Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
Backlogged Peace BloggingTuesday November 13 This particular week, I happened to see a flyer about the already past Energy Conservation Week, and I was prompted to attempt to go an entire day without generating trash. Throughout the day, I faced the continual challenge of defining what I would consider trash. Did uneaten food count? How about a tissue or a cotton ball? I decided to play it safe and avoid all of the above. In the morning, it was relatively simple, as I opted against grab n go and thereby avoided the brown bag, juicy juice containers and bagel plastic wrapping. I was sure to only take as much cereal and yogurt as I was sure I could eat. The middle of the day proved a little more challenging as I really wanted a mid-day snack before heading to dance class, but I had to avoid the packaged food on our shelf. Overall, I found the exercise to be helpful in identifying simple ways to cut down on generating trash, such as only taking as much food as needed, or using cloth instead of paper towel. It was slightly more challenging, however to resist the temptation to grab a quick snack. I have to admit that at one point in the night, I temporarily forgot about my resolution and grabbed that fun size snickers that had been sitting on our shelf all week. Immediately following, I spilled some water and reflexively reached for the paper towel roll. It was an unfortunate half hour...
As was elicited in the classmate introductions on the first day of the semester, I’ve assumed the unique responsibilities of being an RA this year. With this in mind, I’ve recently been trying to incorporate ways of “being peace” into this neat and challenging ministry within residence halls at Notre Dame. RAs have to perform a number of functions that sometimes appear to come into conflict with each other. These include such roles as: brother, friend, teacher, disciplinarian, and mediator to name only a few.In dealing with the various conflicts that inevitably arise in dorm life – roommate disagreements, discipline issues, basic counseling – peace can be advanced when there is a strong existing relationship with the people in the community. At the beginning of this semester, I feel like I did an at times inadequate job of dedicating the time to build these relationships. With this in mind, I recently resolved to spend more time with the residents in my section of the dorm. I’ve began dropping by open rooms when guys were hanging out, playing videogames, or working on their computers. I started doing more of my homework in the dorm and reading in the social lounges on each floor while other guys were also studying. From these interactions, conversations would spark and we would learn about what was going on in each other’s lives. What I’ve noticed since this change is an increased openness among the guys in dorm and an increased understanding of where each of us is coming from when conflicts do arise. In these small efforts to build peace, I’ve found my ministry as an RA to be enhanced by these deeper relationships. Furthermore, I feel like we’ve been able avoid and better handle conflicts that arise in the section.
All right, this actually happened a few weeks ago, but being a procrastinator, I forgot to write it down. For this peace blog, I sold cookie dough to girls in my dorm. Now, I know that this might not seem like a peaceful thing (especially with all of those telemarketers nowadays), but I am a member of Operation Smile (a club that raises money to fund operations for children oversees with facial deformities), and we were selling this cookie dough to raise money for operations. Although I personally hate selling things, I was motivated to do this because it was for a good cause and because I felt like I should set a good example as a club officer. What made me cookie selling a "peaceful" experience was not only that it was for a good cause, but also that I discovered things both about myself and others during this process. While I was selling cookies, I realized that I was not afraid to knock on random people's doors and explain my cause. I also learned that not only were people extremely nice and polite about the whole thing, but people really do care and do want to make a difference. I'm quite positive that the majority of people who bought cookie dough only did it because it was for a good cause. In fact, one girl even wanted to buy it because she herself had a cleft palate when she was born, and could empathize with children in similar situations who could not afford to surgically fix this. In many ways,the dreaded selling process became a learning experience, and I actually semi-enjoyed it. Although I don't think I want to become a salesperson in the future, I no longer fear selling things if it is for a good cause.
Today I attended one of my committee meetings. Let me just say, that I absolutely adore the objective of this committee, that is the objective to encourage the administration to diversify every aspect of Notre Dame. Yet my positive mood didn't seem to resonate with everyone today. Most of the group seemed of edge, some too uninterested and others too frustrated to speak up. I understood why one member of the group was so upset. Her taskforce had failed to give her any support and the leader of the group was piling all the work on her. She looked like she was about to explode so I thought of the most peaceful( and least awkward) way to end the conflict: I volunteered to help her out. I thought my job was done when at the end of the meeting I came to her looking for work and instead got a laundry list of her complaints. I tried to deter the subject, telling her it was going to be alright. Next thing you know other committee member comes up and tries to talk to her. In a fit of rage, she turns her back and walks away leaving the committee member there asking"Is she mad at me?" I ended to walk away from the situation semi-peacefully, saying" she just needs a little time to herself." It makes me wonder if being peaceful equates being completely honest.
This weekend was an extremely peaceful one. Thurs, Fri and Sat nights, I sang with my Voices of Faith Gospel Choir. Usually my mind is wandering during practices thinking about people and problems in my life. But since this weekend was our concert, I made an extra effort to quiet myself and stop rushing. I also noticed something else this weekend...I'm always rushing. Especially after Peace Studies Class! I'll find myself walking at a ridiculously fast pace, forcing my bag to stay on my shoulder, huffing and puffing. This weekend I stopped and asked myself, where are you going and what are you doing? is rushing really helping anything? the answer happened to be no. so for the sake of gospel music and my health, even in this time of finals, i'm going to keep reminding myself to not be afraid to slow down.
Peace Blog 7I watched the video of a talk given by Gillian Sorensen, senior advisor to United Nations Foundation, entitled “The State of Women Internationally: Where are we, and where are we going?” She spoke in the beginning of the UN is a global forum that comes together to discuss global issues, not a command center or government. The UN is at the center of the solution of all current issues and has many components that most people do not know about. She spoke about “burden-sharing” as a core concept of the UN, and the UN as a truly universal forum in which 193 countries participate. The institution is imperfect, but indispensable. This is such an interesting concept because I believe it could not be truer. Often times in our class or in other areas of life, the UN is definitely not portrayed in a good light because we focus so much on aspects such as the Security Council, and we forget the core mission of the UN as a global forum and how imperative that institution is within our world.Early women’s rights documents remained primarily rhetoric until recent times. The World Conferences on Women were important as the first opportunity for women of the world to come together, and agreements were made. The realities of today do not demonstrate the ideal: women and children make up 70% of world’s poorest, 80% of world’s refugees, perform 2/3 of world’s work, but receive 10% of world’s income and own 1% of world’s property. Although these figures are not surprising, they are disturbing. It is not hard to see this reality within society, but I grew up in a family in which my mother held, and still holds, a very prominent position within the Iowa judicial branch. My memories are thus skewed to viewing both genders as completely equal within the reality of society, and in my family, this was my reality. Sorenson argued women can make a real difference in peace process because their experience brings something unique. New female heads of government include: Liberia, Chile, Argentina, and Germany. It is imperative to see these roles models and have concrete examples of their leadership. Sorenson also stressed the literal gift of “the voice” to women worldwide. For me, it seems hard to imagine personally feeling like I could not speak up or that I could not disagree with a man, but that is what the majority of the world’s women are made to believe. Also, quite noteworthy, violence against women has not declined and crosses all borders.In the question and answer section, she brought up another topic about how the U.S. is resistant to sign off on international treaties that involve the rights of women and children. It is mind-boggling and just plain depressing that one senator said, “I would never sign an international treaty because I feel it comprises us.” Her response: “The art of diplomacy is comprise; you give a little in order to reach that greater good, that larger good. . . Our national interest is part of that global interest.”
Media and ViolenceI was flipping through the channels today on our Comcast Cable plan thinking about how so many channels freely advertise and air violent TV shows that are completely uncensored. And this is across many channels and a variety of shows. For example, some reality shows that air on MTV show violence and fighting in their promos to draw in their audience to watch the episode. Is the violence really the mainstay of the show, and the only thing that will get people to watch? I find this hard to believe, unless there truly is no creativity left for entertainment. Reality shows will frequently skip over much of what has actually happened (i.e. character development) and jump right into the violence that occurs (Real World, Tila Tequila, etc). On Comedy Central, South Park, a cartoon, has quite explicit language and often shows blood and killing with little restrain. To me, this situation is the worst, as it seems a younger child could be flipping through channels to find a cartoon thinking that it would be something they would like to watch. After all, it is a cartoon. But all they will see and hear are racial slurs, violence, and many inappropriate topics. Is this what we are teaching the future of America? Young children, and for that matter everyone including college students, who see this show may think that this is acceptable behavior. Ultimately, it can lead to a gradual change in values for the worse, which are more tolerant of previously unacceptable behavior.Another absurd example is Ultimate Fighting, where two men get into a cage together and beat each other into submission, usually until one is completely knocked out and cannot move. This is far over and above the antics involved in WWE wresting, which is more of a scripted fake form of entertainment. I am currently reading a provocative book that discusses the similarities between the US and Rome. Are we Rome? Are we moving toward the eventual killing of individuals for purely entertainment purposes like the Gladiators in Ancient Rome? Ultimate Fighting is certainly right on the threshold of that type of entertainment. Now, I do not think that we will actually get that far, but this Ultimate Fighting idea is scary. People actually enjoy watching two men nearly kill each other, and our culture allows this to be put on TV. I think this completely sends the wrong signal to the masses on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in society.All of these TV shows and forms of entertainment have left America desensitized to violence. We see it in the media as well, as much of the time murders are not even front page stories. America has moved so far to the other end of the spectrum that violence is almost completely accepted as a form of entertainment. Of course, that in turn will lead to violence being accepted in other places, like the school realm. If students are seeing violence on TV as acceptable behavior, they may translate it to their own lives as well. I think that the violence has gone too far, and needs to be curbed by our government through censoring to secure the values of America, and prevent us from falling further into a similar time of violence seen during the Roman Empire.
