Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
Again, an off week entry. This one is about Peace Movements, but I have another about Gender that I'll post before the week is out. This weekend I went to an actually peace movement protest event and took the kids along too. Rather than repeat what I wrote on my regular blog, I'll just give you a link to click through to it.
The pursuit of peace, I am discovering through this class, often involves sacrifice. Sacrificing your time, energy, health, body, sometimes your ideas, etc., etc. But, I learned this week that the desire for peace sometimes too means sacrificing what you want for the good of the other person, even if it’s a perfectly good and noble thing that you want. I had to sacrifice a friendship this week. Had to be honest about a relationship and where it was going and acknowledge that despite my best efforts and great desire for friendship, this friendship was not going to be good for the other person. And ultimately, though there’s not much peace now—mostly hurt and a bit of anger—in the long run this is better for the sake of peace between us. The hoped for peace that may one day be there. It was interesting to me that through the dissolving of this friendship, the peace blog came to my mind, and more growth in my understanding that peace and sacrifice often go hand in hand.
My entry is also on peace movements instead of gender. This past Sunday I went with a few members of my dorm to the CROP Hunger Walk in South Bend. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. Over the course of last week, all the sections competed in “Penny Wars,” a simple way to raise money. Each section gets a point for every penny in the pot, and other sections can put silver coins or bills into the pot to deduct points. We got pretty competitive by the end. Every section ended up with negative points and we raised about $225 dollars, a sizeable amount for mere change. When we arrived at the park we were surprised at the large turnout. So many students, families, and members of the community were milling around the park with balloons, t-shirts, and walking shoes. There was even a man wearing a shirt “Ask Me About the Walk” who took pictures of everyone. Before the walk started, a representative of the United Religious Community spoke about why we were walking that day, for solidarity. We walk because they walk. She gave statistics about hunger, especially in St. Joseph’s County. The mayor of South Bend and the congressman of Indiana also spoke. We walked a 3.5 mile route through the heart of South Bend. It really was quite a sight, seeing this huge trail of people walking along the same path. Volunteer police officers directed traffic and thanked us for walking as we passed. Volunteers at the Food Bank gave us water and snacks. Everyone just seemed so grateful that so many people cared. In the end, I was so glad I participated in the walk. I had put my name on the list, but early on Sunday afternoon debated not going since I had not started the 5 page paper due bright and early Monday morning. But when I was there, and saw everyone from little children running around with balloons to the friendly old man wearing the slogan t-shirt, I knew that the CROP walk was worth the hours of sleep and downtime that I sacrificed. It felt nice to be a part of something, and to know that what I was doing did mean something. Not only did every person there raise money for the CROP walk, but every person there also walked as a sign that they care about those in the world who may not have the simple luxury of a full belly every day.
This past week, I have tried to completely eradicate “unpeaceful” feelings from my life, notably hatred/excessive dislike or excessive anger. As expected it was difficult, but I was surprised at the same time. Ironically, the week presented me with numerous opportunities, much more than usual, to fall into less peaceful ways of thinking. First of all, my friends “Sarah” and “Carmen” got into a fight, which I wasn’t specifically a part of, and I wasn’t present when it started. Hearing only “Carmen’s” side, I realized I was becoming increasingly “mentally aggressive” toward “Sarah” even when the fight didn’t technically involve me and I did not see it evolve. Throughout the week, I noticed these feelings of unwarranted dislike and mental aggression would try to resurface when I had contact with “Sarah,” the friend who was getting on my nerves more and more. All these bad feelings were obviously instigated by the initial fight, which had nothing to with me in the first place. This demonstrated to me the extremely negative effects of not hearing all sides of the issue, taking sides, and not trying to fix the issue. My feelings grew into excessive dislike, which was completely unnecessary and detrimental to all involved. To try and stifle these thoughts, I had to ignore “Sarah” at times and eventually, realize I had no reason to be angry with someone I wasn’t personally in a fight with. I should have worked as a mediator instead of taking someone’s side and only increasing conflict.My other example of a potential anger problem was when I drove to a volunteer project I’m involved with in South Bend. I don’t know why, but every time I drive in South Bend, and only South Bend, I get incredibly frustrated, incredibly easily. I find myself starting to yell at other drivers because they’re not considerate enough, etc. Frustration and anger, like hatred, grow significantly when you let it. I tried to control my frustration by trying to understand why they might be driving in a seemingly careless way. For example, the driver that cut me off was probably in a hurry to get to the hospital to be with his wife who is in labor. Maybe far-fetched, but it was my strategy to control my angry thoughts.
