Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
Continuing my trend of not really changing the world much with my Peace Blog work(but there is more coming, I assure you!), I did something very minor this week--I ended up thinking about it for an awful long time before I did it though, for some reason. As all of you know at this point, I have a blog. And part of that blog effort involves posting some home-grown YouTube videos once in a while. I have been irritated over time by some of the comments I've received--not on my blog, but over on YouTube itself. Cloaked in anonymity, some of the viewers get down right nasty with no conceivable motivation. I even blogged about this once. I had decided, out some kind of sense of anti-censorship, and also as a testament to the nasty behavior of some humans, to leave all of the comments up. But as Peace Blog has progressed and we've been trying to put less negativity and more positivity out there in the world, I've been rethinking that decision. Why should I allow these people to use my cyber existence to catalyze their nastiness? And every time someone goes over there, I'm allowing them to be exposed to that crap. So, despite an internal battle with myself over whether this is the right thing to do, I decided that removing the comments makes the world a more peaceful place. So, took a little time today and went through all of my comments and remove the pointlessly vulgar and nonsensically nasty ones. Big accomplishment? No. Meaningful to me? Yes. It makes my cyberlife more consistent with what I espouse. (This post, of course, is more connected to the violent culture week, but like I said, anything goes, really.)
This week’s peace blog concerns my relationship with a fellow student and how I have tried to make our interaction a little more peaceful and a little more friendly.To start from the beginning, I have known this particular girl since last year, and for anonymity’s sake, we shall call her Linda. Linda was in several of my classes last year and is in one of my classes this year, but despite our seeing each other almost daily, we never hit it off; we never even became friends. As far as I know, this was no fault on my part. I always try to make friends with everyone, but for some reason, I always got the feeling that Linda didn’t like me and I could never figure out why. We never spoke, and if we ever passed each other somewhere on campus, she ignored me.I let it go on like this for over a year, thinking it must be her problem. But last week in the one class we share, I accidentally did something that I was afraid had offended her. As I walked into class that day, I saw Linda standing at the end of my row talking to a friend of hers. I couldn’t get by with her standing there, but I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation, so I just stood there a couple feet behind them, waiting for them to finish. My mind wandered, as it often does, and I sighed inadvertently. Linda heard me and said, “Sorry,” and moved, thinking that I had intended my sigh to be heard, and it sounded to me like she may have taken offense. I felt bad about it afterward; I didn’t intend for my sigh to be taken as a sign of frustration or impatience, but that’s how I feared it had come across. If it had been someone I knew a bit better and with whom I was friends, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But my relationship with Linda doesn’t really leave room for little misunderstandings, and I didn’t want to give her any reason to dislike me.I kept planning on explaining and apologizing during or after class, but I never got the chance. As I was doing homework that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I decided to do something about it. I went on Facebook and wrote Linda a message, explaining what had happened and apologizing if she had taken any offense whatsoever. That actually took a lot of courage. A message like that can come off as either a waste of the reader’s time or just plain weird. And I was really putting myself out there. I awaited a response, a little fearful, a little hopeful, and finally, later the next day, she wrote back. She told me that it was okay, that she hadn’t even noticed, and that she’d see me in class on Tuesday. I was so relieved to hear that. Not only had I offered an apology and it had been accepted, but apparently, it hadn’t even been needed in the first place. And Linda didn’t seem offended in the least or even annoyed that I had sent her an apology. Maybe I was the one who was mistaken. Sure, we didn’t really speak, and she ignored me when we saw each other on campus, but maybe it’s because she’s shy or she’s intimidated by me or a myriad of other reasons. And even if it’s true that for some reason she didn’t like me before, maybe now after I’ve offered my olive branch of peace, we can actually start becoming friends.