Researching for my presentation and paper has really left me in a contemplative mood. My topic is on Burma, and its history is really defeating. They were once a great civilization before the interruption of British imperialism and eventually the military overtaking the country. There were two failed revolutions within a lifetime, both brutally crushed by the military. Yet, in the midst of all this brutality, there still lies a glimmer of hope in people such as Aang San Suu Kyi. She follows the nonviolent traditions of Gandhi and has been kept under house arrest in Burma close to the length of my entire life. I mean, I just feel like I'm wasting my life a little by little compared to people like her. It really makes me feel like each day that passes, especially idle days, is precious time slipping by. It inspires me, in that, the least I can do is stay true to myself and to always do the right thing, no matter how grave the consequence be. I feel like if I at least do that in even the smallest tasks in my life, I don't feel as guilty for not doing more like Aang San Suu Kyi. But who knows, perhaps one day I may be called to take on similar burdens as she, the only question is will I really be ready?
More Backlogged Peace BloggingThursday, November 15In continuation with the energy conservation kick I was on this particular week, I decided to devote this day to electricity and water conservation. Conserving electricity entailed turning off each light as I left the room, ensuring that the thermostat was at a reasonable temperature, and not watching television or using electronic devices for extended periods of time.Most challenging in this particular aspect was the use of a laptop. I tend to keep it plugged in, if not on, than simply in hiberate mode. It was difficult to limit use, as I had to use the internet and microsoft word for homework assignments. Aside from this challenge, simple tasks, such as unplugging my cell phone charger from the wall when not in use proved easy.To conserve water, I took a short shower, didn't leave the faucet running while brushing teeth, washing my face, rinsing dishes, etc. All of these water conservation ideas had been presented to me as a gradeschooler, but, somewhere along the way, they gradually receded into the back of my memory. This particular thursday served as a welcome reminder.
Current Peace BloggingTuesday, at our hall council meeting, one of the RAs described a fundraiser she is having for an ecquadorian family she lived with this past summer during a Kellogg Summer Internship Program.Although the family has put up the framing for their new home, lack of funds have prevented them from completing it. The structure remains without wall, windows, or doors. Currently, it appears more a pavilion than a family's home.In order to raise money to aid in the construction effort, Cailin is currently selling hand-woven bracelets made by her 'Ecquadorian family,' as she calls them. In addition, she has some miniature cloth dolls. Yesterday, I made a donation and received one of the brightly colored bracelets. If anyone else is interested in contributing to this worthy cause, the crafts on the third floor of Badin Hall outside the RA's room at the top of the stairs.
The other day, I was in the CoMo computer cluster working on a paper for one of my classes. I had three papers due in the same week, so I was stressing a little but making progress. Suddenly, a roar barreled forth from the back of the room -- that's right, it was about five different teams of business students working on projects. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with business students-- it's just that I could tell they were business students because I heard every detail about each of their projects! I was so, so tempted to turn around and ask really nicely (relative to how I felt, anyway) to can it. I also considered talking to them individually to not make more of a scene. I tried to gauge the ire of my next-computer neighbors, to no avail; they were either hiding their rage really well or just really excited about whatever they were working on. Furthermore, a couple of my friends came into the cluster to work (quiet, peaceful homework-doers, mind you), but all the computers were taken by the violators of the unwritten computer lab code of ethics. I resolved to wait it out until the next lull, to see if they would realize how quiet it was when they ...were quiet. The lull came, and thankfully it was time for my homework break when the roar returned again. I peaced out. I probably could have used some kind of nonviolent tactic to quell the noise (maybe), but I figured that would just cause a scene. If the only thing at stake was my anger, and not necessarily that of my neighbors, maybe the better solution (this time, anyway, since this can't become a habit for the teams!) is to remember my headphones next time.
This weekend, I went to the final installment of a series of discussions about human development sponsored by the Millenium Development Initiative here at ND. The topic was "religion and human development." I thought this would be a good topic for a peace blog because of its clear attention to "positive peace." The main questions we as a group discussed revolved around: what are the positive contributions and negative possibilities that occur when religious organizations get involved in human development? We watched a video that had been made to present to a church audience in California that funds the infrastructure/ sustainable development needs of a church community in East Africa. There is a really interesting tension between the need to develop the "region" economically and the need for attention to development of the "human" that is needed to correspond to new ways of life-- you could call it empowerment. Religion seems to have a way of remembering this aspect of development -- education, spiritual formation, liturgy -- and it does not have a vested interest in keeping the need for development around since its primary purpose is not development but faith. An important question that often emerges around this type of conversation is Americans' relationship toward people in developing countries. Though it was definitely not the worst case I've seen, the people watching the church's video were definitely being made to feel like they were being so very nice to help out these poor, poor black people who are helpless. The hard part is that this kind of rhetoric WORKS. People give money when they see this stuff. But the propaganda dehumanizes the people it presumes to help. The MDI does a great job, but the people GIVING the money need to check their image of the "other." Of course people need both human and economic development, but no society is helpless (just as ours is not eternally all-powerful), and absolutely no society is helpless just in that they are not Western or English-speakers or white. A healthy dose of respect is in order for people in developing countries, especially at a place like ND where we are trained in thought and reason -- emotion doesn't need to be our only mode of argument. Our responsibilities do not end at giving of our financial and educational resources; they extend to an understanding of who is putting in effort and empowering themselves on the other end, and the talk did a great job of reminding me that. I am definitely guilty in this department, so I conclude this blog by calling myself to understand better the similarities and differences between people and hope for a more comprehensive mental approach to development from our end.
I accidentally posted this in the "Responses" page, so here goes again:This peace blog entry has two sources of inspiration. The primary stems from a goal that I made my sophomore year (I am now a senior) that I’ve always struggled to keep. To satiate my love of receiving mail, I set out to write one letter a week. But to this end I have failed miserably, writing only a handful of letters over the course of the previous couple years.The second source of inspiration is a prior peace blog Caity wrote in week three. With these comments in the background, let me begin to talk about my experience writing a letter to my mother.Last Wednesday, I found myself with some free-time in the evening. This being a relatively rare privilege, I felt very much at peace to begin with. I had just received a nice voicemail from my mom...who’d heard a song on the radio while she was out Christmas shopping, thought of me, and then called to let me know. Though she said I did not have to call back, I was moved by this unexpected act of love and decided to make good use of my free time that evening.So I sat down to write my mom letter about the many things going on in my life here at school. I feel like a hand-written letter can be very personal and articulate thoughts and ideas that you don’t always know how to or have the courage to say. In a world of ever-evolving technology, new and easier ways of communication are talking hold. And while these new forms possess many benefits, they often do not require the same effort and intentionality in building and maintaining relationships. As I wrote the letter, addressed the envelope, walking to the post office, and waited for the letter to arrive, I was able to draw out the peacefulness and thoughtfulness of my letter. When it was received yesterday, my mom responded with gratitude.In sum, this opportunity to write a letter improved my communication and relationship with my mother and I hope that this becomes a trend that I can continue.
This is the first of many peace blog posts I need to make before the end of the semester. I read the other day an encyclopedia article about Leo Tolstoy, and it summarized one of his books with the following message. Somebody's true morality is best judged in the small, habitual actions rather than their large events. This is a concept I remember learning in my grade school, especially because I went to St. Theresa who was know for her "Little Way" or small acts. Anyway, as I have grown up and become more interested with politics, or the way morality is reflected in large-scale institutions, I often consider morality in terms of wars, or systems of injustice and am left discouraged at an inability to directly affect these institutions. But in all that, it is easy to neglect small moral choices. So, in the past few days, I have made an effort to focus on small choices. Throwing out trash. Helping a dining hall worker pick up newspapers. Saying hello to somebody who sits down next to me in class rather than be focused on my own business. I think I did well in actively being conscious of these small decisions at the beginning of the week, but as I sit in the library writing this, I recall how I left my Snapple bottle on a table without throwing it out. Small thing, seems inconsequential, but it matters. As for forming a habit of these small things, I think a reminder may be useful. Maybe a rubber band around my wrist will serve as a reminder to do small things habitually.
