Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
This weekend I traveled with a group of Notre Dame students to the School of the Americas Watch annual protest and vigil. On Friday we traveled and were able toattend the Jesuits’ teach-in and learn about their projects. Saturday, our group was lucky enough to have a brief tour and substantial question-answersession with officials of the WHINSEC. Also on Saturday, the SOA Watch organizes a rally, music, food, and information booths outside the gates of theSOA/WHINSEC – it was great for bringing people together and frankly, making it more worth their long trip to Georgia since they would find community and havesomething to do on Saturday as well as Sunday. Then Sunday was the protest itself. There were over 20,000 people in attendance. We sang the word “presente” and held up crosses with names written on them, as someone read thename of each person of Latin America who has been killed by graduates of the school.The first two names were Jean Donovan and Oscar Romero. That part was intense for me because the cross I held up for the day had Jean Donovan’s name on itand the necklace I wore had a quote by Oscar Romero. What a coincidence! The vigil was hours long. The protesters marched to the gates of the militaryproperty and left the crosses on the fence. There are always a couple hundred people who choose to commit acts of civil disobedience in order to draw moreattention and get the issue into court. Those people climbed the fence, trespassing onto military property, and were arrested immediately. I really appreciated the nonviolent tone of the protest. The organizersactively ensured a peaceful protest by having the whole group offer a pledge of nonviolence and constantly providing means for us to take active, nonviolentactions by marching, singing, leaving crosses, and even gathering in one place to begin with – 20,000 is a lot of people.The emotional tone was alsointeresting: the vigil itself was very solemn and mournful, and at the end of the march there was a group of people dressed in dark costumes and with fake coffins mourning -- even wailing –- the loss of innocent people that the school legitimates by accepting Latin American soldiers. On the other hand, there was lots of festive, hopeful music throughout the weekend. Many speakers calledfor the closing of the school and offered hope for a better foreign policy. Dennis Kucinich was very energetic. Transitioning from rally-mode, a mindset of demanding change and growing in energy and community to a solemn, mournful, prayerful mindset was difficult – and I would even argue that it is what makes this event what it is in terms of dissatisfaction channeled into hope and action.
Hey, it's me again! This entry is about something I did a little while ago with the peace blog in mind, but which I'm only now writing about. I was getting ready to finish off my study abroad application to the Uganda program, so I wanted to look up some NGOs around there that I might be interested in talking to or working for. I was randomly google-ing things, and came across this great school in the east part of the country, and its website was about the mission of empowering people, about how they think it's important to promote gender equality in the school, their religious education... I was blown away because the website hit on almost everything I had written in my essay about why the Uganda program fit my interests well.Normally, I would have just decided the school was awesome and that if I ended up in the country, I would try to go visit. I decided to email them now, though, to say hi, tell them who I am and why I found them, and ask a few questions about how development is affecting them and how they incorporate the idea of "shalom" into their educational system. ("Shalom" is part of the school's name.) I haven't heard back from them yet, but it is really exciting to be able to use the Internet to make these random connections with people across the globe who share interests. Ok, maybe a little stalker-ish too, but this is definitely one way to promote understanding and build bridges across cultural lines. I'm hoping they don't think I'm some psycho American who wants to save African children, but rather that I'm interested in learning about them and the motivations and methods for their work. We'll see what happens!
Heehee, sorry . . . I've been stting on these bad boys for over a week now . . . In lieu of Energy Week, I decided to monitor my energy consumption over the course of a week to look for ways I can help the environment. My roommate is constantly making fun of the fact that even though I’m from California, I’m really bad at recycling, or turning off the light whenever I leave the room. So this past week, I tried keeping track of the lights and appliances on in my room (I only kept one light on at a time, and I’d turn everything off before I left any room), I tried my very hardest to recycle EVERYTHING (newspapers, milk cartons, etc.), and I even turned off power strips whenever I left my room. I found, though, that by the end of the week, I was so set in my ways that once I started getting run down and pressed for time, energy conservation became less of a priority to me. I found it really difficult, what with my already stressed for time, hectic, typical ND schedule, to fit energy conservation into my daily routine. So I googled energy conservation tips for college students, and found the following helpful tips on energy conservation that might spark some interest/creativity, especially for those of us with crazy packed schedules:ENERGY CONSERVATION TIPS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS:• Turn off all lights when leaving the room. Make sure all bathroom lights and additional room lighting is left off when not in use. • Use florescent bulbs for all your personal lamps – they last 7 times longer than an incandescent bulb and use one-fourth of the energy. • Open the blinds in your room and use natural sunlight to light your room. • Keep all appliances off when not in use including printers and stereos. • Unplug items when not in use – even when a cell phone charger is plugged into the wall and not charging your cell phone, it still uses energy. • Turn off and unplug everything in your room when gone for the weekend/holidays. • Place your computer into sleep mode.• Turn off your computer monitor when not in use. Turn it off at night or when gone for the day.• Cut down on the number of refrigerators on campus – share with a friend. If you do have a refrigerator, be sure to keep it on a low setting and check the seal to make sure it shuts properly. • When leaving your room, turn up your thermostat five degrees. When you get back into your room, turn it back down to your desired temperature.
