Archives for christian conflict transformation

The Link Between Forgiveness and Peace

It is said that holding a grudge is like eating poison and then expecting the other person to die.  As we all know from experience, it’s very easy to hold grudges.  Yet, we know there are very damaging consequences to our entire being when we fail to forgive.  There are mental consequences, emotional consequences, and physical consequences.  Conversely, perhaps the opposite is also true.  The spiritual journey to forgiveness is steep and rocky and challenging.  Yet, when we reach the summit of the path to forgiveness, the view is spectacular.  This blog post is about the journey. Read More

Conflict Transformation As A Spiritual Practice

Jesus had a remarkable gift for seeing through everything superficial, for peeling back the layers of the dusty, superficial robes of identity we wear,  to peer into a person’s inner soul.   Whether speaking to a Roman Centurian, to a Samaritan adulteress, or to a distinguished Rabbi,  Jesus always seemed to see beyond title or position and to respond to the deeper thoughts and real need of the individual he was relating to.

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Where Is The Love?

I was the only person in the bicycle shop.  I was at the counter, making a small purchase and chatting with the owner, when a young man pulled into the parking lot, driving a loud motorcycle.  He strode up to the counter and asked if the bike shop had some part he needed for his motorcycle.

The young fellow was tattooed and pierced.  He had on makeup and had spiked hair.  He was wearing all black Goth clothes.  He made his purchase and left.

This was in the early 1980’s in rural South Carolina.  Around these parts, we didn’t see much of that type of dress.  It brought to mind television images I had seen of neo-Nazis and hate groups.  Not saying a word, I just looked at the owner with an expression that said, “I can’t believe what I just saw!”

“Yeah,” he replied, smiling wryly at me.  “But I had long hair when I was a kid.  And because of the way people responded to me when I was a teenager, I swore that I’d never judge anybody by their appearance.”

His comment brought me back around to remembering my own teenage years, when I, too, didn’t always dress or act as my elders would have preferred.

Lesson learned.  What the bicycle shop owner did was to help me see that young man not as an “other,” but as an individual who might be like me, a person who had hopes and fears and motives for his dress.  A person like me, for whom I might have compassion.  That bike shop owner reminded me not to  prejudge, not to put people in separate categories of “otherness”, merely based on superficial appearances.

How often do we judge each other based on superficial things like appearance, associations, or first impressions?

I find I tend to judge many things by their appearance.  Rap music, for example.  I have a preconceived notion, not entirely unjustified, that much of it is about banal and exploitative of women.  I don’t normally listen to rap, but like that young man, some of it should not be judged solely by its appearance.  Check out these lyrics (below) of “Where Is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas :

 

What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love
The love, the love
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong
Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’
in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love?
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?
Sing wit me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

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What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love
The love, the love
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong
Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’
in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love?
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?
Sing wit me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

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Trauma Healing: The Snail Model

Talking about forgiveness ….

My blog post a few days ago was about the intellectual concept of forgiveness.  But there’s much more to forgiveness than merely what we “think” about or “decide” to do.  When bad things happen to us, our whole being, including our body, is affected.  This, in turn, affects how we relate to ourselves and to each other.  It’s not my goal to beat people over the head and be judgmental about telling people they should “forgive” or “just move on”.  That is not helpful.  My goal is to help people reach an authentic state of peace.  For a person who has been the victim of trauma, this can be challenging.

Cutting edge research shows that people who are victimized by violence need treatment for more than their physical wounds.  They need help in rewriting the story of their lives in a way that gives coherence and meaning.

The following video illustrates the “Snail Model” of trauma healing, as taught by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.  The Snail Model is so named because it describes a spiraling model where conflict begets more conflict, in a circular fashion, unless some intervention can break the cycle and cause the circle to change shape into a spiral towards healing.  In other words, it is a model for breaking the cycle of conflict, basically providing a roadmap for people who have experienced painful events in their lives to see a process by which they may be healed, not just physically but mentally and spiritually.  A printable illustration by Olga Botcharova can be found HERE.

If you are suffering from the effects of violence, or if you know someone who is, I encourage you to print this and share it with the person who is affected.

Sometimes even just seeing a model like this will result in an “aha” moment.  The person will see where they are on the cycle and gain insight that will help them heal.  Not everyone needs (or has the luxury of engaging in) therapy with a caring and trusted counselor.  But regardless of whether the mental and spiritual wounds from trauma is small or large, it can help a person just to know that what they are experiencing is normal, that they are not alone.

Panic, anger, sleeplessness, fantasies of revenge — these are not signs of insanity, they are normal.  And there IS a path to healing.  It may be slow, it may be challenging.  But a person who has been victimized by crime, by war, by a terrible auto accident, can walk that path to healing.  No matter what the physical wounds, a person who has experienced trauma can can achieve spiritual and mental peace so that they can sleep at night and feel right with the world.

No matter what your circumstances, I want to assure you, there IS HOPE for peace.

This is a particular issue not just with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also for anyone who has been affected by crime or violence.  Even, perhaps, in our own families.   Whether this model may apply to you, or to someone you know, please be aware of it and be ready to share the hope, and the help, when the time comes.

I hope you find this video helpful.  If you do, please leave a comment to share how it helped you.

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