A teacher tells of nine year olds wreaking havoc in the school roomI was surprised by what one caller said. He's a middle school teacher of forty years, who told of ever escalating classroom violence. Several times a week, he is called on by the principal and other teachers to help restrain a child who is acting out with violence. They throw desks and chairs across their class room. They refuse to be calmed. To prevent them harming themselves and others, they must be physically restrained. After years of working with parents of unruly and violent children, he is convinced that, if we want peace in the world, we need to train parents how to be the parents, how to regain control in their households and how to teach their children social skills. Others echoed his viewpoint.
Listening, I couldn't help wondering if the violence our children see every day on television, masquerading as entertainment, contributes to their social dysfunction.
This morning, with these thoughts and voices echoing in my mind, I ran across the five minute video, below, from the Pachamama Alliance. According to the narrator, "The typical American child in his or her lifetime will witness 8,000 murders and a hundred thousand acts of violence on television, and by age eighteen will have spent more time in front of the television than in school."
Where are we? Theme: Spiritual Fulfillment from Pachamama Alliance on Vimeo.
A social justice worker calls on neighborhood churches to reach out block-by-blockThe teacher and the story in the video above discuss the deep need for belonging. A social justice worker, citing the extreme violence in Oakland--the fourth most dangerous city in the United States-- suggested that our youth, lacking structure and family, find that sense of belonging in gangs. She called on churches everywhere to begin developing block-by-block programs to draw people from the streets and into activities and resources that support them. Most of all, she called on adults to listen to our children and respond to their needs.
Those are just two examples of the voices and passion we heard.
Vibrant technology brings us togetherSo often we decry the isolation and loss of community that our electronic devices foster. Hours spent flitting from one brief encounter of the e-kind to another substitute for the long, meaty conversations we shared face-to-face in the past, lingering over a sumptuous home-cooked meal, or delighting in brandies and exquisite desserts after sharing a live-and-in-person concert.
But this call, and others like it, give us an opportunity to reach each other in ways scarcely possible in the past. Live and in person, we speak, listen, are heard. When fortunate to have a skilled facilitator, as we did last night in John B. Kinyon, a trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication, the listening is amplified with care and attention to the heart of the words of each speaker. So even when a speaker is difficult to hear--because of technical issues, not speaking into the microphone, or because our attention wanders, we hear John's tender reflection and understand the parts we may have missed.
Yesterday I wrote of seeking hope in this call. In the Pachamama Alliance video above, Thich Nhat Hanh says it is impossible to be ourselves, alone, that we must "inter-be" with everyone else. While I chose not to speak last night, what I heard encouraged me deeply. Today I feel the pulse of the living organism we are, collectively, that "inter-being." This call delivered.
Image above, courtesy The Peace Alliance (pdf file)
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.