This past week, I got the opportunity to go to Atlanta, Georgia for the Bacchus Conference, an annual event for peer educators – the gist of the conference was renewed efforts in creative initiatives for promoting healthier college campuses (decreased alcohol/tobacco/drug use, better nutrition programs, and improved mental health care) across the nation. The conference was set up to facilitate small group discussions in break out sessions scheduled at different times in various conference rooms scattered throughout the lower levels of the hotel. Notre Dame presented on the Spring Athlete Fair, a mandatory event PILLARS put on for fall and spring student athletes based on CORE survey statistics (ND athletes are more likely to binge drink and get in cars with drunk drivers than other students, so specific presentations based off of those statistics were prepared by South Bend doctors and PILLARS volunteers). On the last night of the conference, there was a giant dance party in one of the larger ballrooms where seven or eight schools (including ND) served “mocktails” (non-alcoholic beverages), and were judged based on original drink recipes and spirited service.My experience in Atlanta turned out to be an unexpected lesson in communication and creative problem solving. On our way down to Atlanta, there was a miscommunication somewhere along the line between the PILLARS office and Anthony Travel, and our tickets weren’t confirmed. So once we got down to the South Bend airport, the travel agents didn’t know who we were and didn’t have any record of us being on any of their flights in or out of South Bend or Atlanta. One of the supervisors we went with in particular was a little aggressive with the flight attendants running the kiosk (and by little, I mean a lot), adding unnecessary tension to an already strained situation. While waiting for the travel agency to call us back, I sat down with the advisor and told her to calm down a little bit, and that everything would work itself out. She said she didn’t mean to be so “assertive” with the flight attendant, but that she hadn’t flown in awhile and she was worried we wouldn’t get to the conference in time for registration. I asked one of the upper classmen who was more familiar with the registration process if there was someone in Atlanta we could call to get our registration packets for us and confirm our athlete fair presentation/ mocktail location and materials. I went to the flight attendant, explained our situation to her, and asked if she knew of any other ways for us to get to Atlanta on time. She suggested taking the bus to Chicago and looking for a connection there, and thus, we finally made it to Georgia. My interaction with the flight attendant on behalf of the advisor reminded me of the differences between peacekeeping and peaceful conflict transformation, and even though my role was primarily observational, I thought it was really cool to see the stuff we’ve talked about in class play out in real life.Once we got to Atlanta and chilled out in our hotel rooms for awhile after our stressful connections, we were ready to get down to business. We picked out the presentations we wanted to go to, and designated meeting times/areas for us to get together before lunch and dinner so we wouldn’t lose each other. We underestimated the popularity of certain speakers, however, and so we ended up having to partner up for some talks so we’d all have somewhere to go. I was really excited about going to a GLBT health talk I’d picked out of the conference program almost immediately, but one of the guys we went with was really hesitant about being seen at a talk about Gays and Lesbians (I guess he was self-conscious, and thought other people would mistake him for being gay?) I convinced him to come with me, and told him we could leave if he felt at all uncomfortable and go grab a snack or something. The presenter was really amazing and interactive, and I was pleased to find my friend engaging with her, even answering some of the questions the presenter was posing to the group. He did want to leave a little early to avoid interaction with some of the students in the audience who were gay, but I was really proud of him for staying through the majority of the actual presentation. He and I have been hanging out a lot since the conference, and we even went to Solidarity Sunday Mass this week at the basilica, where we each got Solidarity ribbons sponsored by the CORE council.
Last one, I swear . . . :)Peace blog has been a really important experience in my Peace Studies career. For the longest time, I had a lot of difficulty trying to integrate peace studies into my daily life – it’s really easy to say you study peace studies, but how do you live it in your day-to-day life, make it part of who you are? Science is easy to integrate into daily life – biology, ecology, physics, are all processes we deal with every day. Peace took me a little longer to understand.As a science major, I understand concepts through hands-on learning. Peace blog for me has been like the lab for Intro to Peace Studies. Peace blog has helped me internalize basic principles to achieving peace. The principles I was acting on in all of my blogs, the values I was trying to portray, were principles that were discussed in class. Little “random acts of kindness,” intentional actions that make a difference – that’s the foundation peace studies is based on. If peace is an ideal toward which we aim, then action is how we get there. I think peace is achieved by levels. First, you have to learn how to create peace in your own life – by practicing honest, healthy communication in relationships, by living simply, by identifying values that are important to you. If you know how to create peace in your own life, you become better equipped to help others create peace in their lives, and thus initiate positive change.This exercise has exposed me to a number if things that before Peace Studies, I never would have considered doing. I’ve gone to peace conferences, meditation groups, and international forums. I’ve learned how to educate myself – not that I didn’t know how to google things before, but I’ve realized the importance of self-education. If you want to get involved in a cause, it’s crucial you know the history behind the conflict. Otherwise, you end up playing peace keeper without actually helping solve anything.Peace blog has been especially meaningful to me because it’s given me an outlet to create change. I joke that when I grow-up, I want to “save the world.” This exercise has given me a forum to talk about what I’m doing to make the world a better place.
This wasn't exactly done with the Peace Blog in mind...the situation just presented itself to me. I was standing in line in the Huddle to by a Diet Dr. Pepper (since I gave up Coca-Cola products...more on that later). I saw a sign that said that the Huddle's credit card machine was down so I turned around to put my soda away, since I didn't have any cash on me. Then... I realized "Wahoo, I have cash!" So I got back in line. The guy in front of me ran into the same problem, and started to walk away, without his soda and nutrition bar, when I said.. "Don't worry about it... I'll pay for him." He looked at me, with surprise in his eyes, and said "You sure?" I said, "Yea, no problem. It's my random act of kindness for the day... actually the week." He replied, "Well I'll pass it on." He was visibly excited that he was able to have lunch (or a snack), but I also think he was excited that a girl he didn't know would do something nice for him. I was pretty excited that I was able to surprise him with kindness like that.
When I was in Atlanta at the US Social Forum this summer, there was a protest at the Coke plant after one of the plenary sessions. I wasn't sure what this was about (I didn't drink pop at the time), so I didn't really pay attention. This semester, I got really busy and sleep deprived and started to depend on caffeine an itsy bitsy little bit. I usually get coffee because I don't like caffeine, but if I'm warm, I like to get something cold, so I started to buy cherry coke. I started to rethink this purchase though, when I remembered that people had been protesting Coke (for some reason). So... I looked up some stuff on coke and low and behold... there is a website called ""killercoke.org" that explains cokes involvement in crimes at their bottling plants in Columbia. Workers who were unionizing were murdered and kidnapped, by Colombian troops trained at the School of the Americas. So... I decided to stop buying Coke products (Fresca, Coke, Dasani, Caribou Coffee, etc). This meant the only pop in the Huddle that I can buy is Dr. Pepper (besides the Mountain Dew style drinks which are disgusting). I didn't really like Dr. Pepper, but it was my only option. I just read an article about this whole Coke thing saying that the case against Coke has been dropped, which doesn't necessarily mean they were innocent of the allegations, but it may mean that. Whether or not Coke is guilty of the allegations, this experience made me into a more conscious consumer, which is very important, even if futile at times, for shopping in this world. And maybe I'll just give up pop...no tooth decay, no caffeine addiction, no uncontrollable burping from the carbonation. I think its a win-win situation.
I guess I will continue with the trend of multiple peace blogs in a row. I will write about my most recent act(s) of peace, which have taken place during the past couple of days, and will hopefully write about other peace acts that I haven't gotten on record thus far.My parents and older sister planned to meet up in Chicago this Thanksgiving--my brother and I wanted to leave early for the holiday, and were very excited to rendezvous in a different location than home. We planned on leaving around 330-4pm, which was perfect because my parents were arriving around 4, and check-in wasn't until late afternoon. I had agreed to take one of the girls on my team (one which I don't have a particularly peaceful history with in the first place) to o'hare airport, since "i was headed that way anyway". The night before we planned on leaving, one of my other friends asked if I had room left in my car to be able to take him to the airport on the same day. Granted, this would not have been a big deal, but the history between me and this guy is even worse than that between me and my teammate, and if I were to take him, I would have to leave by 11am in order for him to make his flight at Midway airport. This would require skipping classes, on both my brother's and my part, along with a trip to both Midway and O'hare airports, during the thanksgiving holiday (renown as the absolute worst travel time of the year in chicago), with two people i share an extremely touchy history with in the first place. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I agreed to take him, and my teammate of course, to both airports. The trip wasn't easy at all. I was driving for four and a half hours--my brother took the last hour and a half leg. My shift included the taxi-ing to midway, and then to o'hare airport, and my brother's consisted of the backtrack to our hotel. We were both exhausted once we got to the hotel; I felt terrible because I put my brother through all of it too. The traffic in the city on the way to the airport was atrocious, and could have easily been avoided had my 'friend(s)' taken a bus/train to their airports. If we had gone straight to the hotel, it would have taken about 1/3 of the time. Nevertheless, I feel like my agreement to take both of them was the right thing to do. It didn't necessarily compliment my schedule, or that of my little brother's, but they both avoided potential travel problems with my transportation. I guess Thanksgiving is a time not only for 'thanks' but for 'giving', even if it requires some sort of sacrifice against my will. I was lucky enough to spend the holiday with my whole family, and was glad to help the other two spend thanksgiving with their families too.
