Recording your attempts at "Being Peace"
Tuesday, December 12Today, I decided to attempt an entire day without getting angry. Even from the moment I woke up, I knew it was going to be a difficult day for this endeavor. At 9am, I went downstairs to the chapel to warm up for my piano lesson. As usual, I had to use the quiet pedal because one of the girls who lives upstairs reacts very non-peacefully to infringements on her quiet. Her inability to work with other people's needs typically makes me rather angry, but, I tried not to let it bother me and simply to focus on correcting my playing mistakes.As I made my way to the lesson, I temporarily bemoaned the fact that I had forgotten an unmbrella, but, hey, its a short walk, right? Once there, my piano teacher, as usual was not pleased with the results of my practicing but I was careful not to respond to her annoyed explanation of the difference between tempo and rhythm with annoyance of my own.Although, I have to admit by the time the lesson finished, I was not feeling rather peaceful. So, I decided to take a nap and hoped some rest would cheer me. Over the next few hours, I faced the challenges of oversleeping for lunch, listening to complaints from a friend about being soo tired, and remaining enthused throughout yet another class on the Gospels' themes, a topic I have learned almost every single year for the past thirteen years. When a friend who had skipped the last two classes told me he'd really need to study with me for the test, I was frustrated. The bad news is that, as you may be able to tell from my tone, for whatever reason, everything seemed to be bothering me on my supposedly free of anger day. The good news is that I was able to find ways to channel this classic case of "waking up on the wrong side of the bed." I told the friend who needed my theology notes that I'd be happy to lend him mine-- after he went to the review. Rather than attempt another nap, I went to a Christmas mass (I thought some prayer might help) and dinner (it was time to make up for missing lunch) where I did my best to be cheerful. When thoughts of a drawn out hall council meeting followed by paper writing threatened to throw me of course, I called my family and tried not to let the poor cell phone service and dead cell phone battery bother me.To finish the night off, my roommates and I watched Little Women while I did some finals review. This feel-good Christmas movie was what I need to pick up my spirits. Overall, yesterday's experience showed me that sometimes its alright to wake up in an unfortunate mood. The important thing is not let this mood dictate how you respond to all the little bumps that inevitably pop up throughout the day.
Ok, so I'm cramming in my peace blogs because I'm a horrible procrastinator. One tiny thing that I did for peace was sport the Gay Fine? By Me t-shirt on home football game Fridays. If I was wearing a fleece because it was chilly outside I would unzip it as I walked by alumni or people touring the school. This was a very small thing to do, but I think it was really important. Walking around Notre Dame you don't get an "activist campus" feel, but there are several students on campus who feel strongly about a variety of issues. I think its important to show alumni and visitors that there are issues that students care about that aren't included in the stereotypical Notre Dame student image.
A few weeks ago, the Cavanaugh Chaos won the inter-hall championship football game! Go Chaos! That night we had a party to celebrate our victory. Needless to say, everyone drank a little bit too much...ok more than a little...a LOT. Everyone was emotionally charged up because Cavanaugh is serious about their football, and we'd just won! It was fabulous. Towards the end of the night, two of my roommates got in a bit of a fight. My one roommate for some reason hit my other roommate (the one who hit the other one is a boxer...coincidence...I think not). Its pretty normal when she gets drunk for her to give people friendly punches. Its not a big deal. My other roommate, the one who got punched, was really drunk though and retaliated by slapping the punching roommate. Somehow this little incident had gotten way out of control. I decided that I better intervene before one of them got hurt. So I step in the middle and tell them to stop hitting each other. The boxer stopped, but was laughing at my other roommate, provoking her by ridiculing her. The slapping roommate slapped the boxer a few more times until I was finally able to talk some sense into these drunkards. It was actually pretty funny in the moment because they were both too drunk to think even somewhat clearly. THe next day we all laughed about it. The boxer defends that the other one kept coming at her unprovoked, but I tell her that she was the one who threw the first punch and mocked the other roommate. The slapping roommate said to me, "It's not too coincidental that the Peace Studies student broke up the fight." It was nice that she identifies me with peace, and hopefully this is a small indicator of how I live my life. This little fight really showed me how easy it is for things to get out of control, especially if alcohol is involved. People aren't thinking clearly in the first place, and then they let their emotions take over their thinking.
Not completely due to the fact that I have to catch up on my peace blogs, I am going to do something unusual as a "relaxation technique" that hopefully will help calm me down in those moments when I feel like yanking my hair out. Maybe, by sharing it, it may help others out too. First, in the morning, before I start into a long round of studying at the library or any other place, I will enter a blog into this Peace Blog. Second, during moments when I feel stress, besides getting up and "walking it out," and taking deep relaxing breaths, I will read Peace blogs for 5 minutes. I will admit that only on rare occasions have I read other people's blogs, but by doing so prior to writing this blog, I realized that I feel better and can now proceed into continuing the trek to complete my Peace Studies Paper. So instead of distracting myself by needlessly browsing the web, checking my fantasy football league and tinkering with my roster, I will "knock down two birds with one stone" by engaging in my new stress-relieving technique. If you happen to read this, I invite you to do the same, as it is truly amazing how far reading other people's random acts of kindness and other peaceful endeavors takes you in terms of relaxing, especailly in times such as now when everybody is definitely stressed out.
Another procrastinator!Well, it is just so easy to get caught up in this Notre Dame bubble, especially when reach that point after Thanksgiving break when school turns into something ridiculously stressful; with projects, papers, appointments, extracurriculars, it is almost impossible for me to find time out of my busy schedule to go out of my way and do something for someone else. The week after Thanksgiving break, I found myself particularly busy, with presentations and papers due, and with an especially difficult week of training for track. After one of my hard workouts on the track, I made my way to the bathroom and ran into my little brother, who is a freshman on campus (also on the track team). I had seen him all Thanksgiving break, but hadn't had a chance to really talk to him since we had gotten back on campus. Within the few minutes that we chatted, I learned that he was having a particularly stressful week too. He had had two out of three tests, and also a big paper to write. Yikes. He looked just about as tired as I did-all we could really do was laugh-and we both went our separate ways for the time being (its weird how your relationship changes when you go to college with one of your younger siblings, but I won't get into that). It wasn't anything extravagant, but that night, I decided to pay my brother a little visit at his dorm -- I brought him a dairy queen blizzard and a card, telling him how proud I am of him and to just keep on keeping on. I know that my little brother looks up to me, just as I do to him, so I think it meant a lot to him for me to do a little something for him, especially when he was under so much stress. It may have taken an hour out of my own schedule, but I did alright. I think if more people made the effort to do things like that the world would be a much happier place. I don't mean to be cliche, really, but it was awesome doing that for my brother. It made my night just as much as it did his.
Loyal Daughters and SonsThis is going to be long and hard peace blog to write. It's not going to have one coherent theme either. I have too many emotions and opinions related to the play. I just went back and read all the peace blogs that referenced Loyal Daughters and Sons. It was great to hear everyone's reactions, because although I do get feedback about the play, there are many reactions that I don't have access to. The play has many goals, and generating discussion is one of them, so if that's all it does, that is a small success. I say small success because if all people ever do is talk about sexual violence, nothing will happen. We HAVE to be proactive to create social change. Talking is not enough. It is a good start, but it is not enough. Many people critique the play, saying "I don't agree with all of it." Neither do I. That does not matter. The play is not asking the audience to agree with all the skits- that wouldn't be impossible- they contradict each other at times. Because we don't agree with a perspective does not mean that that perspective deserves to be silenced. Loyal Daughters and Sons is about giving a voice to people and positions that are silenced. We aren't saying we agree with anyone, we are saying that we hear them. We cannot achieve peace, whether it be structural, between people or within people, if we do not recognize and consider the various perspectives. My own personal experience with sexual violence is an example of that. I was very angry for a long time about my best friend’s rape. I had no idea how to handle that anger, because I refused to acknowledge all the sources of the anger- all the perspectives. I wasn’t only angry at God. I wasn’t only angry at men. I wasn’t only angry at the rapist. I was angry at her for putting herself in a compromising situation. And THAT was something that I would not own up to. I couldn’t let myself be angry with her. Being angry with her compromised everything I believed in and worked for relating to sexual violence. I was one of “them.” I was one of the people whose thick skulls I was trying to get the concept “it is never a victim’s fault” through to. I was such a hypocrite! So I suppressed my anger and judgment towards her for a year and a half. It didn’t go away, though. But then, I started writing Loyal Daughters and Sons. I knew that I had to fess up. I had to own that judgment and anger. I had to acknowledge that “other” perspective. The perspective I didn’t want to have, much less agree with. So, I wrote a monologue about it. It was really, really hard to air that dirty laundry. I did it though. I had to. When I heard that skit rehearsed over and over again it stung. It stung every time. But…I started to change. I stopped identifying with those words. They weren’t my words anymore. Someone else was speaking them, and that person wasn’t me- literally or figuratively. By acknowledging the hated perspective and owning up to it, I was able to move past it. Opening night rolled around and that shame came back with full force. My words weren’t safe with the actress and the directors anymore; they were going to be shared with whoever came to the show, they were going to be shared with my best friend. My best friend flew out with her mother and my parents to see opening night. I was terrified. She knew that the reason I was involved in this issue at all was because of her, but I was scared of her reaction to “my” monologue. It went well though. We cried, she thanked me, her mother thanked me, and hopefully she has begun to deal with her own pain and shame. I really don’t think that healing can begin until we acknowledge the source of the pain, though. When we accept ourselves in our full, hypocritical, contradictory, sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful self, we heal. I know I did. I am no longer that blaming, judgmental person. I have the anonymity of theater (although I’m not so anonymous anymore) and Loyal Daughters and Sons to thank for that. I was able to find some inner peace.I sincerely believe that Loyal Daughters and Sons can do on a structural level what it did for me on the personal level. As a campus we have a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. We all judge other perspectives, judging some to be “correct” and others to be “incorrect”. But it is those “other” perspectives that make the world a rich and diverse place. When we acknowledge those perspectives and give them space, we give ourselves the opportunity to understand why members of our community have those perspectives and how we can all work to address the issues that lie underneath those perspectives. I hope that Loyal Daughters and Sons has brought peace, in all its forms, to this campus.
This one also has a slight connection to my brother, but only distantly. In high school, we were both taught by the same head coach, a man which both my brother and I have kept in contact with throughout the years. Coach Zeitler has two sons and a daughter; his youngest son, PD, used to go to my high school but later transferred to an alternate school close-by. PD and I were always really close because he was a hurdler too and we would always be practicing together and usually continue our practices at the pizza parlor down the street from campus. PD and I kind of lost contact after I began college at ND and he stayed around southern california at a community college. We will talk every once in a while but it basically consists of small talk; he decided to join the marines a few years ago and he really found his niche with those guys. He was based at different locations throughout the last couple of months, but I recently learned from my mom, who learned from his dad, that PD is in Iraq. I was absolutely appalled when I heard, and couldn't stop thinking about him. I sent him a facebook message asking how he was, etc. (he replied-even in iraq!) Talking to him made me a little more comfortable with his situation, but I was and am still worried about PD. How strange that one of my close friends in high school is serving our country in the war. I know it wasn't necessary to send a message like that, I'm sure he has gotten hundreds, but I told him that I hoped he was doing well, I thanked him for being so brave, told him I missed him, and to hurry home. He sent a short message back (I definitely would have liked to know more but I understand that he is preoccupied with bigger things) and I felt better.My brother and I were coming back from Legends the other night after watching some friends perform, and Kary asked if I could drop him back on campus--I agreed and was surprised when the gateguard let us in. Pulling out of the Zahm parking lot, I was pretty tired and ready to go to bed, but I turned left and into the grotto parking lot. I lit a candle for PD that night and said a prayer that he stay safe while overseas. This, just like messaging PD, made me feel a lot better about it, even though I still can't stop thinking about how he is doing, if he is coming home soon, and if he is staying safe. These are small things that I've done for PD (and I guess for my own sanity, too) that have hopefully put a smile on his face or a little more spring in his step.
