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Suzanne Kryder: We’re all faced with these ongoing threats of more terrorist attacks and I noticed myself, I worry a lot, particularly when I’m traveling. So what helps you the most to manage this kind of worry and to maintain inner calm?
Kolvig: One of my teachers once said to me; “If you want peace, if you want to be happy, then develop a heart that is ready for anything.” Easy to say, but I think for me, in part, developing inner peace in challenging times, keeping our heart open in hell which sometimes we are called on to do, means really engaging fear, really engaging the anxiety itself immediately.
Kryder: Engaging the anxiety. When I get anxiety, boy I’m sweating, my heart is pounding. How do I engage that?
Kolvig: Well Franklin Roosevelt, when he first became President, his very first words to this country are the ones that are most memorable. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” This was in the middle of the Great Depression. A lot of people were suffering.
In order to get past fear, to work our way through fear, we have to engage it directly to see what it is. Fear is always about something in the future. It’s never about something that’s happening in the moment. The future doesn’t exist. Fear is a projection of something that may or may not happen and when you see that, if you can see you’re simply projecting something into the future, you don’t have to believe it. You can say, “I don’t need to believe this.,” Then you come back to whatever your present situation, no matter how challenging it is. By reducing the fear, your present situation is much more workable.
Just one little example; years ago I was doing some deep therapeutic work and I was working with some severe trauma that I had as a child and as a result of doing that work, terror actually came up and not just in the therapeutic situation. So I was driving to work one day and I was experiencing terror. My hair was standing straight up, there were these waves of energy going through my body…a very intense experience. My mind happened to be strong at that moment and so I knew it was just fear and I was able to hold it. So as I just held fear there and just kept driving, I got to work and a co-worker greeted me and said, “How are you doing?” and I said, “Well, I’m experiencing terror right now, but otherwise I’m fine.” (audience laughter) And it was true. In that moment I didn’t have to believe the terror and so it was possible to feel all the physiological reactions and all of the contractions in the mind and say “okay, this is just fear.”
Ingles: Byron Katie is the originator of “The Work,” a strategy for dealing with inner conflict. Among her books; “A Thousand Names for Joy.”
Byron Katie: “The Work” is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. Everyone’s suffering and anyone can do it if they’re open to it. So let’s say, for example, I believed “he doesn’t care about me.” The first question is; “Is it true?” So I’m beginning to question the thought; “He doesn’t care about me.”
The second question; “Can I absolutely know that it’s true… he doesn’t care about me?” And then I notice how the mind begins to flood me with proof and images to convince me that it’s true and just to notice and wait and to allow another answer to surface.
And then that third question; “How do you react when you believe that thought?”
And the fourth question; “Who would you be without that thought?”
Then I invite people to turn it around to the opposite; “He doesn’t care about me.” The opposite would be, “I don’t care about me,” and that’s a mind blower. It’s like, how can I expect people to care about me if I don’t even care about me? Then I find the ways that I don’t care about me and it wakes me up to them and I’m shocked.
And then another opposite or turn around would be; “I don’t care about him,” and I begin to identify where that’s true and then immediately I’m awake to it and my behavior changes and it’s nothing I have to do. So my behavior with that person and everyone, it radically shifts because we’re working on original cause and mind is original cause. Mind is cause.
Ingles: Byron Katie’s husband and co-author Stephen Mitchell read an excerpt from the book “A Thousand Names for Joy” at the Santa Fe public event in February, 2007.
Mitchell: “Sadness is always a sign that you’re believing a stressful thought that isn’t true for you. It’s a constriction and it feels bad. Convention wisdom says differently, but the truth is that sadness isn’t rational, it isn’t a natural response, and it can’t ever help you. It just indicates the loss of reality, the loss of the awareness of love. Sadness is the war with what is. It’s a tantrum. When the mind is clear, there isn’t any sadness. There can’t be.”