And again....Well, this actually occurred on Thanksgiving day. My family and I really enjoyed our Thanksgiving holiday at our hotel in Chicago (a little break from the California sunshine, but a little windy city weather never hurt west coach beach-goers). The food at our 2 o'clock Thanksgiving 'brunch' was absolutely delicious; there was everything you could imagine and more at the buffet. Everyone at the table got up at least two times for seconds, and thirds, and fourths...we were stuffed by the time we left! We decided to go see an early movie right after the brunch--some walking to the theatre, and sitting to digest, was a must. On the way, we passed a few homeless people, some pushing shopping carts, some parked on benches or sitting beneath store entranceways or overhangs, trying to guard themselves from the cold weather. They all looked, well, homeless, but something struck me, especially since my number one priority while passing them was to try to digest all the food i had just consumed. Who was I to be in my position, and these people to be in theirs? I told my mom I felt worthless, almost guilty, passing these needy people on the streets. We had been joking about to-go boxes during dinner, and how we had the right to smuggle some of the food out because the meal was so expensive. I told my mom I wish we really had had to-go boxes, so I could give a Thanksgiving dinner to at least one of these people. She told me well, why don't you ask the people at the hotel if you can do that? I decided it was worth a try. After the movie, we went back to the hotel and I talked to one of the hosts at the thanksgiving dinner that was now being served (we had gone to the brunch shift) and told him what I wanted to do. I told him I had eaten earlier in the day with my family, but wanted to share a Thanksgiving dinner with a homeless person outside. He kind of chuckled, looked at me funny, wondering if I was serious, and said he'd see what he could do. He came out about 5 minutes later with a styrofoam plate topped with tin foil, obviously filled with warm thanksgiving ingredients inside. I thanked him very much, wished him a happy thanksgiving, and walked outside. It didn't take long to find one of the homeless people I had, or maybe hadn't, crossed on the way to the theatres. He was slouched up against the marble wall of a building. I handed him the plate, he looked a little confused, and I more or less said happy thanksgiving, enjoy his warm meal. I wish I would have had about 100 more plates to distribute, but I hope my act of kindness put a smile on that man's face. It wasn't much--just one meal--but he was very grateful. On another note, at lunch today, my family and I were talking about how we really should say thankyou to the servicemen we see (there are a considerable amount walking around the streets of chicago). Although that was just one point made in the conversation--we bounced around a lot--we happened to spot a table of about 7 young naval servicemen. My mom and I stopped to say a quick hello, and my mom continued making small talk with a group of guys I'm sure just wanted to enjoy their lunch, while I headed toward the door with my sister. My dad was paying for our bill in the process. We finally got the whole family together and walked out the door. We were walking along the street for a while, and I heard my mom say "you did?!" to my dad...i turned around, and my mom explained that my dad had payed for the guys' tab that we had seen walking out of the restaurant. I'm not taking credit for this in the least--it was all my dad--but i thought it was so cool for my dad to do that. At the time, he had been on his way out after paying for both tabs, stopped at the table and told the guys to enjoy their lunch, and went on his way. I'm sure the servicemen didn't realize my dad's random act of kindness until they asked for the bill (if they ever figured it out at all). I thought that was really cool, and a unique way to show gratitude for their service.
These peace blogs have given me the chance to really analyze my everyday life and encourage me to pursue things that I probably wouldn’t have done. I think they had a two pronged effect: they encouraged inner evaluation and outer involvement. At first they really got me thinking, “When I get angry, do I take it out on other people?” I wondered whether or not my actions as a whole create a positive or negative image. Did my friends think of me as a happy, peaceful person, or was I quick to express anger and frustration. So the blogs really got me to reexamine myself and my relationships with others. But the blogs also encouraged me to become involved and look for opportunities to express my feelings. Upcoming guest speakers and peace rallies seemed to catch my eye as I thought to myself, “That’d be great for my peace blog!” But going to events and demonstrations really broadened my ideas about a bunch of different issues; they gave me the opportunity to see other points and view. So although I wasn’t too keen on the idea of having to write about “peaceful” things I did each week, I really think that these blogs were beneficial.
This is my second peace blog. I broke up a fight in the stands during Duke's embarrassing loss. It was actually between two belligerent/ inebriated friends of mine. I don't know exactly why they started to fight, if there even was a reason... but they started pushing and shoving each other pretty seriously and being NOT peaceful in general. So, I (with the peace blog in mind) broke up the fight by just kind of breaking them apart, putting myself in between them and saying "Hey, calm down!"... and then I followed it up with an, "It's okay! I'm in peace studies." Haha, its an ongoing joke between friends of mine. Needless to say the tension defused and even though it was a very small victory for peace, I couldn't help but smile. I kept up my promise in my first blog too!
Why not make a number three?Okay, so airports and airplanes are always fun places to create (weird) transient relationships between complete strangers. It's fun because people tell pretty intimate details about themselves to complete strangers when at the airport. I was flying from Chicago O'hare to DFW, and apparently two of the three communication towers in DFW were completely out. So, lots of flights to Dallas were delayed and even though my flight was fine, some passengers who were delayed all day were finally able to fly home on my plane. So, I noticed this guy was freaking out to the gate agent, saying that he was in first class in an earlier flight and got booted off. Of course he was pretty irate, but I thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, this angry man sat in the row across from me on the plane. Needless to say, he was still mad and angrily talking to the flight attendant on the plane... everyone was getting pretty pissed at this dude and wished he would just stop talking. Some businessmen (the flight was mostly professionals coming back from some kind of work related trip) seated behind him even began rolling their eyes and making gestures of hitting him in the back of the head... it was pretty hilarious actually... but geez this guy was making everybody cranky because of his attitude. My flight is just under three hours long, and flying with cranky passengers just makes for an extremely uncomfortable plane ride. So, I casually began to strike up conversations with the people around me and pretty soon our entire section in the plane lightened up including this dude. He even apologized for his rudeness earlier, saying he was late for his 6 AM flight and has been flying standby since. I mean its crazy because something that starts with a, "so you're coming back home?" can turn into an entire group conversation. I learned that the lady next to me evacuated from New Orleans, her house got completely wrecked, and then she got a divorce. She called it a trifecta, which was pretty funny. The other man next to me had to been 'interrogated' by corporate lawyers for what he called corporate bullsh*t, something about impropriety? This all lead to people hearing random things they can empathize to, and adding to the conversation. Needless to say, my plane ride was very fun, with lots of joking and laughter about some misfortune or another. I think its pretty amazing how much something so small as a nice conversation can spread into a communal sharing of laughter and smiles. It sure beat sitting in an uncomfortable silence with the guy pissed the entire trip!