Last week I visited the Christmas shop in LaFortune because my friends relayed a message to me about “great jewelry at cheap prices”. While I didn’t realize at the time that I was embarking upon a peace studies-inspired activity, I soon learned that I would gain lots of interesting information from my spontaneous shopping trip.During an engaging conversation with the shop owner, I learned that there was much more to this venue than earrings and necklaces. The woman who ran the shop traveled to mostly third world countries to gain more knowledge about different cultures and their struggles. She told me that she never felt like she belonged to any home or nation, because she considers herself to be a global citizen. The purpose of her traveling shop is to expose truths about countries in poverty and oppression while doing what she loves—creating jewelry. She had posters around the shop displaying photos and facts about the global south. She commissioned people around the world, from South America to Asia, to make trinkets for sale in the United States. A large portion of the funds she receives return to the original worker, while the rest is used for administrative and travel expenses.At the end of the night, I successfully checked off two people from my shopping list, while learning more about specific cultures and their hardships. I recognize and appreciate greatly the woman’s worthy contribution to the dissemination of information and funds to people in need.
As long as I'm at it, I will post another one of these. One thing that I did yesterday, that I think is a peaceful act, is registering to vote. I think this counts as a peaceful activity because it is my responsibility to vote in a democracy. Our current administration's policies lead to certain injustices, as do every administration's policies, but if I were not to register to vote and not choose some direction next november or this january for our country to move, I would be endorsing any current action our government takes with my inaction. Thus registering to vote is a peaceful act. If more of our country was active in politics, meaning they not only registered and voted, but took time to educate themselves about policies, I think we would not have an administration like this one, that counts on the inactivity of the citizenry so that they can pursue an agenda that most of the country would disagree with if it was delivered truthfully. The voter mobilization movement, specifically on college campuses, is movement that can move towards peace, especially because college students often called "idealistic" but with their voices heard, candidates that embody somewhat more hopeful or idealistic policies could be elected
So I have tried the whole ‘not get angry’ attitude for the past week (since last Friday), and have found that it really is quite difficult to go a full week without getting angry at all. To be quite honest, I definitely was not able to successfully go the full week without becoming angry. However, I certainly have been more conscious of it, which I feel is a very healthy awareness. Hopefully, I can continue to keep mindful of my negative feelings and actions so that I can better interact with people to avoid conflict and solve problems. Because I was more conscious of my actions, I was able to stop myself before I became too annoyed with a situation. I told myself to calm down, take a deep breathe, and look for an alternative means of dealing with the situation. I think that the way I handled difficult situations showed more maturity, and I think that those I was dealing with also noticed a marked difference in my behavior – for the better of course. By handling situations better, I also felt that problems became resolved more quickly and easily, rather than the longer, drawn out process that I am used to experiencing.On the negative side, I did get angry a couple of times over the week. It was interesting for me though to recognize who I became angry with, so that I could better gage my interaction patterns. I found that I became angry with the people that were closer to me, not just acquaintances. I never became upset with someone I did not know – for example on the roads, like many drivers often do. For me, I think that I get upset with those I care about because I actually care about them, the relationship, what they think, etc. With people I do not know, I think that I almost do not bother getting angry with them because it will really serve no purpose. I also discovered how stubborn that I can be with my friends and family, which is not a good thing. I found it difficult to sometimes give in though I knew normally I would have argued with the person. But, it is certainly important for me to be aware of this tendency in the future.I also noted that being tired affected my interaction with my friends and family. I was often more apt to be at odds with them and become more easily frustrated by minor situations. When I was tired, I would often turn those minor situations into larger situations. All in all, I think that this ‘not get angry’ for a week idea is something I would like to continue in the future. I think that it is a really positive way to not only become aware of situations that will make you angry, but also to make you aware of how to better handle those situations. For now, I think my plan is going to be to do this once a month, so I can kind of get into a habit of being a better person, and hopefully it will begin to translate over into the weeks I am not actually more focused on avoiding angry situations.
Given that this, the final week of classes, can be among the more stressful in the semester, I decided to search for a means for slowing down and finding peace. I intermittently attend daily Mass in our dorm, but consciously decided to take time out and do so tonight.So when I otherwise might have watched TV or continued working on my mound of papers, I walked down to our Chapel. To my surprise, I was also joined by a few of my other friends who I don’t typically see at Mass. In the rhythmic silences and responses, I found time to put aside stress and reflect on the bigger picture. Without getting too heavily into my spirituality, I was able to recognize and accept my smallness by giving thanks for my blessings and asking for help with things that aren’t going as well.I left Mass reinvigorated to continue my school work, but also inspired by my friends who joined me there to celebrate a sacrament. Going forward, I feel like I also left with a more balanced and peaceful perspective on my life in the hours and days ahead.
Over Thanksgiving break, two of my roommates came home with me since they lived too far away to go home for that short of period. These two girls have been roommates since freshman year and therefore they had taken on a sisterly-like bickering habit. This stemmed from one of the being constantly competitive with the other. It was over stupid things, as things type of fights usually are, such as having the same clothes, who bought it first, boy issues, etc.Thus when they came home with me I knew I would be in an interesting situation of mediator. The tension was pretty high at this point in the semester between the two of them. They were bickering over something menial and using me as a person to talk to behind the others back. I decided to have them both sit down, with me present, in order for both to explain what they were feeling. It was extremely interesting for me to see how this relationship worked because I realized how stupid these small fights really are in the grand scheme of things.This encounter between the two of them made me think of how stupid any fight I have with my sister. The issues they were having mirrored, to some extent, fights that my sister and I have gone through. While the realization of the stupidity of such is one step, I do realize that action is a completely other. I really think that helping these two girls work through some troubles in their relationship will help me work to better my relationship, in the sense of becoming a more peaceful sister.
I decided to try out the suggestion from the website to go a whole day without generating any trash. First, I was a little confused as to what constituted trash, did recycling count? I decided that it did, so I tried to avoid creating any sort of waste. For Breakfast it was pretty easy because I decided to just eat some cereal out of the box thus not wasting any extra food or any utensils or bowls in the process. I went for a glass of water in order to avoid the usual pop can that I would normally have. During the day and at class I found it pretty easy to keep up my goal. I changed all of my margins in order to fit as much as possible on one page.At lunch and dinner in the dinning hall I found it a little difficult to measure the correct portion size that I would really want to eat or finish off. I did not grab anything that I thought I just might have wanted to try. While eating I tried extremely hard to not make any sort of mess in order to avoid the use of a napkin. I was successful with this at lunch but at dinner I did fall prey to that of the napkin.I also did not know what to do about tissues. At this point I had a pretty bad cold and I had to use a few tissues. I tried my hardest to limit the number that I used but it was my biggest failing in the exercise. I think that it would be very hard to keep up this sort of method or way of life for a long period of time. I had to be constantly conscious about what I was doing and if the action would generate any waste. I think that it was a good exercise for me because it made me look at how much I didn't realize about the waste I was creating. I would like to minimize my footprint on the world (in the detriment to the environment sense).
IRISH ADWith Finals around the corner, I wanted to come up with a way to “comfort” the friends I have made in my dorm. I thought that everyone loves backed goods, so I decided to make cupcakes for my friends. As I made cupcakes, I myself was able to relax from the stress and able to think about what I have to do this week with calm. When I was done, my boyfriend and I placed the icing in the cupcakes and then put them in the fridge to cool. As they cooled, I began to think of who I would give them to. I have made a lot of new friends in my dorm, but it was hard to come up with who would get one and who wouldn’t. The more I thought, the more guilty I felt that I wouldn’t be able to give one to everyone I know. So, I came up with a brilliant idea. Since Christmas is right around the corner, I ran over to LaFun and bought a pack of candy canes. With these candy canes, I was now able to give some comfort food/candy to all. As I passed them out, it made me feel good that I would be putting, hopefully, a smile of these friends faces and hopefully they will all do well on their finals.
Last night some friends and I headed over to the Catholic Worker drop-in center in downtown South Bend for Mass, dinner, and a movie. The movie was about Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement (with Peter Maurin). I have a deep respect for Catholic Workers -- if there were more Catholic Workers, well, they would work themselves out of their business of addressing poverty and the war system. To live a life not only working against poverty and the spiritual destitution that often accompanies it, but also to live IN a community house of hospitality that is built around this work and resistance to war, seems to be a mighty and difficult thing. It is apparent that, for the vast majority, giving of themselves is more important than their own happiness; joy or happiness is instead a fruit of their good work. Anyway, this was a great night of talking to new people -- associated with the community in different ways -- and there was a really prophetic homily that addressed both personal AND structural interpretations of the gospel...something we don't seem to get too often at ND. There was a craft sale at the mass-dinner-movie, so I decided to get a few Christmas gifts for my family and donate some extra money to the Worker (they are generally strapped for cash, espcially because they don't seek any government assistance or tax exemption). Finally, the movie about Dorothy Day was really intriguing. I'm hoping to read more about her life and work... people seem to think she was a mystic in addition to a radical Catholic thinker and activist. You can find information about the movement at http://www.catholicworker.org/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Worker_Movement . Enjoy!
