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Websites: http://www.dallaspeacecenter.org/

     E-mail: Peace-Center@TX.RR.com



"Peace Begins with ME!"

With host: Len Ellis

Welcome to Peace Begins With Me, a monthly dialogue to promote peace through personal responsibility. News Flash!! We live in a society, in a culture, in a world surrounded by violence. Like a drop of water in the ocean, violence is so prevalent, so much a part of our daily lives, we many times don't even recognize it or are aware of it. Hence the impetus for this program, to raise our awareness of violence, and provide ways to deal with conflict and violence in our lives. From language to abuse to fighting and to the ultimate expression of violence - war - we always have choices of how we are going to deal with not only our fellow human beings, but with all of life.

We may wish that it was easy, that some day our leaders will simply proclaim "peace" and that would be the end of violence. But our leaders are a reflection of our consciousness, they represent and manifest all our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Until each of us can be at peace, to act in a nonviolent way, we are part of this culture of violence. The challenge is to create, then grow, a culture of peace.

And where are our leaders going to learn the skills required to model peace? To promote peace? I guarantee you that at the stroke of midnight some hand will not be waived and all of a sudden every leader on this planet will know how to live a nonviolent life - not gonna' happen!

That's where we come in - we are the ones that must learn nonviolent methods, and as each of us learns, so too will others. When I say 'we' I'm talking about me, because no matter how hard I try, I can only be responsible for my behavior, I can only have control over my own life. I can't force someone to be nonviolent, or force them to learn (by definition, forcing someone to do something is an act of violence). We will examine all aspects of our life - our thoughts, our words, our actions, and question why we act in certain ways.

We are all connected. Everything we think, say and do contributes to the state of the world. The question is, how do we increase the number of peaceful thoughts while decreasing the number of violent thoughts, and then turn those peaceful thoughts into words and actions?

Colman McCarthy, describing his classes on nonviolence, talks about a term paper submitted by one of his high school students. The term paper summed up the situation in 15 words and went like this: "Q: What are we violent and not illiterate? A: Because we teach people to read."

I often wonder when we, as a world society, resorted to violence as a way to resolve conflict. Was it when the first caveman picked up a rock and struck the head of another caveman who was taking his food? Is violence a natural instinct, or a learned behavior? From thoughts of judgment and hatred, to verbal abuse, to physical abuse, to fighting, to murder, and then to the ultimate form of violence, war, when did we find it acceptable to attempt to resolve conflict in this manner? Indeed, if violence is learned, it can be unlearned, and new methods of nonviolence taught. Back to the term paper, we can teach people to read AND we can teach people to be nonviolent.

Let me be clear - being peaceful does not mean an end to conflict. On the contrary, it means having conflict and resolving it in a way that is life-enriching, in a way that is without violence, in a way you are at peace in the middle of the chaos. Conflict is necessary; it gives us a chance to grow and to see things from a different perspective. What is not acceptable is to resolve the conflict in harmful or deadly manner. And to that point, that is the purpose of this program, to explore ways to resolve conflict in a nonviolent way, to explore how I contribute to the violence in the world, and what I can change so that I am contributing to peace.

What we will learn together are ways to promote peaceful resolutions. We will explore ideas and tools to model this peace in our lives, to contribute to a peaceful society, a peaceful planet.

It is not easy! Kids, traffic, politics, all opportunities to rant and rave and look to see what we can be against, or, to see how to handle these situations in a peaceful way. This is all I can control - me. Peace begins with ME! I only need to make the commitment to do something about it, to put my words into actions, to live in integrity with what I know and believe.

There are people everywhere who want to help create a better world – people deeply concerned about widespread suffering, environmental destruction, escalating materialism and the loss of our sense of community.  There is a deep and growing hunger for a wiser and more loving society.  Gandhi and King modeled the vision to create such a society, as well as showing us that the power for social change lies within individual consciousness.  We really do want to create a nonviolent world, so we must first become nonviolent individuals. With a vision of a society governed by love and the common good, we have a powerful antidote to the violence, distrust and division of today’s atmosphere of fear.

In practicing the relational principles of nonviolence we recover and renew ourselves and our families, so violence and secrecy no longer shape our behavior.  We realize that our lives, and those of our children, depend on transforming our culture of violence to one of nonviolence.  Learning to be nonviolent is a new way of living, creating a healing process that begins with 'me' and ripples out into the larger world.  As we heal our own relations we are demonstrating that people, organizations and governments can move the world pro-actively toward peace and wisdom.  Each and every one of us, must be active participants. We must speak out against violence and injustice wherever it shows up, we must raise our voices, we must BE the change we want to see in this world. Peace begins with ME.




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