I spent the last week looking back upon my last 9 peace blogs and I couldn't help but get a warm feeling all over. This has not only been an experience for me to do something positive, but it has also allowed me to learn about myself. I never realized just how busy I am and thus how easy it is for me to put off doing the kinds of things the peace blog forced me to do. It is certainly a lot harder to put off an "assignment" than a personal goal. I know that this was my favorite assignment thus far for the class and I cannot wait to continue to "be peace" everyday. Even though I might not blog about it, I will still be active in the peace blogs' goals. Thank you for the experience!
So this is a little bit late in coming, but it has been a busy Thanksgiving and a busy few weeks.The week before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of attending Loyal Daughters and Sons. Last year, I wanted to see the show, but for whatever reason, I never made it. As someone who has never been personally affected by sexual violence, I tend not to think of sexual violence as something that could happen to me or to someone I know. After I heard Sarah talk about her passion for raising awareness about sexual violence, I decided that I was one of those people that needs to be aware.I went to the show and I was immediately struck by what Sarah had to say about sexual violence. Her best friend was raped. My best friend could be raped. How ignorant of me to think that I am safe, that this bubble is safe. Sure I have heard my fair share of stories about drunken encounters, but rape just seemed out of the question. The show opened my eyes to on campus violence that I had previously told myself did not exist at Notre Dame. I left the show feeling different. I felt more aware of my surroundings, more aware of other people, and more aware that I am not as safe here as I once thought. Hats off to Sarah for a job well done. I hope to somehow become involved in the show next year, so that I can open the eyes of people who did not believe that stuff like that could happen at Notre Dame. The show was a very positive experience that will no doubt affect me in the years to come.
As a rather uncreative person, I have taken to following some of Professor Myers' suggestions for peace blog entries. His suggestions have always proved beneficial and eye opening.The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I decided that I would do my best not to generate any waste for the entire day. I do not see myself as a wasteful person, but there is no doubt that I create trash and waste food. The morning started off as any other morning. I woke up, but instead of eating my usual granola bar, I opted for cereal so I wouldn't have to throw anything away. I made sure to use the hand dryer in the bathroom all day--no paper towels for me. At lunch, I only took a small amount of food so that I would not waste even a single bite. I know that my eyes are bigger than my appetite. I know this is true, yet I tend to always get more food than I will ever eat. This time, I started with less than I wanted and decided that if I was hungry, I could always go back. I ate all of the food that I had picked out, and by the time I was done, I was completely full. At dinner, I had the exact same experience that I had at lunch. From now on, there is no doubt that I will get much less food than I think I need. My mom always said, finish your food, there are children starving all over the world. This activity allowed me to realize that I am more wasteful than I once thought. From now on, I will only get the food I need, and not one bite more. I know this is something small, something that seems insignificant. That is the main reason that I always got more food than I could ever eat in the past. I just told myself that it didn't really matter. By being less wasteful, I can help out the environment by creating less trash that will end up in a landfill somewhere. I can do my part and make a difference--even if it is only a small difference.
I went to Palo Alto, California, for Thanksgiving; my brother is a graduate student at Stanford, and I went to see his new apartment and life out on the West coast (as well as the fact that I was his only way of getting a decent Thanksgiving meal). It was a great break, during which time I spent time with my brother and was introduced to the great city of Palo Alto. It's a very cute little "metropolis" (so to speak), with great stores and sandwich shops and a Cheesecake Factory; essentially, I base all decisions about the likability of a place as it relates to the presence or absence of a Cheesecake Factory.What really disturbed me about my visit were the homeless people that I saw wandering the streets in Palo Alto, a really well-to-do town it seemed. It was just unexpected, unfortunate, and sad. They seemed so out-of-place, what with a woman in rags fishing through the garbage can in front of the bagel shop we were eating at or even the blind man asking for quarters on the sidewalk. I wish I could have said that I gave my bagel to the woman or offered a quarter to the blind man; looking back, I wish I had. I think that I was scared though, scared to do a peaceful thing that seems like such an easy thing to do in hindsight. I wasn't really that hungry for my bagel, and it's only a freaking quarter. But I couldn't manage.I did manage to stand up for these people when my sister started calling them "weird" and "scary." Why is it "weird" and "scary" to want food and look for it in the only place you can find it...a trash can? Isn't it just their way of surviving? I don't think they are weird. But, in some way, I think I am scared; I don't know why, but I think it is that instinct ingrained in you as a child - don't talk to strangers. Don't talk to the homeless people or you might catch their homelessness. Pretty absurd, but I think that's what society wants us to believe.If I could go back in time, I would have given the rest of my bagel to the lady. It would have been the peaceful thing to do, the right thing to do. I was being selfish for not doing it. I am glad that I realized it though. I am glad that I could see them as regular people trying to live through the day and not merely as "scary" people. I wanted to write this on the peace blog because this attempt at peace was largely a failure, but I think it was also a step in the right direction.And as one of my last peace blogs, it is also somewhat of a success story as I am learning to forgive my brother and overcome my anger (as described in an entry earlier this semester). At the same time, there is definitely room for growth when it comes to my peaceful actions on a day-to-day basis. I accept the fact that I have taken two steps forward and one step back. At least it's progress.
Wow, nine peace blogs down and the world is definitely a better place because of them! Well, at least I think so. But, in all seriousness, it was amazing how motivating this blog has been. I have done things that I never would have tried in a million years...the highlight being a "Free Hugs" stint on South Quad earlier this semester; I hope to do that again soon. This blog was fun, and it was challenging. I think that is why I liked it so much. I found that even ordinary things in my life were sources of peace...whether it be compromising with my sister or breaking other plans to take the time to hang out with my shy freshman cousin. It has been awesome, and I thank you for giving this great assignment. It truly has made me realize just how easy being peaceful can be. It just takes a little effort each day, and before you know it, you will have reached the ranks of Gandhi or something. And thanks to everyone in the class for their great blog entries; they have been good reads.
