I think there are many levels of relating and engaging in the world that contribute to creating a violent or a peaceful community. I continue to do Restorative Justice with youth, mostly fights and some training of others who work with youth. Most of our youth have witnessed domestic violence - or has another experience of suffering and loss that they are unable to hold on their own. When we meet and I ask about how it felt to "punch so and so in the face, again and again" they often say they just couldn't stop and some say it felt good. They can usually express some level of understanding about how the other person became "unreal" to them, simply an object upon which they released their anguish and anger, disappointment and pain.
I also train volunteers to work with people who are dying. I believe that each family that is somewhat "at peace' with the death of a loved one contributes to a peaceful community. Grief can make us so vulnerable to being "violent"- not in an extreme way necessarily, but in the small ways that add up.
At the same time that I am doing this outer work some of my journey is developing peace inside myself, so that i can take that where ever I go in the world. The more "at peace" I am the more deeply I can listen to what is being said and what is not said, and what is expressed non-verbally. I saw so many angry people in the peace movement in the 60's and the group meetings were often just terrible and verbally violent!
My steps are small perhaps but I believe that my effectiveness with the families and youth is founded on how aligned my mind, heart and actions are...how open i can be to respecting the humanity of all involved... "Watering" the seeds of what is best in each person...asking the "Golden" questions that illuminate the heart of the conflict and respecting and "insisting" that each person be responsible/accountable for their own actions-
Then they really do the peacebuilding themselves.
I find that meditation practice, time alone, time in nature and some time spent in creative endeavours is essential in maintaining my resilience and strength in the face of pain and suffering and loss. Thats the well i drink from...That and the unveiled face of the youth when they leave our Circle...their relief at knowing they can correct their behavior and "find a way back" to self-respect and the respect of their parents brings me joy!
What nourishes and sustains you in your work?
Thanks for your response Lily, now I have an image of the alternative education center you work within. Knowing you/it is there adds to my sense of the goodness in the world. The school setting sounds wonderful...nourishing and nurturing on many levels. Postive human connections make all the difference don't they.
unless there is peace inside, it is difficult to have peace (period). one can put on a facade of peace, but that is at best of times a very tiring and frustrating experience.
but when the world conspires to create a demon, and when the demons work is done, just leaves it to it own devices, that is when the demon turns on its masters, and the masters create another demon of axis of evil and war against this or that.
how do you take de-indoctrinate a indoctrinated mind? peace is not their ilk, meditation not their mind set, and the way back is more horrific that the way forward, at least the way forward has a indoctrinated reward !!!
what keeps me going (nourishes and sustains) is just a belief in the intrinsic goodness of mankind, nothing else.
Tahir, you sound like a man with a wisdom born of witnessing violence and suffering in the world. I am thinking about your comment regarding the creation of demons. Unfortunately, I do not think that any nation or government has not had a part in that kind of behavior. I know that demons of war and inhumane treatment are often created as a matter of "expediency"; to "insure" a desired result for a particular group of people. Sadly, throughout history, the door is sometimes opened to them because they pose as liberators to people who hunger for peace and freedom. I so hope that will not happen among the many nations pushing for freedom right now.
Your comment about indoctrination is huge and deep. Indoctrination works to define reality. Does a fish know the water it swims in? After all; that is the only world it knows. What is it that moves us to look beyond the water we swim in? Such a profound question.
I don't know how people come to take on the task of entering the unknown, where there is no indoctrinated reward as you so aptly stated. I think of all the movements towards freedom, taken by many people, at many times and in many ways and I am awed by their courage...the raw power of their hearts and what they are willing to risk. ANd i love your comment on indoctrinated reward. Action with no hope of reward, or action motivated by a new definition of reward, takes a truly dedicated heart, or one that has surrended to its intrinsic goodness.
The mystery of how change happens in individuals and societies has always intriuged me. I am going to hold this question in my mind and heart...and reflect on it via my personal experience Thank you Tahir.
you are welcome rose.
hope you have a chance to visit my blog and read my poems on my experiences.
this thread is awesome, and i feel that so much profound words have been said that i feel that my words have the least to offer!
I believe that meeting people that have gone through what I have been through helps people to cope. The sense of lonelyness and shame can shut people down and knowing that other people may have suffered the way you have will ease the pain and you will feel like finding your way back.
I appreciate your response Virginia. I was once told that shame could kill...and personally i know it can-if not physically, at least emotionally and spiritually - and I have witnessed how life-threatening it was for someone very dear to me to feel utterly alone with his pain...it was awful.
Kubler Ross once said that we "can make it through anything if we know that there is one person standing in the doorway who sees the truth of our situation"-even if they cannot undo it. That means alot to me in the work of "bearing witness" - to not be afraid to be in the presence of someone's suffering and pain. If we all looked squarely, with our hearts, at one another's pain no one would have to suffer alone.
Thanks for sharing this. I was recently invited to speak at my graduate school and reflected on a similar thing Rose. See: http://www.how-matters.org/2011/03/30/if-i-had-only-known/
“If you believe if you’re going to…change the world, you’re going to end up either a pessimist or a cynic. But if you understand your limited power and define yourself by your ability to resist injustice, rather than by what you accomplish, then I think reality is much easier to bear.” ~Chris Hedges