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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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: email@example.com); (snail mail: 2025 Maryland Avenue, Louisville, KY, 40205); (telephone: 502-454-0607); or buy the book!
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