Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
“Non-violence and pacifism” – certainly two things I didn’t see much of this past weekend. Has anyone else ever noticed that the worst characteristics in people tend to come out when they’ve been drinking? After last Thursday’s class I decided that I would try and watch an ND football game from the eyes of Prof. Meyers. I figured that it would be interesting to see the game from the exact opposite view from that which I usually do. After several hours in the parking lot listening to how Notre Dame’s players would “kill,” “maim,” “massacre,” “rape,” etc… Georgia Tech’s players, I was beginning to see exactly what Prof. Meyers was talking about. Then again, I wondered, maybe it was just a case of too much beer and sun doing the talking for normally rational human beings. And then it happened. While walking to the stadium I witnessed a group of Tech fans walking through an ND tailgate. In an instant, idle talk turned to action when someone tripped over a cooler, knocked over what appeared to be a 400 year old man and then drunkenly stumbled into a TV, knocking it off of its stand. Curses were exchanged, shoves turned to pushes, spit flew and ultimately two minutes of pandemonium ensued. When the dust settled (without the help of a single police officer because they were too busy harassing potential underage drinkers, I think) an old man had skinned hands, a TV was shattered, two men were missing their shirts, many people were covered in beer and one person was fortunate enough to sport a lovely cut over his left eye. I can’t help but think what a bunch of idiots we all must look like to someone removed from the situation and I hope that I never have to see something so stupid again, but nevertheless, I know I will. Still, I hope that maybe, just maybe this kind of crap won’t carry on in the future, seeing as how none of the people involved in Saturday’s altercation were younger than 50. So much for having to worry about the students NDSP, as it’s their parents that are the real problem.
Going to football games at ND is truly a unique experience all its own. This weekend I was very excited about the upcoming game against Georgia Tech for last semester I had truly enjoyed the football games and thought this years would be just as fun. As I made my way to the stadium moments before kick off, I could feel the excitement emanating from my peers as I sat in the student section. Everyone it seemed thought this would be a good game and a nice win for ND. Yet, as the game proceeded, things didn’t look so good. The good spirits of the students around me turned into anger and hatred against Georgia Tech and our own ND players. All around me, I could here the students curing at the players for their mistakes and commenting on how incompetent our players where. After half time, the individuals around me where becoming more angry and violent with their language towards the ND team and Georgia Tech. Many people left the game disgusted. When the game ended, it seemed that everyone around me held this disgust, anger and hatred towards the ND players who had lost the game. After the game, I went to my friends dorm where his roommates where adamantly discussing the game and the countless faults of the ND players. At this point, I couldn’t take it any more. I stepped into the conversation and told them that we shouldn’t be angry or mad or hate the players. They did the best they could and although we didn’t win, that’s not all the game is about. I know this game was an unfortunate loss but I think that many of us get so caught up in simply winning that we end up not enjoying the game and spend the next few days sulking around and cursing the other team for our loss. I just hope that win or lose, that next game we won’t lose sight of that fact that football is just a game and that in the end the best team won and that the other team doesn’t deserve our cursing at them or our hatred.
This is in reference to the "Being Peace" section, but I suppose it still applies. My "peaceful" thing to do was to give up using the elevators in Flanner. I'm always in Flanner and very rarely do I ride the elevator with other people, so its a huge waste of energy for the elevator to run for just one person. I have class in Flanner every day, multiple times a day on the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th floors, so giving up the elevator was definitely a sacrifice. I'm not sure my classmates approved of me entering class drenched in sweat, but it was for peace, so maybe they did:) Anyways, I was really good about the "no elevator" thing until today, when I was late for work. I was a couple minutes late for work so I justified it to myself that I should take the elevator. I realized as I was doing it that this is exactly what Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh were talking about- living peace IS a sacrifice. I accepted the sacrifice when it was relatively convenient, but when it posed any threat to my reputation (job...etc) I easily gave up my "life of peace" in favor of riding the elevator. How easily would I turn towards violence if provoked?
