W A V E

Founders of WAVE

April 1996

WAVE was founded in April 1996 when 6 people – a Scotsman, 2 Canadians and 3 Americans - met on the internet to discuss how to create a world without violence. The decision to form WAVE had grown out of an initial conversation between George Hosking and Donna Wodke, following which George sent the following message to a number of other people with whom he was in contact:

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a life, a world, with less violence, where children grow up happy and responsible, where parents love children and children love their parents, without fear? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the world gave up violence as a way of influencing others, whether on the street, in the home, or between nations? I think such a world can be created - and the first step is to explore what is needed to change the violence inside all of us, then to address that issue. Should we join in forming a movement to create such a world?"

In addition to Donna, 4 other people responded to the invitation to join the first meeting, which took place using a CompuServe internet chat room. At this meeting these 6 people formally founded WAVE. The following introductions were shared by each of the Founders soon afterwards:

Judy Bell

Hello All

I am very pleased to meet you....and also to participate in a group committed to tackling the issue of violence and abuse.

I am the Director of Labour Relations....for a large health district ....in Canada....the province of Saskatchewan.....I have directly seen the effect abuse/violence has taken on people...(women in the workplace).....and indirectly.....as a member of the health care team...

Small advances have been made here....women can now stay in the home...and need not leave to stay in "safe" shelters....or transition houses....In situations of violence....it is the aggressor that must leave....and automatic restraining orders will be granted.....A drop in the bucket...however....for it doesn't address...the women....who are not able....for many reasons....(all of which you must be keenly aware)...to report their situation to the authorities....

I am most interested in finding out what others are doing....both privately and through the creation of public policy and legislation.....

I look forward to discussing this matter with you further....

Judy Bell
Saskatchewan, Canada. June 1996

Karyl Chastain

Hi! I am honoured to hear you will work with us as we start to create an organisation whose mission will be peace.

Basically, I am a fifth grade teacher (I've taught 22 years) and I have two children, who are almost grown. My whole life has changed during the past few years, because I helped a friend escape from a violent marriage, and then I learned that my mother had also nearly been killed by one of her husbands.

I realised they were not unique, so I did much research locally, as well as nationally on the issue of domestic violence. The one factor that glared at me every step of the way was that the children are the greatest victims, and that unless we find an effective way to intervene, each generation to come is at greater risk.

Locally, I began an organisation whose mission is to start a shelter for battered women and their children and to offer support services to rape survivors. We have been incorporated a year and a half, but we still do not have the money for the shelter. Nevertheless, we are making a difference in our community through community education and support groups.

At this point in my life, I feel my whole life has been leading me to the mission of helping to find a way to bring peace into the lives of all children. I have been sexually abused myself, so I have a special empathy for children who are innocent victims of this insidious violation.

I am excited about WAVE and its potential. I realise we may fumble and flounder, but the deep sense of commitment I have felt from George, and the positive impression I have had of those who have been in contact with me, is truly moving.

In our own isolated little worlds we may be making a difference, but together, we can start the journey to a world of peace for all.

Peace,

Karyl Chastain :-)
Pavo, Georgia, USA. June 1996

Joanne Doucette

Thank you to the other members of WAVE for their messages and introductions. I too am a sexual abuse survivor who has been involved in working to end violence against women.

I am 43. I live in Toronto with my lover, and our cat Pax. My partner and I are both disabled. I have a hereditary muscle disorder which causes some joint problems and my partner is severely hard-of-hearing.

I was raised in a small rural village east of Toronto. The village was founded by Quakers who came here from Pennsylvania around the beginning of the nineteenth century to avoid conscription and war. Because of the violence, both physical and sexual, that I went through when I was a kid (at the hands of a neighbour), I became fascinated with nature, religion and violence. Nature – because I often escaped to the woods to find safety and solace (and the woods were "lovely, dark and deep"). Religion – because God was the only one I felt safe talking to – and He never yelled and always listened. And violence – because I wanted it to stop.

The violence against me finally did stop, but my family environment was very violent too. As a teenager, I was the "good girl" in the family. Both my sisters got pregnant young and left home. My brother ran away as well. I was raised Anglican (Church of England or Episcopalian), but became Mennonite in my teens because of the non-violent aspect of the church. However, I didn't stay with the Mennonite Church – it is very much a culture (Pennsylvania Dutch) and you almost have to be born to it. Everyone in my church was related many times over. For a few years I went to different churches. I ended up with a pretty severe mental breakdown when I was in my early twenties. A group of Catholic nuns took me in and I eventually converted to Catholicism. At that time in the early Seventies, there was very little recognition of the impact or reality of childhood sexual abuse, and the therapists I was seeing told me that it was "a projection of my incestuous desire for my father". Not good, but I pushed on in my own recovery – eventually recognising that part of the reason that I was not sexually attracted to men had nothing to do with the sexual abuse – I am a lesbian. I came out of the closet and left my faith and the Church far behind. (Or, maybe, I should say, there was no room for me in the Church).