My cousin is a freshman in Siegfried, and he is a very shy, awkward kid. We have never had a very strong relationship or even common interests (aside from our choice in college, I guess). I have always had a hard time talking to him, a predicament which has never really been an issue because I would usually only see him during the holidays or over the summer. But now that he is a student here at Notre Dame, I seem to be running into him all the time. I say hello, ask him how he is doing. And it always seems too much for him to reciprocate the appropriate "how are things with you." It just seems like a one-way road and I'm the one chauffeuring him down it.But my mom called me and told me that he has been having trouble socially since school started; truth be told, I wasn't surprised. She just wanted me to know, which is code for "look out for him." So, I decided that I would overlook the awkward silences and boring conversation that was to ensue if we hung out and instead reach out to him like a truly peace-filled and peace-giving person. I called him to come watch the Michigan game in my room with me and a few of my friends. I promised to order pizza and save him a nice, comfy spot on the futon. And as the clock struck 9 PM, I concluded that he wasn't coming. I think that I was kind of mad about it, that I had made the extra effort to include him and make sure that he was all right. Instead, he blew me off.In the end, I just concluded that he may have found some friends in the dorm with whom to watch the game. I called him that next Monday and asked him to dinner at NDH. We actually had a good conversation. I asked him about life, class, work. He seemed to be handling things well. In the end, I was just happy that he knew that I was there for him, as a friendly face, as someone he could come to if he needed me. I guess that is all that he wants me to be. And I think that I can accept that.
As I’m sure most of you have seen by now, this being a Peace Studies course and all, there are currently massive nationwide protests going on in Myanmar. These have been going on and off since August, but in the last week have really picked up steam, as the Buddhist monks have taken the lead. In fact, it was reported that over 100,000 protestors marched through the streets of Rangoon today. The monks have been calling for reform in government, the freeing of the opposition leader, and the dissolution of the military junta. The best part of this is that the military has yet to do anything because the monks are so respected in Burmese culture. The military government is afraid that if they hurt the monks, there will be a huge public backlash against the government, and things will spin out of control. However, they know if they don’t strike back, the protests will continue to grow larger, and regular citizens will see the lack of action as governmental weakness, and so be more willing to go against the junta. It’s really a lose-lose situation for the military government. In fact, the government had not issued any statements until today, at which point they said they are prepared to launch a strike against the protestors if need be. This march is a wonderful example of how nonviolence is supposed to work. This protest is active and it seems to be accomplishing the task of weakening the government. Having the monks lead this strike is perfect as well, since the Burmese people will revolt if the monks are harmed, so the government can’t do anything. And since they haven’t done anything, the people are emboldened, and the international community has rallied behind the monks. Now more than ever, if the military strikes at the protestors, the Burmese government will have an international problem on its hands. I can only hope that the oppressed in other poor countries see how well this nonviolent approach is working. It has made the government seem weak, emboldened the people, and rallied the international community to their cause. This is pretty much a perfect storm of nonviolence, and one which, especially if it is eventually successful in its aim to reform the government, should be held up as an example to other people of how to launch a peaceful protest. Speaking of protests, has anyone else noticed the upswing in peaceful protests in the last few days? First the Burmese marches, then the Jena 6 protests, and now there is a GM workers strike that is going on in over 30 states. While unnecessary strikes and protests are harmful, I can only hope this rash of peaceful protests is perhaps ushering in a new period where people embrace nonviolence as the way to make changes. Or it could all be a coincidence. I however, would like to be an optimist and think that at least some people have embraced nonviolence. I know this peace blog really wasn’t about anything I did, but I felt that the Burmese marches were so important that it would be irresponsible not to comment on them and voice my support for the monks.