On Tuesday, September 18, I attended a lecture entitled “Femicide at our US Border: To Be a Woman in Juarez is a Death Sentence.” The lecture was fascinating and disturbing. Barbara Martinez-Jitner gave the lecture; she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary La Frontera. She spoke about the grotesque situation in many of the border towns, specifically Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico. Thousands of factories sprouted up along the border after NAFTA’s induction. This caused a large population rise in these cities. In Juarez, the workforce in these factories is over 99% women, mostly teenagers, who work for $.50 per hour. The exploitation of women within these factories is considered by many to be a form of slavery. The women are given no breaks during their shifts and are forced to stand for hours on end, doing dangerous tasks with no protective garments. They are given no opportunities to rise up within the workplace and are often fired when they get too old (late 20’s/early 30’s). The women have literally no protection or respect within Juarez. Young women are relentlessly targeted as victims for sexual violence, abuse, rape, organ-harvesting, and murder. The corrupt police-force and government have failed to establish suspects or make any arrests. Amnesty International officially has recognized that there was a “systematic failure to prevent and punish many of the crimes again women in Ciudad Juarez” (Amnesty International Public Statement). No one has been held responsible for these atrocious, unsolved crimes, which creates an atmosphere of lawlessness and anarchy unparalleled within Mexico. I found this information extremely hard to cope with and was distraught for literally days. This is happening a few miles over the border. Women are systematically unprotected and targeted as victim of unthinkable, horrifying crimes. Why don’t people care? Why isn’t our government pressuring the Mexican government to redress this concern, which is in need of immediate attention? Because they’re women. Because they’re poor. Because they’re Mexican.
This week’s peace blog is actually an update on one I wrote a couple weeks ago about a friendship that I had with a guy that sort of fell apart second semester of last year and afterwards became very awkward. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I have been seeing this guy at the dining hall a couple times a week, and I’ve been able to muster up enough courage to smile and say hello, which is a very big step for me, especially since for the last seven months or so, we’d been completely ignoring each other. I also mentioned that he would respond in kind, with a smile and a hello. Well, tonight I can proudly say that we both made another big step toward reconciliation and peace, and for the purpose of clarity, we shall call this guy “David.”I saw David in the dining hall again tonight, and it just so happened that the friend whom he was with knew a friend whom I was with, and we ended up eating dinner together. At first, I was a little worried, thinking it was going to be so awkward that I wouldn’t even be able to talk to my friends with ease, much less eat. But to my pleasant surprise, things went as smoothly as they possible could have. And much of that smoothness was due to a friend of mine who was helplessly unaware of the fact that David and I knew each other. So she started introducing everybody at the table, completely ignorant of the fact that everything she said about me, David already knew. And David and I would exchange glances, both silently amused by my friend’s cluelessness. We even ended up talking a little bit and laughing, and because my friend had already broken the ice with her own special brand of awkwardness, things weren’t nearly as awkward between David and me as they could have been. David couldn’t stay the entire time, but for the time that he was there, dinner went very well. We smiled and said goodbye, and he left. All in all, I am very pleased with how tonight fared. And I realized that sometimes something as small as an inside joke, like the one David and I shared, can do so much to mend the broken ties between estranged friends. I’ll most likely see David many more times before this semester is out, and I hope that each time I do, I find the strength to take the next step toward reconciliation and friendship.