I know that I've finished my peace blogs, but I've still been keeping up with everyone else's and this is something I need to write. This is a bit long, but it's very interesting and insightful.This is in response to Sarah V's last post about Loyal Sons and Daughters:Thank you, Sarah. As amazing as some of the other skits, monologues, and dance numbers were that night, yours meant the most to me by far because it hit VERY close to home. You pinpointed exactly what I was feeling even though I had never had the courage to figure it out on my own.Someone very close to me was raped a while back, someone very, very close to me. When she first told me three years ago, I was stunned. I didn't expect it at all. Then I became curious. I wanted to know how it happened, why it happened. And already, five minutes into the conversation, for as mad as I was at the rapist, I had already blamed the victim. I wanted to know what she did to put herself in that position, how she had turned herself into a victim. I needed to know. I didn't really realize why then, and I still didn't until your skit became a mirror of my own soul. You revealed to me what I had never realized.Of course, I was angry at the rapist and distressed by what had happened. But for some reason, I was also angry at her, annoyed with her, as if it had somehow been her fault that she had been raped. Obviously, the guy was a jerk. He used someone I love very dearly, but I still felt deep down that she must have done something to set herself up. So I asked questions...but could find no relief. She had not been drunk. She was not "easy" at all. She was smart, modest, conservative, kind. If she had any fault at all, it was that she had put too much faith in the basic decency of other people. And she had been let down.The guy who raped her wasn’t a stranger. He was her boyfriend and had been for some time. During the holiday season, he invited her up to meet his parents in New York and she accepted. He said they would be staying at his parents' place in separate rooms, and being a Catholic young woman, she thought this sounded like a great idea. Well, to be brief, he tricked her. Instead of taking her to his parents’ house, he pulled up to his friend's empty apartment, and she, being completely unsuspecting, followed him up. And he raped her that night. She protested, but he was much larger and stronger than she was and he overpowered her. Someone I love very much was raped by a guy she really liked. And yet, as much as I hate that guy for doing what he did, I still harbored some resentment against her for what happened.And it wasn't until I saw Sarah's monologue that I realized why. Secretly, deep down, I was angry with her because I realized that if I let go of that anger, I would have to admit to myself that what happened to her could just as easily have happened to me. And that was a VERY scary thing to admit. I have always been very independent, very self-confident, very much “in charge.” I have always believed that I had the power to control my life, to decide what I would experience and what I would not. I had always staunchly believed that I would never allow myself to become a victim of rape; I refused, absolutely refused, to be a statistic. After every terrible story I heard, I told myself “I’ll be smarter than that; I’ll never let myself get that drunk; I’ll never let my guard down like she did.” But Sarah’s monologye made me realize that no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we prepare for the worst, sometimes the worst just comes and hits us from behind anyway. I realized that I cannot blame the victim; it is way too easy to blame the victim. Blaming the victim is an escape from reality; it’s a cop-out, an instinct driven by fear to protect ourselves from the realities of a harsh, unfair, and often unforgiving world. I realize now that I cannot hide behind my fears, behind my naïve misconceptions and my façade of invincibility. It’s time to face the world, in all of its harshness, in all of its truth, even those particular truths I am often unwilling to admit. So thank you, Sarah, for opening my eyes and making me realize that my anger was only a front for my fear.
Anybody reading this week's peace blogs is going to get my whole life story! Here's my go at another really personal peace blog. What am I thinking?! So this peace blog is actually about how I wasn't peaceful. I was actually very far from being peaceful. I turned 21 last week (wahoo!) and went to Fever with my roommates and neighbors that Thursday. I definitely got drunk, but wasn't falling all over the place. I was drunk enough to be irrational though, and here lies the problem. As we were leaving, my two neighbors and I were standing outside waiting for everyone to get their coats. One of my neighbors wandered away, so it was just me and the other neighbor standing there. He is from Trinidad and has a very nice set of dreadlocks. All of a sudden this guy in a parked car starts shouting, "dreads is getting pussy, dreads is getting pussy" over and over. So... needless to say, I have a HUGE problem with this. It's not only racist, but sexist too- two things I have little tolerance for. So, in typical non-peace style, I flip him off. Bad move. He continues on shouting "dreads is getting pussy, dreads is getting pussy." My other neighbor, the one who had walked away, yells something to him which provokes him to get out of the car. Bad move. So then he starts walking towards my neighbor flexing his muscles. I stand in the middle and kind of push him back and tell him to get back in his car. More "fighting words" are spoken, and then the driver of the car gets out...with a bud light in his hand. Drunk driving...something else I have NO tolerance for. So, since I was in a very non-peaceful mood, I meet his walk towards us, grab the bottle out of his hand and throw it on the ground saying (ok...yelling) "Why don't you go and endanger a few MORE lives with your drunk driving." My roommate is out of the club by this time and grabs the collar of one of the guys shirts and pushes him back towards his car. It's quite a-typical that it was two women who were actually physically "fighting" these guys, rather than the guys. Anyways, so the guys get back in their car, I yell a few more things about drunk driving at them, they drive away, and we catch a cab home. When we get back to our apartment, my roommate who is from Trinidad was pretty mad at how his roommate, the only guy to provoke the other guys, handled the situation. He said that you can't act like that back in Trinidad, you never know when someone is going to pull out a knife or a gun. No one was hurt, no punches or slaps were thrown, but still, we had been very irresponsible. The next day I thought a lot about why I'd been so angry. Drinking does not normally make me so emotional, so I figured it wasn't just that. I realized, that two seconds before we saw those guys, when we were walking out of Fever, I saw the football player who raped the woman in the bathroom of the library. Some friends of mine had heard the story and I heard who it was (sort of against my will...I wish I didn't know who he was). Anyways, every time I see him I can feel my body tense up with anger. This time was no different. Seeing him made me much less likely to blow of the racist and sexist remarks made the guy in the car. Then, when his driver stepped out with a beer I REALLY lost it. Drunk driving has hit my family hard. I thought I'd be ok telling some details so anyone reading this would understand why I was so upset, but...I was mistaken. The point is that I have some very strong emotions relating to drunk driving. This whole experience was really enlightening to me. I am normally a peaceful person, I don't provoke fights, and am good about handling disagreements in a peaceful manner. THis time I completely lost it. There were 3 prior events that made it very difficult for me to keep my cool a. I had liquid courage b. I'd just seen a man who'd gotten away with raping a woman in the bathroom of the library and who could have very well been going home with a woman and c. drunk driving has had some seriously negative effects on my family. It is really easy for me to look at the world and think "if people would just step back and look at this logically, they would see that both sides of the story are right, and both are wrong, and if we acknowledge that we can come to a peaceful and beneficial solution for all." I still believe this to a large extent, but I also know that people have VERY strong emotions tied to certain events. I don't want to say it obscures their judgment, because I think passion is a wonderful thing, but I think at times we aren't good about directing that passion in peaceful ways. Luckily for me, the situation ended without any serious repercussions. People aren't always that lucky. I did definitely gain a deeper understanding of the internal dimensions to conflict, though!
This week, I have so much to do and so little time. As a result, I am more easily irritated and angered than normal. So for ninth and final active peace blog, I decided to see what things I could do to reduce the stress that I am feeling in order to improve the quality of life for the people around me.In searching for a few ways to relax, I found many different suggestions. Some of the suggestions were things that come from within me, others involved yoga and different meditation techniques. I decided to do something to relax myself with visualization techniques. Normally, I don't have time to relax. I convince myself that I have to do this, this and this, then sleep, then wake up, then do this, that, and that other thing. Honestly, I stress myself out more than anyone I have ever met. I consume myself with stress and become irritated with other people so easily. When I have a lot on my mind, or a lot of things that need to be done, I have a quick temper. Deciding to use visualization to relax, well..let's just say that this is a challenge for me. I researched different visualization techniques and found this:Visualization. In this technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Try to use as many senses as you can, including smells, sights, sounds and textures. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the warmth of the sun, the sound of crashing waves, the feel of the grains of sand and the smell of salt water. You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot and loosen any tight clothing.Well, I decided that it is finally time to reduce my stress and use my imagination. I gave myself 15 minutes to relax, while keeping in mind that this is for my well being as well as for my roommate's and friends' well being. I closed my eyes and I cleared my mind. I began to think about the simpler times, family vacations, laughing, playing at the beach, running around as a little kid. I found myself smiling, reflecting on the past--something that I rarely do these days. I shifted my thoughts of the past into an image of myself sitting at the lake where I always went as a little kid. I sat on the dock, looking out at the water. The water was calm and there were very few people outside. I could feel the early morning sun warming my face as I dangled my feet into the water. The water was freezing, but I could not resist splashing my feet around in it. I could smell the lake air, feel a gentle breeze, and I could hear some laughter off in the distance. My mind continued to drift as I quickly realized that the lake was the place where I felt most at ease. I opened my eyes, and immediately felt a sense of calm. Something that I have not experienced since the last carefree summer. I looked at the clock, and 30 minutes had passed. Honestly, my mind was clear. I knew that I had a lot to do, but I felt that it would get done eventually no matter what.Looking back on it, I wondered how I had let this opportunity slip by me so many times. Stress is not only harmful to others around you, it can damage health. I finally relaxed and I know that I will continue to do this throughout the rest of finals week.For everyone else out there who is stressing, take at least 15 minutes, close your eyes, and realize that stress you are feeling is only hurting you. Good luck on exams everyone! Visualization really works :)Try it!!
This past Sunday, I debated whether to leave my beautiful homework alone for two hours and go on a service trip with one of my on campus group affiliations. As I looked out my window, the rain and snow had me convinced that leaving my down was not a sane option. But once I realized I need LOTS more peace blogs, I decided to brace the cold. I was happy to find a good turnout from the rest of the people in our group and a pretty cheery attitude. But regardless, we were going to a nursing home. Due to my poor experience with nursing homes as a child and the fact that from the time I knew my grandmother's they were always sick, I try my best to avoid nursing homes and old people. Walking into the place I just felt a queasy feeling. I thought, this is going to be an awkward attempt to talk to a bunch of people who can't hear me, don't want me around and are going to constantly remind me of how painful dying is.Thankfully, my attitude changed. What my group of people who were overjoyed to see us. And unlike, my other experiences with old people they were extremely alert and eager to hear about our life stories. One lady stands out particularly in my mind, a woman in Belgium but fled to the U.S. for safety. When I asked her to describe Belgium to me she told me that all she knows of Belgium now is the graves that she tries to visit.I can be an asshole sometimes. It was really such a great experience that opened my eyes to my ignorance.
Final Entry:Looking back on all of the different things that I have done with the peace blog is incredible. I have always dreamed of taking action and making a small difference in the world everyday, but my time constraints usually do not permit this--or at least I think that they do not. The Peace blog has showed me that no matter how busy I am, there is always time to help out others and live peace. Little things truly do make a difference. In my first peace blog entry, I helped out some freshman struggling with their rooming situation. I have seen first-hand that my intervention truly made a difference for them. The three of them are living together and actually getting along!My other peace blog activities included writing a letter to an old friend and letting go of my anger I felt for her. I have also learned relaxation techniques, worked in a soup kitchen, avoided violence for a day, avoided getting angry for a week, and not producing any trash for an entire day.All of these different activities have helped me see that I can make a difference in the lives of other people in small ways. I read the article written about peace blog yesterday and I could not agree more with what the people interviewed for the article had to say. Peace blog has allowed me to take action, just as I have always wanted. It has helped me realize that there is always time to create peace in the world and help other people. I will continue to visit the peace blog in the future and if I am not too busy, I hope to continue to post different entries about the things that I will do to promote peace. My 10 entries are done, but the peace blog will live on in all of us. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to participate in the peace blog. I really hope that others outside of our class will get involved so that they too can see the impact that the peace blog can have in their lives. Merry Christmas everyone!
I have to admit, in the first week of classes when Prof Myers told us that we would have to write entries in a “peace” blog about what we did to promote peace, I was a little skeptical. It seemed almost like a waste of time, and I thought that I would end up scraping things to do at the very last minute. That actually was not the case.Having to sit and think of what I could do to promote peace, or to “be” peace, actually made me reflect on my life as a whole. Through the various acts of service, signs of solidarity, and personal reflections I wrote about over the course of the semester, I learned a lot about the kind of person I want to be. In another business class, I had to write a ‘career plan’ for a resume/website. I had a panic attack, thinking I was headed to work at a Fortune 500 company eighty hours a week. But this class was a constant reminder that there are other things that I can pursue, even as a finance major. I applied to study abroad in Uganda to learn more about international peacemaking, NGOs, and conflict resolution. I have decided that is the direction in which I want to take my life. Because of this project, I began looking for ways to volunteer, etc. I got involved with Take Ten, and the service seminars in the CSC. I am even leading an Urban Plunge service seminar over Christmas break. I have started to be more proactive in my political beliefs by writing letters, learning more, and even giving microloans through Kiva (a blog I never even got around to writing). This experiment, if nothing else, taught me to take action. The peace blog is by no means a waste of time. I think that it is a great pedagogical tool that forces students to make real life connections between their classwork and life outside the classroom. Making those real world connections is how we college students really learn. I know I will continue to take action in my life and live out peace. This blog was just the first thing that pushed me to do so .