I don’t know how many of you enjoy scary movies, but I am not the kind of person who is very good at them. As you could probably guess, after watching the Amityville Horror last night I was not exactly in the best shape. I kept thinking someone else was in the room freaking myself out as my imagination ran wild. Thinking of this peace blog and the discussion we had on inner peace, I went out outside my dorm, lay in the darkened grass, and looked up at the few twinkling stars that were visible. My hometown is basically in the mountains in the middle of no where so when at home seeing the stars is commonplace. Lying on my back, I was able to find comfort in the familiarity the stars provided and soon I was laughing at myself for being so terrified of a movie. Although this is a fairly commonplace example, thousands of people of commented on the serenity of the stars, I found that looking at them truly does put your life in perspective. Had my fear been of something real (rather than a horror film) the stars would still sooth and console me in the same manner, allowing me to find peace within myself. I also found that the more I believed the stars gave me peace, the more in fact they did. In a sense the inner peace is as much a state of mind as a state of being, something I had not initially thought of during our class discussion.
One of the most intriguing ideas I read about this week had to do with ahimsa, the kind of love Gandhi was referring to whenever he spoke about passive resistance, similar to the Christian notion of agape. This weekend I participated in a diversity training class at the JACC. The instructor, in an attempt to help the 40 or more so students in the class feel more comfortable with one another, set-up an Ice Breaker for all the students to participate in. First, he assigned everyone a number, from 1-3, by writing a number on a note card and taping it to each of our foreheads so we didn’t know what number we had been assigned. Then, he assigned meanings to each of the numbers; 1’s were very friendly, and everyone wanted to be around them, whereas 3’s were rude and mean, and as such, no one wanted to be near them (2’s were somewhere in between the two extremes; people could, according to him, “take them or leave them”). He designated parts of the room for 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s to congregate once they thought they knew who they were based on how everyone treated them throughout the course of the game.While most of the participants became excited with the idea of the Ice Breaker, there was one student who was offended by the entire gist of the game. She said that she’d been a 3 all her life, and didn’t want to play a game where she would be labeled as being such in what she perceived as a much more official manner. The instructor didn’t want to force her to play, but there was palpable tension in the room because of the “scene” she was causing. The professor encouraged the rest of us to play, and asked the girl to simply observe what was going on if she did not feel comfortable with the rules of the Ice Breaker.Once the game was over, we split into groups of 6-8 to discuss the results of the Ice Breaker. While I was scrambling to come up with enough group members so that I could be with the people I had been playing with, with whom I had felt so comfortable during the game, I realized that no one wanted the girl who had refused to play the Ice Breaker to be in their group, so I invited her to be in our group (much to the reluctance of the people I had been at first so eager to please). She accepted, and throughout the day, after different conversations about topics the professor had specifically come up with to engage discussion about diversity, I got her to open up about why she had been so adamant on not participating in the Ice Breaker earlier in the day. She was from a rough neighborhood, and felt prejudiced against for not having as wealthy a background as many of the students that go to Notre Dame, which sparked even more controversial discussion in the group (but by this time in our group, it was a healthy kind of controversy). In the end, I’m glad we asked her to join our group, and I hope we can all go the dining hall and hang-out together again sometime soon.
This may more closely relate to the “Being Peace” topic, but I find it also relates to the “Nonviolence and Pacifism” topic because it describes how one can react to intrapersonal conflicts in one’s life in nonviolent ways.Reflecting on an incident that occurred this past Sunday, I realized how easily and unnecessarily we disturb our own peace of mind. Last Sunday night was like any other. My friends and I had taken a much needed break from homework and had gone to the dining hall for dinner, as usual. Dinner was casual and relaxing; upon leaving the dining hall, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle my homework once again…until I reached my dorm and realized that my ID card and my room key (which are attached together) were missing. I started to freak out a little bit. I rushed back to the dining hall and searched my table and the floor around it, finding nothing. I went into one of the staff-only areas, as I was instructed, and asked if anyone had seen my ID card with key attached. No one had. I then asked one of the employees who swipes cards if any IDs had been turned in recently, but she, too, said no. Disheartened and rather peeved, I walked back to my dorm, wondering how I could have misplaced my two most valuable possessions on campus (besides my cell phone) and cursing my own carelessness.When I reached my room, I sat down at my computer and tried to get back to work, but I could not. All I could think about was my missing ID card and key and how stupid I was for having lost them. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to concentrate on my work, so I acted on the last hope I could think of: I called one of my friends who was still eating at the dining hall and asked her if she could look around our table before she left and possibly ask the lady at the card-swiping machine if it had been turned in to her. After I had hung up the phone, I sat there for a moment and reflected on what we had talked about in class about intrapersonal peace. And then it hit me: My job was done. I had done all I could do. There was nowhere else to look and no one else to call. If my ID card and key turned up, great. If not, I would simply have to purchase new ones. This was not the end of the world, and I’d be damned if I’d let something as inconsequential as this ruin my night and disturb my thoughts when I was trying to do homework. So I simply took a deep breath…and got back to work. And little did I know, that about ten minutes later, my friend would call me back and tell me that just as she was asking about my ID card, somebody else was turning it in. This news was a great relief for me, but even more than that, it was a confirmation of my recent reflections on intrapersonal peace. I had refused to let myself worry about my misplaced possessions, and my ID card had shown up anyway. My anxiety had done nothing to remedy the situation and probably would have only inflamed it had I not forced myself to calm down. Thinking about this incident more today, I realized how often and unnecessarily we let ourselves fuss and fret over the little things. And that isn’t even the worst of it: we worry about things we can’t even control. Can you imagine how much more peace could be ours if we just realized how futile worrying really is? We lose sleep all the time wondering if we passed a test or hoping that a missing item will turn up or praying that we’ll get that acceptance letter to med school. But the fact of the matter is, once we’ve turned in the test, once we’ve checked the lost and found, once we’ve filled out the application, there is nothing else we can do. We have passed the point of no return. Beyond this point, all worrying, all anxiety, all impatience, all self-doubt is useless, and frankly, a waste of our time. The rest is out of our hands, and only in embracing this truth, only in accepting our human limitations, will we find peace. All we can do then is sit back and await what only time can tell, for no matter how advanced our society becomes, past a certain point, only one truth prevails: Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.
Shortly after reading Being Peace last week, I knew what my Peace Blog activity would be, but the opportunity to enact it didn’t present itself until this past weekend. Being Peace spoke a lot about the importance of personal peace, and I feel strongly about peace being more than just the absence of violence. I had recently gotten into a disagreement with a friend during which we both became very angry and hurt. Over the following weeks, we had resumed speaking, but we spoke to each other as acquaintances, not friends, and only did so when we were forced to be near each other. Though there was no more violence, there was certainly not peace between us. After thinking about peace and what it means, I decided to attempt to make peace with this friend. When I first told him I had some things I wanted to talk about, he did not respond for a long time. When this happened, the concept of unilateral action came to mind. I knew that in the situation, because of some of the circumstances, I was the weaker party. I had let my guard down and conceded that I was wrong, and now I was waiting on the stronger party to make matching concessions. When he did not immediately reply, I felt frightened that I had let down my defenses when he did not seem to be willing to do the same. I worried would be left humiliated and we would perhaps feel even further from peace than when we started. Eventually, however, my friend responded and asked me what I had to say. I explained that I realized that much of our conflict and our failure to reconcile had been my fault. I apologized for the things I did wrong and explained the things I knew had to change in the future. This ten minute conversation was, in a lot of ways, much harder than the weeks without peace had been. The conversation mandated that I admit my faults and that I make compromises in places where I really would have rather not done so. At times during my talking, I felt angry; I resented having to admit to my mistakes and was not happy about what the conditions of our peace might mean for me (remaining silent on smaller issues that upset me in the future, forgetting about past injuries, not demanding apologies). In the end however, when we finally talked it out, it was refreshing to enjoy the casual conversation and relaxed attitudes that accompanied our peace. Through this reconciliation, I came to an important realization. It took me weeks to be big enough to attempt this resolution to our small fight. I harbored resentment and anger for a long time even though no issues like the destruction of home and property, the occurrence of murder, or the perpetration war crimes were between us. If I felt like I had to make challenging sacrifices in this small peace process, how must people of countries that have endured years of war feel as they try to resolve their differences? How would I have been able to forgive someone who had killed my brother or burned my home? How could we start a lasting peace after these experiences? The challenge of this small experience drove the challenge of the whole peace building process home to me.