Who would have thought that a movie about war could be an avenue for peace?How unfortunate that it takes death to make us value life?Why is it that we can make a rash decision to engage in military activity but the peace process must be thought out thoroughly?These are all ideas presented in the independent film by Phil Donahue titled "Body of War". He was a powerful speaker and before the movie played, he said a few words about the situation and how the film presents it. Something he said that stuck with me was that we can't "sanitize" the war. I agree with this idea and I think that sugar-coating or snaitizing what is going on will only make it easier for society to become more influenced by the culture of amnesia that has pervaded history. Here is a brief synopsis off the website:Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine — wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week. Body of War is his coming home story as he evolves into a new person, dealing with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. Body of War is a nakedly honest portrayal of what it’s like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man. Body of War unfolds on two parallel tracks. On the one hand, we see Tomas evolving into a powerful voice against the war as he struggles to deal with the complexities of a paralyzed body. And on the other hand, we see the historic debate unfolding in the Congress about going to war in Iraq. The movie was more than compelling and I am so glad I took the time to trek over to DPAC to see it. The movie really allowed the viewer to get a better understanding of what it means to be directly affected by the reprecussions of the war in Iraq. In all honesty, I struggle with the way understandings of war are constructed. While I have the highest respect for the sacrifices that members of the armed forces make- my respect is contradicted by my belief that the actions of soldiers are fundamentally wrong (even in simple training- creating an atmosphere where taking the life of another human being must be understood as necessary- it desensitizes and dehumanizes in ways I can't accept). I am always cautious about expressing this belief because (more than coming off as unpatriotic) I don't want to offend those who have family members in the war. There is an immense amount of pride and honor associated with being a soldier that I do not wish to diminish, however, I believe it is exactly this that provides for the blind acceptance of war and denial of common humanity. I have been blessed to remain strictly an observer when it comes to those directly affected by the war - having immediate family members of close friends involved. This movie allowed me to see that patriotism and supporting the troops does not necessarily mean advocating the war. I realized that to a certain extent people need to be made uncomfortable if how we deal with conflicts is going to change. Peaceby the way...I would love to read comments about how people understand supporting our country and the men and women of the armed services while not supporting the war.
SO... after watching the film "Body of War" I went to a discussion lunch with Phil Donahue. He had some really interesting ideas and they really provoked a lot of thought. Knowing that those at the lunch were mostly peace studies students he wanted to be sure to reassure us in our endeavors. He reminded us that he was on our "team" and encouraged us to really challenge those things we feel/think/know are wrong. At the same time he wanted to remind us that "Peace is not about sleeping on glass"- he told us to dance and sing and just be happy (we have the right to be happy- he was big on constitutional rights) - we can live our lives and still advocate peace efforts. I am really not doing any of this justice because it was a great meeting to experience as a peace studies student, overwhelmed by the wrongs in the world but compelled by th goodness in my life. As a major player in the media realm I was curious about how he thought the culture of fear that was created (mostly by the media) to bring about widespread support for the war in addition to the fact that all major media sources are owned by transnational corporations that have vested interest in the war could be addressed through independent news sources like NPR and PBS - how could the audience be captured by these sources or how could the public be a force of change in what these corp news sources present???? The media is a means to mobilize the public. I believe that much of the peace process is stuck in the awareness stage and as such efforts to make the media a more objective source could significantly change how public opinion is formed and peace ideas constructed. Anyways- this maybe super jumbled but the point of the memo is that peace can be approached by these things that are typically associated or dominated by the corporate world- media and networking- the agency is there - we just need greater access and it is our responsibility as members of civil society to create the space for this kind of awareness- good luck!
With TakeTen, I teach first graders how to deal with conflict. It’s kind of hard to teach the difference between being aggressive, passive, and assertive when your students can still barely write and have the attention span of goldfish. Whenever I asked what they remember from previous weeks, it was always very discouraging when the only responses I get refer to games we played, the Take Ten motto, or a story about what he o she ate for dinner the night before. Throughout the semester, I was frustrated and disconcerted by the stories the children would tell. One in particular always told stories about how his father and uncle would wrestle him and it hurt. When he drew pictures, he would draw himself in a cage. I never quite knew how to react. Another little boy told a story about a fight his mother and sister had and he asked them to take ten seconds to “wait it out.” His sister since then has been kicked out of the house and arrested. He also told a story about how his sister’s boyfriend tried to get him to smoke weed. I don’t think I ever thought that these children would have such serious problems in their lives at such a young age. It was discouraging but at the same time made me realize that is why the students need a program like this. Many people don’t learn how to deal with conflict well at home. That’s why when the students tell us about using Take Ten, it actually makes me feel like I have made a difference in their lives that will help them when they face difficult decisions. One student said they all used Take Ten when they were playing at recess one week. Another said that he was dealing better with his brother and sister. One boy said that the most important thing he learned in Take Ten was that it was okay to be himself. The Take Ten program actually did positively impact their lives. This semester, my involvement with Take Ten has definitely made me feel like I am making a positive impact on society by showing these children a way to approach conflict in a peaceful, nonviolent way.
On Friday, I went to a Barack Obama campaign event in Chicago. I think this is a peaceful event because I think becoming politically active is a step towards bringing about some sort of change in the world. Granted, this a was a concert, so I was certainly there for other reasons too. But it was very interesting to see how the political process unfolds and interesting to see how people feel involved in it. The crowds there were hanging on every word Obama said. People truly feel that by supporting a candidate they believe in, they will see some sort of change. I hope this is the case, but I wonder how much change a vote or a small donation can really bring. Is a small donation to a political campaign a peaceful act? When the decisions of our politicians are guided by both money and by pleasing the masses, it is difficult to think that just one individual act can do anything. But, hey, you have to start somewhere, and if there a bunch of small individuals acting and they organize, perhaps some change can be affected.
It's been a crazy last few weeks, so I have not been keeping up my posts like I should be. Two weeks ago, I decided that I would do my very best not to get angry for a week. I decided that the week would also include no swearing or talking behind anyone's back.I started my attempt on Friday afternoon after a long week of classes. I was not in the best of moods, but decided that I would put forth an honest effort to be kind to everyone. A certain neighbor of mine always manages to get on my nerves, so I decided that I would give her the chance to show me that my irritations with her are only due to my inability to be patient. After class got out, I met up with her for lunch with a few of my other girlfriends. We began talking and it wasn't long before I began to feel irritated with her. I told myself to remain calm and to not let what she was saying get to me. After lunch, we all headed over to the mall for some retail therapy. She once again tagged along. I was slightly irritated that my decision not to get angry for an entire week was already being put to the test. She continued to say things that normally get on my nerves, but I refused to let her have the same effect on me as I normally do. By the end of the trip, I found myself laughing at what she had to say, rather then thinking to myself that I could not wait to get away from her.The weekend passed slowly, and I was continually forced to hang out with her. By the end of Sunday, I found that I was actually starting to like her-- although I had a very difficult time admitting it to myself.Throughout the rest of the week, she tagged along to events and dinners with the rest of my friends. I was slowly starting to come around to her strange personality to see that she isn't so bad after all. By the next Friday, I found that I could honestly tolerate her presence. I did not have to get up and leave every time she came in a room. Instead, I could stay, talk a little bit, and relax. She is by no means one of my great friends, but I found myself pleasantly surprised that my vow to avoid getting angry for a week could turn into this. Now, coming into exams, I can relax more and not stress over her presence. Instead, I can roll with the punches, laugh a little more, and know that if I give someone more of a chance, I might actually like them.
Being an incredibly unoriginal person, I have continued with the trend of following Prof. Myers different suggestions for the Peace Blog..Last week, I pledged my support for One Million Voices. By doing this, I pledged my support to hold the Israeli and Palestinian leaders responsible for negotiating a two state agreement. Not only did I pledge my own support, but I also forwarded to the link to pretty much every person I know. I emailed the link to my family, my friends, and made an event on Facebook in hopes that my friends will also get involved. I donated ten dollars to the campaign to be used for supporting the campaign for the formation of a two-state system. The money will be used towards efforts on both sides of the conflict to persuade people to accept a peaceful two-state system.Finally, I decided that I would also write an email to Representative Joe Donnelly encouraging him to support One Million Voices. I encouraged him to support the effort towards the formation of a two-state system and I asked him to pass along the information I included to other influential people in an attempt to get the ball rolling. So far, over 600,000 people- Israelis, Palestinians, and International Supporters have pledged their support. I hope that those that read my post, as well as Joe Donnelly and others will be influenced to support One Million Voices as well. The website is :http://www.onemillionvoices.org/getinvolved/getinvolved.html Be sure to visit and pledge your support!!