For this peace blog, I went with my Operation Smile Club to the Robinson Center. As a member in Operation Smile, we primarily do fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for our cause. However, since we had just finished our biggest fundraiser of the year, we decided that it would be nice to change things up a bit and do some sort of a Christmas project, and someone suggested having a Christmas party at the Robinson Center. I had actually never been to the Robinson Center before, so this was a new experience for me. There were supposed to be about 10-15 kids who would be attending our party, and I was expecting them to be very young, around the age of six. We had planned a few activities, including decorating ornaments, creating your own Christmas cookies, paper games, etc. When we got to the Center, I was slightly shocked to see that not only were all of the kids above the age of 6, some of them were even 12-13 years old! I was worried that they would think our activities were too childish and would be reluctant to participate. However, my fears were in vain, because the kids didn't seem to mind doing any of our activities. Although the ornament making proved to be more difficult when we had thought, the kids still participated. Cookie making was a big hit, and some of the kids went all out trying to design the best cookie. The kids were fun, and I enjoyed myself. But, the experience was not all happy go-lucky. One thing that really bothered me during this time was that some of the kids were slightly standoffish and didn't really want to talk. Two girls kept mindlessly arguing while making the cookies, and other kids kept engaging in small arguments of their own. This made me feel sad because I started to wonder what kind of environment those kids were used to being in. I didn't know if they were scared or felt uncomfortable to talk to me, and felt like they should put on some kind of a front. I wasn't too worried about the arguing because kids (and adults too) often argue over silly things. However, some of the things they said were really rude, and I was wondering where they had learnt such things. Another thing that really bothered me was that when one mother came to pick up her child, I heard this mother yelling at her daughter and say something about how she was going to really whip her if she didn't cooperate. I was appalled, especially since my parents never used any kind of violence to reprimand me. Overall, this whole experience made me think about my life and how different it would have been had I been raised in a different environment with a different family. I am fortunate to have an amazing family, and I am very thankful for it. However, I can't help but think how much young children are influenced by their parents and peers. Had I not had such great examples growing up, I would be a different person. I really felt bad for many of these kids because they had so many good qualities; they just needed better role models. After this experience at the Robinson Center, I really want to go back there next semester, and try to help and become friends with some of those kids. I figure if I was lucky enough to be blessed with good role models, I should try to be one myself.
Yesterday I attempted to do what appears to be a popular Peace Blog entry, trying not to generate any waste for a day. Well, I did not entirely accomplish my goal, but it is something I should try more, and try to make habitual. I got off to a good start with my morning shower. I actually turned the water off when not washing soap off. I surely lost comfort and refreshment of my morning shower, standing there shivering as I shaved, but it saved a bit of water that would have otherwise not been utilized. The next waste saving application I did was turning off the TV and the lights in my room when I left to go the library. usually the TV stays on all day, because my roommate and I are always coming in and out, but again, convenience comes second to only taking what is useful. I failed for the first time as lunch. I made my self a sandwich, and did not really feel as hungry as I thought I was and ended up only eating half. I realized as I was walking out of the dining hall that today was my waste-free day. I find it difficult with so many of these "day-long" commitments for the Peace Blog to keep my commitment on my mind for the whole day. Once I get into my usual routine, my commitment falls out of the forefront of my mind. Other waste-free activities I did was turning off my computer when I wasn't using it, using hand dryers rather than paper towels in bathrooms, and filling up a plastic water bottle rather than the disposable cups I usually sip out of. Overall, the commitment to waste-free living had a large impact on my day, despite me failing numerous times. It will certainly take a few more solid commitment for me to turn these waste-free activities into habits.
One peaceful thing I did yesterday was a bit of non-violent protest against the decisions of my parents. My little brother is desperately coveting a car as he is a new driver. Since I had got to use my uncle's old car in high school, it is only fair in the family that my brother gets to have a car for his high school years as well. The issue is, my parents were planning on purchasing my little brother an SUV. Normally I don't infringe upon the purchasing habits of my parents, because really, I don't have any right to say what they do with their money. I have benefited quite a bit from their funding every activities and everything I have in my life. It seems quite presumptuous of me to tell them what to buy. I simply pointed out, though, that we have the money to buy a wide range of different vehicles, we should buy the most energy efficient of vehicles. Over-reliance on foreign oil is one of the biggest problems in America today, and the only way to begin to change that is with personal habits. Of course, I got jeers from my little brother about being "so college" now that I am concerned about causes like energy efficiency, but I think I got my point across. I do not know what my parents have decided to buy, but I hope that my insight had some impact on their decisions. Because the way I see it, of the many attributes of the desireability of a car...its appearance, its speed, its safety, its presitge, and its energy efficiency, safety and gas milage are of primary importance. A Toyota hybrid is no unsafe car, and looks to me like the only choice.
While researching for my end term paper I came across this really interesting quote that I wanted to share with everyone. "The fluidity of peace means that it can have no endpoint." Shortly following this the reading went on to say that "peace is a practice rather than a commodity." I think that both of these together really culminate a lot about what we are talking about in this class.Peace as a concept seems easy enough but putting the idea into practice proves to be extremely difficult. I think that any small step in the direction of peace can be seen as a victory as long as one keeps in mind that the fight towards total peace is not yet over.I think that it is also extremely important to keep in mind that the idea of peace does not mean that you sit back and do nothing, but rather active steps must be taken to move towards peaceful resolutions. I like the idea that peace is a fluid practice because it makes me believe that any little thing, such as the actions performed for these peace blogs, can really make a small difference in moving the whole world to a more peaceful end. Another thing that I noticed while I am proposing my policy for continuation of peace that it is a very hard thing to do. I know what I want the end to look like but It is very hard to get there in a completely peaceful manner taking into account all the wishes of nations.Anyways, back to the end of the paper!
Well, I tried a meditation exercise today, and it actually worked. I was freaking out because of the amount of work I have due Saturday, including the paper for this class, so I figured ‘what the heck, I’ve got nothing to lose at this point’. So, I climbed up in my bed, put on some classical music and just kind of sat there and cleared my mind. It felt like I was only doing it for like 5 minutes, but when I finally stopped, 30 had passed by. And the amazing thing was, it actually calmed me down. I felt more focused and relaxed the rest of the day. Now, granted, I may have just taken a 30 minute nap, I’m not sure, but regardless, this meditation exercise worked. Even if it was just a nap, it shows that taking a little bit of time to relax can help you relax and bring everything into focus.
Today I tried not to stress out to much, It was a little difficult, but I managed to take a deap breath every now and then and enjoy the day. I decided to try to see if i smiled at people through passing if they would smile back. It was quite interesting to see how many people though they must have been very stressed out also, made the effort to smile back. This made me feel a little happier and hopefully it also made some elses day better also.island gurl
Every weekend that we have a football game the entire student population feels like it is getting ready for battle. In a sense we may well be, we are fighting for respect, for victory, we become the fighting Irish. It really can create an atmosphere something like that of a mob amongst the supporters, especially in the student section of the stadium. We sheer for our team and we try to distract the other team and pray that they won’t make any more first downs. If you are or were a student of Notre Dame the kill cheer won’t be anything new or surprising. We make a chopping motion with out fists as we chant one of the most common of our cheers. We chant one simple word kill…..kill…..kill. This has become so common place and most of never really think about what it is that we are saying. In our religious University at a sporting event we are perpetuating a sentiment that is completely violent in nature. Since being a freshman I have participated in this common chant, getting caught up in the commonality of the whole experience of a Notre Dame Football game. But at some point during my sophomore year I was sitting near a small group of students who had obviously thought about what we were professing and decided that they couldn’t agree. Instead of brandishing their closed fists at the members of the other team they displayed a peace sign, and instead of chanting kill they quietly chanted the word peace.That really struck me that day. From that point on I have never truly been able to commit to the kill cheer. I usually will wave my fist at the other team but I can no longer bring myself to chant. I could never really explain this to my friends because I know they would simply look at me as I had lost my mind or they would say that I was taking the whole thing a little too seriously. But am I? I mean what does it mean to be committed to peace if you aren’t in every aspect, even sporting events?So for the game of the Navy and Air Force games I decided that I would try to be brave and face the criticisms of my friends and do the peace chant any time the rest of the student body did the kill chant. I really thought this was an appropriate sentiment to display at a game made up of people who may one day face people who will truly want to end their lives. So there I was amid a very committed and loyal group of ND football fans quietly doing my thing. Some people looked at me like I had just let the entire team down; it was a really alienating feeling actually. But I after the first game I explained what I was doing to a few of my friends and they didn’t necessarily join in but they made me feel like I was doing something more acceptable than the first time I did it. I didn’t feel quite so alienated and it gave me the strength to chant just that little bit louder.
Something that I have always noticed about creating peace is that it is definitely a learned practice. There are people who are more naturally peaceful but they also have to learn how to apply that to life and different circumstances in an effective way.I come from a large family. My father is the oldest of ten children and almost all of my aunts and uncles have children of their own. There are about 23 grandchildren and we are all like brothers and sisters. We all fight and make up and play, just like other brothers and sisters. One thing that I am really grateful for is that while growing up my mother always had a single rule when it came to arguments and coming to physical blows. She always said no matter what the provocation “the minute you hit, you are wrong!” and no matter how unfair I thought it might have been at the time it really has affected the person that I have become. And it was the best way to teach us how truly wrong it was to become physically violent with one another. We had to work out our problems with words.While I was at my aunt’s house in Texas for thanksgiving, I found myself dealing with two 12 year boys in an argument. They eventually got so mad over whatever they were fighting over that shoving and poking and all of those displays of little boy’s aggression started coming out. And to my shock and surprise those words that my mom said to me so many times came sliding off my tongue, “if you hit, you are wrong.” The two of them looked at me like I assume I looked at my mother and then went back to arguing. But they knew where I stood and as far as I know they didn’t get physically violent with each other.
Okay so I have never really participated in a blog. When we first received this assignment I was really apprehensive. I was worried that by writing this blog I would somehow seem like I was boasting about the good things that I do and trying to make myself seem like maybe a better person than I am. I knew that this wasn’t the case but I have always been a pretty guarded person in terms of my thoughts and feelings and who I shared them with. So when Prof Myers offered the opportunity to use a nickname I really thought that I would jump at the opportunity. But after thinking about it some more it a strange thing popped into my mind. The saying that “the only thing that evil needs to conquer is for good people to sit back and do nothing” came to mind. I would be participating in the activities of course but I it occurred to me that things seem more real when you put an action together with a person’s face. These are just good things that people out in the world are doing at anonymous times and places, but when you know the name and face of the person who did it then suddenly it seems more real. So with this odd, roundabout logic I decided to use my real name.It was really difficult to consistently come up with things to do every week at first and even harder to bring myself to publish my actions. It was an odd sensation to know that my thoughts would be out there in front of anyone who found the website and even stranger to know that the other people in the class would know and I would have to face them every class. I guess in a way I was afraid of being judged. Of course that was a ridiculous idea, everyone else was doing the exact same thing that I was and that eventually made me feel better about the situation. The really interesting thing about having to actually write about the things that I was doing week to week and knowing that other people would be reading about it was that it made me think more deeply about what to do and how I felt about doing it. I was able to feel good about the good thing that I did but I also then had to internalize the situation and had to understand in a deeper way how that related to peace and the kind of impact that it could make.Overall it was an interesting experience. I have really enjoyed reading other people’s blogs and I have enjoyed having to continually address the issue of peace in my daily life. It really was a valuable chance to learn about myself and how things affect me and how I perceive how I affect others.
As a whole the peace blog experience has been excellent. For me the hardest part was finding a way to actually do something peace blog-worthy. It seems that many of the ideas I had were service ideas that thought about peace but didn’t actually do anything to further that peace. However, having the peace blog as something that I had to do for a class game me a reason to spend more time thinking up ideas. For example, one of the peace blog activities I did was participate in a war protest. Without the assignment of peace blog I probably would have seen the war protest signs been a little bit intrigued but never actually acted on it. Similarly, I would have looked at the free hugs campaign and thought it was an excellent idea but never actually had the inspiration to DO anything. It seemed that peace blog gave me the extra inspiration to act rather than just think about doing some good.Also, fairly early on in the semester peace blog started being on my mind more and more often. I soon began to look for peace blog ideas in my everyday life, asking for suggestions from my sisters and friends. Because I was thinking about it more and more often I was more likely to act in a more benevolent and interact positively with those around me even when I wasn’t doing a specific peace blog activity. I find this particularly intriguing because it truly shows the power that one’s perception of the world has over one’s actions.
Earlier this afternoon I stopped by my friend’s room for a little study break, and he was watching Grindhouse, which I hadn’t seen, so I sat down to watch a bit. And it was utterly gratuitous in terms of the amount of violence it contained. It seemed like there was no real story or character development, just…people being shot, stabbed, and exploding. It was one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever seen, and yet my friend loved it, and I just can’t figure out why. There was no real redeeming qualities, unless you enjoy pointless violence. I imagine that it was a lot like those Saw and Hostel movies, just random and pointless violence, which people enjoy. It’s incredibly sad that American society gets worked up over naughty language and nudity, but if a man gets decapitated onscreen, well, that’s just darn good entertainment there. It doesn’t make sense. Violence is much worse than any word, or nudity is. At least a bare body isn’t teaching children, and to a lesser extent adults, that it’s ok to inflict pain on those you disagree with. That physical force is, in fact, the correct way to solve problems. It’s just terrible.