Maintaining a peaceful existence and utilizing nonviolent techniques to solve conflicts often begins for ourselves when we are able to take a step back and objectively view a conflict as an outsider. We can then learn about ourselves from what we see in that conflict to which we are not completely emotionally involved ourselves. It is, however, difficult to remain detached from a situation when it involves two close friends, both of whom you love dearly and want to help, without entering into the conflict yourself by accidentally getting too involved. With this involvement comes the risk of abandonment of your “unprejudiced third party” status and alienating at least one of the two friends involved. Two friends of mine ended up rooming together this year, and already, a week and a half into classes, a “mutual” decision has been made that one will move out into a single room. The one moving out has had many personal issues to work through, going through bouts of depression and the resultant issues with getting used to prescribed medication. It has been just too difficult for the other roommate to handle, and once it was brought up, the decision to split was made.Having previously been in a problematic living situation myself, it was difficult for me to advise the other friend to stay living with someone because as someone else said in their post, living with someone in a cubicle-sized room is different from being friends. If your room is your home here on campus, it needs to be a peaceful place where you can get away from the stresses that college life itself can impose on you. Therefore, when your home becomes the stressor, the conflict is two-fold, in that there is the added stress of the issue itself, and also that there is no longer a place to which you can escape to find peace. I suggested to her that it would be easier for her to help her friend in need when she is in a more peaceful place herself, and that getting out of living situation would get her to this place. Meanwhile I have been supporting the “in need” friend as much as possible, hoping to help her find her peace in a private room herself. I have considered that it is perhaps wise to avoid negative people in order to keep a positive frame of mind and intrapersonal peace for yourself—to an extent; I am not suggesting abandoning friends in need. It IS important to build relationships with people who boost you up and surround yourself with encouraging, happy, and positive people, so that your positive frame of mind will be strong enough to endure when you are needed in a difficult situation.
Well, I wanted to try and have a non-generic first blog, but, one make does with what one’s given. Anyways, for the football this past weekend my friend from Georgia Tech came up to watch the game. Now, I wasn’t really worried about any trouble because all of my friends are fairly calm, and I’ve learned from experience that visiting fans tend to be a bit less energetic when surrounded by the opposition. Plus, I figured we would win, which would mean that everyone would be happy. For several hours before the game while we were tailgating my predictions were true, as everyone relaxed and had a good time. Sure there was some good natured ribbing, but that was mostly guys being guys. Unfortunately, the game, as you might have heard, didn’t go so well for us, and we all left the stadium in quite the un-happy mood. All of us, of course, except my friend from Georgia Tech. For the first few hours after the game everything was alright as we ate dinner and tried to calm down. However, once the drinking started up again things quickly escalated, as my friend from GT began to gloat about their win. This really angered my ND friends, and a few of them jumped up and began to physically threaten my GT friend. Well, usually I probably would have half-heartedly tried to stop it, but I decided instead to try being actively Peaceful. So, I got up and got in between the two parties, and after a few frantic minutes of yelling back and forth to each side, everyone sat back down and for the rest of the night it seemed like nothing had happened at all. This little incident led me to two thoughts. First, that actively pushing for peace takes a lot more courage than just allowing violence to reign. Jumping in between two groups of people ready and willing to fight was hard, seeing as how in that position there was a very real threat to my own safety. Secondly, it is amazing to me how quickly conflicts can escalate into violence. Even the simplest little things can launch people into unfathomable violence. The most ridiculous part of it was that afterwards, it seemed like nothing happened. Alcohol was definitely a factor, but that is a whole other issue. However, the point that will stick with me is how quickly violence can flame up over the most ridiculous things, and how difficult it is to actively engage in peace.
I’ve got bigger things to report on Peace Blog, but I’m going to keep with reporting little things for now because I don’t want you to feel handcuffed in doing this assignment—little thing matter and they are completely legitimate fodder for Peace Blog: My orientation toward driving is not nonviolent. I am almost always in a rush and I often get angry when I am on the road. I swear more behind the wheel than at any other time, and in fact, this is how my kids learned their first swear words! Through our recent readings, I have been reflecting more on the rushed nature of my life and the way this translates into my interaction with other people. Driving is a great example, and it is, make no mistake, a form of interaction with other people (or idiots, as I like to call them when I am driving). My reflection about this matter made me think about how I rush all the time and how that rushing affects my state of mind and my interaction—even after I’m done driving. The rush of the rush gets me revved up so much sometimes that it can be hard to shift into a lower gear once I get out of the car and into my office/class/etc. So, I have been trying this week to take it easier on the road. The first step was just to try to drive at or below the speed limit at all times. Wow, this is a tough one. I made it through Monday and Tuesday OK (although I was constantly flirting with the line and having remind myself to back off). Wednesday was an abject failure as I was running late getting my kids to school and to a fundraiser after work (plus I got lost on the way to the fundraiser—so that didn’t help either). I was trying, but panic mode got me going without thinking. In the end, it would not have changed anyone’s life if I had gotten there 1 minute earlier (home much time can you really save in a 15 minute trip anyhow?). So, I’m trying again today. My mental processing of this has paradoxically (1) made me disappointed in my inability to pull off some of my selected living peace goals and (2) made me appreciate how much little things can make a difference in how I’m interfacing with the rest of the world.
