For the second year in a row, I participated in the Be The Peace challenge with the lovely Peace Ripples Institute. Here's a video from last year's challenge where you can see two clips from me, and the form of this year's challenge was to take the three days between September 21st and September 23rd to contemplate the following prompts:
DAY 1: The Vision - Clarifying the Peace You Wish to See in the World
DAY 2 - Being - Clarifying How You Can Embody Your Vision
DAY 3 - Creating - Clarifying How You Can Create That World
This year, my answers were similar to last year's about feeling the sense that a world of peace is one that operates from a principle of oneness, but I felt like it took on a different dimension. The key principle that occurred to me as I followed the guided visualization provided by Catherine at Peace Ripples was this:
The world I would most like to see is a world where the tension between different perspectives and opinions plays out more like a dance than a battle.
I dream of a world where we can disagree without anger and hatred. Where we work together on the challenges inherent to a planet with such rich diversity of life, of cultures, and of values. Where we deeply recognize that what hurts part of life hurts all of life, what heals part of life heals all of life, and we work together on all the so urgently needed healing around us.
Peace is not getting away from difference, disagreement, or diversity. Rather, it's tapping into the harmony of the variety of unique individuals, creatures and environments on this magical planet. The tensions in our differences can be such a source of growth, if only we set aside the need to be right, to judge, or to win.
The world I would most like to see is a world where we allow the forces of nature to lead us to balance. Where each individual cultivates their own unique perspective, voice, and gifts. Where the Great Spirit known by many names has the best opportunity to bring groups of our voices together in creative movements of harmony for healing, restoration, and evolution.
After I wrote that piece for The Challenge, I felt called to change channels and write a post on another topic that had been turning in my mind:
It felt good to write. It was the reconciliation of perspectives that felt so hard to find as I surfed around reading different things to get informed about the unfolding drama around the Supreme Court nominee. And it felt like just the sort of dance I had written about for The Challenge: looking at two different perspectives and putting forth a way of seeing them that didn't have to be a battle.
When I got to day 2, it felt easy to see how I could embody the vision. Writing that piece on Facebook and reading the kind-hearted comments from people of differing points of view on the post made me feel clear that engagement with the divisions and disagreements is how I'm most drawn to embody my vision of a world at peace. I can choose to move toward those disagreements with a spirit of curiosity and interest, openly expressing my own perspective in a sensitive, caring, and compassionate way.
Feeling inspired, I followed up with a friend about a conversation we had back in June. Our meeting in June was the first time we'd seen each other in six years. When we used to work together, we loved the enjoyable debate about different perspectives, so we were both the type to charge in to talk about the latest controversy. In the last few years, we had both sadly experienced how difficult those conversations had become. We both found ourselves so often misunderstood and misjudged by someone with a different perspective, and we both found ourselves starting to avoid those same conversations we used to love.
Before we left, we hatched an intention to look into what we could do together to encourage more civil conversation. I hadn't found the time to properly follow up on that intention since June, but as the challenge was wrapping up and my Facebook post renewed my faith that there were more people craving civil dialogue and that it was certainly possible for us to stir more of it, I reached back out to that friend to see if she was still interested in creating something together.
And so, as Day 3 of The Challenge coincided with an enthusiastic yes from this friend, my answer to the prompt of what I can create right now was so clear. I can help create that world of peace I imagine by creating a Facebook group encouraging and modeling civil conversation. I intend for it to be a forum to practice this dance in the tensions of our differences, to be an open space for people to feel safe expressing their own views and knowing that they won't be belittled or called names for doing so. I intend for my friend and me to moderate the space using a set of guiding principles that we'll create to will help foster the sort of conversations that can unfold more like a dance than a battle.
To be continued...