I have, at this very moment, sitting on my desk in the Kroc Institute, a copy of the latest issue of Maxim magazine. How I came to have this little wonder in my possession is a story for another time, but I thought with the issue of gender before us this week, why not turn to the self-appointed experts on masculinity to see how they treat violence? The magazine is well-known for its unabashed sexual content—but do they marry sex and violence? The answer is yes, as I’m sure I’m is no surprise to you, but even I, keen observer of all things sociological, was surprised at just how much violence there is in this magazine. Right from the TOC, we can tell we’re in trouble. On the list of Features (9 total), we have one about “America’s toughest cities” complete with a count of kung fu studios, a profile of Kimbo Slice, who millions have seen “obliterate rivals in bareknckle brawls,” an article on “How to fight like a man,” hosted by Chuck Liddell and others from the ultimate fighting world, an interview with Kid Rock in which he suggests a better way to handle the war in Iraq would be to purposely start killing innocent people, and a countdown of the “Top 20 Movie Badasses.” Wow! I’m not even off page one yet. What else have we in this journal of pop culture? A blip for their web page on “A Time to Kill,” the 10 best horror movie kills.A shorty on NFL pile ups and how people break each other’s fingers and poke each others eye out when out of view of the refs. An homage to Halo 3 (along with a graph showing that the top 3 xBox games are Halo 2, Halo, and Gears of War). 6 Movies covered, three very violent. Endorsement of a boxing Club.UFC 10 most important Battles. I could go on, but I’m getting bored. Even the jokes and of course plenty of the ads are violent. Even the lower key content gets ramped up. Can you make a recipe violent? Sure. Make the title “When Salmon Attacks!” How about style? Yep. Have people dressed up like they’re in the “French Connection” and show them shooting people. And there ain’t much else in there except sex and alcohol. So what kind of schema connections are these people helping us all make?
So I just got back from a pre-immigration forum discussion held between different dorms. I was appalled to realize the close mindedness of some Notre Dame students. One person in particular spoke more than the facilitator. This student argued how the preservation of their Southern identity was really important to them, and the immigrants are ruining this identity. This person referred to immigrants as minorities, and continued on with indefensible points of why immigration is ruining America. During the discussion I was so irate that anything I would have said would have been so based on emotion and cut throat that instead I just sat back and held it all inside. But, I’ve decided that I am going to talk to this person to try and open their mind to more moderate views. A positive outlook is all anyone needs, and then tolerance can ensue shortly thereafter. Think globally, and act locally. . .
I have been holding a grudge for a long time now. It's not like some childish thing for me either. I think that I am genuinely mad, and in that sense, I am not at peace.I am mad at my older brother. Aaron is an amazing person. Essentially, he has been my role model since I was little. I look up to him in about every way, shape, and form. But last spring, Aaron came out for the Blue and Gold game along with his girlfriend. He told me he was going to take me out to dinner that Friday night, so I made reservations at Papa Vino's (which is the best restaurant in the world, let alone in South Bend) and I was really excited to hang out with him and to get to know his girlfriend Susie.Well, he called me in the late afternoon on Friday, saying they were in South Bend. I had just finished classes, and although I was exhausted, I was really looking forward to showing Susie around campus and then going out for a nice dinner with them. He told me they would be on campus in 5 minutes or so.So, I sat down at my desk to check emails and what-not. Then, three hours passed by. I kept thinking that any minute now Aaron would call me to say that they were downstairs in front of Farley, but there was no call. I texted him, asking him where they heck he was. He said they would be there in 5 minutes. It turned into another 45 minutes.I didn't know what had happened, but he finally called saying that they were at library circle ready to go to dinner (despite the fact that our reservation was an hour earlier). I walked to library circle to meet them, and you could say that I was less than happy about everything. Aaron said something along the lines of being at the Backer for the past few hours hanging out with some college friends. I was mad. I wasn't mad at him for drinking too much with his friends in the middle of the afternoon (even though I wasn't really approving of that either). I was mad because he blew me off. He could have called me. He had made plans with me.He tried to make up for it, apologized and everything. But it wasn't enough for me. It still hasn't been enough even now. I am still mad, but I think my anger now is just disappointment. I have known Aaron my entire life (obviously), and I have never been disappointed in him before, not like this. It has affected the way I act around him, the way I talk to him, the way I feel toward him. He is my brother, and I am still angry with him after five months.I am trying to overcome my disappointment, and I have a perfect opportunity next weekend for the BC game. Aaron and Susie will be coming out for the game, and he told me to make a reservation at Papa Vino's again, promising not to be late this time. I want to give him a second chance, but I'm also afraid that he'll just disappoint me again. I don't know if this seems petty, but he really hurt me, beyond the whole blowing me off thing. I want our relationship to be the way it was before. I want peace of mind. Hopefully, everything will work out.