Alright, so maybe my relaxation plan I mentioned in my last blog backfired on me a little bit. I found myself reading about a variety of subjects that I could relate to in one way or another for almost half an hour instead of 5 minutes, all the while trying to prepare for this paper I'm in the process of (trying to) finish. Now, I am about to write a blog that will probably take me about the same time to type up (talk about the ultimate all-nighter tonight, yeeeeeah!). So, I’m sitting in class on Monday, and I receive a text message from one of my friends from back home: “Hey, my sister just told me about your dad. How is he doing?” I read it, and I froze. I couldn’t think or concentrate in class, and I felt like running outside and calling my mom to see if there was anything they were hiding from me since I was in my final days of class. So in the few minutes thereafter, I feel like crying, as I am truly thinking about the worse-case scenario. Did my dad get a heart attack? Did he have a car accident? Is he ok? Alive? All of a sudden, I got a strong urge to talk to him and tell him so many things.The relationship between my father and I has always been tense, to say the least. Growing up, my dad was never very affectionate (well, at least to me, the oldest son, while my sisters were showered with hugs and kisses, etc.). I was always criticized by my dad. I never seemed to do anything right as a kid, then as an adolescent. So then I decide to join the Army. This came as a shock to my mom and dad as well as to everyone else around me. It was strange to people to think that the salutatorian of a class of 750 graduating seniors would join the Army as a regular Enlisted Soldier. When they asked me why, I always said “because I want to do something no one else has done, something no one would expect me to do.” However, deep down, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. To put not only my safety, but life on the line for the sake of others, regardless of what country they are from, or what they believe in, as I have a lot of things to be thankful for. My father came to this country as an illegal immigrant over 35 years ago and worked in a gas station, pumping gas for minimum wage. He always dreamed of owning his own gas station someday. So he married my mom in Mexico. She came across the border, 5 months pregnant, just so their son could be born in the United States and enjoy the education that was never accessible to them. Over the years, the most important thing to my sisters and me, according to my mom, was school, regardless of where we lived, what we wore, or what the other kids in our neighborhood said or did. My father, on the other hand, was all about hard work. He literally busted his a*s day after day to make sure we never lacked anything. So 30 years after pursuing his dream, my father eventually got what he always desired. He finally owned his own service station, and he was finally able to provide his family with well beyond what was ever accessible to him in the poor farming town in Mexico. Even now, at age 53, he still works nearly 60 hours a week (even though he is the President of the business he now owns), even occasionally pumping diesel for some of his most loyal and well-known clients. As he says, he hates sitting around the house. At the same time, our parents always stressed to us never to forget “our roots,” as we return to our hometown nearly every summer. So there I am, on Monday morning, on the verge of crying, because I think my father’s in bad shape. There I am, the guy that when told, “get your gear ready, Sergeant, let your Soldiers know, it’s real now” just looked forward, clenched his jaw, and was the picture of ultimate composure for all his subordinates, whether in the US, or overseas. The same guy that was appalled when asked one night in a very interesting conversation while on a service seminar this semester “When’s the last time you cried? In fact, do you ever cry?” was about to do just that. Then I realized that the reason I was so distraught at the moment I received that text message was because I have never told one of my heroes in life just how truly proud of him I am, and how much I love him. Even though I was willing to give my life for my country and family for 4 years of my life, I couldn’t bear letting my dad leave this Earth without me ever telling him those things. I remember one of the proudest moments in my life came when my father told me, upon graduating from Basic Training, “son, I’m proud of you” and then he gave me a hug. Those were words I had NEVER heard from him, and an action I had very seldom felt from him. Up to this point in my life, I have never truly reciprocated the action. I am writing my paper on the reconciliation of the different ethnic groups in Rwanda, and in order to achieve peace, one side must seek forgiveness, while the other must be willing to forgive, and the most important factor in the whole process is that such things are communicated between the sides. In the case of my father and I, I don’t think there’s reason to forgive or be forgiven about anything, but instead of keeping it buried, I must dig deep and finally tell my father how truly proud of him I am. I have been showered by compliments lately by plenty of people, but the main reason I have achieved all I have achieved thus far in life, and the reason I am the man I am today, is because of my father, along with mother, and family in general. So by expressing such sentiments (which has always been so difficult for me, probably because of my heredity or something), I know I will make one of the most important people in my life, my good ole pops, a very happy person. And as far as the text message was concerned, my friend had sent it to me BY MISTAKE! The message was intended for someone else (whose dad turned out to be ok), and for a split second, I was furious. But then I took a deep breath and realized that maybe this was a true wakeup call to get me to reconcile with my own father. So trust me, next week, when I get home, I will have that long (probably tearful) conversation with my dad and let him know all the great things I have hopefully successfully expressed in this VERY LONG peace blog.
I already finished my peace blogs...but I just thought I would share this. FreeRice.com is my favorite way to procrastinate. Test your vocab and donate rice to the UN every time you get a word right. It's pretty addictive.
A few months ago I was researching the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. I learned that the US has not ratified that treaty and I was curious to see why. I had heard some of the arguments about it allowing children to sue their parents or to obtain abortions, but all of these seemed kind of far fetched to me. (Especially since there is no enforcement mechanism for the UN.) I didn’t find a single objection to the Convention that I found convincing. I knew which Senators and Representatives had been against it, so I wrote to Senator John Kyl of Arizona. I picked him because I am from AZ and I know they usually only write back to constituents of theirs. For anybody who doesn’t know already, Senator Kyl is very conservative and basically opposes any support of international organizations on the part of the US because he believes that we are losing national sovereignty. Anyway, I wrote to his office just asking them to explain his position to me. I did not advocate for one side or the other, but just asked for a clarification. I just got a letter back a couple weeks ago. It was totally disappointing. The entire letter was seven sentences long and there was a typo in it. Whatever staffer was writing the letter did not give his position at all. All they said was that the US had signed the Convention, but it had never been ratified and they don’t expect that it will be sent to the Senate for ratification any time soon. I was very frustrated because that is such an excuse not to give an opinion. The fact that the office did dodge the question though, makes me think that they don’t believe they have a strong argument for not supporting the Convention. I know a number of non-profit organizations have sent letters to the presidential candidates asking about their position on the convention. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard a response from anyone. Hopefully, one of them will respond with a statement because it will force the other ones to take a position also and even if some of the responses are negative it will increase public awareness of the issue.
Last week I took one day (Wednesday) and tried to avoid engaging in violent media all day. I had seen other people try this and report that it is near impossible, but I didn’t really believe it. So I woke up in the morning and went to go take a shower. As soon as I walked into the bathroom there was a song playing on the radio that was not going to fit with my goal of not listening to violent media. So I ended up getting ready to classical music. I’m pretty sure the rest of the girls that came into the bathroom while I was in there were pretty confused. I didn’t have much trouble avoiding violent media while I was in class (it was philosophy and theology so I was fairly safe). During the evening hours was when this challenge really became hard. I seemed to run into violent media everywhere. Even in some of the reading I was doing for my classes was related to violence, since it was about international conflicts. (Don’t worry- I still did the reading even though it was messing up my day without violence.) When I turned on the TV to watch my Wednesday night show, America’s Next Top Model, I quickly figured out that there is far to much gossip, backstabbing, and just girls being mean to each other to watch that, so I started flipping channels. It almost broke my heart to have to flip over Law & Order, but that was not even close to being non-violent. I finally settled on Hannah Montana (another favorite of mine). It wasn’t completely free of violence, but I figured it was the closest I was going to come. So, I was unsuccessful at avoiding violence all day. But trying it did let me reflect on how hardened I have become to most forms of violence. Even the shows that are marketed to young children include violence in them. It is amazing the level of tolerance we have built up to it, especially when we are watching the news. I know people always point out how we are only fascinated by the bad things that happen in life and so that is what they show on the news. But that theory carries over to everything that is produced for human entertainment (like movies, TV, and music). Heck, maybe even the classical music I was listening to was violent and I just didn’t realize it because it was in Italian.
I have been interested in Uganda for quite a while now. I am thinking of writing my thesis on the current peace process that is taking place there and I am exploring options to volunteer there after graduation (that is still a while away, but no harm in looking early). So, to get more familiar with the country and gain some great experience I applied to go on the ND Uganda and Rwanda program this summer. In the program you take a peace and conflict studies seminar for six weeks. But the more exciting part is the stuff that you get to do and see while you are there. You get to go visit Internally Displaced Persons camps and do a one week home stay in Uganda. In Rwanda you get to learn about the gacaca courts and visit memorials to the genocide. You also get to do a two week home stay in Rwanda. The program ends in Tanzania, where you get to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Yesterday I found out that I am through the first round of applications and am being nominated to the second round. This is really important to me because this is an area that I can see myself working in for the rest of my life. Even if I am working in the United States I want to be working for an organization whose goal it is to make a difference in the development of Africa. If I am accepted to this program this summer I hope to go there and gain as full an understanding as possible of the struggles people face every day. I want to learn about the poverty and difficulties people are facing and learn how to best help them. I want to be able to come back from the summer and make a difference and educate people about this place that seems to far away. Okay, that was really idealistic and grand-themed, but in all seriousness, I think the first step to making any significant difference to these people starts with education. I hope to be able to contribute to the education of the American public about how we can help the people of Uganda.
I meant to write a blog on this subject all semester, and here it goes at the last minute. References were sometimes made to the violent culture that we know live in. One of the things within those references was violent athletics, specifically football. Having played football since I was in 2nd grade, I didn't really like hearing that. But alas, the people saying this have a point that I certainly can't deny: football is violent. Well of course football is violent. That's the nature of the game. One side's goal is to take a ball into one end of the field and the only way the other side can stop them is through physical force. I would argue, however, that while the nature of football may be the violent the purpose, or point, is not. The purpose of football is to put men(or women!) into extremely tough situations and see who can succeed. The first challenge is getting 11 people to work together as a unit. When you combine that with the grueling conditions of August heat, December cold, and the physical punishment of pummeling each other for 4 quarters, you get football. The point is not the violence, it's the character it takes to endure in the face of that violence while functioning as a team. That's why I love football. To me it is the ultimate team game and test of character when it comes to athletics. Oh, and it can be fun to hit somebody sometimes. I had to sneak that in there. I don't know if this blog made an sense to anyone but me, but there you go. That's my stance on football.
So here's my last one, a reflection on the peace blog this semester. I've enjoyed the blog, even if I didn't always keep up with it as well as I should have. I can't say I even came close to reading all the blogs but I always read a few whenever I came on the blog and found them all very interesting. I thought the blog overall was a great idea and was a great success. The main thing that comes to mind for when I look back on the blog is regret. I say this because at the start of the semester when I was introduced to the blog I thought of a possible idea for one. It sounded crazy to me but also seemed worthwhile. There is a person on this campus who used to be a good friend of mine who I am no longer on speaking terms with. The reason for this is a long story which I'll go ahead and choose not to share here. But I thought I might try to reconcile with her and then write a blog about the results. But alas, my stubbornness was too great, and I refused all semester to do it. Perhaps I should have just eaten my pride and gone for it. But I can say it was the first time I had ever considered it, which has to be a step in the right direction. And I attribute that to the peace blog. I guess it's kind of odd that the most important thing about the peace blog for me was the blog I never wrote. But maybe someday I'll reconcile with my old friend. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Well, this is one of my worste days ever, I managed to get myself hit by a car last night, which was not a plesant experiance. I was walking to my house off campus when I was crossing the main road a car that was going really fast somehow did not see me to slow down, off course I wasnt using the cross walk.... before I knew what had happened the tire on the left side of the car had run over my foot! and my shoe was on the other side of the road. The car didnt even stop! I was really angry and had to go to the health center and emergency room for a long time last night. WHen ;you leave things for exam week and you end up missing a whole night of work, you fall really really behind. I am going to choose to not be angry about what happened and be thankful for the fact that it wasnt worse that it seemed.island grl
Well, I also have another awsome story that happened this week, let me tell you when it Rains it pours. This past wednesday I recieved a call from home, it was my parents telling me that they had bought my plane ticket home, I was super excited and asked them to give me the dates. My dad asked me to hold on and then he read them out, they were from the 20th-7th. My parents cut my trip home by a week because they were confused on the break. I was sooo upset, and I had already pulled an increadible amout of all nighters and basically was probley the worste person to live with for my roomates. Yesterday I decided to call up the restauraunt I worked for durning the summer and ask them if they had a small job for me while I was home. They agreed to take me on for a few weeks, this will allow me to change my ticket and thus stay home another week. I was happy that I thought of this, because it was a really annoying experiance, that was changed into a quite ok deal. I may even have a few extra bucks when i come back to school.Island gurl
Class ReflectionLooking back on this class, I have to say that it was not completely what I expected it to be. I was expected a class a lot more about international relations and Iraq and other media issues today. While this did play a role in the class. I appreciated the other aspect of the class that looked into the origins of peace.I thought that it was a good way to come about this course. It included the small acts that everyone can perform at any time and it included the major makeup of large international violence. I have to say that my favorite part about this class was the final presentations on the various conflicts around the world. There is so much going on today that most ignorant, apathetic Americans have no idea about. Not that it is entirely their fault, the media's coverage of what they deem to be important events does make the costs of information go way up. This is unfortunate, because I really believe that if people knew everything that was going on in the world (even if this was not a complete knowledge of all conflicts, but at least an idea behind them), there would have to be some policy changes made by the Government in order to respond to the public pressure.In no way am I saying that I am the perfect citizen who researches all current events and conflicts, I definitely do not have time to do so. Therefore these recaps and presentations on conflicts were really helpful and eye opening to the atrocities occurring around the world. It is overwhelming because there is no way for me to help out in all of these problems. I think that is where the first part of the course comes in handy. At this point it is important to focus on the movements of peace that I can work towards.