Dear peace blog,I am the type of person to stay away from conflict and to just get along with everybody. But in the past month, I’ve been in one of my first feuds. My best friend’s ex-boyfriend has a vendetta against her, me, and our other best friend. This is sounding like a chick-flick. . . and that repulses me, but whatever. He was one of our friends all last year and hung out with our big group, but my best friend and him were definitely unhappy more than happy. He is very different from all of our friends, but they insisted that they were in love. This relationship was quite unhealthy, and very one-sided. A month ago, I had seen enough emotional abuse so I took her out of his room. From that point on, they haven’t spoken. He actually punched a wall with anger (eek). None of our friends have really spoken to him lately, and he’s been really angry at every situation in the past month. I’m going to apologize to him tonight. I tried to do what was right in my mind, but how can I dictate what is right and wrong for other people? I miss his friendship, and what I did was definitely wrong. So cheers to doing what is truly right, and recognizing fault.
After returning from Thanksgiving break, I see a giant ball of tangled stress looming on the horizon. I have about 40 pages/four essays of writing to finish, all for next week. Also, I didn't get to all the things I meant to get to while I was home, and my family always guilt trips me when I don't want to hang out with them because we're different in many ways. So when my wonderful mother dropped me off back on campus, I had some options including: freak out, don't freak out, channel the urgency. I asked what peace blog would want me to do, and I took a half hour to chill and meditate in the chapel after unpacking. I spent three hours straight in the library, which is a reasonable amount for me, and went to bed at a decent (though not early) hour. I know that because of this time to meditate and get healthy sleep, I will be more focused this week and also, more importantly to the peace blog, I'll be able to be more present to people around me...I won't just be a zombie floating around and doing papers. After that meditation, I felt a lot more centered and had a better sense of my ability to complete and/or prioritize for the rest of the semester...day by day! Good luck, everyone!
Thanksgiving- a time to be with family, enjoy a meal, give thanks to God for all of our blessings and SHOOT PHEASANTS AND DEER!!!!! WHAT?!?!?! Yes... I decided to go to my friends house for break and apparently this hunting thing is big in the Midwest. I may be being a little silly but the idea of shooting a gun for fun is so frustrating to me. This is completely irrational but when we went to her house and I saw the deer heads on the wall, I was heart broken. When I was younger, I promised myself that I would not shoot a gun - Killing in itself is one of the least peaceful things I can think of but doing it for sport amplifies the negativity of it. Ok so yes I eat meat and I know those animals had to be slaughtered so that I could consume them (that is why i think my opposition to hunting is irrational) but that doesn't stop me from feeling that it somehow desensitizes people to death and killing. If we find killing fun then where is the hope for peace. They kind of made a joke of it and began to put the gun in my face but in an effort to be peaceful- I tried not to judge or react harshly- instead...I am directing my energy this way to my blog- so this blog in itself is my peace act. I realize how self-righteous this seems and I recognize this 'better than that" kind of attitude as a major issue in this kind of "common good" work but I can't help thinking: Peace is sometimes hard and unrealistic- I am trying to make it a reality- how come you're not?Anyways, I am glad no one knows who I am because this sounds ridiculous but that's how I feel- don't judge : ) and so -my peace act is just that- not judging. Try it out! It's harder than it seems.
Can a peace act be calling your Dad, Mom, SIster, Brother or best friend out on a prejudice comment they make? I think it can be and that is the act for this blog. Many people I know like to think of themselves as tolerant and open to others, yet they hold on to racist, sexist, and ageist understandings that leave them making inappropriate comments while driving or at the dinner table. I am personally offended by these kinds of comments (not to say that I am completely immune- I must admit that the people around me are not the only ones guilty of harboring these prejudices). In this particular instance, it was one of my good friends who made a comment about how women drive. I was offended by what he said of course but more than that I was hurt that he felt it would be ok to say something like that in front of me. I know this sounds silly but consider this- he knows the actual woman the comment was directed to could not hear him and he knows that I am particularly bothered by stereotyps (especially those that diminish the abilities of women)- knowing this, I wonder why he felt like it was ok to make the comment. In the interest of avoiding conflict (and to avoid perpetuating the nagging stereotype this particular person holds for women) I didn't say anything at first, instead, I began to point out all of the mistakes other drivers were making - including himself. This may not sound very peaceful but this is how I understood it: my personal belief is that peace will come when we can recognize our common humanity, when we can be in solidarity with our neighbors and truly understand what it means to put ourselves in their shoes- therefore, by allowing him to see that everyone makes mistakes, I was hoping that he would see that his comment was unfounded. I explained this to him later and he apologized for offending me (of course with the explanation that he was just joking) In the end, I think I went about this situation well and really brought my understanding of peace into it. Jokes or prejudice comments can be just as destructive as a physical act of non-peace so I hope that by making my friends and family (and ultimately- myself) more aware of the power words hold- We can all become a little more cognizant and begin to use that power to advance the peace process.
Being a person of peace is a difficult position to be in during any kind of conflict especially ones in which you feel the affects of personally. As that person of peace you are often called on to confront your own feelings regarding the given situation, and although my primary goal would be to establish peace, sometimes it is all too easy to understand the urges that lead to conflict.Over fall break I was able to go home and greatly looked forward to spending the week with my family. I come from a family that is quite large and quite diverse and extremely close. I am one of three kids, but my father is one of ten and all of my aunts and uncles live within twenty minutes of me and we have weekly lunches at my father's parent’s house every Sunday. Therefore my aunts and uncles to varying degrees played parental type roles in my life and their children have grown up as close to me as brothers and sisters. My mother on the other hand comes from a very different background. She was one of two but her younger sister died when I was very young. She has always had a very difficult relationship with her parents and therefore we have not been as close to them as I would like.My mother is a very strong, opinionated woman whom I greatly admire for her morals and conviction. She chooses what she believes in and there is nothing that can change her mind when she is convinced that she is right. My father's sisters are strongly opinionated as well but sometimes with very different views on subjects than my mother. This often leads to conflict between them. This conflict is often just beneath the surface and often does lead to arguments. Some very recent incidents occurred and it appears that a rift has formed and both sides are convinced that they are right and will not make any concessions to the other.I am very close to my aunts, but obviously my mother is my mother and nothing can change my allegiance to her. So I am left caught in a conflict that was not even mine to begin with. Do I take sides? Do I know the entire story of their relationships and whether these problems have been there all along or whether they are a new development? Should I even be involved at all or should I pretend that nothing has ever happened? I have done my best to understand the situation and to understand both sides of the story. I have tried to talk to my mother about trying to heal the rift, but nothing has changed. The atmosphere is colder and I wonder if things will ever be as they once were. I am torn between the two sides and yet I know there isn't anything I can do, even if a solution seems to blatantly clear to me.You may wonder about the relevance of this little blog to my experiences in the class and what this situation has taught me about peace. Well it is that in most cases of conflict often those affected are not only those directly involved. There are many people who get caught up in the conflict and in violence that have nothing to do with whatever instigated it in the first place. These people are often called upon to choose between things they love and are often torn as to what they can do. Often what seems like an easy answer to an outsider not directly involved in the conflict does not address the entire history of the conflict and how that history can play into the future. Even with intimate knowledge about the conflict and the participants a true understanding of the underlying issues is not always easy to obtain. How should you approach a conflict in which you are the outsider and how do you promote peace in that kind of situation?