Ingles: Marshall Rosenberg, is the originator of non-violent communication, a strategy for engaging with others.
Rosenberg: So non-violent communication says, “Let’s learn how to be honest about how we are.” First of all, to tell people specifically what they’re doing that is or is not contributing to our well-being and to be very specific about that, not to mix in any diagnoses or any analyses. You call that a clear observation.
And then once we’ve done that, we’re honest with people, but we’re honest with them from the heart by telling them what’s alive in us when they do that and that more specifically is how we feel, what emotions we feel and we connect our feelings to our needs and then we follow that up with the other question; “What would make life more wonderful?” and we answer that with a very clear request not using any fuzzy language, but exactly what would we like back from that person at this moment in response to what we have said, in response to the fact that some of our needs are not getting met by their behavior.
Ingles: We’re happy to have actor Linda Rodeck here with us today who are occasionally going to give voice to some of these concepts and role-play some with Marshall. Linda’s going to give us a brief before and after demonstration of NVC to get us started here. This is right from Marshall’s book, so here’s the before scene; Linda as a frustrated mom of a teenager.
Rodeck: “Thomas, I’ve told you a million times to keep this living room clean! You make me crazy! Pick up all these socks now or you’re not getting to use the car tonight.”
Ingles: Okay, so Marshall, let’s start with the “before” shot here. I’m guessing this approach sounds pretty familiar to listeners. Some would say there’s a firm threat of punishment there that may accomplish the goal of getting the socks picked up. What’s wrong with the picture?
Rosenberg: Well, what’s wrong with the picture is that it looks like the mother has single-mindedness of purpose to get the son to do what she wants and whenever we have single-mindedness of purpose, it’s our objective to get what we want. It leaves the other person with the impression that what’s alive in them doesn’t matter and when people believe that, they don’t enjoy doing what we’re asking them to do even if it’s something they would generally enjoy doing. And so they’re more likely then to resist doing it or do it with an energy we’ll pay for.
Ingles: Okay, so from Marshall’s book now, another option, same scenario; frustrated mom with a teenager…this time using NVC.
Rodeck: “Thomas, when I see two balls of dirty socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV, I feel irritated because I’m needing more order in the rooms that we share in common. Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?”
Ingles: So how do the components work here to make this more effective in your view?
Rosenberg: She did say what she observed. She said her feeling and needs and made a clear request. She used the mechanics perfectly. But many people use the mechanics hoping that it will be a way of getting what they want. (audience laughter) Because one of the hardest things for people to give up in using non-violent communication is the objective of winning; getting what you want. Now when I say that, many people think that I’m suggesting you be a chump and just give up your needs and give in. No, not at all. The objective is to create the quality of connection that will get everybody’s needs met, but that means we cannot be addicted to getting our request fulfilled by the other person. It means we’re more interested in the quality of connection than in any specific result.
Ingles: Psychologist Daniel Goleman is the author of books like “Emotional Intelligence” and “Social Intelligence.”
Kryder: What is it about the brain that prevents people from getting along better than we do?
Goleman: Well you know, our brain is wired for a different reality than we live in today. The brain, human brain, was shaped over about 80,000 generations in evolution when we mostly lived on savannahs and we were dealing with real life urgent dire threats; gnarling tigers, dangerous rustles in the woods that warned us something was happening. And so now we’re attuned to a range of dangers that we don’t face. Instead, we face symbolic dangers. This is one of the complications.
Kryder: And that symbolic danger is, for example, if somebody steps in front of you in the line at the post office, it’s like you’re being attacked, but really nothing’s wrong.
Goleman: Well, that’s exactly right. I mean the danger, the threat can be something like someone else took credit for my work or hearing your spouse say, “Honey, we have to talk,” or any of those kinds of messages that we get that we might take as a potential threat. But, in fact, biologically there’s no threat at all and yet we respond with the same surge of stress hormones and shifts of blood to our limbs so we can run or fight. So we respond with kind of an overkill to threats in today’s life.