On halloween night, instead of going to a costume party, a few of my friends and I decided to just hang out at my apartment, eat popcorn and watch a scary movie. This is definitely a little off-topic, as it has next to nothing to do with my actual act of peace, but this sort of sets the stage. It was still relatively early, and after the movie, which just so happened to be the Blair Witch Project (not recommended, by the way), my friends and I started to talk about belief in ghosts--then belief in God--then saints--then, I'm not sure but the conversation turned towards the recent religious debate about Mother Teresa's serious struggle with her faith. Our conversation began at 11, and before we knew it, it was 1am, and my friends had to go home. I hadn't known about Mother Teresa's predicament until my friend had told me about it, and I really wanted to read more about it. I called my mother the next day because she has always been very interested in Mother Teresa's mission. My mom had written a letter to her many years ago (and actually received a reply) telling her that she was involved in an organization known as "Casa Teresa" which was named after her vocational journey, and wanted to request Mother Teresa's input, as well as thank her for her inspiration. The day after I had learned of Mother Teresa, I called my mother and told her what I had learned. Instead of looking at her struggle as a disgrace, it almost makes me feel a little better about my own grapples with faith. The fact that such a holy, devoted saint had her doubts, brings to light that we are human, and we aren't perfect. Anyways, after telling my mom the news, she was particularly moved by what I had said; I told her that I knew of a publication that included a lot of the letters that expressed Mother Teresa's trials, but I didn't tell her what it was called. That afternoon, I went online, ordered the book, and had it sent to my mom back at home. Well, a few days later, my mom told me that she had found the book on the internet (I should have known) and had ordered two--one for me and one for her--and that it was on its way. Well, I told her I had done the same thing for her, and wanted it to be a surprise. That didn't work out too well, but I guess it was the thought that counts. My mom ended up giving one of the three to a very close friend of hers, so it definitely did not go to waste. I guess this proves that religious debates and conversations hardly ever out of place, even on Halloween night, when you're supposed to be dressed up in frightening costumes. It felt good to "surprise" my mom with something like that, but maybe next time I'll have to ask her first...
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to see 'Body of War' and meet the producer, Phil Donahue. This was a pretty exciting experience for two reasons. One, I had absolutely no idea who Phil Donahue was, much less that he was a graduate of Notre Dame. Two, I am so fortunately yet disgustingly detached from the Iraq war. My parents were never in the military. My dad almost joined but learned he would have to cut his Afro and decided it wasn't for him. I don't think my family considers joining the military an honorable thing and they would never let me or my brother join the military.I only know one person who is enlisted and in Iraq, my best friend's half brother. So regardless to say, I was not really excited about seeing the movie. I thought it was going to be some depressing footage of the chaos in Iraq and a guilt trip for people like me who are uninformed and inactive. Yet the movie wasn't a guilt trip but instead an active portrayal of how a great country like America is MANY faults. The movie focused on the country's vulnerability after 9/11 and how Congress passed the resolution to allow President Bush to go to war out of fear, lack of information and basically repeating information given by the executive office. The movie told the story of how that decision affected the life of a solider who was in Iraq for 3 days and then was shot and left paralyzed. I enjoyed the movie because it didn't leave me completely depressed like other DEPAC movies, but there were parts that just ripped through my heart. There was a brief mention of a woman whose husband died in the war and she asked to sleep next to his coffin the night before his burial. Donahue also emphasized how the Iraq War only affects 5% of the American population. It's amazing how easy it is to ignore all the death that happening for a war Americans can't justify. The story of the young solider and the widow resonated a fact of war that many people ignore. Death doesn't just affect the people fighting, but the people they love. I don't know what's worse, the number of casualties or the even high number of grieving families.
So last night I had a free night since I had no finals today, so my roommate and I decided to enjoy the night, so we watched a couple movies very loudly. Around like 1, another kid from our section came and told asked us if we could turn the TV down since he was trying to study for his final tomorrow. Now, as bad as it is, my first reaction was to laugh and turn the TV up, just to be a jerk. However, I stopped and thought about what had happened earlier in the week when some upperclassmen were teasing a freshman in this same way, and so I told him we were sorry, and I turned the TV down. I saw the kid again early this morning, and I asked how his final went and he said it went well, since he was able to study. It felt good doing something nice for someone, and knowing that it paid off in the end in that he was able to get a good grade. This has made me realize that I would be a much better person on average if I stopped for a second to think about what I was going to do before I did it, since usually my first reaction isn’t the best. I think if more people did this, perhaps there wouldn’t be as much conflict in general.
I just took my last final and am finally on winter break. You'd think that I would be over joyed and happy, but I'm actually not all that elated. Mainly, due to the fact that my last final was organic chemistry and I don't think I did so well. But reflecting back on this semester, I think I did a lot better academically. Most of my classes (I hope this one will be too!) are A's and its been a long journey since freshman year. I don't necessarily feel that much more mature, but I do feel that I've learned the lesson on working hard. It use to be that in high school you would have the kids that did no work and still got A's. In college, obviously that is not the case. Everybody who got an A in Organic Chemistry, DESERVES the A. I can promise you that not one person who receives an A did so with minimal work. Anyways, I'll take my disappointment in my orgo final on with me next semester where it can be motivation. I should probably get over feeling down about it too. I feel like I was taught that in the peace studies class... although I couldn't really say when. :)P.S. I think this is numero 6
My roommates and I have not been getting along for most of the semester. Personally, I find them disgusting, messy, unorganized and unmotivated. Finals week just exacerbated our differences even more. I don't know why it affects me, but when I have a roomie who wakes up past 5 PM, plays a computer games for a couple of hours and then decides to study for his finals all night... it REALLY irks me. Its just so unintelligent and a series of bad decisions... but of course they are not MY decisions. This semester has been really taxing on me, in regards to my dorm life. However, I can't say that I regret rooming with my roommates. If I wanted to look on the bright side, their mistakes, uncleanliness and bad decisions benefit me by telling me NOT to be that person. Really, I should be thankful because whenever I want to take a break studying by watching TV or playing on the computer, I just look over at my roomie and then get the motivation not to. Ok, maybe thats a little extreme, but I really don't regret rooming with them. They've taught me to be less up-tight about things and learned how to just let things go. I truly think there was a reason I ended up rooming with who I did. Hey, you can even say I'm glad.
This peace blog is gonna tie a little more into my new years resolution. This is mainly because I just realized how much I let myself go during finals week. I mean, I really didn't take care of my body (I haven't worked out in two weeks) and I've been eating all this take out (I live in Carroll.) I notice that this toll on my physical body also affects me mentally. I feel not as acute, a lot more lethargic. I've been taking lots of naps lately too, which I normally avoid doing. I mean, yea, its finals week and so much time should be devoted to studying. But, I think that if I had managed my time better in the first place, I would be able to work out and take care of myself while studying for finals as well. So, for the next semester I plan on being much more organized with my school work that way I don't have to sacrifice my physical health for it. Hopefully, this will have a snowball effect and I'll be largely on top on all of my activities and not only school work. I hate making hollow promises, so I decided to make this real. It's on the peace blog so its official, I have to do it!
Okay last blog... I think. I just got off the phone with my dad, and it reminds how much my relationship with my parents has changed. I used to be a 'trouble' child for my parents, and was/ am really stubborn. Some of my teachers in the past even said that I have a problem with authority (which is kind of true). But, after I went off to college, and my dad went into a program to become a deacon, a lot has changed. The relationship I have with my parents is more equal, and they don't really treat me like a child anymore. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I had to earn the position that I am in, but its nice to be past the fighting and the immaturity (on my part). Overall our family dynamic has been really good and I really appreciate that. The reason why I'm posting this in the blog is because my family is what keeps me grounded, and they are even the reason why I want to pursue a degree in peace studies. I mean, lots of my friends laugh when I say that I'm a peace majors and they always ask me, "What do you do with a peace major?" Honestly, I'm not even sure I know myself, but I do know it is something that I am very interested in and something that is very important to me personally. Both my parents are generous people, and the stories of them helping other people out are extraordinary and countless. It's crazy because my mom is constantly out visiting people who are sick from my church, and I never even really noticed that. Anyways, I guess its in the genes because even though having a peace studies major is not as "functional" as having a business major, I know its something that I really want to benefit from. And that's all that really matters.
TEN!This peace blog, although I procrastinated, is really interesting. I've never been much of a 'blogger' but this has definitely piqued my interest. It's nice to read about other peoples' adventures and experiences, and I really do benefit from them. I don't know if I fully utilized this, but I'm pretty sure someone more on top of things has. I definitely do think its a great and innovative idea that has significant value. It's not just some mindless assignment, it stimulates thought and is really brain food. Sometimes, after writing a blog I just sit and think about what I just wrote/ or what I just read from other people. I find that really... peaceful! All in all I think its outstanding as an assignment for Intro to Peace.
I watched the movie, "Blood Diamond" tonight with the intent of using it to write my latest peace blog entry. In doing so, I tried to be particularly attentive to the following: (1) the nature of the conflict in Sierra Leone [in light of our recent presentations and papers] and (2) the use of violence in the film.With regard to the conflict in Sierra Leone, I was impressed with how authentic the conflict felt in the film, for a Hollywood blockbuster-type movie with Leonardo DiCaprio especially. To the extent that the conflict featured a forceful revolutionary guerilla movement that was trying to topple the existing the government, I was reminded of the Salvadoran Civil War that I had researched. Though the conflicts took place on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, they features simiilar brutality and offenses against human rights. The issue of child soldiers became very real to me after seeing the story of a family torn by this practice.As for the use of violence in the movie, this issue of desentization is one that I attempt to remain attentive to. The film contained some very explicit images of shootings and bombings. One scene, in which a village was sacked and innocent women were killed, struck me especially. Another horrific scene showed the practices used in training child soldiers. While these images and scenes still shocked me, I remember being more appalled when I was first exposed to this type of on-screen violence. Though I don't believe these influences to affect my ability to be peace, I believe that maintaining awareness is essential to avoiding a fall into the trap of desensitization.
Ok so it's been a rough week. Time to finish up my last few peace blogs woo hoo! I've been meaning to write about this for awhile, but a little over a month ago (when we were still in football season) I decided to "be peace" by writing a letter to The Observer. I've felt very unpeaceful, a.k.a. angry about something for my entire 3.5 years here at ND, and it's this: the female students of Notre Dame are not included in the fight song, or victory march (call it what you will). Here is the link to the article: http://media.www.ndsmcobserver.com/media/storage/paper660/news/2007/10/30/Viewpoint/Reconsidering.The.Victory.March-3064479.shtml. My mom and I wrote the article together, and it basically says that when my mom was a student here (class of 1980) she sang the end of the fight song as follows: "while her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory." It changes just a couple words and still fits perfectly with the music. It's the version I was taught growing up. So, imagine my surprise when I came to ND a few years ago and everyone sang only about the "sons" of Notre Dame? I didn't think that it would be an exclusive place, but the reaction I received from that letter tells me that clearly, Notre Dame is very exclusive AND sexist. The letters that followed in response to my letter varied, but most were negative and/or sarcastic: someone said that women should be HONORED to be compared to the Virgin Mary, the ultimate symbol of femininity, which REALLY pissed me off because if virginity is something to be honored and revered then both women AND men can be held to that standard. Besides that, there were a lot of sarcastic comments having to do with political correctness taking over the world, etc. etc. but I still stand by my viewpoint. Even in the face of a group of obnoxious male students at the football game that weekend who stood up and yelled SONS, AND SONS, AND ONLY SONS repeatedly at the end of the fight song. Every time. One of my friends told me to walk up to the ringleader of the group and slap him and tell him who I was. However, I decided against it, in the best interests of being peace, of course :)Language matters. Language breeds beliefs, beliefs breed actions, actions breed character. If we are to make any progress in solving conflicts across gender, race, sexuality, nationality...you name it...then we are going to have to analyze the very speech that determines the kind of people we are. Peace comes from learning how to encourage each other to be better people and be INCLUSIVE!!!Maybe the Notre Dame administration will get the memo someday and change the lyrics already.
For the last couple of months, I have been responding to these savedarfur.org e-mails. The organization does a great job of putting the genocide in Darfur in layman's terms and keeping people updated. The e-mails ask receivers to read over and sign letters to send to congressmen. Although I don't remember giving them my address, the organization sent me a STOP THE GENOCIDE poster yesterday. For some reason, I really struggled with whether or not I should hang up the poster. I contemplated what hanging the poster up in front of my door said about me as a person. Was I going to be viewed as one of those posers that just collect posters and bumper stickers but never really do anything? Will people think that I'm just paying attention to a situation in Africa because I'm black? It's funny because all these thoughts ran through my head in a matter a seconds. What also ran through my head is what we talked about in the first through classes. Why was I so hesitant to put up a poster advocating peace? Did it matter how people viewed my beliefs on peace? So I hung up the poster.
