Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
At all levels from personal to global, we sit across the table (if we dare to get that close) from people with differing views, beliefs and backgrounds. Quite often, the way we deal with these differences erupts in violence. Sadly. What is on fire in Ferguson MO right now is also at play in my town, even though we may use different weapons. Across town, the war has been going on for decades, so long that it no longer hits the nightly news. Violence may even be at play at your holiday dinner table, in a war of words.
Violence is a turbulent state resulting in injury or destruction, an act of aggression, extreme force, widespread fighting.
In 2014, we see violence nearly everywhere human beings interact. “Every 28 hours a Black person is killed by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante in America,” says ANSWER organizer. [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER, is a United States-based protest umbrella group consisting of many antiwar and civil rights organizations formed in the wake of September 11th.] Every single day in Chicago a teen of color is shot (dozens are killed daily across the US). We spend hundreds of billions of dollars in our country just treating gunshot wounds. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among our youth. Homicide! (Next in line is suicide!) 1 of 4 college girls is sexually assaulted (1 in 6 women is raped). TV, our favorite pastime, is a bloodbath: By the time an average child is 18, she’ll witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders.
We are all victims - and perpetrators - of our violent society. Conflict is inevitable, violence need not be.
So how will we pause to “give thanks” among all these differing views and violent outbursts? Here’s one simple recipe: turn off the TV, tune in to your internal state of peace, then turn up the love in your life with your words and actions. In short, the antidote to violence is peace. Fortunately for us, it begins with us. Peace is a critical ingredient in a Thanksgiving feast, as modeled by its founders— who interestingly enough were people of differences celebrating the harvest, together. You know there will be differences, what will the unifying thread be? What flavor of peace will you bring to the table?
An effective and simple (though not easy) practice is watching our words. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is heart-based dialogue also known as compassionate communication. Instead of habitual, automatic responses, we choose our words consciously, based on an intentional awareness of ourselves, and others. We listen for the deep needs of ourselves, and others. We observe, our attention focused on our heart space. We become part of a balanced flow of compassionate giving and receiving. We ask for what we need and offer what we can give.
Wonderful women of the world, peace begins with us, now. Our very next step, our very next sentence, could change everything. And…it’s a practice, so go gently. Open the door, or at least crack a window.
“Words are windows, or they’re walls.
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear
Let the love light shine through me.”