Kryder: And what can people do? What can our listeners do to mediate that overkill that you talk about when we’re more reactive than we need to be?
Goleman: Well, one thing I or any of us can do is remind ourselves that our first urge to get angry or to be really fearful is probably coming from the amygdala and we need to give the rest of our brain time to catch up. So just taking a pause, kind of a mindful pause, before we respond is essential.
I remember going to a classroom in New Haven, Connecticut. On the wall of every room there was a poster, a stoplight, red light, yellow light, green light that says; “When you’re getting upset, remember the stoplight; red light, stop, calm down and think before you act.” That’s the critical piece; to realize that our emotions come to us unbidden. We don’t expect them. We don’t ask for them. They come from an unconscious part of the brain, but once we feel a certain way, we have a choice point which is how we respond. Yellow light; think of a range of different things you could do. Green light; pick the best one and try it out. Well, kids at the schools are taught to use it from kindergarten on, but I think it’s good advice for any of us.
Ingles: A 2010 Youth Voices episode of our series included conversations with youngsters at a Universalist Church in Albuquerque about how to make peace.
Boy: I can make more friends and that would probably work.
Ingles: How would you do that?
Boy: First you say, “Hi.” That’s pretty easy. Two; you let them answer. That’s step two basically. You try to get to know them. Of course you try to get to know them! Find out where from the world they’re from. You find out what language they speak.
Girl: I think something I can do every day would be…living like I was going to die in five seconds or die tomorrow and just living every day as best as you can and not wasting your energy on something silly like somebody took your pencil and you’re angry because that was your pencil and you got it first. If you were to not be able to see that person ever again and the last thing you said to that person was “I’m never talking to you again,” or something really hurtful, you’re going to regret it and later they’re not your friend anymore because you were mean to them over a pencil.
Girl: Well take Martin Luther King for an example. He was trying to make world peace for the African Americans and he was saying to them don’t fight about it. The white men are your brothers, so we shouldn’t fight each other, we should just tell ourselves that we are African Americans and we have rights too.
Ingles: Former West Point grad and army captain Paul Chappell has written several books on peacemaking after his stint in the service.
Chappell: Because if you look at Martin Luther King, Jr., he was getting dozens of death threats a day, his house was bombed, he was arrested multiple times, he was eventually killed, but you never saw him talk about the people who were pressing him in this demonizing, dehumanizing way that you see liberals talk about conservatives and vice versa and he had much more right to demonize his opponent.
Or if you look at Frederick Douglas who came out of slavery, you didn’t hear him using that demonizing, dehumanizing language aboit white people. Or if you look at Gandhi how he talked about the British. He didn’t talk about the British in this demonizing way. And of course he had much more right to because look at the conditions he was living in. Look at the conditions King was living in. Or look at Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years and he was actually able to win the hearts and minds of some of his prison guards through having a respectful attitude towards them.
So the thing about waging peace is that you respect them as a human being and you recognize that in this struggle, your opponent is ignorance, your opponent is hatred, your opponent is greed, your opponent is misunderstanding and you want to attack their hatred and defeat it. You want to attack their ignorance. You want to attack their misunderstanding. If you hate them back or if you demonize them, you actually magnify their hatred. By respecting them, it opens a doorway where you can directly attack their hatred, attack their ignorance. And you can’t convert everybody from that opposing point of view, but as King and Mandela and Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony and many others showed, you can convert quite a number and enough to create critical mass in how people think.
Ingles: Dorothy Cotton worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s and spoke to Peace Talks Radio in 2005.
Cotton: “Thou shalt not kill” should apply not just to individuals, but that it should apply to nations. And I think that Dr. King would use his last bit of energy to try to get that message out and talk about the fact, teach and preach about the fact, that we must have a revolution of values and really work to change our thinking.
