Chapter 1
 

Acknowledgements
Preface
Foreword
Introduction
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
References

A Perspective on Peace-building
 

We have for centuries been limited by our fears and doubts in relation to whether peace could ever be possible. Our limited thinking has helped keep us trapped and unable to create any real changes or to work together to build sustainable, peaceful communities. But at this time in history the voices seeking peace are louder and stronger. It is time!

As the sun rises in many different countries on each new day our world is honoured and blessed with the birth of many children, all innately bringing along with them a promise of peace. Each newborn child offers its own unique gifts, its own spirit, its own individuality and its own destiny. As the subsequent days unfold these children begin to grow up in a world, presented by the media especially, as being one that is unfortunately pained and tormented by the threat of war and terrorism, a world constantly torn apart by famine, and disease and disasters, a world not at peace with itself.

Tending to shiver when we remember the Hiroshima catastrophe, the horror of Auschwitz[1] and the devastation of September 11[2], and when current world events are vividly displayed upon our television screens, the haunting memories of humanity’s past inability to act humanely towards its fellow man linger and constantly stir many fears of more violence, devastation and horror to yet to come. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to become trapped by our fears, believing we are unable to break the terrible cycle. The present world crises again hint at the violence never ending and of more inhumanity being repeated. That promise of peace has seemingly become lost forever.

By choosing to continually share tales of woe and perpetuate the old ways of dealing with our fears, the ways that separate humanity that constantly place us at war with each other, we will continue to be disempowered and unable to make any lasting peaceful changes. The United Nations plead to our governments to utilise peaceful and nonviolent processes to resolve conflict. While pondering whether the world leaders will choose any of their next actions wisely do we accept any personal responsibility in relation to peace-building?

In order to live the dream of peace, even daring to dream it as Dr Martin Luther King Jr[3] courageously did during the turbulent years of the American Civil Rights campaigns, what steps can we personally take to affect positive change, redirect thinking, educate our minds and hearts and create an enduring peace consciousness? What can we personally do to instill peace as a natural way of life and fulfill that birth promise of peace upon earth?

Like the newborn children we also have brought gifts to the world and could choose to use these gifts and contribute to the creation of peace on earth rather than perpetuate the negative images of an unsettled world.

Existing peace education thinking and peace-building

Traditionally peace education has involved the exploration of issues related to peace by highlighting the inequities and injustices that continue to prevail in our world. Despite concerted efforts to present and skill governments, communities and our children in social justice initiatives and reconciliation procedures, even when good solutions and actions are determined, such peace-building has not become an intrinsic and automatic way of operating. Many people experiencing effective peace-building programmes still remain powerless to make any sustainable positive changes.

Contributing to this malaise our television, radio and newspapers prefer to present the sensational and violent images of our world therefore defining it as unsafe and certainly not peaceful or able to sustain peace in any way. The peace-building stories and activities presented in this book have been created to counterbalance the prevailing helplessness that especially children can feel. Implying that children should be protected from the realities of the world is not the intention, but certainly the instigation of more balanced, less violent presentations of real life issues needs to be considered. The stories being presented need to help communities heal the dis-ease in order that people can feel more empowered to begin peace-building. By simply redirecting thinking and creating images of a more peace-loving world, a world not continually defined by negative media images or by stories that are not peace-building, then perhaps the creation of a universal peace consciousness is possible. It is very important, though, that there exists a belief amongst all communities that such a creation is feasible.

Patiently walking this road, together, firstly in our own communities, remaining constantly attentive to the need to be positive and value every peace-building step forward is the message that will reverberate after sharing and creating peace-building stories. Peace must begin primarily with each of us. Finding ways to continually counterbalance the negative images and restore a reasonable balance and perspective into our lives, for everyone’s sake, especially for the children, in order to develop that necessary momentum will be required. Otherwise sustaining the necessary energies and commitment to building a peace consciousness will be impossible.

Peace-building: a working definition

There are many opinions about the nature of peace-building, its purposes and its essential elements. We can begin by exploring some of the essential ingredients in successful peace-building suggested by Luc Reychler (date unknown) in his paper Peace Building Architecture. He highlighted that:

“It has become clear that proactive conflict prevention (that is, efforts made before a conflict has escalated) is more cost effective than reactive conflict prevention (that is, efforts made after a conflict has become violent to contain and reduce the intensity, duration and the possibility of geographic spill over). There is a growing perception that there are limits to the level of violence the world can permit. It has become clear that sustainable development is impossible without sustainable peace building.”

