Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

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It is so urgent and natural for us to gather and talk of peace. Why? I find in my daily life that I get discouraged sometimes, and wonder if humanity will ever get its act together. Youth violence is out of control since homicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds, make that number one for African American youth.

This fact startles me everytime I say it or write it or hear it.

Our pop culture and daily media exposure would lead one to think that at our essence, as a species, we are violent; selfish and short-sighted. Believing in ourselves and our capacity for peace and justice is challenging.
Yet this does not match my experince of real human beings. As an elementary school teacher I spent lots of time with humans not fully indoctrinated by the modern culture, and what I saw in the hiundreds of children I worked and lived with was a very different picture. Humans who are fresher from the Source of Life are compassionate, funny, creative, resilient, and forgiving. They love justice (They call it "fair"). They want to "make up" and be friends and want conflicts resolved in repectful and inclusive ways. They offer compassionate support to each other without training or prompting. They naturally seek honestly, inclusive solutions and inspired me every day of my eleven years of teaching. Nothing I read or see on tv could change this deep experience of humanity.

Believing in peace is the first step towards creating it, Our gathering this way is urgent and important because we can not create what we do not deeply know is possible. Our mutual support reminds us of the truth of our hearts and minds for peace. It is our collective and coordinated actions that will bring the policies forward that will allow us to generate a new perspective, this new possiblity from a dream to practice and policy. I am so grateful to all of you for your personal effortsto bring forth a culture of peace in our personal lives in and in national priorities.

We have to believe in peace, work for peace, speak of peace, in every conversation we have. Together we can make that happen. Recently my grandaughter who is now entering middle school told me that "clicks" were now part of her daily life, and she is upset and saddened by it. Two girls in her class were having a "feud" and asking all their schoolmates to "take sides". One afternoon in the lunchroom when being pressured to choose her side and sit with one or the other of these two groups of girls, and she got so upset she yelled at all of them in the lunch room,
"I won't choose sides!! I don't believe in sides! If we start choosing sides we are all in trouble!" Afterwards she called me and asked me what I thought about this. "Do you think I shouldn't have yelled that way at everyone?" I was so touched by her wisdom, and concern for the impact of her anger on others. What would it look like if our world leaders refused to take sides? What would happen to all the wars if a rejection of the concept of "sides" was the norm.

The children and youth in our lives have wisdom to offer us. Listen to them, and ask them questions about their expereinces of conflict and thoughts about what needs to be done to bring more peace and kindness into all our lives. You will be impressed with the wisdom of their thinking; and their sadness about the current cultural norms. You might be suprised by their eagerness to heal the world, however we can. It is these qualities, natural to our species, that give me hope for the future and fuels my activism and use of Nonviolent Communication.

What about you? What fuels your actions? What gives you the hope and clarity to move forward in resolving conflicts and being an advocate for peace and justice?

A few weeks ago, my sister's husband went into the hospital for emergency open heart surgery. I learned so much sitting in the hospital with her and other famly members. Did you know that "heart bi-pass" surgery is becoming one of the most frequently done surgeries in America? Intersting metaphor, don't you think?

The other outcome of this famly event was how it brought our famly so much closer when we confronted the ephemeral nature of life. What really is important? My sister and I have not been very close over the past three decades. We weren't in a feud, but we were not living in love and appreciation for one another. All of that is changed. She and I have never been closer, and never been clearer how much we DO really love and value each other. Death is an amazing advisor. I am grateful for this transformation. Grateful for the tenderness I feel for her, her husband and all our family. Deeper peace in our families is always possible!

Thanks for being you, and for making the world of our deepest dreams and desires increasingly possible.

With love and peace,

Lynn McMullen
ED The Peace Alliance

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Comment by jan mercuri grossman on August 13, 2009 at 1:54am
Thank you Lynn for sharing on this level.
You wrote;
"The children and youth in our lives have wisdom to offer us. Listen to them, and ask them questions about their experiences of conflict and thoughts about what needs to be done to bring more peace and kindness into all our lives. You will be impressed with the wisdom of their thinking; and their sadness about the current cultural norms. You might be surprised by their eagerness to heal the world, however we can."

Our (the earth's) children and youth are what "fuels my actions".
We had the good fortune of being accompanied by nine Nashua Community College students (NH) at the 2009 National Dept. of Peace conference in D.C. As we lobbied the Hill, they each spoke briefly on how violence had personally impacted their young lives. The aides, being younger themselves, listened quite intently to them and were visibly moved, a few adding their own stories in empathetic understanding. Although the present aides were not the elected "power" holders, they one day very well may be.
I agree, have your community youth and children share their stories. They do have wisdom to offer us.
Comment by PENDATUN A. PANGADIL on July 6, 2009 at 10:24pm

I just want to reach you and express my feelings and willingness to join your journey for peace. I am Dr. Pendatun A. Pangadil, the Executive Director of the Alliance of Bangsamoro for Peace and Sustainable Development, Inc. an umbrella organization of local NGO's, PO's and Cooperatives in Mindanao.

Actually, we as human beings need to possess the attribute of "PEACE", as this defines many things along the way of our existence. To start manifesting the mundane life existence, the essence of peace shall be the main value to be endowed with, otherwise there would be no direction to be portrayed. Hoping that peace shall be the governing principle for once life. Expect us to share what you had in mind and share you several things.
Comment by Jerilyn Stapleton on July 1, 2009 at 11:37pm
Dear Lynn,
Thank you for sharing your stories, especially about your grandaughter. It made me realize why I felt so uncomfortable with another organization putting pressure on me to choose sides when I didn't feel that was the way to build peace between the two factions. I so agree with you on "sides" and the rest of your blog.
Comment by Matthew Albracht on June 29, 2009 at 1:35pm
I'm with you Lynn! Well stated. It all begins with our own faith in what is possible and we build from there. It does feel true that our culture does not often reflect back to us the better parts of our nature, or the stories about better ways of 'being' together. Thanks for writing this...
Comment by DoPeace Admin on June 28, 2009 at 4:45pm
I believe in peace, Lynn! Thanks for sharing your stories and providing additional insights.

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