I saw him as someone who would not give up this philosophy. He has indeed said, “If I am the last lone voice calling for non-violence, that I will do,” and I believe that that’s what he would be doing today.
King: “And all my friends, if there is any one thing that I would like for you to remember this evening, it is the fact that somebody must have sense in this world, somebody must have sense enough to meet hate with love. Somebody must have sense enough to meet physical force with soul force. If we will but try this way, we will be able to change these conditions and yet at the same time win the hearts and souls of those who have kept these conditions alive.”
“And I know the temptations. I know the temptation which comes to all of us. We’ve been trampled over so long. I know the temptation that comes to all of us. We’ve seen the viciousness of lynching mobs with our own eyes.”
“We need not use violence. There is another way. A way as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth, as modern as the techniques of Mohandas K. Gandhi. There is another way. A way as old as Jesus saying, ‘Love your enemy. Bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you.’ As modern as Gandhi said through Thoreau, non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. There is another way. A way as old as Jesus saying ‘Turn the other cheek.’ When he said that he realized that turning the other cheek might bring suffering sometimes. He realized that it may get your home bombed sometimes. He realized that it may get you stabbed sometimes. He realized that it may get you scarred up sometimes. He was saying, in substance, that it is better to go through life with a scarred up body than a scarred up soul. There is another way. This is what we've got to see.”
Ingles: Our series on peacemaking and non-violent conflict resolution often spotlighted great figures in peacemaking history like Mahatma Gandhi. Our Carol Boss spoke with Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi in 2005.
A. Gandhi: He made me draw a family tree of violence on the same principles as a genealogical tree with violence as the grandparent with two offspring; physical violence and passive violence. And every day before I went to bed, I had to examine everything that happened during the day and analyze it and put it in the appropriate part on the tree. If it was the kind of violence where physical force was used, then it would go under physical violence, but if it’s the kind of violence where no force is used, and yet I hurt people, then it would go under passive violence.
And when I began to do this, within a few months, I filled up a whole wall in my room with acts of passive violence> That’s when I realized how much passive violence we commit.
And then grandfather explained to me the connection between the two. He said we commit passive violence all the time, every day, consciously and unconsciously. That generates anger in the victim and the victim then resorts to physical violence to get justice. So it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence. So logically if we want to put out the fire of physical violence, we have to cut off the fuel supply.
And since the fuel supply comes from each one of us, we have to become the change we wish to see in the world.
Ingles: 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari of Finland talked with us in 2011 about one of his peacemaking heroes Nelson Mandela.
It also shows how important the role of one single human being is in these processes and particularly, not the mediator so much, but on the side of the parties who have to make an agreement.
Therefore when I was asked in 2009 to join “The Elders” group with Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, I wrote Archbishop Tutu that this is one of the requests that I can’t say no.
In my office, I have two paintings. They are both presents from President Mandela to me and my wife. I will not allow any other paintings on my walls. I have also a piece of a rock from Robben Island that he gave to me when I was visiting him when he was President. That reminds me every day that there is not a single problem in the world that cannot be solved.
Ingles: Peace Talks Radio began its run as a series on New Mexico’s KUNM in January, 2003 with a goal to give listeners information and inspiration to reduce some of the conflict in their own lives. So on our first series program, Victor LaCerva author of the book called “Pathways to Peace” talked with Suzanne Kryder about how to parent more peacefully.
LaCerva: Well, I think part of it is to just become in touch with some very basic notions.
The first basic notion I would say is that all feelings are okay, all behaviors are not. For example, I could have skillfully said with my two children, “It’s fine for you to be mad at your sister. Find another way of expressing that feeling than hitting her.”
Real different feel when we use that “I feel” followed by an emotion word. Whenever you use “you,” you put the other person on the defensive. They feel attacked and so on. If you started with just “I feel upset,” “I feel scared.”
