Joaquin and the Shanti Sena: A Story for Children (Chapter One)

Children need to be included in nonviolence learning. Here's Chapter 1 of 6 from a story for our friend Joaquin. It's about how he is starting a Shanti Sena (peace army) with some big figures in nonviolence. Please share with a child in your life and share their questions with us!

Chapter 1: A chess match with Gandhi?

It was exactly 8:29 am on Saturday when Joaquin realized he had lost his Queen. He really didn’t believe his eyes at first, so he rubbed them and looked closer at his chessboard. Nope, she was gone. Maybe the wind had knocked her off. It didn’t seem likely as he didn’t feel any wind. Still, he ran over to the window and pulled it shut. Getting down on his hands and knees, he crawled under the table. Putting his cheek on the floor, he thrust his arm under the couch. Nothing. He got up and ran over to the kitchen, grabbed a heavy metal flashlight and ran back to the couch. With his right hand, he held the light and squinted to see better. No luck at all. A few coins, a few old bits of popcorn, but no Queen. She was really missing. 

He sat for a moment, puzzled at how this could have happened, when a wave of disappointment washed over him. Tears started streaming down his face. Now, Joaquin wouldn’t normally be upset by something like losing a chess piece, but today was a special day. At precisely 9:15, in little over a half an hour, none other than Mahatma Gandhi himself had promised to come and play one round of chess with him (and Gandhi had never played chess before!). He had a ton of questions–well- at least ten or so–he wanted to ask Gandhi, too. Now, his chance looked like it was slipping from his hands. No Queen, no Chess. Gandhi may just decide to call it off, he feared.


Wait… Did we just hear that Joaquin was scheduled to play a game of chess with Mahatma Gandhi, like, The Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi? The leader of the Indian Freedom Struggle, Gandhi? Like, the Gandhi who systematically developed the science of nonviolence so that people across the world and across generations could find a way out of violence, Gandhi? 

We sure did! It had to to with a gift from his grandmother when he was just three weeks old. 

When Joaquin was three weeks old, Gammi was holding and smiling at him in her arms. Joaquin was just a tiny infant, and had no words, certainly not the kind of words that he has today as he can say long sentences like, “We have to oppose the behavior of people without resisting the person who is offering the behavior.”  (He had already learned a lot from Gandhi…) On this day, however, Joaquin, swaddled in a blue wool blanket, looked squarely at his Gammi, and then squarely at her shirt, and then back at his Gammi, and said a word. In fact, he said it three times, because Gammi didn’t believe her ears, and was just a little more than surprised at what was happening.  It was the most perfect word she had ever heard spoken by a child of just three weeks old. And it brought a big smile to her face–and his.

The word was PEACE. 

Gammi had waited for this day for a long time. Years. And she knew just what to do. Carefully handing the wide-eyed, smiling Joaquin back to his mother, and she went over to her purse, and pulled out an ornate, silver metal tube that had a piece of paper tucked inside, wrapped up like a scroll. She unrolled the paper and read these words: 

A yellow rose, a golden sun,

A child whose work has just begun. 

A open-heart, a Spirit bright

With protection from the force of Love and Light. 

Make your prayer for this child of peace here. 

And Gammi made her prayer for Joaquin. This is how she did it:  She sat down, with her head, neck, and back in a straight line. Closing her eyes, she took three deep breaths and made her body completely calm. In her mind, she kept out all other thoughts, and every time she heard a noise or felt a sensation, she turned her attention back to this center of peace in herself. When she was sure she was completely concentrated, she quietly whispered this prayer to her heart: 

May this child always have the guidance of the spirit of Peace. May the Great Souls be with him always. 

Little did Gammi know that her prayer for Joaquin was heard right away, like an echo across the universe, across all time and space! And as Joaquin grew, just like any other kid, inside of him, a great plan for peace was unfolding. Even more mysterious, he began to realize that the great peacemakers of the world were more than historical figures in books, they became his real friends. They would visit him sometimes in dreams, sometimes in real life. 

Which brings us back to where we left off: Joaquin, his missing Queen, and Gandhi coming over. 


Discussion Questions:

  1. Think about what you just read. Would you like to draw a picture to illustrate this chapter? 
  2. What do you think happened to Joaquin’s Queen? 
  3. How did it feel the last time you lost something? Did you find it? Tell the story! 
  4. Joaquin knows at least one principle of nonviolence. What is it, and what does it mean? 
  5. In this story, what word did Joaquin’s Gammi hear him say? Why is this a special word? 
  6. What does Joaquin’s Gammi wish for him? Would you like to make a wish using this formula for someone in your life? Give it a try! 
  7. If you could ask Mahatma Gandhi a question, what would it be?
This story was produced by Metta Center for Nonviolence

We provide educational resources on the safe and effective use of nonviolence, with the recognition that it’s not about putting the right person in power but awakening the right kind of power in people. We advance a higher image of humankind while empowering people to explore the question: How does nonviolence work, and how can I actively contribute to a happier, more peaceful society?

Waging Nonviolence partners with other organizations and publishes their work.