I am a feminist and went to work for a women's centre (and a battered women's shelter) in the early eighties. I was seeing a lot of abused women and some of these women had disabilities. There were few places that were accessible to refer them to. I met another feminist who happened to be in a wheelchair. We co-founded a national organisation for women with disabilities. I went on to do the first study in Canada on violence against women with disabilities and lectured and gave workshops on this through most of the eighties.

In 1988, I returned to school to study painting, but in 1990 went back into the workforce. I am now an admin assistant in the largest translation and interpreting service in Canada. I am very involved in helping people to connect with nature through camping, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, birdwatching, etc. My workshops and trips have elements of teaching about plants, their lore, animals, tracks, etc.; exercise (backpacking is hard work!); and spirituality or eco-philosophy.

I am very interested in anything that would help people centre themselves, connect with each other and other species in a non-violent, respectful way. I believe that we are at a turning point, a crisis, where we either choose to heal each other and our environment and re-green the planet or we will inevitably slip-slide our way down into a global environmental breakdown. But I have great hope because we are a species that can choose.

Pax

Joanne Doucette
Montreal, Canada. June 1996

George Hosking

I suppose my first step on this path happened a few years ago with a horrendous child cruelty case in London. A little girl had been murdered by her parents. Before she died she had been systematically tortured – over a period of years. I could not, and cannot, lose the image, the sense, of that little girl's life from my mind. I decided then I was not willing to live in a world where such things occur to defenceless children, while I do nothing about it.

My business experience, where I lead international companies into creating new, effective strategies, overcoming seemingly insuperable obstacles, has led me to believe that business skills can be used to help address this issue. My experience as a psychologist has led me to have enough of a sense of some of the root causes of violence to believe we can do something about them. And some past experience has led me to believe people can achieve results – if (a) they are truly committed, and (b) they take the trouble to find out what works and what doesn't in influencing decision-makers. So – I believe it is possible to change the world. I realise it may take 100 or even 500 years; that does not make it less worthwhile. We are talking of the lives of billions of children.

My problem was I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to rush into action, and spend years doing something irrelevant. I realised I needed more knowledge. I began to identify sources of know-how on the subject, to speak to people who knew something about it, and to read. Soon after I decided to contact experts all over the world, who had researched the causes of violent behaviour, and ask them what was missing – what needs to be put in place such that all the knowledge there is about this subject all around the world can be converted into real, effective, practical action – action which actually changes things. I thought this might either show a consensus about what is missing (and the next step might be to act on that), or show different or opposing viewpoints – in which case the next step might be to find ways to resolve the differences (e.g. more research) or to call an international conference to discuss these different viewpoints, with the aim of producing a common agenda for action.

In all of this my aim has been that a programme for action should come into being, but – vitally – that the programme should be soundly grounded in facts, in the reality we are dealing with. I know it is rigorous attention to this which makes me effective in restructuring the profitability of businesses.

I soon discovered that there are other programmes already in action. A New England Quaker introduced me to very successful "Alternatives to Violence" projects being run in prisons in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand. Sten Odman wrote to tell me of the successful Non-Violence Project in Sweden.

In England the Gulbenkian Foundation set up a Commission which has reviewed world literature on the subject, and made a series of recommendations for action. Their report is excellent, and I am currently talking to members of the Commission about how we can have their proposals put into practice.

I'm also talking to one or two charities and foundations who may offer advice, support, introductions, assistance. though' almost everywhere in the UK I find the same problem – everyone trying to do anything worth while is spending most of their time trying to get money, rather than doing what they are actually good at.

The greatest source of inspiration in recent weeks has been the new friends I have made. I know I must not be stopped by the feeling that I'm alone, or that it's all hopeless, and you have each been a source of new ideas, new insights, and deeper understanding. Thank you.

Love and peace to you all

George Hosking
Woldingham, Surrey, England, June 1996

Donna Wodke

Hello All!

I am a psychotherapist in Chicago, IL, working at a group home for pregnant and parenting teens. Most of the girls I work with are wards of the state, having been removed from their homes for abuse and/or neglect. Furthermore, most of them have witnessed, or have even been victims of, more violence than I will probably see in my entire life.

I've been working in social services for over seven years. Amazing that I'm still with it! ;-) I started out in this field working at a mental health centre, managing a small emergency shelter program for homeless individuals and families, as well as doing crisis intervention and police social services. I moved into working with victims and witnesses of violent crimes at this agency, primarily because there was a need, and I was available to fill it. That program fit well with my personality and my interests, and I began to learn more and more about the effects of violence on the human psyche. Although I worked with a few kids in this program, my work there was primarily with adults.

I later began working at a large social service/child welfare agency on the south side of Chicago. I was working with kids who were wards of the stage, and, because I expressed an interest early on, most of the children I worked with there were not only victims of physical abuse and neglect, but sexual abuse, as well. I was doing home-based work, which brought me into the communities which some call (including myself) the war zones of Chicago.

