Posts Tagged ‘Peacemakers’

Staypeaceful

During last semester’s service learning project, the students identified peace as the theme they wanted to target. Community members who attended the Peace Fest that the young people organized were introduced to the following 4 categories of peace: Freedom, Inner Peace, Nonviolence and Equality. While this year’s cohort of service learners may identify a totally different theme to target their efforts on, I want last year’s work to continue.

During upcoming months I will delve deeper into each category. I’m not sure where or how long this exploration will take me but I invite you to join me and provide your feedback, as I post on this important topic of peace. I pray that we each would be encouraged to seek peace in our world as we focus on the areas of Freedom, Inner Peace, Nonviolence and Equality.

Before I present my own ideas, I want you to mark each of these categories in your mind to prepare yourself for this journey. Invite others to join us as we use this time to have a positive impact on ourselves and our community.

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Stay Peaceful.

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Lately, media coverage would have you believe that the youth of this city are on the wrong path. But then you encounter a group like the team of 12 students in Algiers, who recently decided they wanted to make “peace” the focus of their senior community service requirement, and you realize that hope is alive.

The Algiers Peace Fest, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Brechtel Park, is the brain child of a group of students working with Positive Impact, a youth community service organization.

“We talked about what service learning means and different things we could focus on, but we all agreed that peace needed our attention,” said Kenneth Barnes, a local senior in Algiers.

The group of teens came up with the idea of bringing together community organizations as a sign of unity, and they have been meeting weekly at the Algiers Regional Library to plan the event. The fest will focus on different aspects of peace including inner peace, nonviolence, equality and freedom.

“We didn’t even realize when we picked that day that it fell during National Crime Victims Week,” said Shane Delery, a student participant. “I guess it was good timing because you can’t have a peaceful community or inner peace when you see so much crime in the city.”

The community is invited to come out and participate in the Peace Fest, which will include:

  • Peace through Knowledge: Tables and stations set up by various community groups exploring aspects of peace and nonviolence
  • Peace through Art: A community “peace art” project
  • Peace through Nature: A volunteer clean-up and planting of a “peace butterfly garden”
  • Peace through Community: Flag football game

The community will also be encouraged to explore aspects of inner peace by taking a walk down the park’s trail, which will have multiple self-guided “mindfulness” stations.

Businesses and community groups interested in participating or hosting a table should contact Alan Delery at 504-343-3432 or alan@positiveimpactnola.org.

NOTES:

Brechtel Park is located at 4401 Lennox Ave., New Orleans (Westbank/Algiers)

There is a vehicle entrance fee at the park: $1 for Orleans Parish brake tags; $2 for all other vehicles (for buses: $5 fee with Orleans brake tag/$10 for all others)

by Alan Delery

peace-sign

Several weeks ago, I began the service learning process, with a group of high school students, to develop a youth-led community service initiative. The first step was to brainstorm and plan a project around their interest. After exploring a wide range of themes, ranging from the environment to hunger and homelessness, Peace was identified as their top area of interest.  The following are their ideas around peace that we will use as a foundation for our planning and implementation. Today, I  am simply asking you to read and reflect on the meaning of peace,  in their own words.

  • Peace is calm and content without violence It’s being happy with what’s going on around you and within yourself.
  • To me, peace means solving conflicts without violence or wars or negative things. Peace is when you can come to an understanding with others and trust others.
  • Peace is everyone living together in non-violence despite differences.
  • My definition of peace is freedom living with no anxiety and I can do whatever I need to do without limits.
  • Calm, no drama, no fighting, just chilling!
  • Equality (Racial, gender). Less violence and lack of judgment.
  • When you’re calm and relaxed.
  • The absence of harm or stress.
  • Fair opportunity and treatment.
  • Everything the United States of America owes us, as well as a peaceful soul, mind, body, etc.

We will keep you updated on their next steps and reflections as they embark on a journey of civic engagement. Your skills and talents may also be called upon as they put their thoughts into action. 

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Stay Peaceful

I’ve been talking about the Beatitudes for the purpose living life as a peacemaker. The Message translation says, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s Family.” (Matthew 5:9) My life has been dedicated to this cause and I have considered myself blessed for it. That does not mean that I do not face situations that challenge my beliefs. It is not always easy to pursue peace with all men especially when you have been triggered by someone or simply find yourself in a situation where you unintentionally trigger someone with your words or actions.

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving down the road when another driver started to sway into my lane. I noticed he was talking on his cell phone and I quickly decided to tap my horn. I was thinking it might be safe to get his attention. Little did I know that my actions would become his trigger. My impression of his response was that he lost his mind. He yelled at me, swerved his car as if he was going to side swipe me then sped up to get in front of me and hit his breaks. I quickly got into the next lane over to avoid him. It’s difficult to explain the remaining sequence of events but due to traffic, I managed to get into a slower lane and avoid further interaction with him.The maneuvering lasted for another mile and I had ample time to think of how I wanted to handle things.

If necessary, I prepared myself to ram him if he got out of the car. I considered what weapons I had at my disposal. Would I keep my windows rolled up or would I try to calm him down if he caught me at a red light. I have to tell you, the adrenaline began to rush as I considered my response. Would I fight, flight or freeze?

I decided it wasn’t worth the possible consequences of a face to face standoff so I hit a left turn to go into a neighborhood to avoid further interaction. As he was still in front of me, I did not know if the driver would hit a turn at the next block to search me out as he was definitely trying to engage with me further.

As I drove my new route to get to my destination, I continued to be on guard, considering my next steps. Fortunately I never saw him again but I was still shaken up and thought of what I needed to do to keep myself safe. I even thought, I should have had a gun on me.

I’ve shared my thoughts because I find it interesting that even a person like me, who seeks peace and have a career teaching people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight, could find myself in a situation where I would have considered using a gun if it was at my disposal. I thought how quickly things escalate to violence. While I’m still not convinced that I would not own a gun for protection, I’m overwhelmed with sadness to think how fast life can be lost and the ultimate effect of it on society.

While I’m sure a conversation could go many ways, I want to go back to Jesus’ teaching where the King James translation says, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” I don’t think any translation says, “Blessed are the Safe”.

While I’ve spent my life trying to develop safe communities, we have not been promised that. We live in a violent world and we have to be prepared to meet our maker at any time. I’m believing for long life but more importantly, I want to live a life of obedience to my creator. All of the Beatitudes  are about living according to God’s Kingdom which does not operate according to the ways of this world.

As I close, I want you to consider Jesus’s words that came immediately before He instructed us to be peacemakers. He said, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart– put right . Then you can see God in the outside world.” (The Message)

Sometimes our commitment to God’s way does not coincide with the “Safe way” and we must draw on His strength to pursue peace with all men. (Meditate on that and let those words take you where they will.)

Peace,

Alan (Little Rock) Delery

 

peaceBWI 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.