This past week, I made an attempt to address personal conflict in a way that was peaceful, not only because it lacked physical violence, but, also, because it steered away from emotional violence. Given our discussion of positive and negative peace, I thought this might be appropriate. The other day, I had arranged to meet a friend for dinner. Forty five minutes after I arrived at the dining hall, I received a text stating that they had accidentally turned off their alarm and slept through our lunch. Given that this is a repeated occurence by this person, I was angered. Rather than respond to the message curtly, I decided to take some time to think it over. I felt a little as though I was a participant in the Take Ten Program. Several hours later, I simply gave them a call and let them know that it was particularly frustrating when they slept through plans we had made. They apologized, explained the reason for oversleeping, and we were able to work it out in just a few minutes. The additional time to think really helped me to sort through the best way to broach the topic. Rather than responding in a confrontational manner, I was able to share my thoughts calmly and succinctly.
i've been meaning to make a comment about last week's football game, so here goes. i noticed that a lot of people wrote about the violent language and behaviors displayed by fans at notre dame football games, which is definitely something that bothers me. at the michigan state, however, a girl sitting behind me was trying to fight this violent language through satire. throughout the entire game, she was angrily screaming terrible terrible words very loudly- for example, if jimmy clausen got sacked she'd be like "Oh my god what the **** are you doing, you son of a *****!" it was quite shocking, to say the least. and when we said the "kill" on defense chant she was actually screaming like she wanted to kill someone. while this sounds ridiculous, i do know the girl from my dorm and i know that she was kidding b/c like me, she thinks it's irrational how obsessed people get about football. but i think this ties into the peace movement theme this week-- she is fighting violent language through making a satire of it. while myself and the students around me were shocked by her behaviour, it's actually quite close to that which we all display. satire can be powerful in exposing our faults and perhaps even creating change, i think. just a thought.
Lately, I've found myself to be generating hostility by rushing around...plowing through dining hall traffic, not holding doors for others, cutting in line, etc. Mostly little things that I catch myself doing only after the fact. So, I decided that I'd set aside one day this week to reverse this trend and hopefully start anew. Fortunately/unfortunately, I would choose to do this on Tuesday, September 25...one of my busier days of the semester.The day began well...I woke up early to do homework and set out to live the day by intentionally looking out for others. While in Reckers for breakfast, one employee was making the meals and taking the orders. While waiting to give my order, the employee was noticeably frustrated by the number of demands being put on her. But instead of growing impatient myself, I calmly waited my turn. Being peace in this instance felt very good because I knew that I was in control of my emotions and that I wouldn't let a silly one-minute wait get me upset.As I went to my classes throughout the day, I made an extra effort not to be the guy sliding through doors, cutting around corners, and racing up stairs. Even though I was running late, I tried to held doors. Sometimes it was acknowledged; other times it was not.Finally, I had my first interhall baseball game of the year. In between issuing our team's jerseys and rounding up a full team, we left to drive to the field off-campus a little late. As Professor Myers has let on about his driving when he is rushed, I immediately departed from my intentional, selfless mode of being. I'm reminded of one instance in particular. While waiting at a stoplight on Edison Road, I'd pulled up very close to the car in front of me. Seconds later an oncoming car slowed to turn across the two lanes of traffic on my side of the road. Even though the rest of the lane was clear, I had not left any room for this car to make the turn. I'd failed. Darn. My rushing made me feel crummy and selfish; I'd hoped that my action hadn't welled up any resentment in the car I'd blocked.These are the highlights of Day of Peace Blogging. Going forward, however, I'd like to maintain this effort for the next several days going forward. With just a little less hurriedness and little more awareness, maybe I can kick this bad habit I've falled into.
