Jan Arnow

"TEACHING PEACE" 

Chapter 8

 

Conclusion

 

Collateral damage is a phrase typically used when

describing the aftermath of a battle, an all encompassing

term describing the losses incurred. In today's world

awash with violence and hatred, no one is suffering more

than our children. They have become the collateral damage

of the shadow side of our American character.

 

Sociologists today speak of a lost generation. Psychologists

talk about children who are suffering from post-traumatic

stress disorder. Educators and parents see children whose

defining attitude is nihilism, children who sense that it

doesn't matter what they do because they won't live long

enough to suffer the consequences. Watching them grow

up in fearful and dehumanizing circumstances, we find

it too painful to predict the individual and social

repercussions of raising children who measure human

worth in terms of their ability to obtain weapons or

escape accountability for their actions.

 

Individually, every parent and educator is concerned about

his or her child's future. But when we bring together

people of different races or cultures to reach agreement

about how to ensure the worth of that future, denial,

hostility and fear of diversity continue to destroy the

chances we have to create it, as they lay the foundation

for more physical and emotional killing. Contrary to

what the neo-conservative talk show hosts would have

us believe, multiculturalism is not the force that is

threatening our unity. Rather it is our inability to

accept our differences and our unwillingness to honor

the very ideals we espouse that is draining the vitality

of our nation and preparing our children to hate.

 

Ironically, we understand and accept the need for

biological and botanical diversity as a requirement

for the survival of a given species. None of our oceans,

forests, woods or ponds would survive without their

diverse constellation of organisms, for example, and

this variety is often used as a measure of their health

and potential for growth and survival.

 

We are not so understanding and accepting of the

variables of humankind -- cultural, religious, national,

linguistic -- despite the fact that our population is

already hybrid and becoming increasingly so. No

race or culture holds a monopoly on prejudice and

intolerance. Are you a Jew who harbors a generations-

old resentment for Germans? A white person who

discounts all black people? A black person who

hates or envies a biracial person? A man who is

resentful of women? On the one hand, these

generalizations exist because the human mind

catalogs and generalizes in order to maintain balance

and order. On the other hand, each of us is human and

deserving of respect. It is possible to sensitize ourselves

against stereotypes and prejudice. And it is crucial to the

future of our children that we understand what a group of

UNESCO scholars articulated in 1967: that we are,

 

...capable of learning to share in a common life,

to understand the nature of mutual service and reciprocity,

and to respect social obligations and contracts. Such

biological differences as exist between members of

different ethnic groups have no relevance to problems

of social and political organization, moral life and

communication between human beings. Biological

studies lend support to the ethic of universal

brotherhood (and sisterhood). Humankind is a

social being who can reach his or her fullest potential

only through interaction.

 

All religions or beliefs have recognized the fundamental

unity of the human family; the equality and dignity of all

human beings; the belief that love, compassion and

unselfishness have greater power than hate, prejudice,

enmity and self-interest; and that might does not make

right. We should ask ourselves to what extent are we

providing role models for our children? To what

extent are we providing a safe and receptive environment

for them to grow? To what extent do our words and

actions promote peaceful relations among one another?

It is time that we come out of denial, stop avoiding the

issues, and begin to practice what we preach in real life

and in real time:

 

* We must recognize the enormity of the preventable

problems related to hatred, defensiveness and

inhumanity, and that our willingness to find solutions is

 

vital to our moral and economic well being;

 

* The education of all of our children from its earliest

beginnings must be centered on the development of their

 

ability to think and should deepen and extend their

positive human potential. It is in the minds of each of us

 

that the foundations for peace in our local and world

communities is constructed. If we are to be peacemakers,

we must each be peace thinkers.

 

* We must stop separating what is happening in Mogadishu

from Manhattan, Bosnia from Birmingham, the Middle

East from Minneapolis. If we think that what is occurring

 

in our neighborhoods is any different from other troubled

 

areas throughout the word where people are unable to

accept one anothers' differences, we are wrong.

 

* Address the issues both systematically -- with long term

 

goals and objectives, and systemically -- throughout all

 

levels of your homes, schools and communities. There

may be no immediate gratification, and we might not see

 

the results we desire within our lifetimes. But that is not

 

an excuse to delay our response.

 

* Read what your children read and watch what they watch.

Listen to them. You won't have to do much prompting to

 

elicit their feelings. They already have the questions and

 

the nightmares. Ask them what they like about

 

themselves. Ask yourself what you like about them. Write

down the answers and read them out loud.

 

We now know a great deal about what is wrong with the

world in which we are raising our children, that children

who are abused become the abusers; that children who are

marginalized fail in school; that children who do not know

how to resolve conflicts peacefully will do so violently.

We need to be committed to learning as much about the

solutions as we know about the problems, and then do

whatever we can to implement them.

 

If we listen well enough, children themselves will offer

important and poignant advice:

 

To me, L.A. is a very special place. Some call it a

melting pot, others a Third World city. L.A. is the home

of modern multiculturalism, although some use the label

as a good thing, while others use it as an insult. I like the

diversity of this city. I thrive on it. You see, I'm biracial.