Peace BlogsThis post actually contains two blogsAt the beginning of the semester we read an article by Thich Hanh who is a Buddhist. We read it twice once in the very beginning of the semester and again later when we were discussing the role that religion plays in peace and war making. This made me think that as a Catholic person who cares deeply about her faith whether or not I did enough to create peace around me. I wondered how much do I seem like a peaceful person to those around me. Not only that, but am I a peaceful person within myself? To begin to find an answer I turned to my friends and family. I asked them what they think of as peace and whether they felt like it was important to be a peaceful person and whether they would think of themselves as peaceful people. Most, as you would expect, did say that they felt that they were in fact peaceful people. Most of them considered themselves peaceful because they very rarely had something to fight about. When I started asking them how often they argued with people and what made them angry it became apparent that many of them were very capable of becoming violent if they felt angry enough. This led me to question whether a peaceful person is someone who never sees the need to fight and have conflicts or whether a peaceful person is one who can stand down any situation and tries to find a peaceful solution. I know that I get angry sometimes, I am not one who turns to physical violence but I have let my words inflict pain on other people before. Does that mean that I am not as peaceful a person as I thought? This brings me back to the article that we read twice this semester and therefore inspired me to do what I did above and to do my second peaceful activity for another week. The article Being Peace, although it did not quite reflect my religion, reflected the real meaning of what it is to be a peaceful person for me. To bring to mind the interconnectedness of the world and that in doing harm to others we are doing harm to ourselves as well. This resonates with what my religion teaches about ‘loving thy neighbor as self’. So for another activity I went to mass on a Wednesday afternoon in the Basilica. I went with the specific aim of praying for peace. This may seem useless and self indulgent but as a person that does truly believe in the power of prayer I thought that this attempt at building peace may be one of the most effective. I hadn’t ever really noticed that in the intercessory prayers the entire church is often called on the pray for peace in our world. I hadn’t realized when I went to mass that day that I would be joining my prayer for peace with those of all of the churches and religious in the church. After that realization a true sense of peace came over me. For a good few hours after mass, nothing seemed to bother me and I felt I was truly ‘being peace’. And maybe that is all we really need to be peaceful people. Maybe we need to sit and reflect and understand that to create peace you have to want peace and that there are many more people aside for ourselves who wish and pray for it. It we were able to find each other maybe then we could truly spread peace in the world.I understand that this blog sounds extremely idealistic, but speaking as a Christian, probably to other Christians who will be reading this, we do have the ultimate example of a peaceful person. Jesus did allow Himself to die despite having all the power in the world to destroy His enemies. He stretched out His arms and peacefully surrendered to God rather than fighting. And for this He is remembered to now and has inspired many others by His example of ‘being peace’.
Dear Peace Blog,A little late on writing this… Last week I attended a lecture put on by Oxfam and ND’s Human Rights Organization entitled, “Petroleum, Power, and Politics.” Its focus was on the fact that the rich industrialized countries use the most oil, in which the United States is in the lead. The countries richest in fossil fuels are some of the world’s poorest regions, i.e. Africa and the Middle East. Yet, this is essentially where we extract our energy sources. Compensation, if any, goes directly to corporations in these regions, or the corrupt governments. Thus, the people working and living in these low standards of living regions see no such compensation. Specifically, the richest country (per capita) in Africa, Equatorial Guinea, has much corruption. An Oxfam affiliate from Equatorial Guinea spoke to us of the hostilities endured in his country each day, and that in fact 75% of the country is impoverished. The money from U.S. etc only goes to the head of corporations and governmental elites. I heard that it is a rich country, and then I assumed it to be flawless. How wrong was I! It is one of the biggest sources of fossil fuel from Africa for America, and I believe it is up to us to hold our government accountable for making sure the money gets to where it belongs. So, I wrote a letter to Congressman Joe Donnelly, as I am a constituent of his, urging him to ensure policies that are the best for these countries’ people. Lone behold, it was an act conducive to peace. ☺
“This is the end, Beautiful friend This is the end, My only friend, the end Of our elaborate plans, the end Of everything that stands, the end”--The DoorsFare thee well peace blog. It has been a fun ride, through the tough and all. I am sorry to realize that you won’t be gracing my presence again, and I bet you’re sorry that I won’t be gracing you with my presence again. I must say I loved you. You were probably one of the best homework assignments I have had, seeing as how I got to do my best to contribute to peace through you. I’ve made long overdue apologies, become a vegetarian, faced mistakes I’ve made, and realized the everyday simple peace occurring in my life. I highly recommend this to future student. Peace and love.
Numero 5I'm about half way through from completing my peace blog! As we all know, finals week is in full swing. I, like many others, have been stressing ALOT and on-edge. But, then I think about that time when we took a class to learn about relaxing and being "peaceful" in general. That session is really helping me now to keep from losing it. Just remembering that feeling of serenity is really comforting. Even if its just a few seconds of closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, I find that it really helps me keep my focus. Haha, and when I really want to be calm I remember that specific comment of starting the peacefulness at the very top of the head and letting it flow down. It might sound pretty lame, but it really helps!
I'm never been a big service person. I've always supported doing service and donated money to those trying to do service, but have never been that involved in it. I did some in high school but once I got to Notre Dame I got so involved in campus activities, work, and school that I never got involved in service. I say this not as an excuse but merely as a fact. It's not an excuse at all. But being in this class got me to thinking about it. It really made me think that I should try to to do some service during this latter part of my time here at ND. This thought also came around the time that I decided I had no desire to do another job next summer that's just for money or looks good on a resume. Despite being a finance major, I had no interest in going after a finance internship. So I figured that I should do some service over the summer. And what better way to do that than to do an SSLP? It also provided me the ability to do something outside of the Chicago land area which was a big plus. So I immediately filled out an application and signed up for an interview. I interviewed and was accepted two days later. I immediately signed up for the placement interview. When I decide to do something, I typically don't waste any time. So now I'm trying to decided where to go. It has come down to working at a summer camp in New York(in the woods) or at a non for profit loan organization in Denver. The woman at the CSC I could not have picked more different sites. And I believe her. The two are totally different. But either way I'll be spending 8 weeks this summer far from home and doing service. And I'm jacked about it.
Two weekends ago I spent the weekend in Michigan. A bunch of my friends and I all pitched in to rent a house in South Haven for the weekend. We all brought dates and called it a formal. We all got dressed up Friday night, went to a nice restaurant, and just had a great all around time. The next day we decided to go paintballing. And this is what I want to blog about. Paintball, the ultimate form of war simulation. Writing this blog and the sport(if you can call it that) itself provide an interesting paradox for me. On one hand, I know that a large part of the class probably condemns the sport as a terrible thing. On the other hand, I go once or twice a year and thoroughly enjoy it. So what I am to do? I certainly realize why so many people would have a problem with it. There does seem to be something wrong with going around shooting people with high speed projectiles that cause pain and bruising. But it is honestly just so much fun to me. So what does that say about me? Do I think war is sweet? NO! Do I think violence is cool? NO! Do I like the violent culture we have? NO! I love peace and want everyone to get along. So I honestly don't understand why I like to shoot high speed paintballs at my friends. I guess I'll just end by saying that I think that a person can indeed like things like paintballing and still be a great supporter of peace. And I hope that the paintball haters out there wouldn't dispute me on that.
Last Thursday night, I attended a charity dinner for the ND Millennium Project in Uganda and Eyes for Africa. This event was organized by the sophomore class council. The tickets were $10, $5 went to the Millennium fund and $5 went to Eyes for Africa. A few people spoke about the different functions of the two groups and what they are trying to accomplish, but somehow I managed to misplace the handouts. Eyes for Africa is an organization that I have never heard of, but they have a spring break volunteer opportunity and other things that I did not know about, so it was beneficial to hear about them. This is the first time I have attended a charity event like this, and it made me realize what a great idea they are. The event was marketed as a social gathering, with the interesting location of the ND Press Box, where the dinner was held. Events like this attract significant numbers of people, so it is an interesting way to raise funds for those in need. We were all talking at this dinner about how lucky we were that the cost was only $10, versus the $500-per-plate dinners you hear about for presidential campaigns, which is probably one of the hugest wastes of money I can imagine. I think events such as these to raise awareness would be very successful if more of them were offered at ND, but I find few opportunities, but that could just be my personal experience? Another good thing about these events is that they help to spread awareness about these topics. Although there weren’t thousands of people at the dinner, I know I spoke about it with my friends afterwards, so now they too are aware of some on-campus projects that help parts of Africa. Overall, I had a great experience with this kind of charity event. I enjoyed it a lot and benefited from the new knowledge because I can use it in the future when looking into the current issues in Africa or when trying to fundraise for a certain cause myself.
I used to be a big time television watcher, but at college I simply don't have the time to watch. The other day I watched a little, however. I caught a show called Cold Case. The basic premises is that these detectives take old cases and try to solve them. I had never watched the show but left it on and caught the second half of the show. The show featured interviews with the people in the present intertwined with scenes of what actually happened. The case involves a triple murder of the couple that owns and runs a diner and the kid that they've taken who works at the diner. The kid allows his brother, who has drug problems, to come into the diner to get some food. The brother starts steeling cash from the register and the first kid tells him to stop. At this point the male owner comes in to find out whats going on. The brother pulls a gun and shoots him. The wife comes running and he shoots her too. He then gets the first kid to help him pull the bodies into the bathroom. The first kid discovers that the women is still alive and pleads with his brother to let him get her help. The brother pulls a knife and slits her throat, splattering blood across th wall. I was amazed at this. There was already blood all over the ground and then all this blood splatters all over. I couldn't believe this was on tv. And this is CBS, the self-proclaimed most popular network in America. There most likely countless kids watching. It really is amazing how much violence is on tv. And it's not just violence, it's graphic, brutal violence. Amazing what any kid with a tv can see.