Another typical example would be the toddler who gets lost in the grocery store or in Wal-Mart. The first reaction of the parents is angry. You see this reaction all the time. You know, “Where were you? Don’t you ever do that again!” What’s really going on was “Gee, I was scared. I was afraid something happened to you.”
Kryder: Okay, so let’s slow that down. How do parents recognize that they’re really angry and what do they do right in that moment?
LaCerva: Okay, well, often we will notice in our bodies that there’s a change in our bodies because for example with anger, it’s based on the fight or flight response. There’s this hormonal cocktail in our bodies where our energy gets escalated; our pulse goes up, our pupils dilate, the blood goes to the big muscles of our system to prepare us to run away or to fight. So we can notice those changes, to notice where we first hold that tension. For some people it’s the back of their neck, for some people it’s their stomach, for me it’s my jaw. I know that when my jaw starts to get tight, that’s a signal to me that my anger meter, if you will, is beginning to move from not angry at all to being bugged, annoyed, irritated and I want to stop it as early in that cycle. I want to deal with it would be a better way to say it. I want to dance with it as early in that cycle as possible because it’s easier then to take a deep breath.
Ingles: A 2004 program featured New Mexico School Counselor Lucinda McConnell giving out tips on dealing with bullies.
Kryder: Lucinda, tell us a little bit about some of the strategies that you teach. You’ve got an acronym that has the six steps.
McConnell: Well one of the things that we teach the children and the adults in terms of how to respond to bullying is we use the acronym “HAHASO.” So that “H” in “HA” stands for help and that’s probably the most important one - asking for help if you’re being bullied. And it could be asking a peer. We really encourage students in the elementary years to go to an adult and we let them know that if that adult doesn’t help you, keep asking for help. Go home and talk to your parents. If that doesn’t work, go to your grandparents. Keep asking for help until someone really does something.
The “A” in the “HA” stands for assert yourself and I actually teach the children how to be assertive, what their body looks like when they’re being assertive, what the words need to sound like, the non-verbal communication that needs to go with assertive communication.
The other “HA,” the “H” stands for humor and many times, and this is a much more sophisticated skill so some of my younger students really kind of are challenged by it, but if the bully tries to intimidate you and your response is to turn it into a joke and laugh at yourself with whatever the put down or the name calling is, it totally deflates that bully’s need for power and control.
The other thing in the “HA” is another “A” and that stands for avoiding. And we talk about strategies. If you know the bully is walking home at the same time and you know that they travel the same streets that you do, you simply wait ten minutes before you leave the school so that you avoid the bully. So we teach real common sense ways of avoiding.
And then the “SO,” the “S” in “SO” stands for self-talk because I think many times, once a child or an adult becomes victimized and they accept that victim role, that it really influences our self-talk language; the dialogue that we have internally. And so I help children become aware of what their self-talk is saying and empower them so that they don’t feed into what the bully is saying and reinforce it in their own inner dialogue.
And then the last one is “O” and that’s own it. If the bully is making fun of a child that’s got freckles, they simply own the fact that they have freckles and they show him freckles on their arms and their legs and the backs of their ankles. It’s a lot like humor, but once again it deflates the intimidation and that threatening component in the bullying and many times it works.
Ingles: Steve Killelea created the Global Peace Index which ranks countries and even U.S. states on their peacefulness which, he argues, improves the business climate.
Kryder: Why should business care about peace?
Killelea: Business needs to care about peace because I think in many ways it lost dimension for one of the things which affect its markets. For example, we’ve done work analyzing the global economy and what we found from that is that if we look at 2010, $8 trillion were lost through violence.
Now it’s very, very hard to imagine a world which is actually 100% peaceful, but I think we could all imagine a world which is say, 25% more peaceful and that would equate to $2 trillion.