Los Angeles has produced me, and countless other

multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural children like me,

who recognize the need for peace within ourselves and

between our communities. If I must be a conduit for this

process, so be it. I volunteer. And I hope that others,

with the same sentiments as mine, will do the same.

For you see, I owe it to my parents, my city, and all

the communities I am a part of, to do no less than

rebuild our home.

 

and:

 

Parents cannot change the color of their children's

eyes, but they can give their eyes the light of understanding

and warmth of sympathy. They cannot alter their child's

features, but they can, in many ways, help endow them

with the glow of humaneness, kindness and friendliness.

Give of yourself. Give as much as you can. And you

can always, always give something, even if it is only

kindness! If everyone were to do this and not be as

mean with a kindly word, then there would be much

more justice and love in the world. Give and you

shall receive much more than you would have ever

thought possible. No one has ever become poor

from giving!

 

The first quote was written by a teenager in Los Angeles

after the riots. The second quote is from Anne Frank

who was killed in a concentration camp during World

War II.

 

It is our responsibility as parents, teachers, community

leaders and friends of children everywhere to make sure

that the fate of our children is that of the first child and

not of the second.

 

 

 

 

Prayers for Peace

 

Bahai'

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.

Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech.

Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a

home to the stranger. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding

light unto the feet of the erring. Be a breath of life to

the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human

heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility.

 

Buddhist

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of

body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses.

May those frightened cease to be afraid,and may those

bound be free. May the powerless find power, and

may people think of befriending one another. May

those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses --

the children, the aged,the unprotected -- be guarded by

beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain

Buddhahood.

 

Christian

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known

as the Children of God. But I say to you that hear, love

your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless

those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

To those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other

also, and from those who take away your cloak, do

not withhold your coat as well. Give to everyone who

begs from you, and of those who take away your goods,

do not ask them again. And as you wish that others

would do to you, do so to them.

 

Hindu

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Oh God,

lead us from darkness to light. Oh God, lead us from

death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.

Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial

regions. May there be peace on earth. May the waters

be appeasing. May herbs be wholesome, and may

trees and plants bring peace to all. May all beneficent

beings bring peace to us. May thy Vedic Law

propagate peace all through the world. May all things

be a source of peace to us. And may thy peace itself,

bestow peace on all, and may that peace come to me

also.

 

Jainist

Peace and Universal Love is the essence of the Gospel

preached by all the Enlightened Ones. The Lord has

preached that equanimity is the Dharma. Forgive do I

creatures all, and let all creatures forgive me. Unto all

have I amity, and unto none enmity. Know that violence

is the root cause of all miseries in the world. Violence,

in fact, is the knot of bondage. "Do not injure any living

being." This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable

way of spiritual life. A weapon howsoever powerful it

may be, can always be superseded by a superior one;

but no weapon can, however, be superior to non-violence

and love.

 

Jewish

Come let us go up the mountain of the Lord, that we

may walk the paths of the Most High. And we shall

beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears

into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword

against nation -- neither shall they learn war any more.

And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord

of Hosts has spoken.

 

Muslim

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful.

Praise be to the Lord of the Universe who has created

us and made us into tribes and nations, that we may

know each other, not that we may despise each other.

If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline

towards peace, and trust in God, for the Lord is the one

that heareth and knoweth all things. And the servants of

God, Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth

in humility, and when we address them, we say "PEACE."

 

Native American

O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.

To your messengers the four winds, and to Mother Earth

who provides for your children. give us the wisdom to

teach our children to love, to respect, and to be kind to

each other so that they may grow with peace in mind.

Let us learn to share all the good things that you provide

for us on this Earth.

 

Shinto

Although the people living across the ocean surrounding

us, I believe, are all our brothers and sisters, why are

there constant troubles in this world? Why do winds

and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I only

earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all

the clouds which are hanging over the tops of the

mountains.

 

Sikh

God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat

that we wear: that Truth is above everything, but higher

still is truthful living. Know that we attaineth God

when we loveth, and only that victory endures in

consequence of which no one is defeated.

 

Zoroastrian

We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world:

that understanding triumph over ignorance, that

generosity triumph over indifference, that trust

triumph over contempt, and that truth triumph over

falsehood.

 

NOTE: The text above is from the recent book, Teaching Peace: How to Raise Children to Live in Harmony -- Without Fear, Without Prejudice, Without Violence_ by Jan Arnow (Perigee/Berkley, © 1995 Jan Arnow, ISBN #0-399-52155-0, $12.00). In each chapter there are additional charts, quotes and sidebar sections that have not been uploaded. If you are interested in seeing these additions, please contact the author directly (email: jarnow@iglou.com); (snail mail: 2025 Maryland Avenue, Louisville, KY, 40205); (telephone: 502-454-0607); or buy the book! 

This is copywritten material. Please do not distribute without the author's permission.

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