I’m beginning to notice a theme in my last two peace blog activities: I never noticed how much I didn’t notice. This week, in light of our readings on positive and negative peace, I decided to make a much more concerted effort to be environmentally conscious in my daily life. I am a vegetarian, I recycle, and I turn out the lights when I leave the room. I wasn’t sure if there would be that many things I could practically change in my daily life to make it more environmentally-friendly, but I gave it a shot. I didn’t focus on one main activity; I just tried to do a lot of little things. I tried to turn off the water while shampooing in the shower. I tried to check all the rooms in our quad, not just my own, to make sure the lights, TV and other appliances were turned out before I left my dorm. I own a reusable Grab ‘n Go bag, but never remember to bring it. I tried to make a conscious effort to do that. If I saw recyclables in the trash that I could easily get to, I threw them in a recycling bin. All of these things sounded easy when I thought of them, but I didn’t realize how hard remembering to do them would actually be and how much I would learn in the process. On hot days, taking energy and water-efficient showers was easy. I didn’t mind turning off the water while shampooing, or making it cold instead of hot to save energy. On the first cold day, however, convincing myself to take a cooler shower and to turn off the water for periods was brutal. On the other hand, I did realize how much water I saved in my showers if I turned the water off when I didn’t use it. I also realized that I can make do without my steaming hot water; I just don’t like to. I have been sapping our environment solely for my own convenience. Similarly, sometimes when I was leaving the room in a hurry, I would groan inwardly at the thought of having to do an electricity check, but I would be shocked when I would realize that two fans, three lights, and a TV were on. How much energy would we have wasted while we were gone for the day, and for no reason? I also noticed that it was easy for me to tell a friend not to throw out that plastic bottle, but if I was with someone I didn’t know very well, I wanted to refrain from doing so in order to avoid the awkwardness that would ensue. My own comfort and convenience was preventing me from making a better world for everyone.I learned that I think of myself as pretty environmentally friendly, but that actually there is still a whole lot more that I can do. I also realized that inconvenience is usually my primary reason for not doing it. I was uncomfortable with this self-realization, and I don’t like to think about it, but I guess that is nothing other than a sign that I need to change.
Ok so i know i just posted two days ago but that was more of a comment than an act of being peace. I found a great way to be peace yesterday! I logged onto Kiva.org and made a loan of $25 to an entrepreneur in Nigeria. Here's her description from Kiva: "Esther Ibade is a farmer and has farm land in which she plants and produces cassava, maize, and cocoyam. She is a married mother of eight children. She is a native of Ubiaja and has been in this business for over seven years. Esther is requesting a loan of US $625 and with that money, she intends to buy maize, cassava stems, and farm land."I am so excited about Kiva! I read about it a few months ago in a NYT article by Nick Kristof (there is a link to the article on Kiva's website) but never acted on it. Finally, yesterday I decided to just go ahead and do it. Kiva is using microfinancing to fight poverty in developing countries. You can lend money to entrepreneurs to help lift them out of poverty; it's so great. Once the person pays the loan back to Kiva, you can either collect your money back or redistribute it to another entrepreneur, which I intend to do. I encourage everyone to check out the website (www.kiva.org) and think about becoming a microfinancier fighting poverty. After all, it is one of the most prolific effects of structural violence, which we have discussed in class. Fighting poverty through financial empowerment is a movement in itself, a movement we can all be part of thanks to Kiva.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to attend a summer premedical program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, where, in addition to learning a lot about med school admissions and organic chemistry, I made a lot of new friends, many of whom I’ve kept in touch with since program ended in June. One of the friends I made, in particular, touched my life in a very special way, and is the subject of this week’s peace blog.I met Justin my first night in the CO-ED (you read right, people, for an entire 6 weeks, this parietals abiding ND sophomore lived with BOYS – it was shear MADNESS) dorms at Rutgers, which were less than 10 minutes (by bus) from the med school campus. Justin was moving his things into the room across the hall from me at the same time I was leaving to head down to dinner. Me being the a-typical bulla bulla ND student that I am, I just so happened to be wearing last year’s The Shirt. As I turned around after locking the door to my room, I ran into him – neither of us was paying attention to where we were going. He put down the box he was carrying