I recently started teaching a conflict resolution course at a high school where I work. During my reflection on a recent class, four ideas emerged that I believe are central to a study on violence. These ideas are: Respect, Weakness, Power and Control.
When we were developing our group norms for the class, I asked each person to describe how they wanted to be treated in the class. Every one of them said respect or some variation of it. We went on to detail what respect looked like and it was clear that they were passionate about being respected.
What was interesting to me, about the value they placed on being respected, was their treatment of others in the class. While they maintained their value of respect, they mocked the weakness of others and some expressed that signs of weakness deserved to be taken advantage of. They said that if you don’t display strength or dominance it was OK to be controlled by others.
An attitude of power and control permeates our society and is rewarded. It is my desire to turn our conversations towards how we treat the weakest among us. Rather than just fighting for our rights, we should be fighting for the rights and compassionate treatment of others. In doing so we can raise individuals who care for rather than prey on one another. I believe that we can raise a caring society rather than a violent one. I believe in the capacity of our youth to reflect this compassion but we have to show it to them.
What are you doing to advocate for those who are mistreated because they are assessed to be weak? God says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” As busy as you might be, please do not neglect your birth responsibility to be a peacemaker. Otherwise, you might not be called a child of God.
The world needs more Peacemakers. Are you one?
I am calling for individuals who are willing to take a coordinated step of faith to become change agents for peace. Write back to me to let me know that you care and you want to be that change agent. The first step is to say yes to the call.