Consider this, an almost unthinkable scenario: A universe without violence. Where no child is abused, no wife battered, no friend raped. A universe without terror, without threats, without wounds from intentional actions.
Where the strong provide for the vulnerable, where the vulnerable become empowered, where every kind of family is safe and secure, and girls and boys and women and men have a fair and equal chance at the pursuit of happiness in a tolerant and talented society.
A universe without violence. Peace.
We can’t even imagine it. — The very thought eludes our grasp.
Why is that?
Is it our cynicism, a failure of our imagination, burn-out-disappointment seeing too much reality, gang killings, stalking, rapes, battering, child abuse, too many wars, or is it fear of failure, that we may not be able to be successful in achieving violence free-relationships, peaceful families and empowered communities — are we so afraid to even dare to imagine it and thus unable to even dream it?
I don’t have the answer.
But I know that Vision is the ability to see the Invisible.
To see beyond the violence and yet to place our selves in front of it — so we can take compassionate action and create peace — that’s my definition of courage.
We are surrounded by violence everyday. We see it, feel it, witness it or read and hear about it. Of course there’s also the heartbreaking violence of nature — hurricanes and earthquakes — but I am talking about intentional violence. The capacity for violence is within us. Just as the capacity for peace is within us. As humans we are perched on the precipice of violence almost every moment — we have that capability — including all of us — some reptilian part of our brains could at any moment defend us against a real or perceived threat. There is an alligator in all of us.
Each moment that we refrain from hurting another being by our speech, gesture, glance or deeds — we are exercising courage. Often, thank goodness, we are successful and in those quietly courageous moments — we are making peace.
My favorite definition of peace: PEACE “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, conflict, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still BE CALM IN YOUR HEART.”
VIOLENCE PREVENTION and PEACEMAKING is very messy, often uncomfortable, sometimes confrontational. Violence prevention is not peaceful work but it is the working toward peace. Advocating for social justice, equality, empowerment, institutional and attitudinal change, has brought many arguments, conflicts, unease — it has given me a lot of inner turmoil. The peace I feel in my heart comes from knowing that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
In December, the ILF will be 5 years old — big birthday — and I am taking a deep look at who we have become and who we want to be. We’ve changed most by being inclusive — by adding, not subtracting. We started with a focus on Intaki, then to the area of the Intaki Sovereignty, and perhaps now to an even larger area of colonies.
Over the years the ILF has practiced one of the most important kinds of courage–the courage to change. After all, we are an organization of social change makers. We have the most amazing staff — dedicated, knowledgeable — they work for more than a paycheck, Our volunteers do more than contribute their free time — they servants for this community.
And please remember the vision thing. Dare to make the invisible visible. Healthy relationships, peaceful families, empowered communities deserve the best of our imagination, and our never-ending commitment to make it happen. It is up to us.