Volume 2, Number 2, 2007
Peace is rarely easy, especially in situations involving others who have yet to develop habits of responding to conflict without violence. Resistance to destructive behaviors: devaluation of self, -isms, denigration, rationalization of violence, oppression and war, is hard work. The absence of such violence is often the product of diligence in the pursuit of constructive problem solving. Transformation of our own behavior from norms of violent expression and other acts of aggression, like other decisive changes to improve life, becomes easier with practice. Determination to develop and maintain peace-promoting responses to conflict is typically needed in contexts where others are not also engaging in constructive conflict responses. Sustaining such determination is the awareness that informal instruction in peace development, through modeling, can be effective. Even more powerful in sustaining persistence is commitment.
Making a personal resolution to refrain from violence in responding to conflict has been crucial to success. Although such commitments have been supported by group solidarity, especially through shared membership in an organization, personal responsibility and dedication are essential. It is important to make such commitments as positive statements. For example, affirmations such as “I am working for peace.” are effective, whereas negative statements such as “I am not going to use violent responses to conflict.” are less effective. The positive notion is more helpful as a change aid. It is less of a mental struggle to hold a positive vision than a negative one that you then must work to avoid. Hence, you conserve your energy for peace work.
While continuation of transformation efforts can be tiresome, they are nevertheless spiritually powerful in supporting steadfastness. The lyric “My feet are tired, but my soul is rested.” expresses this sustaining phenomenon. As you listen to in this journal edition the song My Feet Are Tired, recall the success of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama during 1955. In that peaceful transformation of structural violence, bus riders who had been required by an unjust policy and police enforcement of it, to forfeit their seats to people with lighter skin tones, walked for 381 days, thereby economically disabling the bus company until they changed their seating policy. Rosa Parks launched that desegregation effort in her steadfast pursuit of civil rights. Unfortunately, recent books written for children about the efforts of Rosa Parks have failed to include information about her commitment to and training for peaceful conflict transformation. Let us share with the new generations we prepare for engagement in peacemaking the full story of Rosa’s determination and work. Beyond the literature that documents the persistence of famous peace workers, look about to recognize and honor those around you who are continually facilitating peace development. In recognition of their persistence, we can spiritually enjoy our shared resolution; ongoing engagements for making peace.
Author: Lionel Traubman
Author: David H. Albert
Author: Susan Gingras Fitzell, M. Ed.
AUTHOR: Mahmood Khalil, Ph.D.
Gilbert & Jon Fromer
Artist: Anne Feeney
Artist: Tom Block