DoPeace

Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

Matthew Albracht

Arizona Tragedy: Sharing our feelings and looking towards healing

Many of us were shaken and disturbed by the tragic shootings in Arizona this past Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families, the six who were killed and twelve others who are struggling to heal from their wounds -- including for Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to be the main target of the attack.

This attack is a wake-up call for America, a call challenging us to step into our potential for compassion, for right relationships, and for a far more healthy political discourse. We must stand together in respectful dialogue as we begin to heal this rift in our nation.

Please use this space to share your thoughts about what happened, how you are feeling and any other ideas about how we might work to shift the cultural and political dialogue.  Our role as peacebuilders is an important one right now.

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We Are At War With Ourselves

 

The culture of violence needs to be replaced, not overwhelmed with police powers, not corrected with underfunded agencies, not locked up in a jail cell, not treated as somebody else's problem.  It's our problem.

 

Only when something truly stunning happens do we stop talking and begin to feel our feelings, identify our feelings, and act on our feelings instead of our preconceived notions.  Unfortunately, for Americans, the judgments and preconceived notions return quickly and we may need to be stunned many times before we just shut up and listen.  America will shift to a culture of nonviolent conflict resolution and perhaps have a Department of Peace when we learn to listen to each other, deeply, listen to our own true inner selves, deeply, and when we listen to the deep nature of the Universe.  We are so busy talking we forget to listen.  We are so attached to what we are saying we forget to listen.

 

I agree with those who say peace cannot come from government, that the actual experience of peace is found within and permeates outward.  Ultimately it does come from within, and what is to stop us from giving peace TO the government?  The systematic abuses of privilege and power by the government, corporations, parents -- everyone -- has become so acceptable that structures for reversing that system need to be created, real external structures that nurture that seed of peace from within.

 

We are at war with ourselves, we are deathly ill with interpersonal and systemic violence inflicted on ourselves.  Even within ourselves there exists a conflict, a separation, between head and heart that goes unacknowledged because of the incredible grief, pain, and rage that would flow if ever they should be connected.  We have no healthy models of what to do with our pain, so we stuff it deep.  I encourage everyone to feel it, let the tears flow, and discover underneath them the willingness to dedicate our every ounce of energy to the creation of a culture of nonviolent conflict resolution.

 

The time is ripe for genuine weeping, empathy for ourselves and others, and a radical shift in our strategies for achieving security, health, and growth.

 

"I deserve better. YOU deserve better."  Perhaps this is the broken bottom line, perhaps this is where outrage numbs out, chokes up, stalls.  How many people ever thought that we DESERVE an end to violence?  What a novel, radical thought, to have the hutzpah to even think it!  I'm not being sarcastic, I think it's very real in our culture that many of us, most of us, secretly think so little of ourselves and our lives that we deserve to be annihilated, squashed, splattered, and as we think of ourselves, so we think of others.  No real value among us, just dog-eat-dog competition for the table scraps.  This is all very unconscious, and if confronted, it would be denied, yet I believe it is true.

 

What if we had the conscious awareness in every moment that everything we think, feel, or do - how we express who we truly Are - affects the history of humanity forever?  How would we respond to that responsibility?   Do you feel response-able?

 

Sometimes we have to hit bottom in order to find which way is up, have our hearts broken open repeatedly until they stay open.  Awareness is just the first step of a long journey.  To be on the path is everything, to be moving one step at a time in the right direction, is all that matters.  Perhaps in this crisis, we will finally be motivated to teach ourselves the lessons of nonviolence.  It will take some time, some practice, some real effort, and genuine courage to do what we have never done before.  Keep moving, keep flying, and don't look down.

 

Peace.  Now.

Yes, I agree with you. We need to expect peace, to know that we deserve a world free of violence. I agree too with:

America will shift to a culture of nonviolent conflict resolution and perhaps have a Department of Peace when we learn to listen to each other, deeply, listen to our own true inner selves, deeply, and when we listen to the deep nature of the Universe.  We are so busy talking we forget to listen.

My partner and I participated in the call last night, and we listened. We heard voices from around the country, people sharing how the Tucson shooting affected them, and later, what they thought we should be doing in our homes, our communities and cities, and as a nation to address the issues. What I heard the most was a call to understand our children.