Before Thanksgiving break, I went to see Loyal Daughters and Sons, a play focused on telling the stories of many Notre Dame students’ experiences regarding sexual abuse. A spin off of the The Vagina Monologues, Loyal Daughters directly addresses one aspect of structural violence we have spent so much time talking about in class. In particular, the scene depicting the student who was raped in the library by a Notre Dame football player left me, and the entire audience, in utter silence. Delivered perfectly, the scene was especially powerful because it could happen so easily, the circumstances so familiar. In the silence after the scene ended, images of my experiences at Notre Dame flashed quickly through my head. I have been in nearly identical situations many times while at school. How is it that some people are lucky and others aren’t?
During my high school summertimes I lifeguarded and taught swimming lessons at a local outdoor pool. As a member of the high school swim team the pool staff was almost entirely made up of my teammates. In fact, for two years my boss was the boy who had taken me to prom my freshman year. Needless to say my work at the pool was merely an extension of my social life, differing only in the paycheck I received every two weeks. Although I enjoyed lifeguarding for the company it was also a very satisfying job because it forced you to have full confidence in yourself; after every save you became more aware of your capacity to help. In the spirit of the peace blog, over Thanksgiving I lifeguarded and taught free swim lessons for the Swimming Special Olympic Trials. Nothing like my easy summer days teaching these lessons required my full attention and skill. Yet seeing the faces of those people who finally mastered freestyle kick after struggling at the wall for an hour, I could not help but laugh and smile with my eager students. This lesson didn’t solve poverty, nor even touch the monumental issue of world peace. However, it did bring genuine delight to all those at the pool, a bit of peace to be thankful for.
I realized looking back on my previous peace blog entries that many of them had been focused on peace in my own personal life. While I feel that this type of peacebuilding is important, I felt that I wanted to do something that was focused on building peace on the international scale. I know that my ability to actually resolve any current international conflicts is obviously limited, so I decided to do an activity that would hopefully build positive peace. My difficult realization in this situation was that building positive peace would likely require some financial investment on my part, a sacrifice that I often find difficult to make. I frequently rationalize, “I’ll donate when I have more money,” or “I’ll do it next month,” but this month I decided to be proactive, and I sponsored a child through Christian Children’s Fund. I know that CCF is one of the more reliable money donation channels, and my donations would help provide schooling, health care, and other basic services to all the children in the program in Uganda (the country in which I decided to sponsor.) I hope and believe that this program will provide these children with a basic foundation of health and education from which they can make positive changes in their community and in the world. Because of my constantly changing address, I knew that it would be difficult to correspond with a child. For this reason, I decided to sponsor Sanja, a little boy whose picture reminded me of my own brother, in the names of my younger sister and brothers in the hope that they would write to him and discover exactly what life is like for a seven year old in rural Uganda but also discover how much they all have in common. My greater hope is that Sanja will not only learn from his access to education but that my entire family will learn from our ongoing relationship with him.
When my school breaks come, I have one thing on my mind—going home to see my family. I love the time I have with them, and can never wait to get home to see them, but because of this attachment I have found myself shying away from all of the service trips offered through Notre Dame. Inspired by my peace blog, however, I decided that to take the Urban Plunge course, and over Christmas break to spend the forty-eight hours doing immersed in my city’s poverty that the course requires. I realize that forty-eight hours might seem like a small step, but for me it was a very difficult decision. I do also believe, however, that it is an important one. Living about twenty minutes outside of the city all of my life, I have always known poverty exists, and I have done service, but I have never allowed myself to become immersed in this problem through dialogue, study, and service all together. If I truly hope to build peace in my community, I must understand why the problems exist. I cannot remain shielded by twenty minutes and the comfort of suburban streets. I believe that this experience will force me to come eye-to-eye with the problems of the community that I have so long observed from the outside.
A few weeks ago I made a small group of my friends (all business majors) sit down with me and watch Uganda Rising. This was just after all the press following Gulu-walk had died down and I thought this would be a nice follow up. After the movie I led a sort of informal discussion group about what they had learned, what they still wanted to know, and what their reaction to the movie was. None of the girls really knew anything about the conflict in Uganda before watching this movie, so they all said they learned a lot. They wanted to know more about what the situation is at this moment. They also asked about the roles business and investment are playing in the conflict. Generally, they thought the movie was very informative, but didn’t have the same reaction to it that I did. When I first watched this movie I was crying during it and felt very fired up about solving world peace immediately. Obviously I was not expecting as strong a reaction from them, but I was at least expecting more sympathy than they were showing. I actually got fairly depressed by the time we were finished because I felt like so many people in the world just don’t care about humanitarian crises. I don’t understand how watching something like that doesn’t touch someone enough to make them to something (even if that something is very little) about it. Another thing that bothered me a ton was that they were saying that they didn’t think NGOs should be sending humanitarian aid. I hate this argument with a passion because it seems like they are willing to sacrifice the lives a huge numbers of people in order to facilitate a higher rate of development. I understand that there needs to be sustainability in Uganda, but I don’t believe that it must come at the cost of all those people’s lives. I think part of the reason they didn’t respond to the movie very much was that they feel so disconnected from the world that it portrayed. I think it was almost hard for them to realize that this is taking place right now and not all that far away. They see it as something that doesn’t affect their lives and therefore something that they don’t really need to care deeply about. So, in conclusion, my next project will be to figure out how to make everyone in the world feel connected to poverty-stricken areas. (Okay, I’m kidding, but it really is interesting to think about how to make people care more.)
For some reason, we have a machete (with a very blunt edge for display purposed) mounted on the wall in our house, right by our front door. I was the only one in the house who was against the idea, and so I lost the vote essentially. I honestly do not know why we have it, nor why my roommates thought it would be a good idea to put it on display. It could be for the feeling of security, but I think more that it must be the male egos that want it there as a sign of strength and force – traditional characteristics associated with stereotypical males. While it had not been a problem up to this point, but more of a showcase, last evening saw that entirely fly out the door, almost literally. After some late night festivities, I heard my roommates and some friends come back to the house, of course with the loud yelling and singing many are accustomed to…obnoxious guys after a night out. I did not really pay attention to it, as this is nothing out of the ordinary.By morning, when I woke up and was ready to start the day, I was watching TV in our family room and noticed the machete was gone. So of course, I was interested to hear the story that went with it. I was told that a friend had put the machete to improper use on our front door. And when I look for myself, indeed there was a huge gash in the door that almost went through to the other side!While some may think that it was funny, I looked at it from multiple angles. For one, now that we have a huge gash in our door, our landlord will most likely make us pay for the damage – damage that my roommates and I did not do. Also, I realized how dangerous that situation could have potentially been. What if someone had gotten hurt? I talked to my roommates about my concerns with keeping it on display in our family room. I think that last night’s festivities allowed them to see things my way. Now that it has shown itself to be a problem, we have discussed the situation, and decided to take it down for the rest of the year for safety reasons. I am glad that the situation has been resolved without any further damage. But it does show the danger of weapons (even if not originally thought to be a display only situation), and the safety precautions that must be thought of before the male machismo factors into the decision.
