Imagine the world without anger, without greed. We have the power, the tools, the skills and the resources right now to build a peaceful world, where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. This blog explores ways we are doing just that, one post, one change, one day at a time. Join me. Tell your stories. Ask for help. Spread your ideas for making the vision real and, well, ordinary.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shift happens: An invitation to tell your story

From our first Stand for Peace 11/29/2011
© Sharon L Richardson
Used with permission
It wasn't an earthquake that caused the ground to shift under my feet Tuesday night. It was a heart shift.

The event: The Summer of Peace 2012 Action Meetup.
The location: The historic Red Victorian Peace Cafe in the heart of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district.
The who: Six of us, women and men, young, old and between, joined momentarily by visitors staying at the hotel, eating at the cafe, who stopped by our table to chat a moment, share a bit of their stories.

For the first time in years, indeed decades, I felt the power of a group of people, each tied to others not present, and they to others, expanding ever outward--people whose hope and belief in the future of human kind and our ability to solve our problems is greater than either our self interest or our fear.

The group organizer, Laurie, went round the table, asking us to share a bit of our work. Not, why are you here, what are you going to do for peace. What is your work.

One young man is building and testing an interactive web site in which cognitive behavior therapists and their patients can expand their work. Think the power of Facebook dedicated to healing therapy. Already beta tested with people with schizophrenia, "the toughest-to-treat disorder," according to the young man, the software is successful beyond their wildest dreams.

Laurie smiled broadly and thanked him. "You are doing peace work," she told him. Of course, it is true. When one of us helps another to ease the turmoil in her heart, we make peace.

Another among us has all but finished writing her first book, the true story of a child who grew up in a violently abusive foster home. Not only did the young woman survive her tormentors and her torment without resorting to drugs and alcohol, she put herself through college, twice, has devoted her life to helping other abused children, and thrives today. Again, Laurie smiled. "I'm so glad you're here," she said. "You are doing important peace work."

A third is embarking soon on a year-long trip round the world. He will visit twelve countries, spend one month in each, making music with the people, and recording it for an album. "Music is so important to making peace," Laurie said, again that broad, gentle smile.

Round the table we went, each of us lighting up at the other's stories, all told simply, without any hint of puffery or embellishment. It was clear some realized for the first time how their work contributes to peace making.

How often, I wonder, do we fail to realize, most of us, that the work we do every day is the work of peace. In our pyramid culture, our culture that reserves honor, respect and privilege for those who somehow reach the pinnacle of success, we so easily forget that all of us on the bottom and in the layers between, are the foundation and strength for those very few at the top.

Monuments in the desert or molecules joining to create new life

Think of this: Pyramids are merely monuments in the desert. They stand alone, objects of curiosity, practically useless. What matters is not who is at the top of a constructed edifice. What matters is far more organic, far more reflective of the vitality of a living organism.

What really matters is all of us--the teachers, social workers, nurses, physicians, activists, healers, artists, reporters, musicians, coaches, shopkeepers, farmers, innovators, moms, dads, nurturers, and yes, even we who write. What matters is how we link together, forming bonds, becoming stronger individually and collectively, creating. We are the molecules of life.

We must begin to see our work as the most natural thing in the world and as vital as the work of any other individual. The more we understand how integrated we are, despite our feelings of separate and other, the more we realize how strong we are, how irrepressible.

It is so easy to think that I am just one person, I am too failed, too ill, too broken, too damaged, too weak, too unfocused, too selfish, too often angry, too [fill in the blank] to be of use, to be an agent of change, an agent of peace.

Step aside, make the shift

Today, I encourage you to shift just a bit. Step aside from that judgement and recall a moment, perhaps many moments, but at least one moment, when you knew your care, your work, your process, your love made a difference in another's life. Any moment. I know for a fact, if you are reading this, there are too many to count. Let them pour in. Recognize the work you do. Recognize the peace you bring, just by being you, just by entering a room, perhaps.

Today, I invite you to take courage in hand and tell the rest of us about such moments. Give us this gift. Forget "false pride" and fear of bragging. Tell us about your work. Share the work you do. Post a link to your blog, your book, your artwork, whatever you do that might bring peace and courage to our lives. Share the way your work nurtures others, the way it heals, how it brings peace to the world.

I invite you to speak up, to acknowledge that you are an agent of peace.

Shift happens. Let it.


We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


Wanda said...

So often I fall into thinking that what I do doesn't matter. I feel like such a small drop in the bucket. However, I know the ripple effect of the work I do--individuals, who change because we heal their traumas and validate the goodness of who they are, go out in the world and touch other people and so on. And my blog? In spite of feeling cranky many days, I try to focus on the positive--peace, justice, tolerance, equality (or at least balance and equanimity).

I look forward to the planet being populated with villages like Ordinary. I stumbled on your Village of Ordinary blog years ago. And that is how I connected to you.

kario said...

I love the image of the pyramid and those who are holding it up. Thank you so much for these stories.

Kathryn Grace said...

Wanda, you bring up such an important point, and remind me of a woman I know who, as a fifteen-year-old girl who had been violently abused all her childhood, finally got help from the system that had failed to protect her. The family member who helped rescue her from the foster family in whose care she had been for thirteen years was just one woman. The social worker who helped her save her own life was just one person, doing her job. The new foster family that took her in and showed her what a "normal" family could be was just one family.

That young woman went on to put herself through college, get a graduate degree, and help save the lives of hundreds of other children. Because she grew up in the system and knows its failings, she knows how to help the children, the families, and the system to communicate with one another more effectively. She is just one person.

It is so easy to forget how significant we can be, just being ourselves, doing what we know how to do.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your thoughts and feelings. A longtime fan of your blog as well, I recommend it to anyone who needs a daily uplift.

Kathryn Grace said...

Kario, thank you for stopping by and commenting. You, too, do important work, and I happily recommend your blog to all readers, especially parents. Your stories of raising your daughters through the minefields of school, social pressures, tween-hood and so much more never fail to hearten. Your commitment to building a more just world and addressing the inequalities of our social structure surely strengthens every activist and worker on the ground lucky enough to find and read you.

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