This week I learned about peace. I was given the grace to hear a friend’s stories about the impact of racism in her life, in the life of her family. That opened me to begin to ask other friends. I have spent the last couple weeks listening to people I considered close friends tell me things that they had never before felt safe enough to tell me. Then I listened to new friends, who also told me stories about racism and how it has affected their lives.
Then our family watched 13.
Listen: Nothing in that movie was news to me and yet, somehow, I had imagined that racism had not touched any friends’ lives. It happened to other people. Not suburban moms.
So. Now I am committed to staying in my discomfort until there is justice. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to.
I am reminded, though, of times when my family has been in a place of tension. Or when I have been at a state of unease. The way to peace is not by pretending everything is fine. The way to peace is not silence and complicity. The way to peace often hurts and can feel, frankly, like you don’t think you have the emotional strength to get there.
I am relying on my years of dedication to peace in myself, in my family, in my extended community, to know that it is both possible and necessary to strive for and actively work toward peace in our world. And we cannot say we have peace in Canada or the United States or in any country when there is one (or more) groups who are suffering at the hands of the rest of that society.
So, yeah. Peace. I feel like the best I can say about peace is that it isn’t the easiest thing to strive for but it is worth it.
I imagine it like achieving perfect harmony in music. That place before harmony is so difficult to listen to that it’s hard to stay in the room. But stay — keep practicing, keep encouraging young musicians to practice and one day, voila — harmony. Peace.
There’s a great book, “The Bully, The Bullied, or The Bystander” The idea being that when there is conflict (on the playground, but in my opinion this book and idea can reach out from there in to all areas of society including families) you are either the bully, the bullied, or the bystander.
Each person plays a role. If you feel like going there, perhaps consider a time when you played each of those roles in your life and write about it. Just see what comes up for you. Did the conflict resolve? How? Was there a different outcome in each scenario? Do you have a situation in your life where you played a role in conflict and it resolved peacefully? Can you use that as a playbook for future conflict? If you have a history of unresolved conflict, can you contemplate your role a bit?
I think we are given conflict as a kind of growth serum. I really do. I have been hearing from friends this week, “I just need a rest” “I just want this to be over” and whether they are talking about the social distancing or police brutality and institutionalized racism, or something else, it feels unanimous. This is a universal time of growth.
Get your self care kit ready and use it daily. Whether it’s taking breaks from conflict, walks in the woods, prayer, meditation, exercise, music, art, writing — do what you need.
And then work toward peace. In yourself, in your family, in your immediate community…and when you can, in your wider world.
Try this week to chose which fight invitations you will accept. When you accept one, realize you are doing it intentionally, so show up fully prepared. Show up relaxed, using deep breathing techniques, and prepared to listen. Show up neutral, with an open and curious stance.
If you can’t show up, realize that, and reschedule.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Try to listen to someone you disagree with. Someone you vehemently disagree with. Make sure you are ready and super relaxed, and then commit to listening.
Listen for that person’s humanity. Listen for their dignity. Listen for their fear, their struggles, their worries, their anxiety.
This isn’t about anything more than allowing yourself an understanding that the other person is human. You may very well still be right :). I have found this to be incredibly transformative.
6. POD Poem of the day (Jimmy Santiago Baca: From Violence to Peace)
7. Podcast (All My Relations)
8. Video (World Peace is Not a Myth)
9. Hero: Sami Sunchild, Founder
Why? She was the first person to get me to think deeply about peace. It was basically my job when I worked for her in 1990. We would sit in the attic of the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast and we would think deeply and broadly about a peaceful world. From humanely treated laying hens to attending creative performance art bridging San Francisco with Leningrad (I think, my memory is fading around all the stuff we did…) to working with Jungian psychologist and author Jean Shinandola Bolen — she was my peace mentor, and a hero of mine.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Peace episode part 1 Thursday. I asked a new friend of mine, Kimberly Weeks, a Trauma Recovery Coach, for her thoughts on peace and was not disappointed.