Chapter 7
 

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

Faith and Hope
All Will Be Well

Peace is possible! Without holding this ideal close to our hearts we will never believe we can work together to create it. Without hope we are lost, we are without purpose and we may never maintain the energy and drive the journey requires.

Read children's stories:   Activity 10

Telling stories with happy endings, ones that instill a sense of hopefulness and our trust that peace is possible desperately need to be told not just by our children. Sharing these stories together, creating new ones together, we can build an image of a peaceful world. Other significant elements in peace-building involve possessing both faith and hope and the belief that ALL WILL BE WELL.

These elements that sustain peace can also be explored in our storytelling adventures with children and provide the vital fuel required to persevere through difficult times. Believing that not only happy endings are possible but that all will be well then perhaps these understandings can be transferred to our everyday existence. Without that underpinning belief and the knowledge that happy endings are possible then working together to achieve them would be very tough. It was the great mystic Julian of Norwich[1], who as the result of a revelation declared that-

 “somehow in the mystery of God All Will Be Well.”

In a world in which war and violence seem to instigate mass movements of people who are desperate to escape danger and ensure a safer tomorrow for their families, happy endings are often difficult to create. Appreciation for the plight of refugees and realising they need a promise of hope to merely survive from day to day despite their need for shelter, clean water and food, are significant peace-building steps to explore with our children. We can choose to become a part of the solution by assisting in the creation of happy endings. In doing so we also must believe happy endings are possible for any refugee family who land on our shores. We become the hope and the source of faith.

Stories from the past ending happily

Australian communities are fortunate to have many refugee families living within them. Their life stories are intrinsically stories of hope and are worthwhile peace-building stories to share with children.

Activity 10- Context: Studies of Asia year 6: Vietnam and Refugees

Task: creating a story involving an individual who needs to leave their country of origin due to war and embarking upon a dangerous journey to a new country seeking asylum and a new life. The story should be based upon facts presented and incorporate a happy ending and be suitable for younger children to read in order to raise their awareness of the issues involved.

The group activity involved:

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an invited Vietnamese speaker (refugee) who spoke of his experiences as a boat person coming to Australia during the Vietnam War period

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students sharing any previous knowledge about other known circumstances and refugees

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students planning and then typing first story drafts

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students sharing drafts and commenting upon the accuracy of the stories

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students editing and changing plots

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students editing each others’ second draft stories and making comments upon the happy endings then a general class discussion exploring the difficulties faced by any refugees arriving in Australia

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final type up and publishing

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stories shared and discussed with year 3 peer support partners

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stories transformed into webpages for whole school community to share

read Simon's story

Simon focussed upon the factual details related to him yet managed to mould a story plot that attended to delivering the vital information needed to ensure the ending for his character was truly happy and believable.

read Holly's story

Holly, in touch with the emotional journey needed to be travelled, embarked upon her storytelling emphasising an openness to change as being the source of the happy ending.

An expression of hope

Sometimes we can be astounded by the words uttered by young people. The following story created by Stephanie revealed a level of understanding of life and a belief in hope that is far beyond the life experiences and maturity one would normally expect a twelve year old girl would possess.

read Stephanie's story

Stephanie revealed her understanding in relation to what we focus and hope for actually happens because our intentions drive our actions and therefore affect the outcomes we seek. Bad things happen yet happy endings can happen too….it all depends on what we do as a consequence. It all depends on our faith and belief that all will be well.

Stories of hope

Sometimes merely sharing a story can create the transformation sought. The following stories are examples of ones that magically can affect thinking and action. The stories alone can create the awareness needed to instill a different way of thinking, one that truly reflects that belief in all will be well.

We have explored traditional fairy tales earlier but the following special story entices us to revisit an old tale, ponder its purposes and consider different possibilities for its ending. It is a story that explores the value of choice.

“The Gift” written by Libby Hapthorn

(Random House Australia 2000)

The author has magically transformed a classic tale’s ending creating a new story of hope. Set in Hamelin the reader is immediately reminded of the legend of the Pied Piper whose alluring notes led the city’s children away forever, except for one, the hero in the story. Unable to keep up with the piper when he left with the other children a small disabled boy was the only child left in Hamelin. He pondered his feelings of loneliness and despair but one day message, whispered to him by a stranger, led him to the Pied Piper who taught him how to play the flute. Despite disappointment the boy never lost hope that he may one day rescue the children and return them to Hamelin, even the ones who teased him. Like Kathleen Pelleys’ hero Rabbi dreamers can magically transform our world. These dreamers remain determined to achieve goals their goals holding faith in their belief that all will be well. The small boy believed that one day when he learned to play the right notes he would break the Piper’s spell and free the children. This clever story is one for all ages to enjoy and share together and reminds us of the importance of creating happy endings in all our own storytelling.

“A piper pipes what’s in his heart You can pipe them! Do your part!”

Fearless and determined dreamers can lead us away from debilitating hopelessness and helplessness towards a world that only knows peace.