I have been trying to work with the CSC more this year and so one of the things that I have decided to do was to promote Wednesday Lunch Fast for this semester. For those who don't know, this is how it works: you don't go to lunch on Wednesdays from 11 to 2 and you sacrifice a meal. That 13 or so dollars that the dining halls save then donate give it to a student run club and they then give it to different organizations who help feed the hungry such as St. Joe's county Vincent DePaul Society. You should definitely sign up for it. Now that my shpeal is done I'll continue. So i have been going around my dorm and if I see someone that I know or sometimes a complete stranger, I ask them if they would be interested in doing it. I have had so-so success. Most the time people say they will think about it and sign up later. Which is disappointing because I know that they will probably not follow through. Its frustrating because people don't like giving up a meal, and even when i tell them they can go to a cafe or Lafortune and use flex points to eat. No one here on campus is starving and most people cant even imagine being in that hungry. And I do get frustrated that they take having meal for granted. However, I have had some success too. I've gotten a good number to sigh up that probably wouldn't have unless I had gone up to them, and I feel good about that. Ok, now here is a side story that made me rethink about who I can approach. So there is a kid in my hall who is really rich, who seems like all he does is party, and isn't really involved in any clubs. In addition to these, I've had a couple experieces with him that didn't make him my favorite person either. So I saw him in the hall and I thought I'd give it a shot and so I asked him if he would, not really expecting much. But to my great surprise...he thought it was a really good thing and signed up for it. So that has opened my eyes that I shouldn't let stereotypes or my own opinion stop me from asking for help with something. And that is my week 2 peace blog.
Today Analisa and I gave out free hugs on campus just for the sake of increasing peace and putting a little sunshine in everyone's day. For about 45 minutes before class started, we held up cardboard signs (cardboard, by the way, which we scrounged up from the recycling bin in Farley) spelling out FREE HUGS in big, black letters. We stood in the intersection of sidewalks leading from O'Shag and DeBartolo during the rush hour traffic of students, faculty, and miscellaneous individuals walking to and from class.It was an amazing experience. Things started out slowly; we were both a little apprehensive about throwing ourselves out there, especially when we weren't sure of people's reactions to free hugs. Initially, before the crowd number became massive, it seemed that only people who knew us were actually stopping to give us hugs. However, as time went on, many more people (mostly students, mostly girls) stopped to hug; a girl even got off of her bike to do so. However, the small minority of huggers was outweighed by the vast majority of people who either did not make eye contact with us; merely laughed, pointed, and shook their heads; or said no thanks to our free hug offer. When asked directly whether they would like a hug, with strong eye contact included, many agreed; again, others ignored us or said no.About 50% of the huggers asked why we were doing this. We told them that we were Peace Studies majors just trying to spread the love today. One girl was persistent in informing us that free hugs had no real purpose on campus, especially considering the fact that there is "no real conflict here." We told her that beside the fact that there is conflict in almost every aspect of life - even at ND - giving free hugs for no good reason would be reason enough. Some huggers stopped by and talked to us about the "Free Hugs" video on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4), mentioning how cool it was and how International Free Hugs Day is next Monday. Some asked if we were affiliated with some sort of organization, and again we just told them that we were merely looking to make someone's day a little happier with hugs. All in all, it was a great way to increase peace. After giving more than 50 hugs this afternoon (most of which were with complete strangers), I am in a much better mood myself, and I really do think that it made our fellow huggers happier, too. So, for those of you who have never tried free hugs, join us on Monday. Analisa and I will be back at it on International Free Hugs Day. It's hard to say no to something that's free, especially a hug.