Now just to try and put that into some sort of perspective - that would be enough to pay off Greece, Ireland, and Portugal’s debt. It would be enough to fund carbon emissions, the 20/20/20 carbon emissions which the EU are after. It also would be enough to pay the millennium development goals and also leave $1 trillion over for additional economic expansion. Now this is not to say that it’s making a moral judgment that we don’t need police or that we don’t need an army. We certainly need a strong, robust army. But the question is, what is the size and what is it trying to accomplish?
Ingles: Lynne Twist wrote the book “The Soul of Money” and talked with us about all the conflict most people have around trying to make more of it.
Twist: We’re so enamored with content which means how much; how much money, how much time, how many emails, how much we’ve eaten or how much we haven’t eaten. We’re just obsessed with amounts and measurements. What really shifts things in life and changes the game is not the content of life, but the frame or context in which we perceive or from which we perceive life. And that’s where we all have an enormous amount of power.
And so when I talk about the “context” of sufficiency, or the “context” of enough, I want to kind of remove people from trying to understand; well, what is enough? Is it this much money in the bank or this much money in retirement? I don’t want to get caught with people in that conversation, but rather that there is a space and a place to live from where you start to experience the “enoughness” of life. That the needs of you and me and really the needs of life are met, sometimes in miraculous and exquisite ways. And that if we let go of trying to get more of what we don’t really need, it frees up tons of energy to turn and make a difference with what you already have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands. That’s a “context” or a “principle” of sufficiency.
Ingles: Author Kim Rosen wrote a book called “Saved by a Poem” about losing all of her savings in the Bernie Madoff investment scam of 2009 and then finding a peaceful place again by reading poems, one in particular.
Rosen: It’s a poem called “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Before you know what kindness really is
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
Ingles: One of our most inspiring guests was Azim Khamisa whose son Tariq was murdered in a random act of gang violence on the streets of San Diego in 1995. Instead of seeking revenge, Azim forgave his son’s imprisoned killer and then partnered with the killer’s grandfather to create a school program aimed at stopping the violence. He talked with our Carol Boss.
Boss: In this era of media and video games with images that are filled with guns and violence, they’re so pervasive in this culture and they’re so attractive to youth, how is making good choices and non-violent choices presented in a way that draws them in, that is appealing to young students and something that they want to actually do?
Khamisa: Well, that’s a very good question. You’re right, the violence is extremely pervasive. We are by far the most violent first-world nation in the world. By the time our kids get to grade 8, they’ve seen 100,000 images of violence. But I started with a very simple premise; that violence is a learned behavior. Nobody was born violent. None of our children were born violent. We’ve accepted violence as a learned behavior. Non-violence can also be a learned behavior, but who teaches that? At Tariq Khamisa Foundation we do teach it.
Let me answer your question by an example. There are six key messages that we try and impart in these live assemblies. We have a lesson on empathy and empathy is a big word in some of these middle schools, so we usually have a theme and the theme on empathy is “I don’t know you until I walk a mile in your shoes and you don’t know me until you walk a mile in my shoes.”
There was a seventh grader named Alex who had all the signs; the swagger, the colors. You could see a want-to-be gang member all over this kid and somehow this lesson on empathy got to him. Then the homework is that they have to practice empathy for the whole week. They’re asked to share their homework on empathy and when the teacher asked who wants to share their lesson on empathy, it was Alex. Now remember, this is a kid who was the most disruptive kid in the class and what he said was very powerful. What he said was, “I was walking in my hood last weekend and this kid gave me a dirty, angry look. The rules of the hood are if a kid gives you a dirty, angry look, you go beat him up, but because you have taught me that you don’t know me until you walk a mile in my shoes, and I don’t know you until I walk a mile in your shoes, I walked up to this kid and said, ‘why are you giving me a dirty look?’ So the kid said to me ‘I’m not giving you a dirty look, I’m angry because my brother was shot and killed last night.’ “ “So what did you do Alex?” “I held his hand,” he said. “We cried together. I gave him a hug. I told him, ‘I know how you feel because I lost my uncle six months ago.’” One lesson! And you think that this kid walks the hood every weekend. Tell me you can’t teach non-violence! There’s power in this. What could have been a fight became a compassionate action.