A teacher spoke of children having uncontrollable urges to destroy furniture in the classroom. He says in forty years of teaching, he has watched children become increasingly violent. It is not uncommon for him to have to restrain violent children--several times a week!

Others spoke to the need of children and youth to find meaning in their lives, and how gangs fill that need.

As parents, grandparents, teachers, advisers, more than ever, we need to listen to our children. They are the future. Will they grow up to a life so disaffected they kill themselves and others? Will they grow up to lead us from the legacy of over-consumption, greed and distraction so many of us are leaving them? How we listen and respond to our children is perhaps the most critical action any of us take in building a peaceful world.

If we all accepted a compassionate response to Jared Loughner, might he not receive the help he needs instead of the death penalty?
Excellent question.  The death penalty just seems to perpetuate the same negativity that spurred the tragic events in the first place.
If the prevailing belief were to respond with compassion, yes he would.

I agree with you...if compassion prevailed as we would so want it to do! 

I would add that we would also need to have wisdom and learning prevail, too.  Jared is said to have mental problems of some longstanding.  Wouldn't it be good if we could come to understand that the death penalty--which is portrayed as the ultimate deterrent from crime--is unrelated to mental illness? There is no one with a mental illness who is going to derive any learning integrating their delusions or confusions with the possibility of the death penalty.

 

And, would we be asking too much to consider forgiveness...all the way round? Is that too radical?

You are absolutely right. I've never understood the death penalty as a deterrent, and certainly not as punishment of the mentally ill for society's failure to help them. I can imagine that forgiveness is difficult for many, but forgiveness and loving compassion are what many of us have been taught from the time we were wee ones in the playground. Or does forgiveness only count when we're children and being told to share our toys?

A key question I have is: what we can do, as the Peace Alliance network, as peacebuilders, to help inform the debate?  Help lift the dialogue, away from the demonizing and punishment mentality that has already so deeply infected our political discourse.  I'd like to see us hold the space for more respect, accountability, honesty and compassion. Anger and passion can certainly have their place, but we also have to be incredibly mindful of the impact of our words and actions. 

 

I feel like there is an important place to call out the hate-mongering that we have been seeing more and more of, and, we also need to encourage and demand civility. There are many things that help create a culture of violence.  The media and political discourse certainly have a large role to play.  As do our gun laws, lack of adequate mental health infrastructure and many other factors. 

 

But ultimately, if we could get to the bottom of how we interact with each other both personally and politically, learn to listen more compassionately, respect and honor perspectives, and also speak truth to power, it could go a long way towards better solutions emerging.  Right now it seems our politicians and political pundits especially, are just stirring trouble and division.  I'd like to see us calling that out and encouraging a higher discourse. 

Last night's telephone conference was a start, and I'd like to hear your ideas for how we might amplify the call to compassionate, peaceful discourse.

I agree with you completely.  We each have a personal responsibility to take action and call them out!

Please see this blog post and consider adopting the Peace Pledge at the end, and commit to taking the recommended actions.  If this  pledge became viral and enough people committed to seriously acting on it, I believe it would start to heal the toxic political atmosphere in our country.  At any rate, it would be an excellent tool for building a grassroots culture of peace.
http://dopeace.us/profiles/blogs/i-pledge-to-stop-supporting 

The most important thing each of us can do is to be committed to sow peace within, at home and at work--in every relationship, in every circumstance, in every condition. To do that, I believe, we need to take time every day to sit quietly and reflect on how we are living in alignment with our values, vision, beliefs and purpose AND demonstrating that in every moment.

 

When we focus on what we are giving of ourselves to move peace forward in every circumstance--including our upset over inhumanities such as the Arizona events, we lift the general consciousness.  As the founder of Sow Peace™ International, I know, as you do, that peace cannot be a passive default setting. It is an active choice for each of us. It has nothing to do with doormats and cheekturnings...lol.  Let's be sure we have our personal ducks in a row by demonstrating peace in all our interactions, internal and external first.  

I invite you to visit Sow Peace and engage with the blog postings there, too, as your contributions would be so valued.

 

Continue to Sow Peace,
Rhoberta

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