Since the semester is OVER and 2008 is around the corner, I've decided to discuss the most important topic I've learned this semester. As Professor Myers keeps repeating, focus on progress. Coming from a Caribbean family and having to do my paper on Poverty in the Caribbean, the facts can be pretty depressing. Every conflict that we've covered absolutely tore threw my heart. Sooo much suffering goes on in this world, and it makes me feel extremely guilty to reap the benefits of this Notre Dame bubble. The biggest challenge was the Rwanda exercise, the fact that we were acting out a genocide. The concept was amazing, but it just felt so wrong to fabricate hatred that killed so many people. The most important lesson learned this semester is to find victory and not failure in the small steps of progress. The world is still pretty depressing but I learned to find hope.
This week of finals was absolutely insane. I had something a test/paper or presentation every single day and I had panic attacks twice. Yet I managed to find some kindness in this chaotic week. Walking in the burning cold to turn in our final paper, a fellow classmate lent me his glove. I felt like even though this week was crazy,a friend and I bonded over the stress and craziness. I even walked over to North Dining Hall to eat with her. This week made me really appreciate my roommate and boyfriend, the people who see me at my worst and still tolerate me. I also realized this week how easy it is to get caught up in all this craziness. I found myself swearing left and right, stressing over school as if it was some huge crisis. Thankfully, I kept telling myself to take deep breaths and realize that although finals week is crazy, it's not a conflict. So relax.
I've done a few acts of peace this semester as part of the Gender Relations Center's Peer Advisor group, the FIRE Starters. I wrote about joining it in the earlier blogs, but I wanted to write about a good experience I had last week. We had a SIT-in (social issues theater) forum in Cavanaugh, my dorm, on "Notre Dating." Or, basically, what dating and relating between the sexes is like here at ND. Myself and four other FIRE starters had a fishbowl conversation on our "dating" experiences at Notre Dame (I put dating in quotes because of the ironic fact that dating is hardly existent here...). After the fishbowl we split into small groups, and it was a very meaningful conversation. While this certainly does not relate to the haunting, powerful conflicts in Central and East Africa that we have been learning about in the presentations lately, poor gender relations, upon analysis, can be found to have roots in structural violence that create gender inequality. Here is a simple example of structural violence at ND that we discussed. Notre Dame is a rape-prone campus because of several reasons: We worship athletics (a sort of machismo culture, if you will), we only condone drinking alcohol in male dorms, girls almost always drink for free, and it is significantly easier (and in some cases even supported by many peers) to break parietals in male dorms. Although, the consequences for getting caught are so high that if a young woman is in a male student's room after parietals she will likely stay even if she is uncomfortable, for fear of being caught. And, vice versa. It's complicated, but fostering a rape-prone atmosphere is structural violence and disproportionately hurts women. This is an issue that both men and women can discuss, and the solutions vary. Whether that means encouraging healthy dating practices or merely increased dialogue between the sexes, there are plenty of ways of "being peace," as I have learned through my discussions with FIRE starters, to improve gender relations here at Notre Dame. I'm so glad that I decided to get involved with the FIRE starter program! Yay peace blog!
Ok, time to reflect on my peace blog experience. Even though I'm rushing to fill my quota at the end of the semester (definitely slacked off a bit lately), I absolutely loved having a class peace blog this semester. It was my first blogging experience but I think it is not only useful in a technological way, it is also a great form of personal expression to share with the class. The best part about the peace blog is that we are encouraged to reach beyond the limits of theory (having the desire to change the world, make a difference, and so forth) and live what we believe. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, my home state, who passed away in a plane crash 5 years ago, once said: "Never separate the live you live from the words you speak." This quote is simple but profound and represents what the peace blog has meant to me this semester. Whether I was lending money to Esther Ibade in Nigeria (who has already paid back some of the loan, I might add), getting fired up about gender inequality, or writing a letter of reconciliation to my mom, I realized time and time again how wonderful it feels to put your beliefs into action. I can only hope that my classmates and I are able to continue this journey beyond Prof. Myers class!
For my final peace blog activity, I decided to do what various e-mail fwds and Facebook invites have encouraged me to do and I’ve sent an e-mail to my representative about voting for a Department of Peace. I think this would be a terrific addition to our cabinet. The U.S. claims to invade other countries for humanitarian reasons, and when we do invade we say we provide various forms of humanitarian aid. I think it makes sense for an entirely non-violent, human rights based entity to control these actions rather than our Secretary of War. We rely on NGO’s to do the job of peace, and the federal government takes care of the violence. This does not seem right. It should be a function of U.S. policy to promote peace through non-violent means. I think such a department, if started with good intentions that Dennis Kucinich has, rather than intentions for propaganda, I think the department will improve our standing around the world. Now, my republican representative likely is not going to respond to my inquiry, but I did also send some information about the topic to my family e-mail list. Occasionally political debates will come up among my family, I think this topic is one that can entice some interesting discussion in the upcoming holiday gatherings. I’d be more than happy to share some of my new thoughts on peace with my family members after taking this class.
For my final entry, I’ll will review the peace blog activity. I have to admit I was not very gung-ho at first about peace blog activities. This is not to say I don’t value peace, quite the contrary, I like to think that learning about peace and learning how to bring about peace is one of my main interests. But I guess my problems with the peace blog at first were two-fold. First off, I have been overly concerned with the large picture. This is one of the aims of the blog in the first place that prof. myers laid out. Peace can be small as well as big. But I guess in wanting to learn about various theories about the biggest problems in our world today, I neglected to think the small things that could happen here at Notre Dame of great importance. It is already a pretty peaceful place. But I overcame this by really evaluating where I was taking action at all. It seems that I am interested in learning about peace, but the action has to start somewhere and this peace blog has got me thinking about those things Secondly, I guess peaceful actions are something I have thought should be habitual. This doesn’t mean that they are for me, but I rarely have thought of new ways to bring extra peace into the world. I have tried to hone my habits to peaceful activities as a routine. This peace blog was a disturbance to those habits, but a very good one. It has challenged me to find ways to find new habits. Living a more environmentally friendly life and practicing non-aggression are 2 new habits that I must try to integrate into my life.
Ok, just a forewarning, I put off actually blogging my peace blogs until after my last final, so there will be four of these in a row.... A few weeks ago, I went to my first meeting of the Recycling Branch of GreeND. While I was at this meeting, I was amazed to learn so many different things about recycling, from an economic standpoint, to what is going on at Notre Dame. There were so many things that I never knew, and would never even have thought of (such as how the dining hall's prohibition of outside containers promotes the usage of non-recyclable styrofoam cups). Honestly, some of the things that we talked about seemed a little bit over the edge, but it was nice to see how passionate these people were about environmental issues. Just learning about what is going on is a good start to spreading the word and helping Notre Dame become a more environmentally friendly campus. After going to that meeting, I felt much more educated, and am more careful about what I do with my waste. I have even been trying to encourage my friends to do the same, so hopefully, recycling will become contagious.
Ok, so to continue with my whole GreeND thing, I decided to help out with the Recycling Club's first event of the year: selling mugs in LaFortune. The reason for this event was to try to get people to start drinking from re-usable containers. Things like Starbucks cups are not recyclable (expect for the small cardboard piece around the cup), and since people go through so many of those in a day, we thought that we should try to advocate bringing your own mugs instead. Plus, at Starbucks, and at other eateries, if you bring your own mug, you get a 25 cent discount, which may not sound like a lot, but can add up, especially if you are consuming a cup of coffee a day. To get people to use the mugs, we offered free hot chocolate with the purchase of a mug, or if you brought your own mug, you could help yourself to free hot chocolate. To be honest, at first I was a little scared to help out with this because first of all, I don't like asking people to buy things, and secondly, I know a lot less about recycling, etc. than the other people working. However, I had little to worry about because the people I was working with were very nice. Plus, I got over my hesitation to get people to buy things buy mentioning our cause to passers by. At the end of the shift, we ended up not selling that many mugs, but many people were interested, and said that they would have helped out had they had actual cash and not just flex points. After this experience, I was a little sad that we had not sold more mugs, but I was really happy that people actually seemed to be interested in what we were doing. Quite a few people stopped by simply to see what was going on, and expressed interest in getting mugs in the future. I think that this is a good sign for ND because people are finally starting to take notice of the miniscule things that we can do to decrease our waste. Hopefully, when we do the mug sale again in the winter, it will be even more successful.
Yesterday, the day before my last final, I kind of had a mini breakdown. Almost everyone I knew had finished their exams, and I still had one left. This test, worth 35% of my grade was over a lot of material, and I wanted to start my hardcore studying two days before, after my first exams were over on Monday. However, because I had two exams on Monday that I realized I had not studied enough for Sunday night, I stayed up all night on Sunday, and was exhausted after my Monday finals. Needless to say, I did not get much studying done after these two finals. When I woke up the next day I realized that I had one day to not only really study the new material that was on our test, but I also had to go over the old material, about 13 chapters of biology, as well. When I opened up my book, I tried to study, but I just couldn't focus. I kept getting this tight knot in my stomach, and started to convince myself that I really couldn't do it. I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I really broke down at that point, and did not think that I would make it through my last final. I thought that taking a nap might help so that I was more awake, but that only made my problem worse. My stress level really started to rise, and for a while, I thought that I was going to fail my bio exam. So, I did what I often do when I am feeling stressed, I called my dad. My dad has this incredible way of giving me great advice, and helping me to stop overreacting about my problems. He advised me to go exercise for a while, because that often helps to relieve some stress and take your mind off of things. He wanted me to call him back after I had done this and tell him if I felt any better. Well, like he usually is, my dad was right. I walked to Rolfs, and exercised for about half an hour. It actually ended up being one of the most peaceful experiences I have had in the past few weeks. Just being in an environment where I could not only get some exercise, but where I was also surrounded by people who were not studying, helped to calm me down. I was able to take my mind off bio, and just let go. And, it seemed to work. After my exercise, I was able to go to a nearby building, and study for about five hours straight, and then more later at night. That feeling of stress did not return, and I was able to really concentrate. Thank God for my dad and his small little remedies. Without him, I would have had a lot less peace last night.
For my final peace blog, I wanted to relay my thoughts about the peace blogging process. From the beginning of the class, I thought that peace blogs were a great idea. They seemed like a good way to get people to actively promote peace, even if it was in little, everyday ways. However, peace blogs were much harder than I had thought they would be. For almost this entire semester, I spent more time worrying about what I could do for my next peace blog, or stressing about not having enough done, that it took away some of the enjoyment from the whole process. I wish that I could turn back time and start from scratch. I wish I had made a list of things to do, and done them with other people, rather than just trying to think of things on my own. I also wish that I had done bigger or more unique things. But, even though I have these regrets, I still really like the idea of peace blogging. It is a great way to not only challenge yourself to try to "increase the peace", but you can also see what others are doing as well. My only recommendation for the peace blogs would be possibly require a few group peace activities (with a few members of the class in a group), so that the class can be more involved with one another's peace efforts. And, having more people can make the process more interesting, and can possibly impact more people. However, all in all, I really like the idea of peace blogs, and I hopefully, I can continue the peace blogging process in my own life.
Peace Blog 9This is by far my favorite experience with “peace blogging."Last Wednesday, I went to La Casa de Amistad where I volunteer. My friend and I decided to go buy them some Christmas presents first to spread some holiday cheer. So we bought sports equipment, games, books, candy canes, some poinsettias, and other random things. We arrived at La Casa with bags in tote, and the kids had the happiest looks on their faces. They were all smiling and running up to us to see what we had brought. They immediately ran outside with the new basketballs and soccer ball. Some kids decided to play Candy Land. I hope they all had the sincere feeling that someone cares about them a lot, especially during this time of year. Obviously, this was a small gesture that I’m sure they’ve already forgotten, but that does not make it unimportant. This experience helped me to realize that any good deed can be a deed worth doing. The happiness those kids expressed even if it was just for a couple hours is so imperative for them as they grow up, and I am so blessed to be able to a part of it. Between the two of us we only spent about $25 a piece. It just goes to show that it truly does not take a lot to make a difference. The whole experience with those kids throughout this semester has helped to learn so much about what a true vocation to peace within this world is. The wide variety of things I can do astounds me because I can connect everything back to the notion of a life of peace and love, in the most non-cliché sense. That has been my greatest lesson this semester.
Peace Blog 10The experience of peace blogging as a whole was great. Most of the things I blogged about are things that I normally do, but not in the context of a class or the notion of peace necessarily. Some different I tried to do was take advantage of the lectures on campus. That was a wonderful thing that the peace blog encouraged me to do. I was able to attend one amazing talk on femicide in Mexico and watched another online about women’s rights internationally. These are events I normally would not have made time for, but since it was an assignment of sorts I became motivated to make time for these lectures. Without someone bringing up the Kiva organization, I would have never known what a great opportunity that is to help those in need. I was able to branch out this semester and truly grow in my knowledge of what peace means and how I am a part of it. I think we should have talked about our blogging experience in class once or twice because I know I didn’t have time to read everyone’s blogs each week, but I know some amazing things have been accomplished this semester. So overall, I enjoyed the experience because I was able to redefine my ideas about what it means to bring peace into the world. I was able to go beyond my past efforts to be a constructive part in this movement and broaden my abilities and interests.
