divine blessings of Sai. and the program went off beautifully. The festivities began at Haggard Park in downtown Plano with a welcoming speech from Ms. Sally Schaefer, who announced and guided the program. She kept things moving at a lively pace. Reverend Patrick Price of the Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano gave a benediction invoking the importance of knowledge in faith and acceptance of beliefs different from one's own. Professor Anil Kumar, whose presence brought great joy to the gathering, spoke enthusiastically of the momentousness of the occasion, praising the spirit behind such communion of people in the name of human values.

Walking with banners
Walking with banners
Walking with banners


The course of the walk, approximately a 2 mile stretch, had been cordoned off by the Plano Police Department, allowing for a risk-free event. With the help of police officers, as well as the organizers' own orange-vested "Walk Marshals", with their disciplined and diligent efforts, no untoward events happened, and the walk was completed glitch-free. At predetermined points on the course, water and electrolyte drinks were provided, to prevent any medical complications. A shorter, alternate route was provided for youngsters, the elderly. and anyone for whom the longer route was difficult.

To add to the enthusiasm of the walkers, young adults led the group in chants of "Love All, Serve All" and "Help Ever, Hurt Never", stirring the spirits of those around.

Walking through the streets of Plano, escorted by walk marshals and police
walk back
Walking through the streets of Plano,
escorted by walk marshals and police
Returning to the Park

As the walk ended and participants converged back into Haggard Park, Mr. Mukesh Solanki drew the crowd's attention to the unique nature of the day's walk. emphasizing the values and the necessity to continue practice them in their lives. Later, refreshments and games were available for everyone to enjoy the beautiful day together. Face painting by young adults and students was a source of fun and laughter for everyone. Old friends and new gathered to speak of what a wonderful day it was, and what a perfect experience the Walk had been. A live band was there to liven up the afternoon, and closing remarks were given by Mr. Srinivas Somisetty, who thanked everyone who had been present and who had helped to organize the event.

Children playing games after the Walk
Face painting after the Walk

City Officials Impressed with Sai Organisation’s High Ideals

Overall, the beauty of the Walk For Values and the festivity surrounding it was a glimpse of Swami's divine Love, bringing together family, new friends, and people from all walks of life, all color and faiths, for the purpose of standing together for basic human values.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that we must "Be the change [we] wish to see in the world." The Walk for Values was an opportunity for each participant to imbibe this moral and pledge to make at least one of the human values part of their every-day life and very being. Our beloved Swami instructed us so many times that it is only when we each practice truth, right action, peace, love, and nonviolence that we can bring harmony into our own hearts, our families, our communities, and finally the world. Walking for a value is a chance to do just that: to make a promise to ourselves, to those around us, and to our Lord that we will honor our commitment to upholding the human values.

Almost thirty years ago, our beloved Bhagawan directed us:

If there is righteousness in the heart
There will be beauty in character;
If there is beauty in character
There will be harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home
There will be order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.

So, be righteous, and avoid all prejudices against others on the basis
of caste, creed, color, mode of worship, status, or degree of affluence.
Do not look down on any one; look upon all as Divine as you really are. 

Young Adults sing value songs at the park
The park

So, along with our brothers and sisters, let us all take the Walk for Values not as a one-day occurrence, not as a single remarkable event, but as a motivation to bring virtue into our hearts. With Swami's blessings, this Walk for Values will happen again next year, and the year after that, and so on for years to come. But in the meantime, let us all walk together, with our beloved Lord to guide us, not just on a Walk for Values, but on a walk of values, on a path toward peace, harmony, love, and divinity.

Group picture with a few walkers


Honored guests

Plano Mayor Pat Evans, honored chief guest at the event, revealed a delightful surprise when she read a proclamation designating 9 May 2009 as "Walk For Values Day", signifying the city's support for the cause of bringing awareness of the importance of human values to the community. She expressed her hope that the Dallas Walk for Values would be conducted in Plano once again next year.

Rev. Patrick Price recites a universal prayer
Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju speaks on human values
Proclamations read by Mayor of Plano, Pat Evans
Proclamation: "Walk for Values USA Day"

As a special treat, the students of Sai Spiritual Education performed an enchanting song on the importance of unity and living a life of values, followed by "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Singing the National Anthem
SSE children sing value songs

"Thank You Swami for giving us
Your Love in our hearts,
Your peace in our souls.
and Your joy in our lives".

The walk itself began with Mayor Evans cutting the ribbon and setting free a bunch of colorful balloons that caught everyone's eye and lifted spirits everywhere. The participants were organized by the value to which they pledged, and the walk began with the group walking for Truth, followed by the groups walking for Right Action, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence.

Plano Mayor Pat Evans inaugurates "Walk for Values" by cutting the ribbon,
flanked by Srinivas, Rev. Patrick Price, Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju, and Mukesh Solanki

Walk for Values T-shirts and caps, worn by most of the walkers, turned out to be a wonderful inspiration for unity and communion. Participants carried placards bearing slogans and sayings from various sources, including preceptors, thinkers, and leaders from around the world and throughout history, exhorting us to follow the path of morality, and to lead an upright life, true to the values that are inherent in all of us.

The event served as a platform to echo the voice of our beloved Swami along with the voices of other great personalities, including Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr, and others.

We can't wait for next year's Walk for Values!