Two weeks ago I went to see Loyal Daughters and Sons. I really only went to see it in the first place because my roommate was in it. I remembered all the controversy about it last year but it didn't really concern me. I didn't really know what to think about it because during the arguments about it, it seemed that people would take an extreme stance on it saying it was the worst thing ever or that it saved their lives forever. I realized that it was probably somewhere in between, so I kept an open mind about it. I was surprised however when my two other roommates refused to see it and someone in our section even went so far as to tear up my roommate's script. I did go see it however with some other friends. And I will tell you right now that I did not agree with all of it, and I think some part could have deffinately could have been done better. And I also think that although it tried to be neutral and not make any points and leave it up to the audience to decide, it did make some points and many of them skewed. The interview for instance portrayed the man as a choevanist at first but if you listened to what he said, he had a valid point. It did have the one scene with the prude couple before the 80's SYR but even they hinted that they had oral sex and were not living in a chaste way. If one was only to go off the show, one would have the inclination to think that living sexually active lives is not only normal but how the majority of the people live. And this is not true. The play also did have, however, valid points. I do think that people do live in a bubble at ND, and that they ignore the subject of sex. The University's policy on rape and unconsentual sex is wrong and ignores serious issues on campus. They cannot just turn a blind eye to the problem and pretend like it didn't exist or fail to fully address the problem. The play also made me feel extremely sad that these things did happen on campus. It was very eye opening. Before, as I said earlier, sexual assault on women really concerned me or hit home. I would never do it so I thought that was all that was really required of me. Now I see that this indifference is not enough, and even often adds to the problems. I think that this show is very important to have on campus if nothing more to break the ice. And even though I don't agree with how a lot of it was done, I think it is meant to be contraversial to stir up discussion (not that mindless debate between people who never even seen the show, which often happens). And I have already had a couple discussions with some good friends about sexual violence and sexuality in general, that i would never have had if not for the show. And I think that this dialogue and awareness is the first step in addressing and eventually solving the problem.
I recently saw Michael Moore’s documentary, Sicko. This delves into the health care issue of our nation. The United States provides profit-oriented health maintenance organizations (HMOs), as compared to free, universal care in Canada, the U.K., and France. He contrasts the United States health care experience to that of countries that give free health care. A group of Americans who became ill from volunteering at 911 Ground Zero, but were refused health coverage for their illnesses, are ferried by Moore to Cuba, where they receive the top-rate, free care one would hope they'd get here at home.This reminded me of my topic of choice term paper I wrote last year on universal health care, starkly juxtaposed with the United States health care system. I found many unappealing facts about our system today. For example, the Journal of American Medical Association found that those without insurance suffer worse health and earlier death and deduces that 18,000 deaths per year are directly attributable to the lack of insurance. This rate of death, it is believed, could be lowered if these people had a health care program. American health care is a contingent benefit, dependent upon employment and/or income. We are dependent on healthcare, and currently it is considered a commodity. Only those that can afford health insurance receive it, which leaves a considerable amount to be without protection. Race also plays a significant role in the data collected on health care, as “ethnic minorities comprise about one-third of the US population;” yet “make up more than half of the uninsured (American Medical Student Association).” All of these socioeconomic discriminations ought to be considered grave on the policy agenda. However, we haven’t yet learned from the success of Canada, U.K., etc. . . and continue on with our flawed health care system.
As I stated in an earlier blog, I had the opportunity to usher for the opening night of Loyal Daughters and Sons. This offered me a very interesting view of the both the type of people who came to the show and the groups in which they came. It’s not really surprising that the vast majority of people who came were girls, most of which were college age. It is indeed a shame that this is true but it cannot be denied. There many group of these girls coming in together. All girl groups were common. On the male side, there were no groups of guys who came. There were a few older men who came alone. Besides that, it was all couple. This consisted of both college age couple and older ones. Like I said, probably not very surprising, but mot unfortunate.As for the show itself, I was very impressed. It was well done and for me very informative. I always knew stuff like this went on, not as much or to the extent it does. It really hits you when it’s presented like this. I feel like this may be a very common feeling, but there was one part in particular that hit me. It was the one that took place in one of the library’s bathrooms. The nature of what happened sickened me. And right in the library! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to study there again without thinking about it. I’ve done it once since seeing the show and I kept thinking to myself: it could be happening right now! I even got up once to check the men’s room(no worries, this is a guy writing this blog). Some might call this a little dramatic, but this just shows the effectiveness of the show and how well it portrays its message. I tip my hat to Sarah and her crew for doing a fantastic job on the show.