My experience with the peace blog was a lot like the majority of people's responses to it. Doing a little something every week in the spirit of peace actually helped ME just as much as, if not more than, the people I touched. I found it very ironic, though, that I would do things with the peace blog in mind, but the hardest part was actually writing what I did down. I would definitely call myself a procrastinator; I'm not sure I would justify it with the "I work better under pressure" excuse, but rather "I actually WORK under pressure". Anyway, I think being constantly aware of how I, or anyone, can promote peace changes one's outlook completely. In that way, this peace blog has definitely changed the way that I perceive and act on a lot of things. When I entered into the class, I was surprised to hear about the peace blog. I had never participated in one and actually found it to be a relatively strange requirement of the class. But strange is oftentimes a positive thing, especially in this case. It took me a couple of weeks to think up something that I could do that would be perfect for the peace blog, and soon came to the realization that, nine times out of ten, you can work with what you are given. I attended multiple discussions and presentations put on by KROC, much like a lot of peace bloggers did, but didn't really feel like my attendance actually impacted people around me. They surely opened my eyes, but I wanted to open others'. So, the majority of my peace blogs are very small--butI think meaningful--acts of kindness. The people I chose to extend peace to ranged from those very close to me (my best friends and family members) to those not so close (acquaintances, once-friends), to those that I didn't even know and I simply came across, choosing to extend the peace their way (a homeless man in Chicago). I think the one thing that touched me the most was over Thanksgiving when my dad bought lunch for a table packed full of young guys in the service. I had talked to my family about the peace blog I'd been participating in, and my dad's action convinced me that it's things like that that benefit both himself and other people--including me and my family, who thought it was great that he would do that on his own accord, even without us knowing (it wasn't till after the fact that he told my mom, who told my brother, sister, and me). Overall, my experience with the peace blog was amazing. I am a little relieved that I don't have to physically write things that I did down any longer (even though it takes less than ten minutes), but i DEFINITELY will continue to "participate" in the blog, spreading the spirit of peace through my actions. Hopefully my acts of kindness will motivate other people to be more peaceful, too.
My mom has always pestered me about writing thank you notes. They had to be long, thoughtful, and most importantly—prompt. This school year I have especially focused on writing thank you notes when due, even without incessant reminders from my mother. Because of my cast, I am backlogged with notes to write, so I decided to make this “batch” more meaningful. For this peace blog, I decided to write thank-you notes to my family, friends, and other people who helped me when I had my cast on. While it’s important to let others know of your appreciation throughout the year, I think now is a really special time to let other people know that you care. I love receiving thank you notes, and I think it’s crucial to write them because often times people don’t know how beneficial their actions are. Strengthening interpersonal relationships is very essential to peace. Peace building begins on the individual level, stems to the interpersonal level, and reaches all the way to the international realm. By focusing on this elemental aspect of peace, I am applying concepts learned from class while also constructing sustainable relationships.
Sometime around fall break (yes, it's been awhile since I posted) I went to a Free Burma rally at fieldhouse mall. There weren’t a lot of students there, but I felt like everyone there was really passionate. The rally was while the monks’ protests were going on, and everyone seemed to believe that reform was possible. I honestly believed that change was going to happen. But the military squashed the protests eventually, and there’s been virtually no progress since then. International pressure did lead the military to offer to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, but it hasn’t happened. Despite international condemnation of the Burma regime, there’s been basically no action taken beyond sanctions. It’s frustrating to see how public interest has declined so fast. Headlines about Burma have disappeared from our papers, but the people are still suffering. I’m glad I went to the rally, but rallies here are basically worthless if we can’t pressure our government to take serious action.
Rather than examining violence in the media (after reading other people’s peace blogs, I have a pretty good idea of what I would have found), I decided to spend a day paying attention to how gender issues were treated on TV. Unsurprisingly, gender stereotypes were abundant. When I actually paid attention to commercials, I realized how easy it is to get offended by them! In commercials set in the home, women are almost always performing some domestic duty. If men are present at all, they’re detached from what’s going on. Ads for children’s toys never seemed to challenge gender stereotypes. The slogan for Tonka trucks is “Boys are Built Different” (because apparently no girls want to play with trucks… we’re different). The ads for Hasbro’s “Rose Petal Cottage” (basically a toy home for girls where they can pretend to do laundry and dishes, cook and take care of a baby) are kind of appalling. There’s two versions, one targeted towards the girls, the other for the moms who would buy it. In the first version, the little girl sings “taking care of my home is my dream, dream, dream!” In the ad targeted towards the mom, the voiceover describes the toy as “her place, where her dreams have room to grow.” Excuse me? Apparently according to Hasbro, all little girls dream about is to be able to run a household of their very own. I’m sure many do, but I certainly had other goals in life when I was little. Why are we encouraging little girls to limit their “dreams” to just the domestic sphere? What century are we in? If our media continues to perpetuate ideas like this, how are we going to work towards gender equity? You can watch the ads here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=qVgHrV9H-8k and http://youtube.com/watch?v=2dXlAjCU8G4.
Like Krista, I decided to stop chanting “kill” during the kill cheer. After everything we’ve learned this semester, it just started to feel uncomfortable. I started way overanalyzing the cheer as I was doing it. What makes thousands of people feel comfortable shouting the word “kill”? It wasn’t something I had really thought about before. I have no problem getting pumped up about football, but the kill cheer is really just unnecessary. I considered holding up the peace sign during the cheer, but my roommate told me that she wouldn’t sit with me anymore if I did! I’m still working on bringing her around.
I’ve been doing something small for peace every single day- and you can all do it too! If you care at all about the issues of hunger, breast cancer, child health, literacy, the rainforest, or animal rescue (or all of them in varying degrees), it’s really easy to do something. Every day I go to http://www.thehungersite.com and click to donate food. From there I click the tabs to the other sites and click on those, too. Sponsors donate money to the various causes for every click (you can do it once a day). It’s absolutely free for you, but doing it every day can make a difference! I added the site to my toolbar so that I don’t forget. It takes virtually no effort, but it’s a good reminder every day that things we take for granted (like having food and being able to read) aren’t available to everyone.
Unfortunately, I’ve experienced something very close to what Sarah V and Katie have written about. Almost exactly one year ago, my best friend was raped. When she told me about it I was shocked. She had made awful decisions. She got into a car with a male friend of hers who had already been drinking (mistake #1). As soon as she got into the car, he handed her a bottle of hard alcohol and said “drink”. They went out and she kept drinking. When she was downtown and wasted, she started calling friends to ask for help. She didn’t call me, because she thought I wasn’t home for Christmas break yet. In fact, I had arrived home that afternoon. She didn’t talk to anyone who was able to help her. She talked to some of her friends from school, none of whom were even in the same city. They just told her to get home, assuming she could get home safely and sober up. She let the guy drive her home, and at some point he pulled over and raped her in the backseat. Once she was home her parents realized what a bad state she was in and took her to the hospital. She was treated for the alcohol, but I don’t think she asked them to help with the trauma of the rape. She hasn’t pressed charges or anything. I’ve had a hard time dealing with what happened because even though my friend is absolutely a victim, I can’t help but being mad at her for making such stupid choices. She obviously put herself in a dangerous situation. I don’t blame her for being raped, but I’m so frustrated that she was irresponsible enough to get where she was. I also can’t stop thinking about how maybe I could have stopped it from happening. If she had known I was already home from school (if I had reminded her), she would have called me when she was in trouble. I know that I wouldn’t have let her get off the phone until I knew she was going to get home safely. I would have picked her up myself, even! I can’t blame myself for what happened, but I can’t get the what-ifs out of my head. My feelings about the whole situation are so screwed up. I can’t come to terms with anything. It doesn’t help that she hasn’t talked to anyone else about it. She didn’t tell the police or doctors or anything, and she didn’t even tell the friends she talked to that night (just that she was really drunk when she called them and she eventually got home). She’s told me and just one other person. I tried to convince her that it would help to talk to someone she didn’t know, like a counselor, but she refused. I haven’t seen her since the summer, and we haven’t even talked about it since like January. I guess she’s trying to deal with it through denial. But I know she’s still hurting, and I don’t know how to help her. I guess there’s no point to this peace blog, except that I still don’t know how to help her achieve peace for herself. And until I know she’s going to be okay, I’ll never be able to come to terms with what happened to her.
Let me start by saying that this was really hard to write, so sorry if it ends up being rambly. A few years ago my parents split up. They were separated for a couple years and the divorce went through about a year ago. For ages I denied that it was affecting me at all, but honestly, it really screwed me up. I was severely depressed for months. It took me forever to acknowledge that this whole period in my life was probably a result of my not dealing with my parent’s separation in a healthy way. (I’m still awful at talking about it. My roommate is one of my best friends ever, and I didn’t tell her my parents are divorced until I had known her for over a year.) Looking back, the worst thing wasn’t almost screwing up my own life entirely, it was being a crappy big sister. My little sister had no one to look up to that was handling the situation well. Probably as a reflection of what I complained about, she ended up with a lot of resentment towards our dad. A couple months ago, I found out that my dad is getting remarried to a woman I just met in August. I’m not surprised, since they’ve been dating for awhile, but it’s hard not to be pissed off that he’s moving on so quickly. It really sucks for my sister, because she’s still in high school, and she has to spend every other weekend with my dad… soon to be my dad and his new family, including his fiancee’s kids. I don’t really care that my dad’s get remarried, it’s just not something I want to have to deal with. And I know that over Christmas break I’m probably going to have to meet my future step-siblings (weird) and try to act all friendly, when really, all I want to do is pretend it’s not actually happening. But I know that I need to be better for my sister’s sake. I’m going to try to keep any resentment or even annoyance I feel with my Dad to myself. I need to love him (because I do) and try to be happy for him for finding someone he cares about. And I need to be peace for my sister, who hasn’t had the luxury of being away from home while all this was developing. I wish I could not have to deal with it… but since the wedding is going to happen anyway, I guess I need to try to be positive about it.
A couple weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor of my home newspaper. I wrote and sent it then because from December 3 - 14, Indonesia hosted an international conference on climate change. At this meeting, countries were starting to shape a new set of binding rules on critical global issues. The rules currently in effect under the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. In my letter I wrote about it being necessary for the US to play a role in these talks and to embrace the outcome. This is important now especially since we were not very cooperative during Kyoto. Climate change is one thing that cannot be fixed without international cooperation. The actions of people in one country effect everyone. It is irresponsible to abuse the environment because although it may not effect us very much now, it is going to effect future generations in a much more direct way. Also in this letter I suggested that the cooperation needed can start on a very local level. Mayor Manross, of Scottsdale, AZ has started a number of programs to conserve energy. All government buildings are now “green.” Also, anything the local government prints is on recycled paper. She is working on a number of tax benefits for people who take steps to make their houses “green.” I urged leaders in neighboring cities in Phoenix to take the same and more steps. I have no idea if the letter will be printed or not (and I don’t read that newspaper regularly, so I might miss it if it is), but I really hope it is because I think this issue is something that should be of concern to more people and the local initiatives that have been and can be taken are often ignored in favor of international steps.
This is my last peace blog post (::sad::). I have really enjoyed this part of the class this semester. Although, I posted mine pretty much all at once (I am technology retarded and I didn’t figure out how to deal with the blog until a long ways into the semester), I liked that it was a semester long project. It really raised my awareness of ways I can add to peace. I have also really enjoyed reading many other peoples peace blogs. They have given me some great ideas of other things to continue doing in my life. I think my favorite part was realizing just how many different ways each individual person can add peace to the world. Thanks everyone for making this a fun class!
Doing peace blogs has made me far more aware of how I’m feeling, and how I choose to let that affect my relationships with people. It’s amazing how often I’m frustrated over stupid stuff. I’ve come to a better understanding of how my actions are having an effect, whether it’s how I treat my roommates or what kind of sister I choose to be. Now I see situations of conflict as an opportunity to be peace. Everything I’ve done for the blog has been relatively small, but challenging in unique ways. I loved doing this, and I’m definitely going to keep looking for opportunities to make peace. I’m going to miss reading other people’s blogs, though.
Over the past few weeks, as I was compiling information on my historical conflict, my concept of peace was so focused on external problems, things I have no control over. As the semester comes to an end, I really want to focus back in on the way we began it- bringing peace into our own lives. I want to think about an area in my personal life that needs peace, something that I personally have control over...Over the summer before my junior year of high school, one of my guy friends and I became really close. We would talk all the time, and I felt like I could really relate to him- we had some of the best conversations I've ever had. Eventually, we dated, and, despite the fact that I continued to see him primarily as a best friend, or maybe because I didn't want to lose him as a friend, we continued to date for fourteen months until we left for college.When we left for school, I was so sure we would be able to stay close. However, inevitably, feelings were hurt and we stopped talking for about three months. I was devastated. At the time, I was the kind of person who believed that no matter how a friend hurt you, if you were close at one point, you should make every effort to stay close with that friend. I couldn't understand how he could simply write me off. Finally, after I made every effort to make things right, we were beginning to heal our friendship.Then, this summer, things became difficult again. I can honestly say that it was the first true fight I had ever had with a friend, and I didn't know what to do. I suppose I was always too afraid of losing a friend to ever become visibily angry at them. I think this was part of the problem in the first place...Since May, we haven't spoken, with the exception of a one line e-mail or text. This, Christmas, I want to attempt to bring peace into this area of my life, an area which, for me personally, is most difficult at this time. I hope that it is alright that I haven't completed this peace blog yet. I have been contemplating all semester whether or not I should attempt to patch things up, and with the end of the class, I guess I've finally got the courage to do it.Only now, I possess a much fuller idea of what it means "to make things right." Before, I would have wanted to simply get us talking again, or at least have the appearance of a friendship. After thinking for a very long time, and with the help of this course, I realize that the fight we had in May is only a symptom of a larger problem in our friendship. While I recognize it may not be possible to fix this problem, I at least want to make my personal ammends for it. As they say in Love Actually, "If you can't say it at Christmas, when can you, eh?" I want to find some peace in my heart by finally letting go of the hurt caused by losing a best friend. I hope that by reaching out, perhaps I can give him the same.
