Gandhi correctly pointed to one component necessary for peace. Educating ourselves about governing our interior “beast”. The wars that are damaging our world are not the result of failing to teach obedience and conformity but rather our obsession with ignoring we have a beats within. The irony is, the beast is easy to tame and we get happier and more productive when it is tamed. The beast is that part of ourselves which wants its own way, demands it is right, strives to be better than everyone else, insists on conformity, etc. Gandhi reminds us we all have one.
Peace Education happens when the environment is alive with interest and connected awareness; exploring unanswered questions together in new ways. Maria Montessori called is “cosmic education.” She suggested we go beyond “traditional methods—teaching by rote (repetition and memory), restraining and silencing students, and relying on reward and punishment are a hindrance to creative thinking”. This controlling and being controlled is not a useful model for wholesome education. This kind of learning is detrimental to human development. She states, “The child who has never learned to act alone, to direct his own actions, to govern his own will, grows into an adult who is easily led astray and depends upon others for direction and affirmation.
Freedom within Limits
Far from being a pedagogy of ‘do your own thing,’ I am an advocate of dialogue and compromise, learning well that nothing is exactly the same and at every moment we must seek awareness for who, where and why we are acting. It seems to be a good idea to find balance between spontaneous action and organized choice.
The other day we subject to the worst kind of misunderstanding over a rental agreement, there where many hot and hurtful words exchanged with little outcome for compromise. I was saddened thinking, it was a great loss when in the end the words were again exchanged and attitudes adjusted and all ended more or less on a peaceful note. IT CAN Happen! I realized again it is always worth it to stay engaged, keep the doors open through Dialogue and Compromise.
Perhaps we have too much fear to live with “boundless curiosity”, apparently there is no time for it in school, government, our families or on the highway.
God’s time is not our time.
God’s time is timeless, organic, and creative, our time is often just that, “ours” we think we own it and control it and “it” does not allow for “boundless curiosity”.
We pretend that developing lives of “ordered, disciplined, and precise self-control.” are happier. Society says that the best way is, by the law, by consensus and by someone else’s design brings peace. Many of us live in the past, telling stories, comparing experiences and evaluating for the next moment. We are not childlike, curious, silly, spontaneous or fun loving — without approval or assistance.
For any of us to be real individuals we need intellectual, social, and moral approval. Perhaps we should think of our days like a big buffet; try a little of everything, or just vegetables or simply green stuff or only sweet, choose from abundance and establish your way but without being a hindrance or a hog! If you look around and see every one else has their own plate and choices to explore do not be threatened. Each of us needs to find out who and what we are through trying different stuff. The eye and stomach are tempted but the body will tell you what is correct. Too sweet you get tired, too greasy you get fat, too much bread you get clogged, etc. The food on your plate matters; what you choose, how it looks and how your body responds. Spiritual and emotional life is no different.
Gandhi suggested the work of humankind is fundamentally spiritual in nature, learning to live in an environment fully with respect for it. It is a journey in Gods time, all is permitted. It takes work to find your own landscape in communion with the world around you.
Peace Education at its best, teaches the individual to think through dialogue and compromise. Most of us have grown up with rule based disciplines, keeping our eyes on the teacher, our hands locked and backs straight, a regime of high-stakes to standardize our behavior and easy to be evaluated. It helps the teacher look good too. We survive in a land of rewards and punishments. We learn to compete or cheat in tiny moments to gain power, prestige, confidence, control, attention, etc. The system rewards only a limited and specialized kind of behavior yet now with close to 9 billion humans it has become EXTREMELY diverse. Our world is a buffet of variety yet much food is left to spoil, much of it is unhealthy, predictable, unnatural or too special to share with everyone. Dialogue and Compromise
Our global landscape is fractured and hurting and it is because of this non thinking or selfish (limited) thinking. There is a growing inability to assess what we need, to choose well and when it’s beneficial for self and other.
I recently went to a funeral for a non practicing Jew who has 4 sons, each of them spoke of their father tenderly and with respect. The oldest son was an Orthodox Jew. As we followed the casket, all flowers were left at the gate. We were invited to bless each brothers forefathers of Israel and we were not to give any hugs, all per his request. This was a largely Episcopalian, christian group from the wife’s side of the marriage. We were perhaps not fully aware of the details or why the request but we tried to conform with the utmost respect. Regretful, I was one of a few who reached out and gave a tender light hugs, not realizing I had made this one Orthodox Jew gentleman unclean. Oh Well, things happen. There is much to learn about being a global citizenship in our multicultural landscape. For each of us to grow in empathy and critical thinking each mind needs to be sensitive to the meaning of identity, community, peace, justice, and social responsibility.
Your Content Matters
Peace Education happens when our individual inclination towards life is flexible, harmonious with others, and contains a sincere desire to share and guide rather than control. Trust is broken and destroyed with lies, manipulation, greed, and insensitive disregard for our effect on one another and the environment. Don’t let it. Most of what causes disharmony is misunderstanding. Back to the buffet idea, we trust the food to be good and safe, we eat for our own benefit and health, we trust there is enough for everyone and we do not eat more than our share or waste what is given.