Irish ADFor the past few weeks I have had a hard time coming up with something to do for my peace blog, so I decided that I would try for one week to go to the Grotto and pray. I know this is more of a personal peace thing but I suppose that if one person is better in touch with peace and is able to understand this idea of "peace" through themselves better that they will beable to contribute better to the peace movement. Therefore, today I am writing down my commitment in order to in a way "force" myself to do it. I will try to write an "update" on my peace activity about mid-week to makesure I am still on track. I think this will be a good activity for me to do in order to put me in touch more with my commitment to peace and to allow me to reflect on what is going on in the world and in my life. Wish me good luck =)
Giving out free hugs was one of the more memorable experiences I will take from this semester. I opted to give out free hugs on Saturday night outside of a home on St. Peter’s St. Who would have guessed how peaceful and loving Notre Dame Students can be on a Saturday night? My experience ranged from extreme curiosity, to rebid excitement and finally to downright fear. By far the best and most frequent huggers were girls, more so if they had been drinking (after turning 21 of course!). Guys tended to be very hesitant at first; however, if one person from their group took a leap of faith and gave me a hug, then they were very likely to follow the trend.To me, this trend was pretty exciting. It proved to me that if one person can make a whole group do something peaceful and loving then why can’t this trend be carried on in a much larger scale? I would argue that we could be incredibly successful with a “hug-a-thon” at an ND home game, or even more dangerously at an ND away game?! After all, how can you possibly “hate” someone after a nice, warm hug?
This weekend I have a friend visiting from another college. It was the first time he had come up and met most of my friends. I introduced him to all my friends, at first we would all talk about him, his trip, how school was and such, but eventually we hit on some "drama" going on between all our friends. Each different person had a different issue and soon all of them were piling up.After we left one girl, my friend turned to me and said, "Wow I can not believe how much drama there is here" This comment really struck me because I couldn't believe how many stories there were. My goal is to stay out of all of this as much as possible. Already this week I have caught myself wanting to tell a story that I had heard but remebering that this was not a peaceful solution to the problem. I think that this is going to be a very hard reaction to keep up but in general, if I am able to stop at least some of the gossip and drama I believe that this would be a peaceful solution to all this drama.
This past weekend I participated in the CROP Hunger Walk. My dorm and the other dorms in our quad decided to have a competition to see who can raise the most money for the charity. Ok, before i start my story, I'll tell you what CROP is. It is the oldest charity walk in the country. It was started to raise awareness for various groups of impoverished people who go hungry and it is meant to show solidarity with them as well. 25% of all the money raised from the South Bend walk(there are hundreds across the country) stays withing St. Joe's county. They donate it to places like the food bank and St. Vincent DePaul society. The rest of the money goes to national organizations. If you want to learn more visit www.ndcropwalk.blogspot.com. So i learned about this through the CSC. And i was in charge of it for my dorm. So I talked to my dorm president about it and he seemed to think it would make a good service event for the dorm and he said that he would help. So we sent out emails asking people to donate money online, I hung up numerous posters, I announced at dorm mass and at hall gov't. But nothing i did seemed to get people behind it. And it was very frusterating. I didnt think it would be easy, but at the same time i didnt think it would be as hard. I even got to the point of thinking of calling it off because i was getting no response from the guys. But last Thursday my pres and i decided to split the dorm and go door to door asking donations. And so i started going around knocking at everyones room and giving my little schpeel about it and how it goes to a good cause and fights hunger. and it worked for the most part. People were willing to give a dollar or two and some people even gave ten or twenty and i was really happy. And it was looked like we would reach a good amount. ANd then i talked to my pres and asked how much he got back. He only got back 20 dollars total. Which is good, but my dorms has like 250 guys in it and he had half of them so that is not good at all. And then i realized that one reason that i did have alot of trouble gaining support was that the leadership behind it was lacking. I saw this in how my pres collected money and i saw this in my own efforts. Yea i make broad announcements but i didnt go and talk one on one about it. I never connnected with anyone until i did go up door to door and really put in the effort and my efforts did pay off. So this experience helped to show me how important it was for me to talk to people personally and make that relationship if i wanted to do future service events.
