The Man in the Mirror: A Glimpse at the Heart and Mind behind TRANSCEND Media Service
EDITORIAL, 30 Oct 2023
“…If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change…”
— Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard
Tucked into a corner of a tiny apartment on the 8th floor of a block of flats not far from the Douro River in Porto, Portugal, are a small desk, two laptops and an orthopedic chair. “This,” proclaimed Antonio with a flourish, “is TMS!”
Earlier this month, I visited the 77-year-old TMS editor, Antonio Carlos da Silva Rosa, for the second time, and would like to paint for readers a picture of the person whose mission is delivering a collection of truth-seeking, solutions-oriented, peace-journalistic articles and commentaries to your in-box every Monday since 2008.
Fellow TRANSCEND member and co-convener of TRANSCEND USA, Diane Perlman, based in Washington DC, accompanied me to Porto. We are seeking ways to elevate awareness of Johan Galtung’s life work and the all-important TRANSCEND Method of Conflict Transformation in the “belly of the beast,” where she and I reside. Antonio gave us valuable input in the course of our extensive conversations over the week we spent there.
Meeting for dinner upon our evening arrival didn’t fit into his daily routine, which involves rising at 3:00am daily, working long hours reading and scavenging the web for pearls of articles appropriate for TMS, and retiring to bed around 8:30pm. The next day, Antonio invited us to a simple, tasty lunch at the Krishna Hindu Temple in a narrow stone building on an alleyway in Porto’s historic district.
Born in São Paulo in 1946 to an Afro-Brazilian father and a Euro-Indigenous mother who died when he was nine years old, Antonio’s youth was fraught with instability, loneliness, and frustration. After a few years of attending a Roman Catholic seminary leading to the priesthood, he left ‘because the Bible never answered my existential questions,’ he explains. By age 16 he was drinking heavily. Other drugs followed and he soon found himself living on the streets of Brazil’s most populous city, immersed in the 1960’s Hippie Movement.
Ironically, after spending a year of mandatory military service guarding the Brazilian President in Brasilia, he was arrested and tortured by agents of the 1964 coup d’état regime who suspected him of being a Communist, based on a membership card in his possession to the Brazil-Russia Cultural Union. The utterly non-political 20-year-old had joined in order to learn how to play chess, and eventually convinced his captors and tormentors that he was no threat to the powers that be.
Angry and embittered, the substance abuse and precarious street life continued until Antonio happened upon a group of Krishna devotees in 1975. When offered the opportunity to become a monk in the austere, peaceful space of this spiritually welcoming community, he readily accepted. Aspects of the routine he adopted there 50 years ago—simple living/high thinking, rising daily before dawn, vegetarian diet and sobriety–he retains to this day.
Within a month, the Brazilian Hare Krishna Movement sent him to their headquarters in Los Angeles, California, to help translate the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-gita to Portuguese. In 1977 he made his way to Honolulu, left the temple life, and entered the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
There, another turning point occurred in the mid-1980’s. As a sophomore student of journalism and political science, he attended a class from Prof. Johan Galtung, planting the seeds for a fruitful collaboration that blossomed and still remains. Galtung already knew the reputation of this now highly political writer for the student newspaper, Kaleo O Hawai’i, and welcomed him into the world of Peace Studies. Eventually, Galtung became his Ph.D. committee chair. Antonio now perceived a whole new realm of possibilities for solving the world’s seemingly intractable problems open up to him. His time in Hawaii included an arduous and fulfilling year living and volunteering at the Malu ‘Aina Farm and Center for Nonviolent Education and Action.
Having endured torture by electric shocks, Antonio told me he felt rage, powerlessness and the urge for revenge at the Brazilian anti-communist repression, engendered in the USA (Operation Condor under Henry Kissinger). But he found another way. With the help of the Krishna community, regular attendance at AA and NA meetings, intense group therapy, and immersion into the field of Nonviolent Conflict Transformation, he found his way back to the deeper core that is committed to peace and continual self-improvement. He respects all people, fears no one and harbors no grudges or ill-will toward his past or anyone who has harmed him or with whom he disagrees. He cites Gandhi: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ [i]
After moving to Portugal in 1994, he miraculously shed all his demons once and for all, being clean and sober for 26 years in 2023. His manic-depression has also mysteriously disappeared.
In 2004, on a whim, he decided to contact his former professor now living in France, who was delighted to hear from him. Antonio has been working as Galtung’s assistant, as Secretary to TRANSCEND, and as editor of TMS since. Diane and I first met Antonio at TRANSCEND gatherings in Cluj, Romania (2005), and Vienna, Austria (2007).
