Where in the Appalachian Bioregion are we going?

Where in the Appalachian Bioregion are we going? The consensus was for the White Mountain National Forest (in the Northeast), or the Appalachian states of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia. Spring Council selected a site in North Eastern Tennessee.

If you're not familiar with the gauntlet on the road into the gathering, and want to avoid a mandatory court appearance ticket click here.

For the Howdy Folks and directions to the gathering, click here. For the United States Forest Service Incident Command website with groovy maps and updates, click here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Creating Peace

While there is no one reason for gathering, in my opinion learning to create peace in the world is one of the core tenets of the gathering.

Creating peace isn't easy. Being peaceful isn't always easy. Holding peace when other's aren't peaceful is even harder.

Without Justice, There is no Peace.

Of course justice is important, but so is trying to understand and define what peace truly is.  I can't speak for anyone else as there are many definitions of peace as there are people. However, I would ask you to try to articulate for your self what peace consists of, what it takes, and how do we achieve it in this crazy world in which we live.

While you're pondering your thoughts of peace, I'll toss out a few of the challenges we face at being the peace we wish to see on this planet at gatherings and in our every day lives.

We don't all agree on peaceful behavior. Some people think war creates peace, although I don't. Some people think forcing other people to behave creates peace, although I don't. Some people believe that peace can be legislated, although I don't. Some people think the absence of violence creates peace, although I don't.

One of the most important skills for myself in learning to be peaceful is understanding the difference between action and reaction. When I set intentions for myself and then act on those intentions, I'm coming from a place of personal understanding or at the very least, personal belief.  When someone else does something to me and I react to them by yelling, getting angry or throwing stones in a metaphorical manner, then I'm reacting.  If I am always reacting to non-peaceful energy, then I'm being non-peaceful.

Most often peace falls apart when people don't have the skills to negotiate or mediate differences of needs, wants and/or opinions.  There are as many needs, wants and/or opinions as there are people. I can't tell you what you need or want, but I can share my needs, wants and/or opinions in a non-confrontational manner without accusing you of any wrong doing. I can honor and respect your opinion even when I don't agree.  Sounds great doesn't it? Well it's not easy and I fail as often as I succeed.

Gathering participants have worked on this problem since the beginning (and probably before) but we always need new ideas and new ways of sorting out conflicts.  Just to get the ball rolling, I'll toss out some ideas that I've seen work in some situations.

As with everything in life, there is no crystal ball to determine the best method for a given situation.  When we gather, we practice peace.  The more we practice it the better we get. The more we practice peace with small problems, the better situated we are to deal with larger problems.

Oming is a great tool when the energy is loud and disruptive. It won't necessarily solve the problem but it often helps calm people down enough that communication can take place.

Singing and music can help people heal. When we enjoy the positive energy of the universe channeled through a singer or a musician, we change ourselves at a deep level and can learn in non-verbal ways.

Councils are a great tool for helping people resolve conflict. But councils require a level of practice and integrity to work.  A council is not a regulatory body, but a place where we can look each other in the eyes, recognize our mutual humanity and suffering, and hopefully work collectively to heal everyone.

Finding non-direct ways to communicate appropriate behavior is always important. Going up to a group of people and telling them they're doing something wrong isn't increasing the peace. Sharing a song, a poem or a hand painted sign emphasizing a positive path for people to walk (metaphorically) tends to help all of us remember that while we come to the gathering as individuals, we are also there to create community.

Sharing from the heart is always important as is respecting that when we gather we have a multitude of ways in which to manifest gathering energy. Some of us our loud and boisterous, some are quiet and meditative. The trick is in  balancing our energy.   Yoga during the day helps balance the expansive energy of a late night drum circle.  Making friends makes conflict resolution easier.  Respecting the needs of the community is just as important as respecting the needs of each and every belly who has come home.  When a circle of people deals with a problem, more wisdom is brought to the situation than when one of us tries to fix something alone.

Learning to create peace is a never ending journey. It requires us to look deep into our hearts and beliefs and try to understand how to connect with other human beings. It requires respectful dialogue and deep listening.  Some might call it a spiritual journey, others an artistic journey and still others a matter of daily living.  No matter the violence that has been done to you, me or all of us, if we hold the wrongs done to us in our hearts, we create more of the same.  

Be the peace you wish to see in this world. 

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