to introduce himself to me, looked at my shirt, and exclaimed, “You go to Notre Dame!?” When I answered him with a fervent nod of my head and the biggest smile I could muster, he exclaimed, “I almost went there myself! I even went on Spring Vis – do you know . . .,” and that night, I had made my first friend.He invited me into his room, and I decided to help him move in, so we could continue to get to know each other – it was so nice to talk to someone who knew the locations of specific dorms, and who understood what I was talking about when I mentioned “Main Building” or “parietals.” As I was getting things out of one box in particular, I saw a picture frame with multiple photographs of Justin and another guy about the same age. I asked Justin about his friend in the photograph, and he replied, “Oh, that’s John, my boyfriend. I’m gay . . . is that okay with you?”Coming from California, I’m very used to and comfortable with the idea of homosexuality (don’t tell the Pope I said that). Some of my friends from home are gay, but no one I’m really close to, so I’ve always been removed from the issue. Justin and I hung out a lot over the 6 weeks we spent in New Jersey together, and I got the chance to meet John and go out to dinner with them a couple of times. Justin is amazing. He blows my mind – he’s so smart (we’re talking ridiculously smart, here, people), he’s so sweet and thoughtful, and he’s hilarious – his laugh is so joyful, it made me laugh even harder sometimes whenever we were hanging around and joking with one another. Justin was my very first close gay friend, and I’m so blessed that he came into my life.That being said, we were talking on AIM the other night, and he told me some students at his school were putting together an anti-gay marriage protest that got a little violent. When he told me some of the things that the protesters had written on their signs, and how their slogans had made him feel, I was so angry that I was on the verge of tears. He sounded so hurt that it made me want to protect him, to lash out at these people in some way. Which is when I remembered this class . . . So I decided to do something constructive with all my feelings. I spent the night looking into gay, lesbian, and transgender rights, and I wrote letters to Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, the senators of my state, and sent them out this morning, encouraging them to support the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention amendment to the Department of Defense Reauthorization. Last night, I found out that according to the FBI's 2005 Hate Crimes Statistics report, bias motivated crimes against the gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) community constitute the third largest reported category behind race and religious bias. Also, this afternoon after class, I called both senators’ offices, encouraging them to vote in favor of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The ENDA aims to extend federal employment protections that are currently provided on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, because it is still legal to fire individuals for being gay or lesbians in 30 states and to fire transgender men and women in 38/50 states.As I’m writing this, I feel so empowered. All day long, I’ve been happy, and I haven’t been able to explain why – I feel like I’m making a difference. And I want to do more. I started my own blog (check it out at http://restitchingmyrippedjeans.blogspot.com) to further document my quest in achieving equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
In class today I made the mistake of saying that as society, respecting nature is an easy thing to do. After some discussion, I realized that I was merely speaking for myself. As a privileged American, I can quite easily live a greener life, but for an entire society to do so brings about all kinds of issues of environmentalism vs. economic well-being and growth. But I still stand by my stance that becoming a more environmentally friendly individual is not all that difficult. One thing I began doing this summer was to stop drinking bottled water. I read a New York Times article about the bottle water industry and its effects on both the environment and energy scarcity. The root of the problem is simply that the bottling, transportation and production of water is an unnecessary system in society. We have access to free water all over our community, yet we insist on buying individual bottles every time we need it. To get that bottle to my hand required the bottle to be flown across seas from the bottling source and a plastic bottle needed to be produced. This is a huge waste of oil. We are fighting in Iraq to protect “the American way of life.” But actually, that way of life is simply a gross abuse of oil. One small way to become less oil dependant as an individual and to help the environment is to give up bottled water. I was surprised when I made this choice to give up bottled water that so many other people had already made the same choice I did. If everybody gave up bottled water, our society would move toward being less oil dependant. It’s something very small, but it’s a start for me to become more aware of the small things I can do or not do everyday to stop being a wasteful American.