Many of you readers have no doubt encountered his big heart and keen mind, if not in person, then through his writings, videos, announcements and appeals published on TMS. See below for links to much of his extensive body of work. In 2020 he developed scoliosis in the spinal cord; walking and traveling have since become increasingly more difficult.
In October 2017, Antonio organized a memorable symposium in and around Porto to honor Johan Galtung’s 87th birthday, bringing together Portuguese students, professors, local media and international visitors, which I was honored to attend. As Galtung is currently retired from writing and public speaking due to advanced age and frail health, I particularly relish memories of the last time our paths crossed.
In his well-attended lectures at Minho University in Braga and the University in Coimbra, one of Europe’s oldest, Galtung fingered the US and Israel as the most belligerent countries today. We heard familiar themes. He stressed the importance of identifying and solving underlying conflicts, via mapping (“What do you want?”), legitimizing (“How do you justify what you want? Do you grant your adversaries the same?”), and bridging (both-and solutions), with the crucial added element of conciliating past traumas.
He reiterated his proposal for West Asia (aka the Middle East): Israel and Palestine as two states (1967 borders with some small land swaps, Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and right of return affirmed, numbers to be negotiated), within a six-State community (Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt), within a twenty-State Security Cooperation Organization in the broader region, all embracing peaceful cooperation in cultural, economic, social and security areas.
Galtung noted that true security can only be achieved by eliminating structural violence and nurturing horizontal relations. He advocated “equi-archy,” with distributive and equitative justice ensuring mutual and equal benefits for all parties. The bottom line is meeting basic human needs for all members of the human family, a goal that remains elusive but is achievable.
At that time, six years ago, Galtung was predicting the decline of the US Empire by 2020. Well, we’re a few years beyond that, yet the signs are apparent all around us that the majority of the world’s population is rejecting US exceptionalism and insisting on multi-polarity and mutual respect.
The mainstream corporate media feeds on violence and catastrophes, ignoring root causes and downplaying successes. But thanks to Antonio’s tireless efforts, we have ready access to the TMS weekly compendium of insightful analyses and practical ideas for mediation and solutions.
The 2017 Porto symposium concluded on 24 October with a beautiful birthday lunch for Johan Galtung in the Krishna Temple’s small garden. While enjoying the delectable vegan buffet and refreshing non-alcoholic beverages, we also raised a toast to our host extraordinaire, Antonio C. S. Rosa.
I invite you all to show support and build on the spirit of TRANSCEND Media Service in any way you can, i.e., by
- encouraging others to subscribe to TMS
- commenting on TMS articles and engaging in discussion
- submitting articles to TMS
- donating financially to TMS
- putting ideas for solutions that you read about in TMS into practice in your own life, in your community and throughout the world.
[i] Gandhi actually said: “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California. A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of the International Center for 9/11 Justice, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.
Antonio C. S. Rosa (Antonio Carlos da Silva Rosa), born 1946, is founder-editor of the pioneering Peace Journalism website, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS (from 2008), an assistant to Prof. Johan Galtung, Secretary of the International Board of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, and recipient of the Psychologists for Social Responsibility’s 2017 Anthony J. Marsella Prize for the Psychology of Peace and Social Justice. He is on the Global Advisory Board of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies and completed his B.A., M.A., and graduate Ph.D. work in the fields of Communication-Journalism and Political Science-Peace Studies/International Relations at the University of Hawai’i. Originally from Brazil, he lives presently in Porto, Portugal. Antonio was educated in the USA where he lived for 20 years; in Europe-India since 1994. Books: Transcender e Transformar: Uma Introdução ao Trabalho de Conflitos (from Johan Galtung, translation to Portuguese, 2004); Peace Journalism: 80 Galtung Editorials on War and Peace (2010, editor); Cobertura de Conflitos: Jornalismo para a Paz (from Johan Galtung, Jake Lynch & Annabel McGoldrick, translation to Portuguese, 2010). TMS articles by Antonio HERE. Videos HERE and HERE.
Tags: Antonio C. S. Rosa, History, Johan Galtung, Peace Journalism, Portugal, TRANSCEND Media Service, TRANSCEND Method, TRANSCEND Network
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Oct 2023.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: The Man in the Mirror: A Glimpse at the Heart and Mind behind TRANSCEND Media Service, is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.
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