Over the last 20 years, as many as 38.000 children have been abducted and forced to fight as child soldiers in the war in Northern Uganda.Thousands have yet to return.My favorite band in the world is Fall Out Boy – ridiculously mainstream, I know – my unshakable dedication to these four “rock” stars has made me question my own indie roots many a time, believe me. After class the other day, I decided to search on iTunes for the Official Intro to Peace Studies iMix, but couldn’t find it, and since I was already logged into my account, I decided to run a search for FOB to see if iTunes had released any new music videos for purchase. Much to my delight, I found a music video I didn’t have – so I broke out my credit card, forked over the $1.99, waited a couple of minutes for the video to download, and curled up under a blanket on my roommate’s futon to enjoy the magic that is FOB.The video opens in Northern Uganda, in the Gulu Township. An elderly African woman is leading what seems to be a community meeting concerning children soldiers: through the course of her speech, she shares the story of Lacare and Okello, the main characters around whom the video focuses. Lacare and Okello are a young Ugandan couple, who look to be about high school age. Okello goes to work at a stone quarry to earn enough money to support his mother, but saves a small portion of his salary everyday to go toward school supplies and a uniform. He eventually saves enough money and enrolls in the local high school; there is an especially touching scene, where Okello is seen teaching Lacare how to read after school one day in their special meeting place, on a cliff overlooking the breathtaking African landscape. One night, Lacare and Okello’s village is attacked, and Okello is abducted. His captors imprison him in a barbed wire cage, and at night he’s forced to sharpen the soldiers’ machetes and to wrestle with other abducted children, presumably in order to teach him how to fight. One night, however, Okello and another young man decide to escape the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army): Okello’s friend gets caught and severely beaten, but Okello makes it back to his village, and is ultimately reunited with both Lacare and his mother. The video closes with scenes from the community meeting; one of the most poignant statements of the whole video, in my opinion, is when the elderly woman leading the meeting looks around at the mass of people congregated around her and says, “We have to do better . . . if not for us, for our children.”I was left crying, this video was that GOOD. I didn’t expect to be so moved by a music video – and yet this one made me want to get up off the futon and book the first flight out to Uganda, made me want to head-up some sort of organization to offer aid to displaced children in Gulu, made me want to DO SOMETHING.So, I did some research:The Ugandan government and the LRA reached a temporary truce agreement, and has held that agreement for more than a year. As peace continues to progress, many nations, including the US, have appointed special envoys to oversee this process. This current cessation of hostilities marks the longest period of peace in the North for more than 20 years, and while the hope for peace is strong and the talks have made significant strides in reducing the conflict, a declaration for lasting peace has yet to be signed. In Gulu and the surrounding districts, issues concerning the nature of justice for victims and perpetrators for war crimes are presently being debated. With peace now in sight, greater focus is being placed on the aftermath of the conflict. Currently the majority of northern Uganda’s population lives in IDP camps, and while the desire is for them to return home, the issues surrounding their return are complex. Some have been displaced for more than a decade, and their former ways of life are all but gone. Access to clean water, economic opportunities, health centers, and education are a pressing concern in daily life and even more so for the many who contemplate a return to resource-barren villages (invisiblechildren.com).After educating myself a little about the history of the conflict, and reading up on what the displaced people in Uganda really need, I decided to get some information about organizations already out there dedicated to helping people whose lives have been war-torn in Uganda, and I decided to make the trek out to the CSC to see what kind of programs, if any, have been established on campus to help these people. Low and behold, I stumbled across Building Tomorrow!Mission Statement: “Building Tomorrow (BT) is an international non-profit organization giving U.S. students the opportunity to raise awareness and funds to build and support educational infrastructure projects for vulnerable children in and around Kampala, Uganda. BT opened its first school, Meeting Point Kampala, in April 2006 with money collected by college students in the fall of 2004. Since then, the initiative has grown with more than 500 students participating in activities sponsored by nearly ten university chapters across the country.”All this week, the club has been selling “bricks” (pieces of red paper, symbolic, really of the bricks the club hopes to raise enough money to pay for in Uganda) to help raise money to donate to the national organization, which will in turn invest the money back into Uganda’s economy to build schools and hospitals. I emailed the club leaders to ask if they needed any help. It turns out they were short on volunteers to help with the fundraiser this week, so ended up sitting in LaFun for a few hours last night selling bricks and helping to raise money for the children in Uganda (I even ended up buying a few bricks myself!). What a great experience – which just goes to show; only good things can come from listening to Fall Out Boy.
