||Posted: Oct. 22 2011,14:22
From Dr. Deri who is available for individual, family, and corporate mediation and consultation. Check her website at www.DrDeri.com for more information on her books, lectures, and other news.
As professional people committed to creating a culture of peace, we may at times ask ourselves if what we practice in our worldly life is what we live in our private lives. Just what is a “Culture of Peace?,” this having been the theme for the last decade declared by the United Nations?
Let us consider the far reaching ramifications of this work we are involved in. Most states in the USA now require that a divorcing couple attend parenting classes before their divorce can be finalized. Most of us are aware of the psychological devastation visited on children who become the “emotional pawns” in the divorce proceedings of unaware parents. In addition, except in cases involving domestic violence, all divorcing parties are mandated to meet with a court appointed or self selected mediator to try and resolve their differences without the use of litigation. This has come about due to the overload of cases on court dockets with too few judges to help resolve the conflicts. But, more important, is the belief that people can make decisions in their own best interests when given the opportunity to do so. There are still quite a few countries in which the present day divorce laws are so archaic that they have no clause for irreconcilable differences. Rather, the pre-historic mindset of casting blame is used and hiring private detectives to prove when someone is being dishonest is still prevalent. This is certainly a dichotomy in creating a culture of peace.
I marvel at the timeliness and/or synchronicity of the United Nations theme for this past decade, Creating a Culture of Peace. How far have we come? I think the reasons are quite evident why this has become a global mandate. The times we live in are transforming at a very fast rate to say the least. Many systems that currently exist within the family, social and business settings have to negotiate and/or relearn new behavior which is necessary to foster the ongoing work in creating this new culture. More people are being forced to explore and embrace new ideologies since the old structures don’t have the answers any longer. There are many levels that this new culture has to adapt to. They include but are not limited to the areas of psychology, education, sociology, economics, and spirituality to name a few.
Our global society is also experiencing accelerated change for which we have been unprepared. I recall several books that were written over two decades ago suggesting that we need to prepare ourselves for these changes. In hindsight however, it is difficult to imagine how one prepares for the unknown. One idea is certain, unless we all work to stem the tide of violence, all kinds of violence, verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological, including property damage, we won’t have a world to live in anymore, or if we do, we won’t want to live in it.
Learning all of the innovative strategies that employ the use of nonviolent problem-solving is necessary. We must ask ourselves if we are participating behind closed doors as much as we want the people we work with to “be the change they wish to see in the world,” to quote Gandhi. Not only are children now learning these techniques at school through many programs that have come about to address the above mentioned issues, but adults as well. The Peer Mediation Program has some ongoing success in helping to stem the tide of school based violence. Also, the trainings and workshops offered by the Anti-Defamation League in their World of Difference program and topics specifically geared towards anti-bullying and tolerance are springing up all over. Similarly, there are many other programs in place that train the employees of the FBI, the CIA, local and state police, and corporations.
How do our current policies relating to political, economic, and educational institutions reflect this new way of thinking? We see on the news that there is much dialogue surrounding these challenges. It is through dialogue and think tanks that new ideas emerge. I believe Einstein’s thinking best reflects this new paradigm when he indicated that we cannot solve a problem at the same level we find it. The practical application of these strategies are becoming more evident in functional families who learn that they don’t have to yell to get their needs met. Enter into this scenario as well, the wonderful progress that science is making in helping us to understand how our brains function and the terrible mental/emotional illnesses that people suffer through such as depression or bi-polar disorder. Many know only too well the up and down roller coaster of working and/or living with people who suffer these illnesses that go unchecked. The greatest gift we can give one another is the gift our own enlightenment and peace of mind. The more people who are aware of this will create the 100th monkey theory of behavior which is in the best interest of our planet. The intention is that the message gets passed along. The more people who observe others having peaceful lives can choose to create that too, not out of jealousy or resentment, but out of preference.
Why would anyone want to live a life of quiet desperation? We may often say to ourselves that we can’t imagine living in certain countries, but imagine living not only in a local community that perpetuates injustice, but in a family that believes that violence is acceptable or a body that believes the same thing, and if he/she doesn’t hurt others, they hurt themselves in some way. These are very serious challenges and we do have more answers available today than in years past. However, we don’t have all the answers.
As we continue to redefine what the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are that shape a peaceful culture, we will need to actualize them on a daily basis. In working to minimize the extent of the violence we see and hear about in our world, we must change the culture which has tolerated violence as an acceptable way of living. This violence is synonymous with abuse, which we see evident in our language as well as in our television programming and our exploitation and oppression of those perceived as less powerful. Violence of this type also includes the physical and/or sexual devastation of war victims, as well as victims of domestic abuse. Ceasing these behaviors will continue to address the personal transformation we must each make if we are to live in a different world. It requires a change in consciousness.
Some people experience this change not only in what has come to be known as an out of body experience, but more so, the relief that comes from learning to express needs without the fear of verbal violence. Having enough self esteem to not put up with abusive behavior is one tenet that will help us to change to a culture of peace. It also requires that we each address the moral and political demands of our time in light of age old principles such as the Sermon on the Mount, or the Ten Commandments recorded in Judeo-Christian history. Many religions are replete with similar ideas and ideals. It is up to humanity to practice them. I recall a saying in the Old Testament which implies that the “sins are visited upon the children.” In essence, this means that old behavior will pass on to other generations until it is stopped. Perhaps this is why we have created drug free zones in the United States. Now, we are creating violence free zones because it is illegal to use violence to solve a problem. Hate crimes are now illegal. This same challenge is posed for all people living everywhere, the global village.
In closing, I often think to myself that life is repeated daily in many countries and many languages. The topography may be different, the time of day too is different, and the houses, the cities etc., but the common denominator is that we are all human and beg to live a life free of oppression, both external and internal. All people are driven to fulfill themselves and I still agree with Dr. Maslow, that at the top of the pyramid is the desire for self realization, self-actualization, to know why we are here, what is our purpose and where we are headed.