Today, December 10th, was Human Rights Day. I got an email this morning from an organization that I belong to called Citizens for Global Solutions asking me to contact my local Representative and ask them to support appropriations of $724 million to support the joint African Union-United Nations mission to Darfur. The website of the organization gives a format for what you should say when you call: "Hello. My name is [Your Name]. I’m calling from [Your Town]. I'd like to let [Your U.S. Representative] know that I support providing $724 million in emergency funding for peacekeeping in Darfur, as requested by the president. I'd like [Your U.S. Representative] to make sure that Congress appropriates these funds to support the Darfur mission and to make sure that we pay what we owe to the U.N. Thank you for your time." So obviously I didn’t follow that format, but I still called my representatives office. I happened to intern with my Representative this summer, so I called and just asked the guy that handles foreign affairs where the House is on getting these appropriations moving and how Rep. Mitchell feels about it. The answer I got was mixed. Apparently Congress is really not moving very quickly on these appropriations. This is happening for a number of reasons. First, there is a group of Republicans that staunchly oppose US support of international organizations. Second, people don’t feel like they have to move on this right away. They think that since the surge in violence of the genocide in Darfur has already ended it is not as important to approve funding quickly. I kind of figured that this would be the case, but was still disappointed to here it. However, the upside is that if a bill were to get out of committee and come to a vote in the House (this is pretty unlikely) most of the Democrats would support it. On a related note: while I was working in that office this summer one of the things that I learned that really bothered me was how the office reacts to phone calls from constituents. A single phone call, or even quite a few phone calls, really will not make any difference on how a Representative will vote on a bill. It would take a HUGE grassroots movement for a Representative to even consider changing his vote on an issue.
A little late on blogging this peace event, but I attended the Dialogue of Cultures Ethics conference on campus last weekend. Two of the speakers I saw talked about how those of the Islamic faith can integrate themselves into Western society. Philosophy professor Alasdair MacIntyre, one of my favorite speakers to see here on campus, talked about Tariq Ramadan's attempts to help Muslim's integrate into European society. He called for a sort of "middle route," not entirely rejecting the elements of modernity in European society while not entirely assimilating into society as well. He said that the way most Christians have dealt with the conflict between Western culture and religion has been to reject their religion as the guiding instrument of their lives. He says that most people treat religion as just a separate group or institution they identify themselves with. One's neighborhood, one's favorite sports, one's hobbies, religion has become like this in modern society. One facet of someone's life, but not an integral facet. He does not think that Islam should come to this, but rather try to find this middle way. I think this exploration of this idea can be quite constructive in today's society, as the clash between religion and western culture has led to some destructive results, but to disregard either would be bad in my opinion, thus a middle ground must be found. I also saw another speaker talk about the divisions in America and saw these divisions as the result of immigration and multiculturalism in America, whereas he thinks America should return entirely to what he calls its "Christian roots." I found his speech to fall into the former category of MacIntyre's distinction, complete rejections of modernity. This idea is implausible and probably a bad thing. This speaker rejected multiculturalism as a sort of universal toleration and rejection of moral standards, whereas I believe that one can accept different cultures and live in harmony while adhering to one's own beliefs. Very cool that we have this conference on campus. A Saturday at here definitely beat some of those cold, boring, losing football Saturdays we had this year.
Earlier this semester I went to the symposium sponsored by the law school on human trafficking. At the symposium a woman who had been a victim of human trafficking told her story. She told us about how she was brought to the US and forced to work as a stripper. She was closely watched all the time and not allowed to have any contact with people other than at work. She didn’t have access to a phone or the internet and there was a person assigned to watch her and other girls (that were also human trafficking victims) every day at work. I couldn’t believe her story and that something like this could happen here in the United States. The control that the men exercised over her and the fear they instilled in her is absolutely incredible. Also during the symposium one of the officers that worked on her case spoke. He talked about how the girls finally got someone to help them. First they had to figure out their address so that they could tell someone where to come help them. Even this minor detail of their life was hidden from them. They finally figured it out one day when a piece of junk mail showed up at their house. They also had to find a person that would help them, something that was challenging at a strip club with someone watching them the whole time. A Notre Dame law professor also spoke about what can be done for these victims. She spoke a lot about immigration law and how it applies to victims of human trafficking. Most victims are brought to the US on limited work visas which expire while they are here and then they are in the US illegally. When they are discovered and helped escape from their desperate situation they are often departed immediately. Since they were forced to work and captives in their homes it seems counter intuitive to punish them. We are in essence calling them criminals for something that they had no choice in doing. This was a completely new dynamic about immigration law that I had never really considered before. The Notre Dame law professor made the point that their needs to be some exceptions for people forced into these situations. I wholeheartedly agree with her and am so glad that I was able to learn about this issue that has repercussions in the immigration debate.
I have been really bad with keeping up with putting my posts onto this blog so this week there will be quite a few from me (sorry Prof Myers). This activity in being peace was from the week of October 7th. Across Notre Dame this was Energy Week which consisted of many activities across campus aimed at getting people and the campus to 'go green' and treat the environment with more care. During the week of September 17th we read an article by Aldo Leopold called The Land Ethic. This article talked about taking care of the environment as a way toward building last peace. By constantly striping the earth of the resources we are leaving fewer resources for the people of the world to share. When this occurs and people have to compete for the remaining resources then conflict inevitably ensues.During Energy week here on campus I was able to show my care for the environment. For that week not only did I make sure that I recycled everything that I could, but I also made sure to utilize the goods available to be that were more environmentally friendly. I participated in the lights out campaign across campus as well. I thought it would have been more effective if it was done in the evening time rather than the middle of the day, but I appreciated the concept.Since reading this article and participating in some of the activities of that week I have come to greater understanding of how much I take for granted in my life. I have also come to realize that what I do really does impact the environment in a big way, even if it doesn’t affect the people around me. So now I make a conscious effort to use the resources of the earth in a more respectful way. I turn off the lights whenever I leave the room even when it is only for a few minutes, I try to recycle everything I can and I try to buy goods, like paper made from recycled material.
A few weeks ago someone in our class introduced a website she found called KIVA.com. It is a way to participate in Micro financing entrepreneurs in developing countries. It seemed like a really interesting idea and a way to participate in a small way to a project that has a huge impact in the lives of people desperately trying to escape poverty. So I have joined and am currently involved in a loan to a woman in the Dominican Republic who is trying to start a clothing store in her community. It is a really interesting process and you receive information about the person you have loaned the money to and the progress that they are making toward their goal. It really has been an uplifting experience to feel as though I have actively participated in something that could really help someone.I am from the Cayman Islands and over fall break I was at home and had an opportunity to have dinner with the Speaker of the House in Jamaica. He came to Cayman on a tennis tournament trip for people over the age of 40 of which my dad is a member of the team in Cayman. It was at the big dinner where I was able to speak with him. Inevitably talk of politics came up and I found myself interested in a conversation he was having about the desperately poor people in Jamaica. I tend to be pretty shy but I was honestly interested in whether or not the government has have participated in Micro finance. So I mustered up enough courage and asked if he knew if the Jamaican government had ever formally participated in a program like the one on KIVA.com. It ended up being a very interesting conversation. He did say that the government had tried a program similar to it but that there was a high rate of people who would take the money offered by the government to start a business and then they would misuse it and end up defaulting on their loans. He said it was a nice idea in theory but in practice, at least as he had seen it, it wasn’t as feasible as it would seem. I told him about the website and he said he would look at it, who knows if he will. He may have just been humoring me. But it was really a cool experience to have an intelligent conversation with someone about this aspect of peace building and it was interesting to hear about real life situations where it has been implemented regardless of whether of not is was successful.
In light of our gender and violence segment of the course, I decided to go to Loyal Daughters this year. Last year, when Loyal Daughters came to campus, I didn’t think much about going to see it. This year, however, I heard a lot of people talking about it and debating whether or not it had a place on Notre Dame’s campus, and I started to think about our class discussion about feminism. I thought that a lot of people on campus saw Loyal Daughters as a “Feminist” play and were biased against it for that reason. I wanted to see and understand why so many people felt so strongly about it, so I decided to go. When I went to the play, I was blown away. I learned that Loyal Daughters was not necessary an inherently “feminist” play, it was just a play that intended to make the Notre Dame community aware of the many instances of violence which occur on campus and are rarely spoken about. Often, sexual violence is viewed as the fault of the victim, a tragic and horrible allocation of blame, which makes victims unable to talk about their experiences. The play made me aware of how many people endure this violence alone in a school community where their pain is largely ignored. The violence portrayed was both physical and emotional. I realized that if we as a Notre Dame community want to help put a stop to sexual violence, we must be much more vocal about our condemnation of it. We must openly express our support for victims and provide avenues which might aid in their healing. Ending sexual violence must be a community effort, and helping to repair the damage it has wreaked must be as well. Loyal Daughters encouraged me to think extensively about a problem I had not often contemplated before.
