Saturday, September 22, 2012

Peace quote of the day - seeking connections

“Peace is not won by those who fiercely guard their differences, but by those who with open minds and hearts seek out connections.” - Katherine Paterson

I see this as a good "intercultural" quote, as intercultural relations are about, are based on, seeking connections with the "different other." In other words, good intercultural work is good peace work.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Peace Film: One Day After Peace

Robi Damelin is one of my peace heroes. The documentary of her story is now out. Here's the blurb and the link:

Can the means used to resolve the conflict in South Africa be applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? As someone who experienced both conflicts firsthand, Robi Damelin wonders about this. Born in South Africa during the apartheid era, she later lost her son, who was serving with the Israeli Army reserve in the Occupied Territories. At first she attempted to initiate a dialogue with the Palestinian who killed her child. When her overtures were rejected, she embarked on a journey back to South Africa to learn more about the country's Truth and Reconciliation Committee's efforts in overcoming years of enmity. Robi's thought-provoking journey leads from a place of deep personal pain to a belief that a better future is possible.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Peace Post of the Day: Richard Rohr on Nonviolence

"Nonviolence does not come easily or naturally. Even peace work can be a cover for a dark warrior, and I have met 'peace and justice people' who've never faced their needs for power and control. I've known military men more in charge of their aggressiveness than are many church folks and peaceniks. This is why we all need to do our spiritual work, and why spirituality is much more demanding than merely adopting a positive image, title, or job description, such as peace worker..."
Richard Rohr
On the Threshold of Transformation

This is one more testimony to the fact that true work for peace begins with "inner work" - becoming people who are at peace within ourselves, whose inner reality flows into outward peacemaking. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Parker Palmer on 9/11 - Might it have been different?

Sometimes our instinct to resolve tension quickly is played out on a much larger stage. When it became clear what had happened on September 11, 2001, the people of the United States were caught in a tension between the violence that had been done to us and what we would do in response. Of course, the outcome was never in doubt. We would respond by wreaking violence on the perpetrators – or on the stand-ins who could be made to look like the perpetrators – because that is what nation-states do.

But we had an alternative: we might have held that tension longer, allowing it to open us to a more life-giving response. If we had done so, we might have begun to understand that the terror Americans felt on September 11 is the daily fare of a great many people around the world. That insight might have deepened our capacity for global empathy. That empathy might have helped us become more compassionate and responsible citizens of the international community, altering some of our national policies and practices that contribute to the terror felt daily by people in distant lands. And those actions might have made the world a safer place for everyone, including us.

Had we held the tension longer, we might have been opened to the kinds of actions proposed by William Sloane Coffin – actions that place us in the gap between reality and possibility:

'We will respond, but not in kind. We will not seek to avenge the death of innocent Americans by the death of innocent victims elsewhere, lest we become what we abhor. We refuse to ratchet up the cycle of violence that brings only ever more death, destruction and deprivation. What we will do is build coalitions with other nations. We will share intelligence, freeze assets and engage in forceful extradition of terrorists if internationally sanctioned. [We will] do all in [our] power to see justice done, but by the force of law only, never the law of force.'

Instead of holding the tension and being pulled open to options such as these, we allowed ourselves to be caught on the horns of the 'fight or flight' dilemma. Since 'Americans never turn tail', we fought and, as of this writing, are still fighting. But we do not feel any safer today that we did on September 12, 2001. We have simply acquiesced to fear.”
Parker Palmer
A Hidden Wholeness

I like Palmer's reasoning, and I agree with him. I always felt that the U.S. responded to the attacks of 9/11 in a way that has worked against fighting terrorism (and promoting U.S. interests). (Note: I was living in Cairo on 9/11/01, and had been living in the Arab world for 18 years at that point.)

The question is, was the American government (or any government), and the American people (or any people) capable of the kind of restraint, foresight, life-giving and hope-giving response, that Palmer envisions? I would like to think so, but I have deep doubts...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peace Post of the Day: Parker Palmer on the "Third Way"

Parker Palmer, building on the previously quoted perspectives on violence, advocates "a 'third way' to respond to the violence of the world, so called because it gives us an alternative to the ancient instinct of 'fight or flight'. To fight is to meet violence with violence, generating more of the same; to flee is to yield to violence, putting private sanctuary ahead of the common good. The third way is the way of nonviolence, by which I mean a commitment to act in every situation in ways that honor the soul."

"As we create a safe space for each other's soul, we discover what it means to live nonviolently, and we develop a vision of how we might live that way in daily life."
Parker Palmer
A Hidden Wholeness

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Peace Quote of the Day - Parker Palmer on Violence

'I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life' (Deuteronomy 30:19)

“Yet when we 'choose life', we quickly confront the reality of a culture riddled with violence. By violence I mean more than the physical savagery that gets much of the press. Far more common are those assaults on the human spirit so endemic to our lives that we may or may not even recognize them as acts of violence.”

“Violence is done when parents insult children, when teachers demean students, when supervisors treat employees as disposable means to economic ends, when physicians treat patients as objects, when people condemn gays and lesbians 'in the name of God', when racists live by the belief that people with a different skin color are less than human. And just as physical violence may lead to bodily death, spiritual violence causes death in other guises – the death of a sense of self, of trust in others, of risk taking on behalf of creativity, of commitment to the common good. If obituaries were written for deaths of this kind, every daily newpaper would be a tome.”

“By violence I mean any way we have of violating the identity and integrity of another person. I find this definition helpful because it reveals the critical connections between violent acts large and small from dropping bombs on civilians halfway around the world to demeaning a child in a classroom.”

“Even if we do no more than acquiesce to small daily doses of violence, we become desensitized to it, embracing the popular insanity that violence is 'only normal' and passively assenting to its dominance.”
Parker Palmer
A Hidden Wholeness

I like Palmer's perspective on violence, because if we are going to work for peace in the world, we have to start with an integrated, holistic perspective on what peace (and violence, lack of peace) is; and we need to become people who recognize and work against violence in all forms, at all levels of life (beginning with my own interactions with everyone I meet).