Peace Blog ReflectionI have to admit, when I first heard about the peace blog assignment, and even now, I was skeptical. It's great to go around commiting random acts of kindness and getting informed about movements for peace, but, really, I have wondered, is it really going to change anyone's attitude? Here's what I have learned over the course of the semester...No, my attitude about peace has not fundamentally changed. I still think its a great thing! How has blogging affected it? Well, it has forced me to really think about my actions and how they contribute in large and small ways to creating peace in my immediate environment. For instance, this finals week, I was incredibly focused and a little (or a lot) stressed. What's new, right? Well, here's what's new. I can honestly say that the thought of writing a peace blog reflection at the end of the week influenced my behavior in little ways. I doubt anyone else around me noticed anything out of the ordinary, but, I really tried to take myself away and study on my own this week. And this was not soley because I needed quiet and no distractions. It was in part because I knew that in staying around, I would only be letting little things get to me and thereby bringing the others around me down. So, I suppose I could say that, to a certain extent, peace blogging has effected my personal behaviors.How else? Well, it has increased my awareness of social issues. This wasn't only the result of my own peace blogging initiatives, but, also, others'. Things that I never would have known people were doing, I learned about. Reading my classmate's reflections gave me ideas on how to live a more peace-promoting existence. Yet, in the beginning, I mentioned that I am still a little skeptical. My concern is that by posting peace initiatives on the internet, it is eliminating that face-to-face contact which I feel is so crucial to social movements. People need to feel connected. Now, I don't have any evidence to back this claim up, and perhaps, at the age of nineteen, I am already old-fashioned. But, there is something about blogging-- I can't quite put my finger on it-- that makes me a little nervous.There are so many things in my science, technology, and society class which have pushed me to become skeptical of replacing traditional modes of communication with more technologically advanced ones. To some extent, this seems illogical to me. How is writing an essay about peace fundamentally different than posting a blog about peace? Over break, after my mind unwinds, I intend to push this and to figure out just what it is that makes me uneasy.Overall, I have enjoyed the peace-blogging experience, particuliarly the chance it affords to speak conversationally-- and even in the first person! So often, at school, as I write papers, I feel so distanced from the subject material due to the necessarily formal structure of composition. I have to say it was nice to be able to take a little break from discussing the nuances of philosophical arguments, and to delve into something more relaxed, more personal, and more heartfelt.
Probably my most difficult peace blog activity was one that I did a long time ago but that took me a long time to process. In the middle of this semester, my parents called me, put me on speakerphone, and told my siblings and I that they were getting a divorce. The announcement came as little surprise since things had been far from peaceful for a long time, but it was devastating in its own way.As a result of my parents’ announcement, I was angry. I was angry in an immature way about silly things – the fact that I have to call home twice if I have good or bad news, the fact that it hurt my schoolwork, the fact that I wasn’t there when they told us and didn’t get to hear my little brother say he loved me because they hung up before he had a chance to talk. However, I was also angry about things I consider more “real” – the fact that my little brother is sad all the time, the fact that my family is dividing, the fact that my parents cannot make peace. I was angry and sad for a lot of reasons, and I wasn’t making much progress on changing that.Before Thanksgiving break, however, I sat down and decided to make each of my parents a mix CD. Despite my anger, I also knew that both of my parents were hurting and that the divorce was difficult for them, too. Making them mix CD’s really made me think about the way that each of them was feeling and why. I began to think about the reasons why divorce might be the best option. As corny as it sounds, I thought about Israel and Palestine, about how an integrated population may not be the best route to peace for them either, sometimes at least temporary separation might be necessary. I still do not believe in their divorce, but I understood a little bit more. This meditation helped me to work through my anger toward my parents and to be able to focus instead on how much I love them and how difficult this transition will be for them and the rest of my family. More anger will not help any of us; we need to have hope that peace will someday come.When I went home for Thanksgiving, I gave each of my parents a hug, and smiled when I finally got to hear my little brother tell me he loved me.
As I look back on my peace blog activities and reflections, I notice a theme—not that I have necessarily made large-scale differences in the lives of others, but that I have made small-scale changes in my own life. I think that the area in which my peace blogs helped me the most was the recognition of the many instances in my own life where I’m not as peaceful as I could or should be. I honestly now find myself thinking when I get angry with a roommate, family member, or friend, “We’ll never resolve this conflict if I react like this.” My peace blogs have forced me to evaluate the personal dimension of peace. They have compelled me to think about the fact that peace isn’t just something that’s needed between nations; it is also something that is needed between people in everyday interactions. Road rage, cursing, gossip—all of these small actions are violence in their own way and can quickly escalate into situations that breed hatred and leave lasting scars. My peace blogs have also inspired me to move beyond the personal dimension of peace and to think about the role that I can play in fostering world peace. That phrase sounds so cliché, yet I hope that someday it will happen and I will be a part of it. These blogs have changed the way I look at the world and the way that I see my role in it. I am glad I had the chance to examine these aspects of peace.
I recently had the chance to bring peace to my sister. I had received a phone call from her late on a Friday night / Saturday morning. She was panicking because she had recently fallen and hurt her leg. I was out with some friends at the time and was taken aback by the news. Though I didn't immediately recognize it, I could quickly tell that she was nervous about the injury.When she hung up, I talked about the situation with my friend, who helped me realize that she had called me for a reason. I called my sister back and told her that I would accompany her to the Emergency Room so that we could get things figured out. I walked alone to her dorm room -- through the snow -- and helped her into the car we took to the hospital. She remained nervous at first because her leg was badly bruised, but she calmed quickly after I arrived. Though we didn't get a definitive diagnosis that night, we were able to help each other redirect our attention to catching up on other things. What was an unfortunate situation became an opportunity for us to talk and laugh while waiting in the Emergency Room until almost 5 AM.Family forms special bonds; I am fortunate enough to have my sister here at ND with me. It was nice to see in this instance that we were able to comfort and bring peace to each other in difficult circumstances.
When I used to think of peace movements, my perspective was limited to well-known, grand-scale initiatives like Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. It was hard for me to conceive that peace movements can be implemented on a lesser level. Through the peace blog in Introduction to Peace Studies, I became disavowed of this notion. Even though it was assignment, the benefit of the project transcended the classroom. As a result of peace blogging, I discovered more about global and local injustices and developed a greater definition of peace. I view this project as beneficial in two ways. First, it was educational. Second, it was mutually enriching for my recipients and me.I tried to use this assignment to gain an insight into what was going on around the world, and what little things I could do to help. The viewing of “God Grew Tired Us” exposed me to truths about Sudanese refugees in Kenya. The dinner I attended at the KROC institute gave me an insight into current theories about the morality of war. Recently, when I went to the Christmas shop in LaFortune. I had an enlightening conversation about regional economic stress. An important first step in building peace is recognizing and understanding injustices in the world. These three blogs provided me with such information.Blogging also allowed me to bring others peace and happiness while experiencing the same sentiments myself. Through my experiences with Slice of Life Tutoring, I have helped my students learn to read, but I have also gained motivation to give back to the community on a consistent basis. I also found my thank you note blog to be mutually enriching. I felt relieved and happy when putting the letters in the mailbox, and I hope they feel the same when they receive them. When we were first assigned the peace blog, I saw it more of a nuisance. I thought that I was already doing a lot towards promoting peace, and this would be an extra, tedious weekly assignment. I was wrong—on both accounts. Peace blogging changed my perception of the little things that can be done to create peace. From attending a dinner on the morals of war, to donating twenty dollars to Heifer International, I learned that I can individually provide a little bit of peace to this world.
I watched “Munich” for the first time last night, and I was struck by how it showed violence in an extremely negative light. At the start of the movie, it seemed as though it would be fairly pro-violence, since the entire plot revolves around Israel trying to get revenge on those involved in the Olympic attacks in Munich. However, it soon became a story about the pointlessness of revenge and violence. Every time that the Israeli strike team assassinated a Palestinian, the Palestinians would launch another terrorist attack. It became a vicious cycle that neither side could end for fear of seeming weak and giving their opponent hope for victory. This movie also showed how draining a life of violence is, as the Israeli strike team is seen sinking into paranoia and fear as the movie progresses, until they can no longer trust anyone. I thought that this was a great film, because it did not glorify violence. Quite the opposite, it showed violence as the brutal problem that it truly is, and that more violence will only ever make things worse.
Peace Blog ReflectionAs I look back on my peace blog efforts throughout the semester, I realize that they have caused me to consider the parts of my daily life that do and do not bring peace. Throughout the semester, I found that "peace" was becoming one important lens through which I view my decisions and interactions. It would sometimes even turn into a mantra to "be peace."While I appreciate the macro-level, policy issues that are associated with interstate conflicts in peace studies, my real passion lies with the micro-level things that each of us can do to promote peace. With this in mind, I really enjoyed the structure of the course -- in that we began with the smaller issues that became building blocks for looking at larger issues. The peace blogs was especially helpful in challenging us to put these important "building blocks" topics into action while also forcing us to inject a little more goodness into the world.
For my final peace blog, I’ll take a look back at the whole experience. I think overall that this peace blog experience was good, especially for me since I have never blogged before and never write down my feelings in any sort of journal. While at times it was admittedly annoying, since I had to remember to write up my experience to get credit for them, the benefit still outweighed the cost in the end. I think most importantly, this experience has forced me to more closely examine my own thoughts and actions and the actions of others, and to question if the normal way of acting is indeed the best way. For instance, during this semester I found myself taking an extra second to think about how I wanted to respond to other people and situations, instead of just blindly acting. I found that after thinking about my responses, they tended to be much more peaceable, and that I was able to reduce stress and conflict with others as a result. As bad as it is, my first reaction is usually prone to causing conflict, so this was a very worthwhile improvement. This peace blog experience has also taught me how much easier it is to stand idly by during a conflict, instead of trying to stop it, and how easily conflicts can be started. I’ve seen conflicts start from insults, sports outcomes, and alcohol, and each time; it took almost nothing to set everyone off. It just seems that if everyone took a second or two before they acted, then maybe many of these conflicts would never happen.
For this Peace Blog (hopefully it gets in before the deadline), I have decided to do something to alleviate people’s stress while in airports. When you go to catch a plane, you see hundreds of people shuffling and hustling about, anxious (or even angry) at late arrivals, weather delays, international travelers suffering from jet lag, etc. Also, oftentimes, travelers are alone. Instead of being that creepy person that randomly walks up to a person, I’m going to indirectly make someone else’s day a little better by picking up their tab, and I’m going to pick the most distressed-looking person I can see. Hopefully, this fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on which way you want to look at it) person’s day can be made a little better by having someone else pick up their check. As long as the person wasn’t ordering up too much, and having plenty of drinks to back up their meal (if you know what I mean), It should make me feel a little better too.
I feel weird being the last person to post on this peace blog, maybe in a while, so I guess I better make it good. Two main things that this course, and this peace blog, taught me are that it is important to stand by what you believe in and also that it is incredible how far efforts at reconciliation can take an individual or a group of people (as my post from a few days ago illustrated). When I first heard of this Peace Blog concept, I was a bit skeptical. I thought a lot of people would just make generic entries to fulfill the 10 post requirement. However, I found that most people in this class were significantly affected by this concept, including myself. I personally found myself at first stretching to do significant things to be able to post on the blog. This is not to say that I didn’t do things on a regular basis that were “peaceful.” What the peace blog did do for me is to try new things that went beyond every day actions I may have partaken in. It was interesting to experiment a little bit socially by doing things people weren’t accustomed to see out of me, such as smiling more often when encountering people around campus, but what was most rewarding was the fact that everyone is capable of doing things that can make them be more at ease with themselves, which translates to the world in general. Everyone’s concept with peace is different, and it is up to everyone not only in this class, but in the world, to discover that, and employ it. We may not feel “peaceful” every day, and that’s okay. But there’s always tomorrow, and it’s that tomorrow that we must always look forward to, as it is tomorrow when the power to forgive (and to move on) still exists. Whether that peace comes from getting back in touch with an old friend, an estranged parent, or from forging a new, comprehensive, and lasting peace agreement in the Middle East, the impetus for change must come from within oneself, and in the willpower to acknowledge one another’s mistakes, forgive, and move forward to a better tomorrow.
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