5/14/2007

Teaching Peace

From this Staff Matters article:

In Teaching Peace - A Guide for the Classroom and Everyday Life (2003), Leah Wells uses work by Colman McCarthy to bring Gandhi's principles of non-violent solutions into contemporary consideration for people today. Interestingly, these principles connect very closely with contemporary writing about conflict resolution in Western society.

Colman expounds Gandhi's 9 steps as follows:

1. Define the conflict. What is it that you are actually fighting over?...Can one person believe the argument is over one issue and the other person believes the argument is about a completely different issue?

2. Work on what's doable...When you work on what you can actually do and accomplish, the tangible goals of resolving the conflict seem more real and viable.

3. Resolve the dispute in a neutral place...

4. Don't ask what happened. Ask instead 'What did you do?' Asking what happened elicits emotions and promotes blame. Asking 'what did you do?' encourages the person to use 'I' messages and focus on the facts of the situation.

5. List the shared elements of the relationship versus the one unshared separation...People, even those who are in the midst of a disagreement, still have common ground. We all have the need for love, acceptance, understanding, belonging and attention. These are good places to start when there are many hurt feelings or when the conflict is particularly heated.

6. It's not you versus me but you and me versus our problem... Colman says 'you're not the problem, and I'm not the problem but rather the problem is the problem'. We have to work together on solving our shared conflict and work at not demonising the other person but acknowledging their humanity and core value.

7. Work on your forgiveness skills...true forgiveness means that the evil act no longer stands as a barrier to the relationship, and that we must separate the evil from the evildoer.

8. Work on your listening skills...True listening means that you are hearing the words, the underlying messages, the heart messages and the intentions of the person and truly attempting to grasp what they are relating.

9. Purify your heart. One of my favorite things to ask my students is how they do this. Some say that they play sports, meditate, pray, sleep, hike, write in a journal or talk with friends. Many report that being close to nature makes them feel purified.