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Adhiratha Kevin Keefe
UNICEF Records and Archive Management

Paul Even Peters: In memory to a Loving Activist

Paul is one on the planet that gave me tremendous hope. We went through the "second formative years" together. I was a bit outrageous and impulsive and he would provide me with the intellectual backup and encouragement to know there was some substance behind my strong feelings. I admired him so much, it was some times embarrassing- especially when we didn't believe there were any real teachers at the time, only shared learners. I believed in what he did and would try to find out where he was from time to time and reconnect... He was the first person I met who could be in many worlds at the same time.

He would be outraged at injustice and quietly go back to working for change, while I was still incoherent. When he was on a ticket for executive vice president of student government, I really didn't have too much faith in such efforts. Then I got involved and became supportive of a more radical candidate, but as I went around speaking to others, many would tell me they would not vote for my first choice. I would then add, "then vote for Paul's ticket, he is practical, has good values and you know he will get things done"... His ticket was elected, he got things done and I became more involved in part due to his example and challenge.

He was a role model and friend: He believed in the arts and was active with the theatre group. Obviously outstanding in computer science [considered nerd land or incomprehensible in the 1960's] and he was actively involved in real community development and student politics [this to me was an example of a fully alive person]. I remember he shared how frustrated he was, when after lobbying for more student representation on committees, he was informed by university administrators that they would be more inclined to allow additional representatives if there were more student's "like Paul".

It some times confused or upset me when I learned that a few who knew Paul some how mistrusted him because of his multiple interests or felt he was cold. It also gave me a kind of delight to see him passionate about change... He liked words and their meanings - once I questioned him about using the label "activist", since it seemed to have negative effect - he strongly defended the term. That's just one who takes action, he said. Why give up such a great word because people don't think - If called an activist [in a pejorative sense] then just say how proud you are to be one - a practical idealist.

I remember him coming back to Dayton, to visit our house and us visiting Pittsburgh and going a bit in the country and exploring our alternative lifestyle building dreams. We shared some of these stories when I had dinner with he and Rosemarie in Washington a few years back and I didn't really want to be dropped off as we were driving back to my hotel after the dinner.

He came to UNICEF in the 1970's and [again] gave intellectual support - This time to my feelings that we had much to gain if the Children's Fund organised and managed our information better. After that I would from time to time send him listings of related vacancies in UNICEF or UN with the hopes of getting him directly involved - and with the personal selfish wish to see him work up close again and get the benefit of his advice on how to move things in his unique way.

While at Columbia he helped me draft a recommendation for my spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, to be nominated for an honorary degree from the University of Dayton. He told me to think of what the University and the teacher shared in common and then kept reminding me to think of what the persons' who might be making a decision needed to know....not necessarily what I wanted to tell them - but what they will be able to hear...

I wanted him to focus more actively on "spiritual" pursuits ... From the way that he touched me and all the others it is obvious that this was a good part of what he was doing all along.... And I wondered about his health...and the pressure that he absorbed and diffused in order to make others feel more at ease and to make things happen...

We had a lengthy discussion on the need for detached action once. Paul's position [at least on that occasion] was he didn't quite understand how one could be fully involved it he did not care about the results.... Paul cared about most everything - process, people and results..

How I found out that Paul was not available - I wanted to give a colleague at UNICEF his address for a possible CNI related project - I came on the WEB and...

He was good, kind, sincere - Paul - so full ... I guess his personal work was done this time...and yet my heart and my eyes cry ... May we work and laugh together again...

- Adhiratha Adhiratha Kevin Keefe = p.s. I wrote this last evening before leaving work 19 May - as I was going home I realised I had one more thing to be thankful for... those of us who didn't immediately know about Paul's physical passing had many more month's thinking we could eventually see him again or call for advice .... I'll treasure that..Supreme, I bow to Thee.

[Picture: Paul Evan Peters]