So one of my first peace blogs was going bowling with mentally handicapped adults from the Logan Center. I commented on how the people there took joy in the littlest things and never lost their innocence. Professor Myers wrote back to try to do something that would recapture my lost innocents. So I decided to do Crazy Hat Week. The week before the Duke football Game I wore a different crazy hat every day. I started on Monday with a Dr. Suess Irish hat, and it continued with a fidora, a santa hat, a scottish hat with orange hair, a llama hat, and finally a giant foam leperachan hat. I wore the hats to all of my classes, to work, to the dining halls, around my dorm, to the football game, and even to one of my professor's house. It was fun, and many of the people in my classes looked forward to me coming in with a different hat wondering what kind it would be. And they said it brightened their day. I even got a couple people to join me for a day or two. I could tell most people who saw me were a bit confused why someone would be walking down the hall/quad with a mock Scottish hat for apparently no reason. And when I told people about it they often were still confused and asked whether this was an official holiday and was recognized by others or ???. And I told them that it was an event that I created that anyone could paticipate who wanted to. And as I said some did, other just laughed, and interestingly enough some even gave me a hard time about it and said it was one of the stupidest things that they ever heard of, which I find surprising. But I continued to do it, and at times I did feel a bit self-conscious about it. And people in my classes said that it was hard to take me seriously when I was trying to talk philosophy when I was wearing a Dr. Seuss Hat. But I realized that it didn't really matter what others thought of it anyways and that a lot of people enjoyed it. And that sometimes people take things in general to seriously and this was a way to lighten up a bit. So this is my peace blog.
Well, after trying for an entire semester I finally succeeded in not acting angry for an entire week. It was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried in my entire life, and in fact couldn’t have happened without several key sports victories throughout the week. See, every other time I had tried to be not angry for a week, Notre Dame, or the Bills, or the Sabres would go and lose, causing me to get upset and eventually lash out at someone who was bugging me. However, this past week everything worked out. It was my final week of fun before finals so I really wanted to be in a good mood, Notre Dame’s season was over so no matter how terrible they were, it could no longer affect me, the Bills won, and the Sabres were finally looking competent. However, even with all of this going for me it was still pretty hard to remain outwardly in a good mood, when I really still just wanted to yell at people who were bugging me. However, I ignored those urges and remained calm and composed throughout the week. And I must say, my outward goodness slightly affected those around me. I noticed throughout the week, as I made an effort to remain positive and supportive of my friends, instead of throwing out sarcastic remarks, that they too seemed more friendly and positive, and less prone to sarcasm and anger. It would be interesting to see if entire communities could be made more peaceable if a larger number of people consciously tried to be friendly and helpful all day. My final reflection on this is that it’s really kind of sad how much sports affected my mood. I know I could do nothing to change the outcome of any of these games, and yet I had so much invested in the teams, I identified with them so much, that their loss was my loss and so I became miserable. I know I inherited this from my family, and from growing up in Buffalo, where the local sports teams, especially the Bills, were all that the community had, and so came to represent the entire city. I guess this shows just how easily groups of people can become attached to and identify with a seemingly random object, and how much that object can affect the group’s collective psyche and mood.
My dorm had an event a couple weeks ago sponsored by MAV (Men Against Violence). Some representatives came to my dorm and spoke to us about gender issues and sexual violence. This was only a couple days after Loyal Daughters and Sons, and I was particularly open to this type of thing more than i normally would have been. It just further hit home on often the situation of women who have been assaulted and that any of my friends are potential victims too. It really just made me want to protect them, and scared for them. It also talked a lot about the "Tough Guise" of men, and what it means to be a man. I realized that my protecting feeling is part of the qualities that men are meant to have, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is just helpful to be aware of the role we men are meant to play. A lot of the videos that we watched was pretty cheesy, but it had some pretty valid points and brought up important issues in society today. Many men feel that part of the roles of men is to be violent, independent, and often abusive. But we need to address these issues and change the paradigms of guys. Overall I thought the talk was very well done and revealing.
Even more backlogged peace bloggingFriday, November 16This particular Friday, I attended Loyal Daughters and Sons. My immediate reason for going was the fact that one of my guy friends was acting in the performance, but, more importantly, I wanted to go in support of the several girls and women I know who were sexually abused at some point in their life. In addition, I felt it was important to support attempts to raise awareness, including my own, about various forms of sexual violence.I attended the performance with one girls and two guys. It was interesting to note the varied reactions to the performance. Afterwards, one of the guys asked me if I wanted to discuss the play, as he knew that I had found the performance rather thought provoking.As we began to discuss the circumstances surrounding sexual assault at parties, it became clear that we shared differing views on what should and should not be classified legally as rape. It is important to note that he personally does not care for the party atmosphere, as it stands in contrast with many of the values he judges most important. Because of this, he has made the decision not to attend binge drinking parties, etc., and believes that others, if they do not agree with the behaviors going on at certain types parties should make similiar decisions to stay away. Once you are there, he said, it is like stepping onto a highway where everyone else is going 80 mph. Trying to avoid being pulled into things you don't agree with will put you in the position of a pedestrian expecting the cars to stop for them. Its both dangerous and highly unlikely. Furthermore, drinking obscures intentions and makes it harder to judge what the other person wants and does not want. There are plenty of guys who are used to casually sleeping with girls on the weekends, he says, and stepping into an empty bedroom with one of them is a signal that you're alright with that, too. In his opinion, if you want to be respected like you should be, don't put yourself in such a dangerous situation. Personally, I am of the opinion that a drunk girl deserves a hangover, not unwanted sexual contact. Those who take advantage of another person's debilitated state should always be held accountable. Perhaps, I should say that I have also made the decision not to attend binge drinking parties. In my opinion, it is too dangerous a situation to place myself in. However, I believe that regardless of what guys, or girls for that matter, are used to doing at parties, they should not make any assumptions about the other person's intentions.The conversation continued for several hours--certain moments were more peace-promoting than others--and there are many more comments I could make about sexual violence. Overall, however, I will just say that while there are many constructive criticisms I would make about the production, I found Loyal Daughters and Sons thought-provoking and well-done. It certainly raised my awareness about perspectives on sexuality and sexual violence on campus.
Saturday, December 8Christmas on CampusThis past Saturday, I particpated in Christmas on Campus, a Knott Hall Dorm Event organized by Charlie Gardner. Pairs of students were asked to "adopt" an underprivileged child for the afternoon and take them around to various activities stations throughout the Knott Hall first floor. At the end of the event, Santa disrtibuted gifts to the children selected by the pair of students adopting them.My boyfriend and I adopted a fifteen year old deaf girl and went shopping friday to select a gift. We eventually settled on a scarf and hat-- complete with a gift receipt. When Saturday afternoon came, however, Latisha was unable to attend and we found ourselfves childless. Across the room, I spotted three guy friends whose 'adopted' four year old girl seemed rather unwilling to join in the fun. It turned out a suggestion to make paper dolls was all it took to get her involved in the fun.Allie and I hit it off right away. An extremely feminine child myself, I shared her appreciation for pink and purple, princess and ballerina games, as well as an insistence on wearing skirts even in cold winter weather. It turned out that the sight of so many large college guys had simply intimidated her. Together with my guy friends, I was able to get her to open up and enjoy the day. Hot potato, duck duck goose, hide and seek, as well as cookie decorating were all part of the agend.It was one of the best dorm events I've been to yet, and all involved had a wonderful time. I can't think of a better way to get in the Christmas spirit.
For the past couple months now, I have been planning a service event for my dorm called Christmas on Campus. I had an similar event at my high school and I thought that it would also would work for my dorm. So I talked to my dorm president and everything and we made sure that it would be okay and then I was sent forth to plan it. This is what I was planning: I wanted to have around 25-30 kids come to my dorm and have my residents "adopt" them for an afternoon and bring then around to different activities/games that would be set up on the first floor. The residents would buy a gift for the kids and just have fun with them. We would have food for all the participants, and Santa would come at the end. And then the kids would leave and we would have Mass and dinner for the residents afterwards. Well after countless hours of organizing and promoting and recruiting residents (which could have been the hardest part) and decorating and everything else, it finally happened this past Saturday. We had 26 kids from the South Bend Center of the Homeless and Hope Rescue Mission come to my dorm and we had numerous groups "adopt" them. There were numerous times when I doubted whether I could pull it off and have it be successful. And there were points when I had numerous difficulties, including the day of the event. But it somehow came together at the end and was a big success. Everyone had a lot of fun, not only the kids but also the residents and friends and anyone else who came to participate. They went around to different stations such as musical chairs, christmas cookie decorating, snowflake making, tambourine making, christmas coloring, ping pong, hot poatato, bean bags, movie watch, and foosball. It was just a lot of fun all around, and a very big relief. And after stuff got rolling, people started taking ownership in the event and really helped out and just really helped to make the event run smoothly. My rector, after some initial hesitations, was extremely pleased with how the event went. And he wants to make this a new tradition. So it looks like i will be doing this again next year, but i think now that i have done it already and worked out alot of the legistics it will be easier. And i think the enthusiasm of the dorm has really upped and next year it wont be any trouble getting them to do it, considering the success of the event.
