Peace Begins With ME -July 2009

The recent horrific killing of Stephen Brown at the Holocaust Museum and Dr. Tiller at his church sent me reeling. I felt deep despair, and thought, how can someone do this to another human being, with no sense of compassion or respect, just cold-blooded murder. Where does such apparent hatred for another human being come from? What drives it and feeds it, what forces us to act on it?

All one need to do is to look around. Our culture is filled with violence, most of it we are not even aware of. Just watch TV or listen to the radio, the vitriol and the hate spewed endlessly from some program hosts. It's easy for some to identify an issue we struggle with, then assess blame to some group of people; nothing has to be substantiated, they need only say the words and people will not only listen, but will believe and never question. Unfortunately, some, as we have seen in the past few weeks, act out with deadly results.

Those who spew hate speech know that it is a language of separation, of us versus them. The language generates feelings, the feelings generate actions. On the other end of the spectrum is the language of oneness. Oneness also generates feelings and actions, but these are feelings of love and actions of kindness.

Part of our jobs as peacemakers is to recognize the difference, recognize when there is separation, and turn the situation around towards oneness. When there is separation, people feel isolated, they strike out verbally and physically and they live in fear. By recognizing the separation, we can then demonstrate oneness. When we do, we share, we build community, we bring peace to the situation.

Let's not also forget the power of nonviolent resistance - by going to the source of the hate speech and letting our preference be know, we can have an impact. Yes, it takes some work - writing letters to the stations that broadcast these programs and letting them know we will not listen to their station. Writing to the advertisers who support these programs and let them know we won't buy their products. Ask others to do the same; organize a cause or boycott. This is the heart of nonviolent resistance, the heart of change. I can do this, I can make a difference, because where it starts is right here - Peace Begins with ME!

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