All of us can be part of the peace process
I came down to our farm last weekend to write this newspaper column. I can think better sitting on the front porch of our cabin in what I call Peaceful Valley. Besides, I wanted to continue our conversation about ‘peace’ that began the last time I wrote and what could be a better match.
To start the day, I turned on the TV for a quick update on the news but instead was confronted with the Discovery/Times channel and an intense in-depth report by Thomas Freidman. He is a world famous reporter who constantly alerts us to the fact that we are all connected in this our ‘global living room.’
The reality he presented this day was of violence in the Middle East and futile efforts of building peace in the region by building a ‘wall’ to separate the warring parties. In speaking with citizens on both sides of the wall, the messages seemed to be the same: When people become desperate and without hope, they will do anything to effect change in their lives even if that means death from this earth. Thus we have suicide terrorists and counter attacks of great military and international implication.
The new ‘wall’ that defines the Israel border was called by one scholar, ‘The longest wailing wall in history.’ He lamented that people are ‘crying on both sides.’ Where will it stop? It is so beyond me.
And then I remember again the hymn that pleads: ‘Let there be peace on earth.’ It starts with a cry for the realization of a universal peace between all living creatures living everywhere and ends with these sobering personal words of responsibility: ‘And let it begin with me.’ What does that mean and how are we as individual to impact this overwhelming condition of conflict?
There is a group in Indianapolis that works with children that can give us all some direction in constructive conflict resolution in our everyday lives. It is called the Peace Learning Center. Tim Nation as the executive director and Benjamin Hunter as the chairman of the center’s board have given us some good guidelines for our lives in the following views they shared in an Indianapolis Star article:
‘Peace is possible in our community. Unfortunately, minor situations too often turn into violent tragedies when we don’t deal with issues as they come up. That is why Peace Learning Center promotes safe and common ways to work out conflicts, just like the rules of the road for driving help us safely get to where we want to go.
‘It is important for everyone to realize many of our problems can be worked out if we ask some questions and get more information before making assumptions about other people’s intentions. We must remember what not to do in a conflict: No fouls.
‘What are fouls? This list everyone knows well from their own experiences: Blaming, put-downs, teasing, threatening, lying, getting even, bossing, making excuses, hitting, grabbing, name calling and not listening, all things that take us away from peace and add frustration to our lives. Most people would probably agree if we did away with all those fouls, the world would be a more peaceful place.’
‘A technique Peace Learning Center shares with more than 8,000 youth, parents and adults each year includes this simple idea: If someone fouls you, come back with a question instead of fouling them back.
‘Questions show you are ready to talk things through instead of letting the other person get the worst of you by returning fire.
‘We all have the potential to be peacemakers. It takes a consistent approach by adults and youth to not tolerate fouls and keep each other accountable. Next time you are fouled, try a question in response. See what happens.’
This advice challenges me to be a part of the peace process. No more wringing of hands and blaming or waiting on the international negotiators to change our world. There is something we can do.
‘Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.’