After looking at all my past nine (possibly ten...i lost count) peace blogs, I have realized that I have not changed my behavior all that much from the way I think I normally would have. Almost every event I blogged, I realized that i could relate it to the peace blog after I have done it. Now you can take this one of two ways. The first is that I am very lazy and somehow managed to do the least amount of work possible. Or you could take it, as i prefer to, that i just lead an already peaceful life. Most of my blogs have been about actual service activities that i have done. These i consider to be one of the most important fruits of being peaceful. Because they are a tangible way to help one another and have a way to counter all the injustices that go on in the world today. The other ones have been self-reflective, such as going to see Loyal Daughters and friends. I think these also are important because they call awareness to the different injustices going on in hopes that you can change your attitude towards them and in hopes that you do something tangible to fight them. So looking back, I am pretty pleased with all my blogs, even though they weren't necessarily extra for this blog alone. But this blog has also been good to see some of what other people have been doing and to reflect on how I might do something similar. This peace blog has also made me keep an eye out for activities that I could do that would contribute to living a peaceful life. So overall this blog has been helpful for me to reflect on my service activities and caused me to reflect on many issues i might not have thoroughly considered.
This is my environmentally friendly peace blog in response to the waste that I see everyday coming from our block of houses, including knowing the waste I produce each day myself. At home in Chicago, I know we have three recycling bins that go out each week and are completely full! Last week, while I was taking out the trash in the alley in South Bend, I opened up our trash cans (we share 5 cans with our two neighboring houses) and saw a multitude of items simply on the top that should and could have been recycled (cans, plastic bottles, newspaper, etc) – no I did not dig through the garbage. Now, knowing myself and our house’s waste habits, and assuming most of our neighbors have similar waste and consumption patterns, it seems pretty clear to me that we are not doing anything to help out in the environment. However, we could at least be conscious of recycling to stop some of the meaningless waste that occurs on our block.So I decided to take action and call the Waste Management company in South Bend to ask about their Curbside Recycling Program. They told me that to get involved, all we had to do was register our houses and have a house representative for each address. So, I went around our block and talked with our neighbors to see if they would be interested in participating in recycling. All six student houses said they would be interested in doing it, some with more enthusiasm than others. So I got the information I needed and signed us all up. I just went and picked up the bins today and distributed them to our block. The recycling guys pick up every other week in our area on Wednesdays. I’m pretty excited since it is set to pick up this Wednesday. I just hope that everyone participates and we can at least do our little part to help the environment out. I know in the grand scheme of things it is probably quite small, but indeed if everyone had this attitude to recycle I think it would help out a lot, and reverse the negative trends of Americans destroying the environment.
“… And then I found $20!”About a month ago I found $20 on the sidewalk. Two conditions made me feel a little guilty about picking it up. First, I encountered the bill on the way back from Peace Studies class. Second, it was on “God Quad”. I would like to think that were it not for these circumstances I still would’ve felt guilty. Nevertheless, I gathered the twenty and made a promise to myself: I would use the money in some way that God and my fellow Peace Studies students would approve of. I thought about it for about five more minutes on my way back to Walsh. After climbing up three flights of stairs to my dorm room, I tacked it on the bulletin board, where it has remained fallow until tonight. A few hours ago I decided how I was going to spend the money. Every year around Christmas time, Walsh chooses a charity and each resident is expected to contribute five dollars. Girls can either pay out of their own pocket, or earn $5 for doing work for our rectress, Sister Janet. This year Walsh chose to contribute to Heifer International, an organization that purchases livestock for the poor and oppressed in targeted areas throughout the world. I have heard a lot about this aspect of the organization, but I didn’t realize until after research that it does so much more than that. Heifer International has global initiatives in Agroecology, Animal Well-Being, Gender Equity, HIV/AIDS, Microenterprise, Urban Agricultre, and Young People’s Development. Giving money is a really easy way to help out a variety of people across the world. I am very satisfied with spending the $20 on such a worthwhile cause.
Last weekend, a friend of mine organized an event called Christmas on Campus. This event brought children from the homeless shelter and the Hope Rescue Mission to Campus and provided an array of activities for them. I volunteered to sponsor a child to take around for the day. I think one of the things that struck me the most about the event was the hope it gave me for a diverse peaceful world. The children with whom we were working were of varied ages and races. In fact, the twenty or so children who came to the event probably comprised the most racially diverse group I had seen together in a long time. It would be wholly inaccurate to say that all of these children behaved peacefully; rather, what caught my attention was that the children treated each other no less peacefully based on their races. Despite all the many conversations we have had in class about the unlikelihood of achieving peace between races, yet the event inspired me to think that if cooperation starts early enough, it might be a possibility. Furthermore, I was inspired by seeing the forty or so Notre Dame students giving of their time and money to be with these children. Though the event did not specifically take any direct action to promote peace, the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie which pervaded it made me hopeful. Partaking in Christmas on Campus reminded me what a big difference a small group of people can make and how contagious such thoughtfulness can be.
I decided to try another suggestion on the peace blog page. One day, I chose to make a sign to wear around my neck that said "FREE HUGS". I thought this was a pretty funny exercise to do. I wore it on my way to class and I found a lot of people reading the sign and then just laughing or smiling at me. A few random people did take up my offer of a Free Hug, but not nearly as many as I expected.Everyone of my friends gave me big hugs and most of them questioned why I was wearing such a 'ridiculous' sign. I explained that it was for my peace studies class, where we had to perform acts of peace for our blog. They thought that was pretty funny, but a lot of them really respected the idea. I thought that it was cool how many people continued to ask me questions about the class.I also wore the sign in the dining hall and I got quite the response from the workers there. I received at least two hugs from staff members that I didnt know and I know I got a smile from each that I saw. I thought that the best thing about this excersize was how many people ended up smiling or laughing after seeing me. Even if the person did not take me up on my offer, I am at least glad that they could get a smile out of it.
Reflection – Peace Blog 10As I look back on the peace blog, I think that I have really made some positive steps toward creating greater peace in my life and in the lives of others as well. I’ve made long overdue apologies, faced mistakes I’ve made, helped the environment, and realized the everyday peace occurring in my life. If at worst I have become more aware of myself and how I have not created peace in certain situations, I would say that this has been a success. Though I came in sort of skeptical and thinking ‘oh another homework assignment’, I certainly feel that I can take much more from this exercise by continuing to recognize different situations in a peaceful way. I think that I also can make a difference for others, though I know it sounds sort of cheesy. I was really proud of my recycling plan that involved my entire block, and am hoping that it will be a success through the rest of my senior year. I also plan to continue my ‘awareness of anger’ plan on a monthly basis, knowing that it should translate over to the other 3 weeks I am not fully paying conscious attention to it. The blog has been helpful to reflect on my past experiences, become more aware of my current experiences, and plan for future more peacefully experiences. It has allowed me to learn from some mistakes in the past and even given me an extra boost in rectifying those mistakes. Overall, I think it has been a very positive experience from a number of angles.
Well, I got to witness my first finals related meltdown today, and I can’t wait for these to increase in frequency as finals week drags on. It happened a few hours ago, as a freshman next to me was working on a paper. Since it’s the last day of classes, a number of people in my dorm were celebrating with music, beverages, and shouting. Eventually, all of this noise just got to be too much for the freshman, who stormed over to the celebrating room and began pounding and shouting on the door for them to quiet down. Well, of course this caused the upperclassmen to come out and make more noise to bug the freshman, who continued to scream and yell, until he finally realized how futile it all was and moved his stuff to another area to work. At this point, the upperclassmen laughed at his reaction, and went back to celebrating. While fairly entertaining, this little altercation showed a number of interesting things. It was amazing to see how little it took to push a stressed out person over the edge to complete madness. In all honesty, the upperclassmen weren’t even making that much noise, and yet it still sent the freshman into a complete frenzy. If a little something like noise can push a stressed out student over the edge, it’s no wonder that it takes so little to set off those who are oppressed, hungry, or homeless. And unfortunately, unlike in this situation, those poor people have no where else to go, but must remain there growing angrier at the indifference of those with power to their plight. Really, it’s almost amazing that everyone isn’t at each other’s throats all the time, since almost anything can set anyone off. While this little incident was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, it was still interesting to watch as it showed just how easy it is to get into a conflict.
Yesterday I had a unique experience that, even though it is often merited, rarely takes place. Having done something to offend and upset one of my close friends, I had to ask forgiveness in order to 'make peace' in our relationship.Though it didn't feel great at the time, my friend was honest and open enough to tell me that I had offended her. Too often, especially with my male friends, I feel like these (sometimes little / sometimes large) transgressions pass without being articulated. It is assumed that time heals all wounds. However, this sort of approach does not necessarily alert the 'trangressor' of the wrong he or she has committed. In my case, I was lucky to have a good enough friend that would broach this subject in order to help me to overcome my fault.Faced with the realization of my fault, I immediately apologized. And while this helped, I feel that it was more of a reflex than an well-thought out sentiment. I spent a part of the day trying to figure out a better way to make amends. This better way eventually came to me through the idea of baking cookies for my friend, visiting her room, and apologizing again. These actions allowed me time to think about what I'd do differently to prevent this from happening again -- for instance, I had only once visited her room this semester (though she often visited mine). My coming to peace with the situation involved me realizing that I could no longer take her and my other friends for granted.Having undertaken these steps...and, for me, this new approach to apologizing...I found myself more at ease with myself and assured of my friend's forgiveness. I think that our communication, which she initiated, allowed me to recognize areas to improve in my life.
Post a Comment