Three wars ago I began wearing a pair of small, silver earrings inlaid with the peace sign. On that morning as we went to war, I put them on as my personal protest to that choice. The next day I put them on again. For several years now I have done the same, nearly every morning, and will wear them until we begin to make choices other than war as a way to resolve conflict.
These peace earrings, though, have come to have deeper meaning for me. A few years ago as I was putting them on, I watched as one of the earrings slipped from my hand and circled the drain in my bathroom sink. Peace was literally going down the drain. My first reaction was a scream of frustration and a feeling of helplessness. But then I knew what I had to do. I quickly turned off the faucet and found help to take the drain apart and search for the lost earring. It was found. There was another chance.
Now when I put on these symbols of peace, in addition to my personal protest, I am reminded that I have a choice between helplessness and action. I choose to do what I can, no matter how small or insignificant, to create peace in my own world. Diane Yeager, Chanhassen
How am I a peacemaker?
With a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, I play peacemaker every day, many times a day. Whether it's because he said something to her and she told him to stop and he won't, or if it's because she won't stop hugging and kissing him and he pushes her away, I reluctantly have to insert myself into the situation to stop the yelling, name-calling and/or tears. And try to make peace.
Raising the white flag is not always easy, and I try to instill the Golden Rule principle in these instances. You know, treat others the way you want to be treated. In theory, it's a great guide to use in teaching children how to behave as a human being; but the reality is, 7- and 4- year-olds don't reason well and live in the moment. And in the heat of the moment when things tend to escalate, it's easier to quickly defuse the situation and help make the room calm. Then, after tempers and emotions have settled, we go back and try to learn from the situation. But again, easier said than done.
So I will continue to play peacemaker with my kids with the hopes that as time goes by, they'll figure out a way themselves to bring peace to the situation. And I can continue to make dinner. Wendy Jacobson, Minneapolis
Peace as a way of life
When I was in elementary school, our class took a field trip to Washington D.C. I became a peacenik when I saw the rows of crosses in Arlington Cemetery. The loss of so many lives just didn't make sense to me. Later I became a Viet Nam War protestor, even going door to door to discuss it with strangers. But I have learned that peace is not just an absence of conflict. Peace is a practice and a way of life, a way of treating others in difficult situations as well as in ordinary daily life. Peace is showing gratitude in small and large ways (such as saying thanks, volunteering, respectfully keeping my own boundaries). It is not easy. Especially when someone hurts my feelings or grabs what isn't theirs or is unfair, then I have to pause and take a breath. Think about my reaction, how to communicate without antagonizing. After a teen was shot in my neighborhood, I welcomed those arriving for the peace vigil with a candle, to remind us that within us is the possibility of peace, no matter what has happened. Wendy Brown-Báez, St. Louis Park
Intentional peaceful journey
I have been on an intentional journey in the last 15 years to be a peaceful human being. My journey has become a powerful force and challenge all in one. Through Non-violent Communication Training (NVC) I was encouraged to look at how I talk, deal with anger and differences of opinions, how to be compassionate toward myself and of course to those around me. I am taking classes online: "The Path of the Peacemaker" and "Ambassadors of Peace" on the shiftnetwork.com series.
This journey has introduced me to not only a deeper personal peace, but peace in a more global perspective. In class discussions by phone I talk to people in several countries. It's a chance to be inspired! I see the global community, especially now, being more empowered by feminine energy, slowly igniting an evolutionary change. I'm grateful to be part of this shift of thinking.
I wrote a fairy tale, "Peace and Pancakes," for children so they could see a new type of hero-a powerful peacemaker. The little dragon learns to be patient in building trust with an angry giant, listens to him, and with a few pancakes, in time sees the giant with his heart.
It's amazing what happens when we see giants with the eyes of our hearts. Anne M Picard, Vadnais Heights, Minn.
RIVER FALLS PEACE MARCH
we are rising up
in this revolution we stand larger,
taller, more powerful than we know
our ranks swell as we march for peace
step by step
we know our march will not stop
this year's war
yet we organize with those we meet in the snow
lock arms with strangers we love instantly,
through heavy coats and mittens
grab hold thickly,
tightly and know
we must organize
spreading out from that clumsy embrace
into Spring time
we meet for a picnic in Glen Park
see each other for the first time
in T shirts and shorts
and laugh - so this is what we look like!
this is who we are
flesh and bones grown stronger
Wanda Brown, River Falls
How are you a peacemaker?
We are three Quaker women calling for social justice to build peace. We continue a legacy of over 350 years of working for social justice to bring peace to society. We walk well-trod paths to centers of governance as a visible force for change, decrying the injustice and violence of war-making. We call out the need for employment, social or economic reforms as those concerns arise around us. We follow in the spirit of many Quaker women leading before us, such as well-known Quaker, Lucretia Mott, who organized the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1847. By this act, she effectively launched the women's suffrage movement, bringing peace forth by opening the vote to women in our democratically elected government. Other Quaker women less well known in written history, such as Catherine Coffin, were the cooks and nurses for those traveling the Underground Railroad. They welcomed strangers into their homes at any moment needed, building peace with bread, soup and quilts.
We, as Quaker women, or Friends (aka The Religious Society of Friends), welcome peace with action and contemplative silence. We intentionally choose peacebuilding actions to "live our values with integrity" or "let our lives speak." As Quakers, we are mindful of living with equality, simplicity and in care of the earth. Our occupational, community service and entertainment choices exemplify this mindfulness. This is also evident in our primary choices-shopping for healthful foods locally grown with sustainable production methods; supporting creative efforts to reuse everything possible; becoming informed about issues of social justice and then following through with actions like buying only fair-trade products; and creating and practicing a culture of peace in our families.
But, most importantly to us, we respectfully find ways to hear the single voice of concern among the many voices ready to move forward-knowing that voice signals we have not yet reached unity. We affirm one voice is of equal value to each of the other voices and we are committed to holding silence to find the Light in ourselves and in all-building peace by spiritual listening and reverent silence. Marybeth Luing, Lyn Egolf Grider and Raquel Wood,
Prospect Hill Friends Meeting, St. Paul
Send us your thoughts! In April our theme is Mothers of Invention. "What was a time you invented change in your life?" Tell us about it. Send a paragraph or two by March 10, 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Living Big is our theme for May."What have you learned about living big?" Send a paragraph or two by April 10, 2012 to email@example.com