Letter to South Bend Police ChiefToday, I decided to write and mail a letter to the South Bend police to make them more aware of the violence and crime in our area, and the half-hearted response we have gotten. It at least makes me feel better that I have done something to make the department more aware of the situation, even though nothing may be done. It is important to get some protection for myself and fellow students off-campus. It is as follows:11/29/2007Timothy Cremieux610 N. St. Peter StreetSouth Bend, IN 46617Police Chief Thomas FautzSouth Bend Police Department 701 W. Sample Street South Bend, Indiana 46601Police Chief Fautz:I am writing you on behalf of the Notre Dame student community currently living off-campus in the city of South Bend. As you may well know, there has been a spree of crime and violence targeted at off-campus students this year, seemingly much worse than in past years. There have been many such instances just occurring on our tiny block of seven houses, none of which have been provoked by the victims: house break-ins, eight car break-ins, physical assault, and the shooting from earlier in the year just to name a few. But these issues have not been addressed in the appropriate manner despite the repeated calls and pleas from students and landlords. Our neighborhood continues to be ravaged by crime and violence, and nothing is being done to protect it. Instead, students are getting parking tickets for their car facing the wrong way on the street, and when they go to the car, they not only have a ticket, but a shattered window with all of their belongings stolen. Where has your team been during all of those instances? Why is more not being done?In my experience with your team, I placed a call earlier this year about an assault which occurred on my front lawn involving my neighbor and two young local men. They got out of their car in the street, came up to my neighbor while she was on our front lawn, hit her in the face numerous times, and stole her purse. Your team arrived on the scene and listened to the story, but their response was much less than I would expect from the police force that is supposed to protect its citizens. We were told that we should not have parties and should not be standing on the front lawn! To me, that makes no sense, it is our property, and we should feel safe on our property. Additionally, one of your officers remarked that we were lucky that we were not shot at and wounded, which again is not something a professional officer should say, as if it was our fault this situation occurred. Your job is to stop situations like this, not expect them to happen. Additionally, we were told that the corner house (seemingly deserted) is a known drug house. Why has nothing been done to arrest those in the drug ring? Why do we live near a house which is known to deal drugs to the neighborhood, and nothing is being done?I ask that you and your team please pay closer attention to the negative situations that continually are occurring in the South Bend community. I ask for ramped up security to stop this crime, and to make certain that it does not become worse where students are seriously injured. Thank you for your time.Sincerely,Timothy Cremieux
During International Education Week I attended a dinner on the moral perspectives of war at the Kroc Institute. A ROTC professor and an Arts and Letters professor discussed the role of Catholic tradition and morality in times of war and peace over spring rolls and chocolate éclairs. The ROTC professor lectured about his transformation from a bellicose soldier to a proponent of moral teaching in the military. He talked about the moral drills his students participated in and about the conscientious objector option in the armed forces. Before that night, I had surprisingly never heard of such an option in the military. I think it is important to have available, especially if the draft gets reinstituted. I also couldn’t believe how long the process took to be exonerated from participation. I used to think that there was no room for morality in the military. It’s not that I thought soldiers were bad people, but rather that they had shifted their internal balances of right and wrong in favor of fighting for a greater cause—their country. Perhaps they thought that they would never kill anyone or be faced with an overwhelming moral dilemma. As a Catholic, but more importantly as an advocate for peace, I find comfort in knowing that they have a way out. This recent surge of information about morality in the military prompted me to talk to one of my friends in ROTC. One of my friends, a sophomore in Navy ROTC, told me about how lessons of morality and the role of the Catholic faith in the military are incorporated into her curriculum. She said that every ROTC member is required to take an ethics course. It is also a topic almost always covered in guest lectures and at retreats. Especially at Notre Dame, she has been taught about the integration of Catholic faith into the military. She told me her plan for coping with possibly killing another in combat in conflict with her faith and values. She understands the situation as killing a person to bring comfort and safety to her friends and family back home. While she acknowledges that such a killing will bring suffering to that person’s friends and family, they must (as a military unit) look past these trials towards the greater good—a hopeful peace. I’m happy that morality is a constant dialogue in Notre Dame ROTC, but I still find qualms in wrapping my mind around killing another for political reasons.
All of my blog entries so far have focused on interpersonal peace. This past weekend I did an exercise to improve my intrapersonal peace. About three weeks ago I broke my ring finger on my right (writing) hand while practicing with my interhall football team. Since then I’ve had to make a lot of changes: finding note-takers for all of my classes, showering with only one hand, and finding rides to and from South Bend Orthopedics. (Not to mention finding a new place to sleep because I can’t climb up to my loft!) These changes have not only been difficult for me, but also trying for my roommates, classmates, and friends. This weekend I made a pact with myself to not complain about my cast and to always respond positively when someone inquired about it. By telling others that I was happy and doing well, I soon began to believe it myself. My cast wasn’t weighing me down anymore, and I could complete tasks more easily. The atmosphere around my friends changed as well. They were appreciative of my change in spirits. When talking on the phone with my parents, they too were comforted by my attitude. I’m sure it has been difficult for all of them dealing with me and my injury, and I hope I can continue to treat this injury as no big deal—for their sake and mine. When I signed up for this class, I thought Peace Studies examined strategies for peace on the international level. I remember my surprise on the first day of class when Professor Myers laid out the syllabus; my restricted view of peace building was widened. At the time, I didn’t realize the greater importance of finding an internal balance. Throughout the lectures and readings in the course, I have discovered the role of intrapersonal peace not only in self-fulfillment, but on a broader level as well. If actors entering into an agreement have strong intrapersonal peace, they will be better suited and prepared to strive for interpersonal peace.
Concerning my last peace blog resolution, I left a message on an my old friend's voicemail as well as sent him an email, but I've heard no response. I've done all I could on my end, now I need to see if he responds. On to other matters. Today, in efforts to be more peaceful with those around me, I decided to do something that I don't normally do when encountering people I don't know well or don't know at all. When walking past people around campus, we might cross looks, and if we don't know each other, that will usually be it. I usually look them in the eye briefly, then affix my eyes straight to the front, and keep walking. I figured this doesn't do much to chage the rigid perception people have of me in public, so today, I decided to actually SMILE and nod my head a little when encountering people as they walked past me. I was surprised to find that the majority of people react quite positively to the smile of others. I was working out in the gym, and amidst the focused, hormone-driven serious demeanor of most gym-goers (including myself), a smile can actually go a long way in terms of your perception in the mind and eyes of others. I realized that with a smile, the brighter side of one's personality can shine, make one feel better, and in the grand scheme of things, make relations among all people in the vicinity better. The difficult part to get over for those of us not accustomed to constantly smiling is getting over the fact that even if you don't receive a smile in return, at least you know you took a positive action in order to reach the lighter side of others' character, rather than just living in the status quo.
I have often been criticized for my obsession with being busy- putting way too much on my plate- speading myself too thin. I have heard it all- " You're a jack of all trades but the master of none", "you are going to burn out if you keep this up", " you need to get your priorities in order", "do you know how to have fun?" and the list goes on. Anyways, as a result of my pertually occupied status, I often have a hard time staying in meaningful contact with people. I make it a point to call my fam and my close friends but for the most part-my long conversations, chill times with friends, and the like are all planned along with my classes and work and meetings etc. Ultimately this has allowed me to be somewhat disconnected from those that I love and to counter the increasing divide, I decided to demonstrate my affection and admiration for my fam and clase friends in a way that involved sharing more than a "i love you" text or a quick "hellogoodbye" phone call. Disregarding my time constraints for a couple of hours I sat down and wrote ten letters. For me this is one of the ultimate expressions of love and kindness because (1) it takes time (2) it is tangible evidence of love and (3) its spontaneity testifies to its genuiness. I may just be weird but getting mail is one of my favorite things so this was really meaningful to me and in the end I recognized the peace that can be cultivated through something as simple as a letter- communication is huge in the peace process and this little effort to increase/ improve the communication I have with those that I love seemed to me to be a fun expression of the peace achieved through communication. Considering this on a greater scale I realize that it is going to take a little more than the occasional "hello" to peace if I really want something meaningful to happen- I am convinced that consciously writing "peace letters" ( literally and metaphorically) is a necessary endeavor I need to assume on a regualr basis.
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