This paper presented the challenges facing the international community in resolving conflict peacefully, the financial impact of making the world safe from conflict and creating a more effective system to prevent violence. His definition, being primarily concerned with international levels of conflict resolution, associated peace-building with the creation of win-win situations or ones that mutually benefitted all parties and instilled a sense of interdependence continuing between them. The established peace-building processes, he also suggested, need to also be embedded in institutions that reinforce and sustain peace. Believing peace-building being not only about construction, but also about deconstruction, must also involve a rebuilding process that redefined and re-established new modes of operation. Other important inclusions in an effective process involved seeking understandings in relation to the parties’ respective expectations about the future, and ensuring the inclusion or exclusion of all the owners and stakeholders in any process. The peace-building terminologies and processes presented, though as complicated as they seem, are not only pertinent to resolving international issues but are relevant to everyday community and family peace-building as well. Such processes are effectively instructed in many existing peace-building programmes.

Just as peace is not an antonym for war, neither is violence. One person’s definition of peace may also not be another’s especially as peace-building doesn’t necessarily involve attending to issues of unrest, violence or war. The highlighted complexities involved make peace-building, especially at an international level, a very difficult, often perplexing and time consuming task. Peace-building is not something that can be simply “taught”. Even simplifying the process for daily living is not easy. But by identifying the truly important underpinning peace-building elements could make peace-building manageable for our children to instill into their everyday thinking and action. This is the point at which this book attempts to present the beginning of peace-building experiences for children.

The peace-building definitions therefore used in the activities presented in this book involve the following simplified universal understandings about the nature of peace and peace-building.

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Peace-building begins with us.

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Peace is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility.

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Peace-building is inclusive.

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Peace-building involves win-win.

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Peace-building involves treating each other well.

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Peace-building is nonviolent.

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Peace-building involves respecting everyone’s rights and needs.

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Peace is a process not an outcome.

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Peace is possible.

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Peace-building involves a belief that all will be well.

More simply, in language with which children may connect when issues arise in their worlds:

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Say what the problem is.

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Talk about it calmly rather than fight.

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Work out what everyone wants.

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Listen as the others speak.

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Speak so everyone understands.

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Speak the truth.

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Treat everyone kindly.

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Trust that you will be able to solve the problem.

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Work out what you can all do to prevent the problem happening again.

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Forgive.

Utilising storytelling processes this book endeavours to explore peace-building possibilities in many varied contexts for any person working with children to consider using. Conflict management strategies and other peace-building alternatives are intertwined amidst the magical and transformative stories that have been chosen. Sustaining peace and building a peace consciousness involve many elements that challenge and extend everyone’s basic understandings about peace and how to create it. The ideas in this book merely present some possibilities and perhaps a place to begin exploring all levels of peace-building with children.

The language of peace-building

The Tower of Babel is a Bible Story that proposes a reason behind humanity’s inability to understand others through language. Semantics can play a role in the confusion that underlies communication problems as well but we do live in a world in which different peoples speak thousands of different languages. These language issues often prevent us clearly communicating with each other about our peaceful intentions.

In Anita Remignanti’s (date unknown) article Language for Growing Children of Peace she begins:

“One way children learn about peace early in life is from their language environment. World peace will depend largely upon the training and education of our children. It is in the interest of world peace that our children are taught the language of peace and enlightened communication early in life.”

Defining peace-building language creates similar problems as were supposedly experienced in Babel centuries ago. Language that contains some peace-building elements is intrinsic to Montessori Educational Processes. The use of enabling language with children simply involves communication with and between them that is empowering and respectful and seeks to have each child evaluate their own learning and determine the directions it should take. This concept is valuable within an educational framework especially as children learn to take responsibility for their own learning. Enabling language focusses a child’s attention and verbalisings upon what they can do rather than what they cannot. It also seeks to focus their attention upon what they can do next to continually grow and expand their learning. Peace-building language should be enabling and safely support children, to carefully listen, to clearly define issues, accept responsibility and determine future action. Peace-building language does not focus upon comparison or evaluation about who is right or who is wrong.