Saying goodbye to anyone is always a rough experience. Saying goodbye to your friends is awful. Saying goodbye to your best friend who is more of a brother than anything else is the absolute worst. This week my best friend/roommate had to leave ND and it was among one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life. Not knowing when the next time you’re going to see each other after living in a 9 foot by 12 foot space for two years is not a pleasant reality. This experience, however, did provide me with a bit of an inspiration to help encourage peace. Today I told every one of my close friends and family that I loved them and that no matter where they wind up in the future will still love them. Have you ever told someone you love them when they absolutely don’t expect it? If not, do it simply for the joy that comes from the smile that uncontrollably leaps to their face. Life is too short not to live a full and loving life. One day you’re sleeping across the room from someone and then the next thing you know they’re halfway across the country. So today I ask you to do something to honor a man who truly lives every ideal of Notre Dame even though he can no longer walk this campus as a student. Tell those around you that you love them. Then hug them. (Repeat as necessary)
On Friday, I attended a conference presented by the ND Gender Studies Program called “Cosmopolitanism: Gender, Race, Class, and the Quest for Global Justice.” Two speakers were featured, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Martha Nussbaum along with two factually commentators. Before I went to the first lecture, I looked up the word “cosmopolitan” in the Oxford English Dictionary because I was unsure of its meaning. The definition is, “familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures.” This conference relates to peace studies because we have been learning that peace does not just mean eliminating violence and war, but also promoting equality, human rights, justice, and many other things. I strongly believe that awareness and understanding of other people and their cultures encourages peace.In his lecture, Appiah stressed that global citizenship is extremely important in order to be open to others. He believes we have a shared obligation to care for one another; therefore, we must encourage both tolerance and humility. He emphasized that universalism and diversity are the two most important things we must think about in our world today. Someone from the audience asked Appiah about an issue dealing with human rights. He said that it would be “inconceivable” that a nation would pull out of the United Nations because that country would not be respected as a nation. I think there must be some type of global standard, but we know it is extremely difficult and maybe even impossible to enforce international human rights standards. He also believes that we must get people involved and united as a collective power.In her lecture, Nussbaum used the examples of seven important speeches to support her argument for “purified patriotism” including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and a speech about Indian independence in August of 1947. Part of her argument was that nation-states should “engender sentiments of love and support in their citizens.” I strongly agree that these steps on the nation-state level can help promote global justice. I think attending this conference was very worthwhile, and it was encouraging to know that people are promoting positive peace and many of the Falk’s ten dimensions including human rights, positive citizenship, and collective security.
For my peace blog entry this week, I decided not to engage in any violent media for the day. I undertook this activity on Saturday and decided that I should not watch the ND/Purdue game because of my decision. My day started out as normal as any other Saturday morning. I woke up, went to the dining hall and came back only to be greeted with invitations from friends for different game watches. I held my ground and explained to my friends that I would not be watching the game. My friends all gathered to watch the game, and I remained in my room for the first hour or so of the game. After about an hour, I decided to go for a walk around campus and enjoy the beautiful weather (before the winter comes). I walked around the lakes and around campus for close to an hour. My schedule normally does not allow for me to enjoy my surroundings, so I found my walk to be a break from the stress of daily life. After my walk, I went back to the dorm. I could hear the yells of my friends coming from the room encouraging the players to hit the other team hard. I returned to my room where I decided to flip through the channels on tv to see what I could watch. I flipped and flipped, but I seemed to find a problem with nearly every program on tv. Some were violent physically whereas others used violent language and encouraged violent ideas. After twenty minutes of flipping through channels, I gave up and turned off the tv. Saturday night, I gathered with some of my friends to watch a movie. My friends were in the mood to watch a violent movie. I attempted to change their mind, but they insisted on watching Saving Private Ryan. I left the room and decided to watch something else with my roommate. All in all, my day of avoiding violence was very difficult. The violence on tv and in the movies forced me to miss out on many events that I would normally view as fun. I found my day to be very rewarding. Avoiding violence for the day allowed me to enjoy the weather and appreciate comedies. I think that in the future, I will continue to avoid engaging in violence...as long as it is not on the day of a Notre Dame football game.