I am now working in the suburbs, for the group home which I described earlier, but still working with kids who've been hurt, not only in their homes, but in their communities as well. Working with kids who've been hurt, I have begun to understand the trauma which violence causes in the lives of children. I work hard each day to turn that around in the kids I see; sometimes that can be difficult to do. I also know that, for each life I can touch, there are many, many more out there, still being traumatised by violence. I know there is only so much I can do for the kids I see...yet there's so much more to be done. Hence, my interest in a program such as WAVE, to work towards ending violence and cruelty towards children.

I am looking forward to working with all of you on this project, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Peace,

Donna Wodke
Chicago, Illinois, USA, June 1996

Paul Warner

I was born in Los Angeles in 1938 to Jewish parents and raised in California until my last year in high school. My parents divorced when I was six years old and both my brother and I were raised by our mother who had great difficulties at the end of the war when there was a stigma attached to divorced women. I was mostly raised in foster homes and a Jewish orphanage, though we were not orphans.

I started studying the piano at 7 years and it became my passion and refuge.

College years were spent at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). I was an English major and now my artistic passions brought me to the writing of poetry. At some point in my last year (1959), after having written perhaps 200 poems, I finally wrote my first truly great poem. Then promptly threw away all the early attempts at poetry and made a lifetime commitment to myself that POETRY would be my life's work.

Here is that first poem:


Whoever you are
walk out into twilight
and gaze at the blue
long enough
until you hear it.
Then breathe in deeply, deeply,
until you have drained
the last blue sound
into your soul.
Then close your eyes
and listen to the colour
fade within you.
When you are invisible
and have grasped the meaning,
Open your eyes
and gently, let them go . . .

As a parallel to my budding literary career, I continued to study piano, and began to compose music, only for myself. Since poetry was my life, I decided that music would be my secret treasure, known to only but a few. I was, and still remain, an absolutely incorrigible classical music freak.

After completing my studies at UCLA, I decided to go to Europe and live there. I settled in Italy, sitting in on classes in Art History at the University of Florence.

After three years I took a long Spanish freighter filled with emigrating Cubans fleeing Castro to New York, where I was to live for the next five years. I also was translating Chinese poetry by one of the world's finest poets who lived in the 8th century, TU FU.


To grasp the essence of all creatures
is to leave the secrets of nature untouched.
Fish are most joyous in deepest waters.
Birds love the refuge of their hidden jungles.
I am content being old, ill and poor.
Wealth and fame cannot bring one peace within.
So long as the clear autumn air lets me
stand and walk, I will be grateful
to eat the simplest herbs in solitude.

One day, I found myself in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and the Japanese pool, the beauty was so intense and gave such a feeling of awe and poetry, that I suddenly woke up and said to myself: What am I doing in New York? That day I made the decision to leave, but where on Earth would I go? I wound up in Maui, Hawaii, for the next 16 years of my life, living the dream come true, the beautiful life, becoming vegetarian, sorry, no violence toward animals for me, and learning all about natural health and spiritual philosophies. It was idyllic, suddenly all these dis-affected mainlanders were coming to Maui. We would go up to the waterfalls, take off our clothes, and go skinny-dipping for days on end, eating guavas off the trees. Swimming in the moonlight on crystal clear beaches, learning about the spiritual disciplines of far-off lands, studying massage, healing, kinesiology, herbs, natural medicine, etc. After years of this, I turned back to music and started creating music for the healing and well-being of others. One day, I recorded my piano compositions for the first time and was shocked to find out I was indeed a composer. Before long my first albums were released in 1979 and a musical career was on its way.

Here is a Whale poem from THE ORACLE OF WHALES written in those days:


I am the mother of a Whale.
The whole world loves a mother.
Please, I beg you as a lover
to cease from killing one another.
I appeal on parent grounds,
to men of reason and the women too.
A baby Whale is just as precious
to a father as a human child is.
I am a simple being,
though many people
could fit inside of me.
Do you think all your hearts together
would equal one dear loving daughter?
Reflections in the water
change their shadows every instant.
Remember me with all the others,
and be a Whale, just be.

In 1983 I returned to the mainland and settled in Santa Cruz, California – about 75 miles south of San Francisco. For the past ten years, I have been writing books of poetry, have completed over 25 books, and of course, creating music. I take electronic keyboards out to the wilderness and power them with deep-cycle batteries. When I see the beauty of nature around me, what can one do, but to become inspired and feel the intensity of the natural world. Our company has sold over 750,000 albums directly to the public, and the music is heard by people all over the planet.

At this point in my life, I am completely dedicated to creating a greater world for humanity and have re-dedicated myself to the raising of the consciousness of the human race through poetry and music, and of course, through action in private, personal and public life.

And so dear friends, our work is just begun. So much to do, and so much life left to do it in. Thank you for reading this letter. You will find my heart united with yours in a common purpose and bond: To help evolve humankind to a higher level. And once violence is eliminated from the face of this earth, and it shall be many years away from now, we will be ready to meet our counterparts in the stars.

Loving you all, I remain,

Paul Lloyd Warner
Santa Cruz, California, USA, June 1996

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