Volume 2, Number 3, 2007
Peace is as omnipresent as conflict. In the worst of situations where mismanaged conflict has resulted in violence, peace can still be found. Although it is most recognized in the actions of those who take great risks to resolve conflict, peace is also present in the absence of such immediate efforts. Tucked away in the minds of many, anticipation of peace exists as a shared desire for the fulfillment of life-sustaining needs. A desire to accomplish that common goal is the catalyst for change. The seed of peacemaking grows in the fertile minds of those who maintain hope in the worst of human conditions. Chaos, violence and despair can flicker the flame of hope, but not extinguish it. Enabling the transformation of such conflict is the widespread wish for, and pursuit of, light in dark times.
Foremost in fueling the flame of peace is hope-building. The energy to hope can be exhausted where violence exists. Consequently, hope needs sustenance. Reconstruction and fortification of hope occur in a variety of ways. Shared here are some of the strategies that sustain that crucial channel for change.
Expressions of hope build community, in contexts of extant violence or peace. Recognizable in rituals, writings, visual and performing arts, as well as interactions with the young, is a shared wish for a good life. Crossing cultural boundaries in such interactions evidences the commonality of that healthy desire and its bonding potential for humanity. On the foundation of community, expressions of comfort, understanding, encouragement and support build relational structures that support peacemaking, as well as hope. Prevailing in peacemaking is the expression of love; caring for those not understood along with those who are. It is the free fuel of hope’s flame.
Engagement in transformation, eliminating violence as a response to conflict, does more than build peace. It inspires, which kindles hope. Throughout history and across cultural contexts, proactive responses to violence, without use of harmful rejoinders, have been ultimately powerful in hope-building. At the intrapersonal level, avoidance of self-destructive behaviors as a response to conflict allows for outlets of stress that preserve health, as well as intrapersonal relations which are affected by success with self-management. The effects of choosing to turn off the negative inner voice, thereby allowing the inner self-preservationist to direct conflict responses, helps more than the self and one’s relationship with others. It also provides a model of peacemaking. Witnessing peace processes, whether they are responses to internal, interpersonal or systemic violence, is the spring of inspiration’s fountain.
Recognition is another process of hope-building. By recognizing unmet needs, we demonstrate our concern and caring commitment. Along with the follow-up of engagement to fulfill needs, recognition restores faith in humanity and its peace workers. At times, active listening to others who are experiencing conflict increases hope during the processes of expression and engagement.
We invite you to join us in hope-building, and the sharing of processes which contribute to that crucial component of peacemaking. We welcome accounts described in prose, arts or research of constructing hope as well as the effects of its presence.
Author: Linda Lantieri
Author: Mary Ann Weston
Author: Leslie Carol Baer
Author: Matt Borer M.S.
Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai
Artist: Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai
Artist: Amadeus Bachmayr