One of the key messages we teach is that from conflict, love and unity are possible.
Ingles: New Mexico peace enthusiasts Eric Sirotkin and Kathleen O'Malley have made trips to countries in conflict with the U.S. They talked about the philosophy of peaceful protest with us in 2004.
Sirotkin: Peace seems to bubble up in places that are very unexpected and we can’t focus on the end result always because some things are just either not in our control either practically, politically or spiritually, but they are really an unknown sometimes. But we know why we’re doing what we’re doing.
O’Malley: And maybe the fact that we know why we’re doing it is reason enough. What I was trying to say is that I think I have to let go of the consequences. I know I always tell this one story, but it really is one I hold on to. It’s about my little Zen bird who starts off on a long flight across a massive country. And as the bird flies, he sees a little wisp of smoke off in the distance. The bird approaches a huge billowing smoke and recognizes that there’s a monstrous fire that’s destroying the land. The bird turns around and goes back to where he started because there’s a little tiny pond there. He goes down and gets a drop of water to start the flight back to the fire.
I remember hearing that story and being so disturbed by it. The dharma instructor at the end of that story said, “And this is how you must live; knowing it won’t make any difference. And you have to do it anyway.”
I think in moments in times like this, at least for me, I keep carrying that drop knowing it probably won’t make any difference and I have to do it anyway.
Ingles: Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams work with the effort to ban landmines won her the prize in 1997. She talked with Peace Talks Radio in 2007.
Williams: I think we have to seize on what peace really is. Peace isn’t wimpy. Peace is hot. Peace is sexy. Peace is hard work. There are a lot of cool, wonderful, hardworking people who work for a better world. I don’t care what you do. I care that you care about something enough to do something about it whether it’s the environment, whether it’s stopping nukes, whether it’s cluster bombs, whether it’s gender equality. I don’t care what it is, but if you really care, volunteer some time. You don’t have to be a fulltime activist to make a difference.
I think that part of what happens in today’s world is we’re purposely overwhelmed with all the gross things out there. We’re turned into “Stepford” citizens, automatons who think that we cannot make a difference in the world so why bother. I totally disagree with that. Imagine if everybody of goodwill just in this country volunteered one hour a month at some organization working on something they care about whether it’s community, it doesn’t have to be international, all of it adds up to a different world. It doesn’t take great drama to bring about change. All it means is getting up off your butt, finding an organization that’s working on something you care about and volunteering.
Ingles: We heard tapes of John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their famous Montreal bed-in for peace in 1969. In 2009, to mark the 40th anniversary of Lennon’s song “Give Peace a Chance,” Yoko Ono talked with Peace Talks Radio.
Interviewer: What would you say to people like Richard Nixon?
Lennon: I’d say do something positive about it and it really is economical to have peace Mr. Nixon and you’d be really popular if you did.
Man: What should he do?
Lennon: He should just declare peace. Peace, Peace, Peace, Peace, Peace, Peace. Peace in your mind, peace on earth, peace at work, peace at home, peace in the world.
Ingles: Yoko Ono, what do you remember most about how “Give Peace a Chance” came together in 1969 in Montreal?
Ono: Well that was something that we decided to do and it was very, very enjoyable in a way. I think it’s good to do something that is so serious with joy and fun. We had great fun doing it and I think that’s the secret of it. It sounds like that in the song and we were sort of up.
Ingles: Was there much aforethought or conversation between you and John that it might in fact become an anthem for rallies or for generations to come?
Ono: There was an inclination. Of course all song that we make and that John makes, especially if it’s to do with something political, he knows exactly what should be done to make it simple so that people can repeat it or whatever. We didn’t think about the fact that it might really spread and that’s a very interesting thing about it and the other song, “Imagine”, too.