Throughout the last week, I have sought out a topic for my first peace blog entry. I was amazed yesterday, when my first little project fell right into my lap. I live in a girl's dorm where most of the girls in the section are close. Throughout the last week, I noticed that some freshman girls down the hall have fought extensively about little issues. The fight became obvious to everyone living in the same area as the girls, mostly because each girl refused to spend time in her room when her roommate was also there. I am very familiar with roommate problems. During my first year, I had some issues with a roommate and it did not turn out well. I have always been on the passive side and allowed my roommate to treat me poorly and subject me to some very awkward situations. I always kept my mouth shut thinking that I was just going to be nice so that there would not be a problem. Things quickly took a turn for the worse and my RA and Rector became involved. The situation was eventually resolved but the relationship between never improved. Knowing the potential problems a roommate fight can bring, I decided to get involved in order to resolve the situation. I talked to both girls individually and explained to them the importance of resolving the conflict in a mature manner rather than just talking about the other girl to the rest of the people in the dorm. They both agreed to meet and discuss the situation and asked me to be present to help them. The discussion went over well. The girls each had a chance to discuss their feelings and the problems that each faced. Neither was used to having a roommate and had trouble adjusting to the change. The girls did not need much mediation in the conflict but both were glad that I took a step to help them work out their issues. The girls are by no means best friends, but each of them made a mature decision to talk over her feelings with her roommate to avoid further conflict and to avoid spreading rumors about the other girl. After the meeting, I went back to my room and thought about what happened. Mediating their conflict made me feel like I had done something very worthwhile. I am glad that neither of them will have to experience what I went through my first year. I’m sure neither of them knows that they were my little project but seeing them at least getting along makes me feel like I can make a difference in "keeping the peace" even if it’s only in my dorm.
As you no doubt realize by now, I'm a HUGE fan of the Free Hugs Campaign. See my other blog entry on today's events!
This Wednesday, I found myself getting testy in a class. We had spent the first ~30 minutes learning how to use a very self-explanatory online tool for uploading our homework. I felt hostility against our professor welling up within me. Why was he wasting our time? Was this silly new contraption worth the $17 we had to spend to activate it?But then it dawned on me: now would be a good time for me to start "being peace." And so I tried to get over myself and my premature judgments. I tried to see where my professor was coming from and understand why we were spending the time and money on this new utility. Instead of anger, I now felt calm within myself and became more receptive to the rest of the lecture.
Free pizza, free ice cream, free t-shirts, free candy, and free hugs. After spending about 24 hours on any college campus you know that giving free things away is the best way to draw a large crowd. As guilty as anyone, I find this kind of incentive goes a long way in drawing my attention from my fast paced life. But free hugs? Last Thursday, Hannah and I decided to give away free hugs on the busiest corner of campus. Armed with cardboard FREE HUGS signs, we positioned ourselves carefully between O’Shag and DeBartolo delivering free smiles, laughter, and hugs. Initially, only people we already knew were brave enough to approach us, a couple girls from my dorm charged at us and nearly knocked me off my feet! Unfortunately, the majority of people did not express such enthusiasm. In particular, when large groups of people walked by they all tended to look pointedly at the ground and quicken their step. Boys, even ones I know well, noticed our signs, pointed us out to their buddies, laughed, and kept walking. I found it disheartening to notice that, in general, it was only individuals, those walking alone, who had the courage to share a hug or quick conversation. Is there some sort of mob mentality that dictates our behavior when we are together, preventing us from approaching the dorky looking girls giving away hugs?Most people asked us why we were doing the free hugs, no doubt curious. After explaining that we were peace studies students trying to make their day a little bit brighter, the majority commended us. In fact, one man asked us to send a hug to his wife in Detroit and another to Iran. On the other hand, one girl insisted that our free hugs campaign was unnecessary, insisting that there was no conflict on Notre Dame’s campus. Honestly, giving away free hugs was considerably more humiliating than handing out free lemonade, but somehow I left that corner both energized and pleased. How is a hug going to bring about world peace and cooperation? Your guess is as good as mine. But while standing on that corner we brought smiles to many students’ faces-some pleased with our idea, other laughing at our ridiculousness. It is precisely that smile, that thought of laughter, of friendship, and of love that brings about peace.