Irish ADHello Internet goers and suchSo since this was mentioned in class, I have been wanting to check out the Kiva.org website thing. Well, tonight I was finally able to. I scanned the web site and read on all the people who were listed asking for loans and such. I found it interesting to see the number of different businesses they had and the amount of money they needed. After scanning the web site, I decided to donate $25 dollars to Macarena Vaesquez Lopez. (Below is the description on the Kiva web site about her and her businesses)Macarena is a married woman with four children: two sons, 15 and 7 years old respectively, and two grown daughters who are married and no longer live with her. Macarena’s husband works as a carpenter but his earnings are not sufficient to maintain the family. For that reason Macarena decided to begin her own business in order to bring income to her family and above all education to her young sons. She began to sell women’s undergarments by catalogue to her neighbors, friends and family. Little by little, her sales have increased. The business has been in operation between 6 and 7 years, and Macarena wants to continue with it. Hopefully Kiva will keep me posted on her progress and I shall try and keep you all updated on her progress as well =)
Today in my International Relations Semiar, we were presented with a hypothetical scenario in which Hamas had increased terrorist attacks against the politically right wind and religious orthdox coalition led by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The government had installed more Israeli settlements and imposed strict surveillance and curfew. Syria has threatened to intervene and Israel is counter-threatening tactical air strikes. We were subsequently asked to examine this scenario from one of three political science perspectives. Gasp..., the non-violent perspective was not an option. Rather, I discussed Accordingly, I was motivated to sign the One Millions Voices pledge, which I had seen on Professor Myers' website. Rather than emphasizing the need to create a balance of power in the region, it highlights both the Palestinians' and Israelis' right to sovereignty.
For the peace blog this week, I decided to learn more about the Once Voice movement. I was the 596,697th person to pledge my support to the One Voice Mandate. The goal is to have one million people, or voices, support an end to the Israel-Pakistani conflict. I felt this was an extremely important time to lend support because on October 18, One Voice is going to bring thousands of Israelis and Palestinians together at a “People’s Summit,” which will be the most drastic step ever taken to try and bring about an end to this conflict. This is very important because it gives ordinary citizens an opportunity to come together and voice their opinions. The support of the international community is also essential. The One Voice website says, “Live music, speeches by dignitaries and celebrities, and statements from grassroots activists will draw Israelis and Palestinians out to the streets, where they will be linked via satellite to their counterparts across the region. This platform will allow people on both sides to see that they have a partner in the resolution process. The event will be broadcast around the world.” The One Voice campaign makes an important point that people have waited for decades for leaders and other people in positions of power to make changes so they could live in peace, but their efforts have not been enough. This peace campaign is different because it relies on “ordinary” people to demand change and discuss possible resolutions. I think this relates to the idea of our class and even this peace blog because as everyday citizens, we can take steps to promote peace. The movement calls for a two-state solution through one million voices. Both sides want to seek a resolution, so this summit will allow people to unite for a cause they support. The One Voice movement does not support a particular side, but instead, wants to mobilize people to call for real change. On the Frequently Asked Questions part of the website, the One Voice campaign explains why its supporters believe this peace movement can have an impact. They know that this is a very difficult task and that many other groups with a similar goal have failed. However, they emphasize mainly that when the majority wants something, it is most likely accomplished. There are daily things people all around the world can do to “mobilize the masses.” People can help support their cause by learning about this nonviolent, resolution-oriented peace movement and support the cause. One million voices strong can have a powerful impact for the summit on October 18.
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