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Front Page » July 2, 2002 » Opinion » A Family Of Peacemakers
Published 4,309 days ago

A Family Of Peacemakers


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By PAULA WELLNITZ


Everyday there are new reports of person to person and international violence. Standard remarks made are "Isn't it awful!" "Why do people do such things?" Then the person goes on to live life as usual�to make no attempt to consciously change, to do what one or a few people can do to prevent violence.

I prefer to refer to the issue as one of "making peace." This means consciously finding out what brings about violence and what makes for peaceful dealing with conflict. Then we can do as Ghandi said, "If we are to reach real peace in the world, we have to begin with children."

There are more and more classes being taught at the college and high school level on what peace really is and how to bring it about. In some rare places, it is part of the way teaching takes place at the elementary level. Rather than focusing on police in the hallways; actions for security that show distrust of others, some places are taking positive steps toward cooperation and peacemaking.

However, to best touch children, teaching about how to live peaceably begins at birth. At least that soon. As one student wrote for his paper in a college course on peace, "Q- Why are we violent but not illiterate? A- Because we are taught to read."

So, over time, I'd like to discuss some ideas that you may find useful in your family to enable all the members to be peacemakers.

One helpful fun thing I've mentioned before, is to use cooperative games to develop the spirit of working together. You can make your own up as well as buying equipment. This can be a way for all to get done what needs to be done for the family, not with a "sour" face but with a certain pleasure in the learning as well as experiencing the peaceful result.

We know the time of the "Terrible Twos" when a child begins to recognize self and what s/he wants. They are the center of their world and not aware of others except as a benefit for self. Have we ever made the connection between that and some people, groups, nations, that continue to think and act in that fashion.

There is a need to be reflective ourselves so we can be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. In and outside of a relationship, a system, we need to take the time to try to be aware of what is happening "on the other side of the fence." We need to do more than just to go over how "I" feel, as though "I" were all correct. Maybe� as I become aware of that "other side"�I will realize they have a point or their feelings need to be taken into account.

As parents do this individually and together, they are showing their children how to do it. Also with their children then, they will be able to help each work through conflictive situations in their own young lives.

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