As was mentioned previously, I am bad at actually posting my peace activities. For the week before last week here is my blog:I went into the home football game against Michigan State with the intention of cheering for the team and not using violent words or actions against either team. I was successful however I was very surprised at what was the most difficult challenge. It was first off sad to realize how many violent alliterations people use at these sporting events, but what was more disheartening was when fans started saying it to their own team! My friends and I have the first student seats, meaning we are the first row of seniors behind the gold seats :0). I realize that games last a long time and are very tiring but I was seriously tested when my fellow seniors sat down for basically the entire last quarter of the game. It is tradition that the students stand behind the team no matter how much we suck. The fact that an entire two rows of seniors sat down got me miffed. My first gut reaction was to yell profanities about their lack of respect, faith and support but I remembered my peace obligation. I refrained and it was a LOT more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I tried to tell myself that they have every right to sit and even though so many more worthy fans could have had their amazing seats and actually appreciated them I should not react violently. Then I saw her, one of my teammates. My friend yelled at her and said “Hey get up! What do you think you are doing??” I almost followed suit and instead decided to ask her why she and her friends were sitting. She explained that she was SO tired and I responded with “You are telling me that you are a Division I athlete and you can’t stand to back up your team?” And you know what! It worked. she got up and got her friends to stand up too! Then a total of three minutes later they all sat down and many more joined them. It was sickening and got me even angrier, but I still did not crack. By the end I was so upset and I felt useless. I realize that violence either through words or actions would not have helped and I was glad I restrained myself. I just wondered if there was anything I could have done to help them realize how hypocritical it is for them to say that our team sucks and doesn’t try hard when they don’t even try hard to stand up during the game. Plus we played a lot better than we did at all the other games so I don’t know why they were so upset in the first place!This past week, I set up a project for myself where for one day as I walked from class to class I did not talk on my cell phone and instead made a distinct effort to smile at people. I was a little nervous at first because I didn’t want people to think I was a weird, creeper, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results! Not only did I see a bunch of people that I know, but also other people that I did not know smiled back! There were really only a handful of people who gave me “who are you?” faces and by the end of the day I was feeling really good about myself. I decided to do this because I realized how much time people spend walking around without simple peaceful interactions like a smile. The fact that I thought I would come across as creepy made me a bit sad. How depressing is it to think that people will be suspicious of a friendly smile? I hope that my extra smiles brightened a couple of other people’s days too. :0)
For some reason actually writing down my peace blog work is really intimidating to me... For the past 8 months I've been working on writing Loyal Daughters and Sons. I did about 4 months of prep and interviews, wrote it this summer, and am now in the midst of producing/co-directing it. I'm very passionate about bringing an end to sexual violence, so I've always been aware of the importance of a play like LDS. I think story telling is an incredibly valuable way to promote healing. But this has really become very apparent to me the last couple of weeks. Auditions were 3 weekends ago and so over the past 2 weekends we've been going through the preliminary rehearsals. On more than one occasion someone has told us that they are so moved that we cast them in this particular skit/monologue because it is "just like their own story" or "this happened to a friend of mine" or something of that nature. We didn't know any of this when casting, so it is very humbling to think that you are part of someone's healing process. As I think about this more, though, I get really sad and frustrated, because it just shows how prevalent rape and sexual assault are- that we are casting people in roles so similar to their own experience without knowing it, BECAUSE so many people have these experiences. Which again shows how important it is that we provide opportunities for healing, especially on this campus. Anyways, promoting awareness about sexual assault/providing opportunities for healing to survivors is what I did for peace this week/year.
Last week I went to the presentation about the US Peace Forum that Professor Myers mentioned in class. At first I was thinking that it might be possible to blog about simply going to the presentation. I was hoping that by going and learning something new or by simply being there and showing my support that in a way that would be a way of showing my support of the peace movement. However, when I got there and listened to the presentation I realised that this is not really enough, especially when I listened to the girl who attended the workshops with the youth groups. The idea of creating peace, starting with younger people has always been a belief of mine. In fact when I was in high school I helped establish a peer mentoring program for partly that reason.The forum stirred up those feelings once again and the idea of what I could do this week hit me, I would email my old high school principal about having a group of students getting involved in something like this, some kind of peace forum.So I emailed him and although I haven't heard anything back from him, I hope that it will at least get him thinking about the possibilities. I also offered to help with whatever I could and I hope that this is something that I might be able to start something at home. I hope that in this small way I might get this idea out there and might be able to encourage others, especially those that are younger than me, to look toward peace as a possible future and not an unattainable ideal.
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