Stuart Rees (2003) in Passion for Peace: exercising power creatively he stated:

“Literacy about human rights and non-violence provides the values to succour and the language to explain an inhumane basis for sovereignty. The media may have to learn this language as much as ordinary citizens, otherwise the priorities of politicians and the realities served up for public consumption will be dominated by exhortations about wars on terrorism and about the priority of defending a civilisation.”             (Rees, 2003 p285)

His expressed passion for peace acknowledged the importance of raising the awareness of the need for peace-building in communities. He viewed peace-building as being a process that must include a justice element and highlighted again the role individual responsibility should play. Yet more importantly he focussed attention upon the role the media and our politicians play in perpetuating the language that limits peace-building and feeds a separation consciousness rather than a feeling of connectedness. It is a language of comparison and evaluation intent upon determining who is right and who is wrong. It is this language that the media immerse our children in constantly and it is the language they imitate. The language modelled by many of our politicians and promoted by the media is often aggressive and judgemental not enabling peace-building language.

In an enlightening dialogue about peace in the Middle East in 1998 that occurred between an Arab woman, by Diana Abu-Jaber and her friend and colleague David Frank, a Jewish man talking some pertinent points about the role of peace-building language were raised.

Diana: “Do you see a possibility of reframing that artistic language and perhaps achieving a real global change through artistic vision?”

David: “I think this is where art comes in because we need to craft a story and a narrative that allows Israelis to be proud of what they've achieved while at the same time acknowledging the great tragedy that beset the Palestinians in 1948. In the same way, Palestinians need to craft a narrative in a way that allows them to recognize the existence of Israel and some of the legitimate claims made by Jews to the land.”

And later in the dialogue Diana stated:

“It is finally in the connections between ourselves and others--the people we love and the people we must learn how to love--that we learn how to be human again.”

Being human again may be more appropriately interpreted, relative to Diana’s context, as people possessing a peace-building consciousness. The dialogue emphasised the importance of not only of creating new peace-building stories that respectfully and empathetically address issues, but to honour these stories as well by sharing them. Another significant point raised was David’s reference to the reframing of language, reconstructing it to become enabling, and presenting it in new narratives that may then entice humanity to rediscover its innate peace loving sensibilities.

John Hagelin (date unknown) in his article Transcendental Consciousness Defined stated:

“In the Vedic science of consciousness, the experience of Transcendental Consciousness is said to be profound. It allows the mind to experience the deepest level of its own intelligence, which is described as the deepest level of the intelligence displayed everywhere in nature—the unified field of all the laws of nature. The technology of transcending thus allows the individual mind to align itself with all the laws of nature at their source.”

His comments hinted at an even more significant reason to nurture the growth of a peace consciousness, one that will produce more profound results than peace, one that does not rely totally upon language but merely upon a connection with nature and the universal intelligence. Peace-building stories do connect us with the source of life via the universal peace consciousness. Now do we have the chicken and the egg conundrum to solve? Does peace-building language construct a peace consciousness or is peace-building language consequential to a peace-building consciousness being developed?

The telling and sharing of well crafted stories, ones that use the language of peace-building and that explore peace-building elements may be the simpler and easier way to approach any peace-building with children. We can avoid any time wasting involving the analysis of language that can complicate and confuse the issues. Transformative peace-building stories do magically connect children to the universal consciousness, John Hagelin referred to, simply by sharing them with children.

Story not only provides a simple context but the imagery that can construct clear images of peace in any of its contexts, incorporating its many colours, its possible associations, its various moods and emotions. All are graphically imprinted upon the listener’s imagination. Story can take the listener beyond the limitations of language by simply utilising the power of imagination, creating a magical transformative space, the place the listener, reader or viewer, whether adult or child, become totally immersed and begin imagining peace. It is in this place peace is possible. Peace will then be known, at the very least, as an option to be considered. Or perhaps, as we pass that threshold number, peace can become instilled into everyday thinking and become a conscious way of being and everyday living.

The healing molimo

Colin Turnbill (1993), in his book The Forest People, referred to the healing music or molimo that was sung and played by the pygmies of the Ituri Forest in north-east Zaire. Believing their music healed their beloved forest, which in turn healed its people, ensured their forest was better and kinder than the encroaching outside world threatening to destroy both the forest and its inhabitants. Metaphorically speaking the sharing of peace-building stories can create similar healing or molimo. Indigenous peoples for centuries have believed in the transformative power of simple healing experiences that honoured and nurtured their being. Perhaps the emergence of our innate peace loving spirits in the stories shared can similarly heal our mother earth as the pygmies believed their molimo healed the earth that was then able to heal and sustain them.