Ingles: One thing I love about these film clips (in a recent video) where I get to see more of these interviews you gave during the bed-ins is, particularly you, challenged folks a couple of times. There would be a journalist or someone would come in and start blaming the government or the establishment and you very poignantly turned to them and said, “No, it’s you, it’s us, it’s our responsibility.”
Ono (from Video): The whole world will be in war if we don’t start to change people’s minds. That’s the only way we can get peace.
Interviewer (from Video): You have to stop the monster that’s bringing the world down.
Ono (from Video): Monster? We are the monster. You are the monster. Okay? You’re the monster who is lazy and who doesn’t think about the fact that we are all responsible.
Ono (to Ingles): All of us live in this society and each one of us will have to do our best to make this society a better place to live for ourselves. I mean it’s not just for ourselves, but for our children as well and for the world.
Ingles: Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter talked with us the year he won the prize in 2002.
Carter: One of the things that I’ve learned in the 20 since I left the White House much more clearly than I did when I was President – is that there’s no way to separate a commitment to justice and peace and freedom and democracy and human rights and environmental equality and the alleviation of suffering. In order to maintain peace in a country, you really have to deal with the most abject facets of life because quite often when people have no hope and no self-respect and no prospect of their existence, they tend to turn to anger and begin a civil war or lash out at their neighbors. So you can’t separate the alleviation of suffering or environmental degradation where they lose their land, lose their streams, from their inclination to despise their leaders or even to hate distant success stories like in America, so they’re all interrelated. That’s the basic point.
Ingles: Former democratic Congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich, on reasons for hope on the peacemaking front.
Kucinich: What happens every time there’s a peace agreement? I mean when you look at what Jimmy Carter was able to put together years ago in making a move towards peace in the Middle East where you had the leader of Israel actually put his life on the line. There are so many instances where people are willing to take risks to try to make this a better world. Some of them are not that well heralded, but there’s a feeling that takes place all over the country and there are people who try to settle fights inside of the school, people who see their loved ones involved in conflict and try to lead them out of it, people who see things happen in a workplace and try to lend a gentle tone to things. This is going on all around the world and we need to further that impulse and to encourage the unfolding of what Franklin Roosevelt called many years ago “The science of human relations” in the workplace, in our schools, in our homes and celebrate each person’s contribution.
We have a Nobel Peace Prize that’s awarded yearly and yet there should be recognition of individuals at pretty much a local level who are performing works every day where they help to create peace.
Ingles: James O’dea is a former top name in Amnesty International and former president at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, who now leads online trainings on how to become a peace ambassador.
O’dea: What we try to do is activate people to release their essential qualities because that’s the key. It’s not what my design is for you to do, what I think you ought to be doing for peace. It’s reframing of peace around my essential qualities. What are my gifts? Maybe it’s poetry. Maybe it’s dancing. Maybe it’s wildly different than I could ever imagine doing. That’s what you should be doing for peace; you should be releasing that sense of your qualities. That’s where the energy will pick up, the connectivity will pick up and you will be creatively engaged in that culture of peace that we’re trying to frame, that you will be living out your responsibility to do something.
Ingles: In an episode of Peace Talks Radio that explored the move towards peace of the Administration of John F. Kennedy, we aired his famous speech to American University students in June of 1963, just five months before his assassination. In it, he challenged Americans to think deeply about the process of making peace with the Soviets during the height of the Cold War.
Kennedy: But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes as individuals and as a nation. For our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the Cold War and towards freedom and peace here at home. We must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together.
In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete.
When a man’s way please the Lord, the scriptures tell us, “He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace in the last analysis basically a matter of human rights; the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation? The right to breath air as nature provided it, the right of future generations to a healthy existence?
But we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interest and the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war, we do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough, more than enough of war and hate and oppression. [applause]
We shall be prepared, if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it, but we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid we must labor on, not towards a strategy of annihilation, but towards a strategy of peace. [applause]