In this story there are limited references to the sadness and despair created by the Pied Piper yet there is no mention of revenge or hatred. The small boy’s focus is only to learn the right tune notes to free the children despite the obstacles he must overcome to do so.

Critical questions to explore with children

bullet What legendary tale does the story follow on from?
bullet Why was the boy the only child left in Hamelin?
bullet What did the stranger whisper to him?
bullet Did the Piper befriend the boy?
bullet Why did the Piper break the boy’s flute?
bullet Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

bullet Was the Pied Piper a dangerous person?
bullet Who was the stranger who whispered the message to the boy?
bullet How else could the boy help free the children?
bullet Do you think the parents missed their children?
bullet Would they have also been searching for ways to free the children?
bullet Can you think of other tales onto which you could build similar stories?

Stories about kings and dragons seem to dominate the peace-building books suggested in these activities. The following story touches upon a similar theme to that explored in the ancient tale of King Midas.

“The Quiltmaker’s Gift” by Jeff Brumbeau illustrated by Gail de Marcken

(Orchard Books New York 2000)

In this story the author wove a magical tale able to capture a reader’s heart and imagination. The beautiful imagery and detailed illustrations invite the reader to accompany the king and become a part of his unfolding quest for happiness. The quiltmaker’s beautiful quilts are not for sale and the greedy king could not have everything he wanted. Seemingly indestructible was the old quiltmaker who magically transformed the heart of the selfish king who eventually realised giving is the greatest gift.

This enchanting story is one for all ages to enjoy and share together and it contains many peace-building elements. The old quiltmaker announced:

“I give my quilts to those who are poor or homeless. They are not for the rich.”

The old quiltmaker innately knew the king’s journey would bring him the happiness he sought. The obsessive king believed happiness was derived from owning beautiful things but he was open to the quiltmaker’s suggestions. Eventually, after giving away everything he owned he appreciated that material possessions did not make him rich.

This story is about faith and hope and instills a belief in true happiness being possible for everyone, not just quiltmakers or kings. The happy ending truly does involve everyone winning.

Critical questions to explore with children

bullet For whom did the old quiltmaker make her quilts?
bullet Why did the King want one of her quilts?
bullet What bargaining did he attempt to do with the old quiltmaker?
bullet What did the old quiltmaker request of the King?
bullet Did the King like the quilt she made for him?
bullet Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

bullet What makes you happy?
bullet What possessions could you live without?
bullet To whom would you suggest the old quiltmaker give her quilts?
bullet What kind of person was the old quiltmaker?
bullet Do you know of any other stories about kings who behaved like this one?
bullet How else could the story have ended with win-win?

The resolution of conflict often involves the intervention of soldiers. In the following story the author presented a very different context for peace-building.

“The Conquerors” by David McKee

(Andersen Press London 2004)

The author of this story bravely challenged existing thinking in relation to the roles of twenty first century soldiers. In a world in which many soldiers undertake varying peace-keeping responsibilities this tale utilised Gandhi’s message of peaceful resistance which has been cleverly woven into the plot of this intriguing story. Instead of being feared and resisted the soldiers were invited into people’s homes and welcomed as guests.

“The soldiers talked with the people, played their games, listened to their stories,

joined in their songs, and laughed at their jokes.”

The angry General, unable to deal with his soldiers’ behaviour replaced them but the soldiers who came to take their place were equally enchanted by the people and they

“hung up their uniforms and joined in daily life.”

Eventually the General returned home and announced he had conquered the country and its people and the soldiers returned home, too, believing they were conquerors. But the soldiers acted differently and they wore some different clothes, ate different foods and even played different games, ones the people had taught them.

The story initially presented a story about war but there was no fighting, there was no conflict. Conquered were the hearts of the soldiers. This powerful story stirred a belief in the magical transformative properties of peace even when a happy win-win ending was not the original intention of the General.

Critical questions to explore with children

bullet What were the General’s intentions?
bullet What occurred when the soldiers arrived at the small country?
bullet Why did the General replace his soldiers?
bullet Did the new soldiers act differently?
bullet What had changed about the soldiers when they returned to their own country?
bullet Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

bullet What do soldiers do?
bullet Were any of your grandfathers or family members involved in war?
bullet What does conquering involve?
bullet What kind of person was the General?
bullet Would you like to become a soldier?
bullet How else could the story have ended with win-win?

Reflecting

Spiritualists would argue that a more transformative statement would be “all is well”. This entails a belief that despite anything happening on a physical level everything is fine and will remain so if you believe it to be so in the present moment. But perhaps that understanding will require a universal peace-building consciousness to be truly established before it would become an automatic way of thinking. In James Redfield's and Michael Murphy's book God and the Evolving Universe, the writers suggested that the universe has a telos. This ultimate end seemingly is influencing and shaping every aspect of our daily existence, enticing us to create peace upon earth. It is suggested there is no option but peace...it is our destiny.

All will be well.

 

Endnotes

[1] Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416) was considered one of the greatest English mystics. Little is known of her life aside from her writings. Even her name is uncertain, the name "Julian" coming from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she was an anchoress, Retrieved November 28,2008 from http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/julian.htm

 

 

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