One Love: Author Robert Roskind pens peace
Blowing Rock author Robert Roskind sees life in threes - one
third you learn; one third you earn; and one third you serve.
Despite its inherent finality, the last third couldn't be more welcome to Roskind, who, with wife Julia, has devoted his life to spreading a simple message: One love.
The High Country can learn about this message over the next couple weeks at "One Love Wednesdays" at the Dancing Moon Earthway Bookstore in downtown Boone, where Roskind will host an informational (and oftentimes musical) series on his family's journeys to Jamaica, Guatemala and the southwestern United States.
Through his books and video footage, Roskind has gathered the knowledge of Rastafarian, Mayan, Hopi and Havasupai elders - peoples of different nations, but of one planet and a similar message.
"We decided to use all available time, energy and money to what we felt could best serve the planet," Roskind said, "to get a simple message out for people to claim themselves to teach love to the world, and things went from there. Once you make that commitment, your life takes a path of its own."
Roskind has authored six books, including "Rasta Heart: A Journey into One Love" and "Memoirs of an Ex-Hippie: Seven Years in the Counterculture," and his latest, "Staying Awake in the Sleeping World," to be released in January 2010, features a composite of lessons from his other works.
The concept of one love, Roskind explained, can be practiced by all, regardless of one's faith. Unconditional love, he said, includes all religions, excludes none and is "a message that liberates people who've come to believe their physical circumstances are limiting them."
It's a concept that transcends boundaries, linking cultures from one end of the world to likeminded individuals on another, as Roskind observed with Hopi and Havasupai Native Americans and Rastafarians.
"We've been to the best schools in the hemisphere and some of the worst, and it's always the same message - we're each given one six-billionth of the planet to heal, and we're perfectly prepared to do it," Roskind said.
The Roskinds and their daughter, Alicia, who graduated fromWatauga High School in 2005, have organized 94 free One Love concerts and events - 55 in Jamaica and 39 in the U.S. at Native American reservations, prisons and gatherings at colleges and other public venues.
These concerts feature performers of conscious reggae, which portrays a message of peace and harmony. The sole prerequisite is that one must be a "teacher of love."
The concerts culminated with the celebration of the late reggae legend Bob Marley's 60th birthday on Feb. 6, 2005, in Kingston, Jamaica, featuring performances by some of conscious reggae's brightest stars, including Bunny Wailer, Abijah and Mackie Conscious. The concert netted a live audience numbering in the tens of thousands, as well as a television and radio audience of nearly 2 million.
Their beginnings, though, were humble. In 2000, having decided to write a book about One Love in Jamaica, Roskind and family visited the country seven times over the course of a year, seeking out elder Rastafarians and learning their thoughts and feelings on the concept.
The result was "Rasta Heart: A Journey into One Love." Wishing to introduce his work to the Jamaican people, Roskind would host a concert on Bob Marley's birthday. Feeling the audience would have difficulty accepting such a message from a white American family, he began to ask around, surveying people to learn which reggae artists they considered teachers of love.
The survey yielded many names, and Roskind successfully contacted seven of the top 11 and asked if they'd be willing to perform. The answer was yes. "A true teacher of love sees past color and class," he said.
One question remained, though - the venue. Wishing to host the concert at Marley's house, which had been converted to a museum after his death, Roskind learned from Marley's mother, Cadella Booker (or "Mother B"), that the house was never rented by third parties. He told her, "My family has been sent to help complete your son's work," and after a 90-minute discussion, she agreed.
The initial concert celebrated One Love and Marley's 57th birthday, but subsequent celebrations would outgrow the venue. Instead, Roskind hosted One Love programs at schools in Jamaica's ghettos.
"We would host concerts deep in the ghetto where the government wouldn't go, teaching kids to teach love in that they're bigger than their environment," he said.
Roskind admitted that his family was initially met with some skepticism, but as it became evident that not a penny was earned or spent through the concerts, and with names like Bunny Wailer, Culture and Luciano gladly participating, they were able to win the confidence of their audience.
The Roskinds would go on to host celebrations for Marley's 58th, 59th and 60th birthdays, the last of which was even supported by the Jamaican government. "By the time we finished in Jamaica, the governor general was joining us, speaking at the events," Roskind said.
Now, the Roskinds are delivering the message stateside, hosting regular four- to seven-day Gathering of Peacemakers retreats at Camp Rockmount in Black Mountain. These particular events carry an admission charge to cover expenses, he said, but participants learn skills in sustainability and how to perpetuate the One Love mission.
"We haven't done too much here, because our work's been in Arizona, Jamaica and Guatemala, so we decided to come back and work with our own culture," he said.
His work in Boone comes courtesy of the Dancing Moon Earthway Bookstore (553 W. King St.), which hosted a discussion this past Wednesday on "Rasta Heart."
The next is Oct. 21, from 7 to 8:15 p.m., on "The Gathering of Healers: A Jamaican Odyssey." The concluding program will be held Oct. 28, from 7 to 8:15 p.m., on "The Beauty Path: A Native American Journey into One Love."
Each event will feature discussion and video footage of different cultural elders, including Rastafarians, Mayan, Hopi and Havasupai.
Roskind will host additional programs on his other works throughout November at the Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. On Saturday, Nov. 7, he'll perform in the one-man play version of his book, "Memoirs of an Ex-Hippie," and on Saturday, Nov. 21, he'll discuss "2012: The Transformation from the Love of Power to the Power of Love."
Both will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and cost $10 for general admission and $5 for students. One of Roskind's books is included with the ticket purchase.
For more information on Robert Roskind, visit http://www.onelovepress.com.