Tonight (Sat. 9/8), like many of you, I was watching the ND/Penn State game. Instead of just watching the game, I had an alternate agenda. My other goal was to examine the content of the commercials aired during this time period. There were a few instances of violent movie trailers, but out of everything I saw, one of them in particular displayed content that I found extremely moving, in an extremely bad way.It’s a commercial for a video game (the new “Bioshock”) featuring a favorite song of mine: “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin. Every time this commercial comes on, the peaceful, classic music lures the viewer into a serious trap. I feel good when I hear that song, and then, moments into the commercial, an alarmingly violent killing occurs. There a few versions of the commercial, but one in particular literally took my breath away. Call me sheltered, but I can say with some certainty I have never seen such a violent image on television (granted, I do not watch “violent” shows to begin with, but you get the point). The “killer” violently attacks people, kills them, but in the end, receives a loving hug from a child/demon of some sort that I suppose he is “saving” by killing all of these other people. Throughout the commercial, the music continues to play as if this is a normal, every day, “okay” situation, as if these hideous acts of violence are nothing to cause alarm. I may be sensitive (or just more aware of the implications of these images in the commercial), but I was disturbed, greatly, greatly disturbed. Some of the people reading this are probably thinking, “Video games are just for fun; this girl is ridiculous.” Yes, I understand that this is a video game, emphasis on “game." Yes, I understand that not everyone will take what they learn/see/imitate from this video game and use it in real life. Yes, I understand that it may just be responsible adults who use this game and not children. But I don’t think it matters who uses the game or why they use it -- it will only affect them in a negative, destructive way. The companies, creators, and consumers of these incredibly violent games need a greater sense of the responsibility that lies in their hands. Games that glorify taking another’s life are detrimental to both the individual and eventually, society as a whole. Games in which the sole agenda is “entertainment” by means of violently killing others, in the end only serve to eat away at our basic respect and dignity for human life. This commercial stands as sad example of the acceptance of violence as the desirable, effective course of action. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=2ERNHxYpPu8)
After learning about nonviolence and pacifism in class this week, I decided to try to apply some of these principles in my everyday life. It is so easy to use anger or violence to solve a problem, but it’s much harder to employ nonviolence or pacifism. Just a few hours after I got out of class on Tuesday, I received a call from my mom. Although my mom and I generally get along, there are always some hot-button issues that she tends to touch upon that get me riled up. Anyway, the moment I picked up the phone it seemed like she was yelling at me about what I was going to do with my future. I just did not want to deal with her at that moment, was mapping out my future on a Tuesday afternoon necessary? So I tried nicely to explain to her that I didn’t want to talk about it, but she just kept going on an on. “If you don’t think about your future, then you won’t have one!” I was just like I don’t want to hear about this now and I could just feel my blood pressure rising. I was temped to scream at her and just hang up the phone. But I thought about class a few hours before and tried to approach this in a different way. So I told her firmly, without raising my voice, that I was not in the mood to talk about my future right then because I had a very stressful day. But I reminded her that this was something that I was thinking a lot about and that we were both essentially on the same page. I think she was kind of surprised how I responded, because it took her a long time to reply. But she just said okay and she told me to call her back the next day. So not raising my voice really helped in this situation because I avoided making my mom even more angrier and I got what I wanted, which was to get off the phone with her!
This week when we discussed nonviolence and pacifism, we emphasized the fact that both of these approaches are ACTIVE. For the peace blog this week, I was inspired to be active, in a sense, by doing something positive for my family and friends instead of just thinking about how much I appreciate them. I know that these important people in my life know how much I love them and that I value our relationships more than anything. However, just a simple reminder of this by doing something thoughtful can really make someone’s day. I decided to write cards and emails to some of these people in my life just to let them know that I was thinking about them.First, I wrote a card to my grandfather, who loves just hearing about how school is going and how I am coping with our losing football record. Next, I wrote one to our close family friend who is battling cancer for the third time. At first, I didn’t really know what to say, but after awhile I realized that it didn’t really matter because he would appreciate the simple fact that I sent him one. Then I emailed my two close friends who are studying abroad in Spain. Lastly, I am sending a care package to my mom, who is struggling with the reality of being an empty nester since my younger brother started college this year. All of these actions seem so simple, but I know that if someone sent me a card or a quick email, it would really brighten my day. Every day, I feel like I am so busy that I never have time to do these small things. Taking the time to stop and do something for other people makes you feel good because you are making someone else feel good. Sometimes I need to show my appreciation instead of just assuming that people know how much I care about them. Our readings and discussion about nonviolence reminded me of the importance of being active. Barash included this from a poem by Walt Whitman, “Only those who love each other shall become indivisible” (167).