By sharing peace-building stories and challenged to move beyond the language of debating and arguing about who is right and who is wrong we can choose to work with this transformative healing imagery instead. This simple process relies upon our incredible and limitless imaginations and not on the effectiveness of expanding nuclear arsenals or equitable laws or peace keeping forces or even the latest information or medical technology to establish peace. The thinking involved is free, is something everyone, especially our children can do, and everyone can actively participate in. The transformational and healing peace-building stories shared would reflect our heartfelt desire for peace. Wayne Dyer (2001) in There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem expressed his belief that intention is significant. Our collective positive intentions could provide the necessary momentum or energy to create the kind of world we all want to share.

By utilising our extraordinary and unlimited imaginations and exploring and creating peace-building stories to share perhaps a peace-building consciousness could become a universal consciousness. Our imaginations cannot create peace alone but provide the vital first step in any peace-building process because once peace-building understandings and processes are created in our imaginations they can then be actioned in the real world. Not only can visions of the new peaceful communities and a peaceful world be created but our imaginations can explore different ways of working towards these objectives. Beginning with our imaginations many new understandings and possibilities can be developed showcasing all possibilities in any stories that are created. Sharing these understandings in stories across cultural, geographical and socio-economic boundaries means these understandings could also become universal. The miraculous Silicon Valley was initially created by powerful imaginations so perhaps a new peaceful and peace loving world can be as well. Deepak Chopra ( 2000) in How to Know God also elaborated on the importance of our co-creative abilities and believed that by appreciating this fact we can by working together powerfully transform our world. We are at the ‘ripe’ time in our evolution to understand the impact of our thinking upon our physical world. Our children do deserve our efforts. It is time for peace to prevail.

Resolving any issues nonviolently and using peaceful processes throughout every minute of every day are essential constituents to any peaceful transformation. Nonviolent resolution to conflict also involves using peace-building language that is enabling and will help sustain a belief that peaceful resolutions to issues are possible. These are just some of the essential elements peace-building stories need to explore. The inherent understandings in peace-building stories are also ones that allow for peace becoming a natural way of life, and can provide the required healing molimo.

It makes a difference

The parable entitled: It Makes a Difference[4] implies that every effort made by an individual towards building a peace consciousness does matter. There are millions of human starfish but maybe it needs to be only the next one which is ‘tossed back into the sea’ that will be the one that takes humanity over the threshold.

It Makes A Difference

As an old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the youth, the old man asked him why he was doing this.

The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun.

"But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish," countered the old man. "How can your efforts make a difference?"

The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it safely in the waves. "It makes a difference to this one," he said.

John Lennon[5] invited us to imagine peace in his enduring lyrics of the song Imagine but his following words resonate with an even more powerful message.


"Give peace a chance. Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace.
Violence begets violence. You're all geniuses and you're all beautiful. You
don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you
are. Go out there and get peace. Think peace. Live peace and breathe peace.
You'll get it as soon as you like. "

Ensuring in the everyday world we choose to walk along roads that will lead humanity safely to a place of peace does involve the development of our own and others’ peace-building consciousness.

"Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves."

[The Quran {11:13)][6]


Endnotes

[1] Initially Auschwitz was founded for Polish political prisoners. After 1942 the camp became a centre for murdering Jews within the framework of Nazi extermination plan. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://en.auschwitz.org.pl/m/

[2] The War on Terror began after September 11, 2001 when planes-turned-missiles destroyed the World Trade Center towers and damaged of the Pentagon in the United States of America. The worst terrorist attack was planned and orchestrated by members of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://www.globalissues.org/issue/245/war-on-terror

[3] Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968) was an African American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://www.thekingcenter.org/

[4] It Makes A Difference (parable) retrieved October 12, 2006 from   http://www.wscribe.com/parables/difference.html

[5] John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (1940 – 1980) was an English rock musician, singer, writer, songwriter, artist, actor and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://www.johnlennon.com/html/history.aspx

[6] The Holy Quran (also written as Koran) is the eternal and literal word of God. Prophet Muhammad (an Arab and a descendant of Abraham) received these divine revelations over a period of 23 years in the seventh century of the Common Era (C.E.). Each revelation was written down by the Prophet's scribes according to the Prophet's instructions. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://www.islam101.com/quran/index.htm


 

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