When thinking about the idea of living peace the question seems to come up whether peace is simply the absence of violence or something more than that? When thinking about non-violence and the implications of that course of "action" I came to the realization that to demonstrate peace is the bridge between having a peaceful personal life and being able to pass that peace onto others. I thought then about the everyday things that, resaonable or not, make me truly angry and things that make me feel truly at peace. One the things that I came up with for the angry list was disrespect. For example I remember a time when my father and I were driving somewhere and someone pushed their way into traffic. My father and I were both getting really worked up, saying horrible things about the person in front of us...etc. But then something else happened, the person who pushed in front of us made an effort to thank us by sticking their hand out of the window and waving. Suddenly all of our collective anger at the person in front of us completely disipated. In fact we both started making excuses for that person, we started giving them the benefit of the doubt for what they did. It occured to me while thinking about this, what a big difference showing a little bit of courtesy and respect for others can do to diffuse a bad situation. So I decided to try for an entire day to:1.) try to make eye contact with people and simply smile2.) try to go out of my way to be nice and helpful to others, like by waiting a few extra seconds to hold the door for someone who was coming into a building behind me.So today (Sunday) I did just that. I smiled at passersby and I held the door open for strangers. The responses that I got were pretty mixed. Some people didn't really know how to react to me and others seemed to be overly thankful to me and returned my actions with energy. The best reaction that I got was when I held the door open for an elderly man walking up the steps into La Fortune and as he passed by me he looked at me and I smiled, not only did he return the smile but he then went into La Fortune ahead of me and I could see that he was smiling broadly at the people he passed because I saw them smiling as they passed him and walked in my direction. It was so interesting that I stopped and watched him and the reactions of those around him until he turned a corner and was out of my sight. I really felt that although my actions were small they made a difference to the moods of the people who were affected by them and it was something that would be considered as an action that I did and which certainly had an affect. To me this was a way that I could bridge the difference between being at peace with my self and acting in a way that could actually give some kind of peace to others and maybe defuse some feelings that might have led to violence if left to linger in some people, like the simple anger you can get in a car when someone pushes ahead of you in traffic.
A couple of hours ago I went to DPAC to watch the first film in the World View/Solidarity series “God Grew Tired of Us.” I actually didn’t have any idea what the film was going to be about, except that it took place in Kenya… which was really only part of the story. The film traces the lives of three men whom, as boys, fled civil war in Sudan to a refugee camp in Kenya. A few years later, the U.S. invites these three and other “Lost Boys” to America, offering job and housing assistance. I experienced an awkward mix of emotions while watching the film; I laughed as much as I cried. And to be honest—I really don’t know the appropriate way (in an immediate sense) to respond to this film, except for the fact that my laughs seemed to be on cue with the rest of the audience. I remember in the film when the Lost Boys first came to the airport and were falling all over the escalator, and when they petted a stone squirrel at the market. I vividly remember at the end of the film when Panther is reunited with his mother after 17 years. You have to see this part of the film to understand why, beyond the surface, this moment is so special. You have to see the whole film, anyway…America’s role in helping the Sudanese was vividly portrayed in many ways throughout the film, and I found myself wondering if our support was managed appropriately. All three of the men documented worked in America so that they could wire money back to Sudan, or went to college so they could go back and teach their neighbors how to find peace by such means as microfinance. These men did not want to call America “home,” they merely needed a safe haven were they could work in a peaceful situation to help those back home—and we offered that to them. But what is/was our job in Sudan? Did these men go back to do something that we could have fixed? I think is undeniable that they would’ve gone back, for only they truly understand the suffering that is taking place. But are we doing enough?This film also made me think about the role of the film industry in peace keeping. “God Grew Tired of Us” stimulated my thoughts about solutions for peace in Sudan as well as provided me with new knowledge about American/Sudanese relations. Not only did everyone walk out with a free t-shirt and an empty box of popcorn, but (most importantly) a collective interest in John, Daniel, Panther, and the other Lost Boys’ struggle for peace.
Post a Comment