Monday, March 3, 2008
Ki Phol Chai?
Ki phol chai? What fruits do we wish to see? This was one of the opening questions of our three-day peace training with the Taize-brother sponsored Peace Committee. Literally, the question is one of results; what results do we envision arising not just from the training, but also from our broader communities through our Peace Committee. This question encompasses and arouses a multitude of thoughts and pictures in my mind. The most important is that of a fruit tree. For fruits grow not on their own, but on a plant, a tree, a vine, or a stalk; and that plant grew out of a seed. That seed is what we need to plant, which fruit we wish to plant is important, but the most important thing is to plant the seed, because without the seed, the plant, and therefore the fruit will not have the chance to grow.
The peace training over the last three days has proved an inspiring and strong reminder of the power of community and peacebuilding. Together we discussed topics of creative conflict resolution, compassionate listening, power structures, religious dialogue and human rights. With exciting role-plays, fun games, and lively discussions, days seemed to disappear and the participants were engaged and attentive through it all.
The most insightful moments for me during these sessions were the moments of self-realization. Those precious moments when participants discovered something new about themselves and their relationship to their communities and each other. For instance, the realization that they have power in many situations and they must take care to use that power positively or justly, or the understanding that listening goes deeper than the words people say to the feelings and values underlying those words. The questions raised during these discussions were deep and transformational, questions of ones role in their community, of how power can be used positively, and of how listening can be improved and what to listen for. These insights were a powerful reminder of what our goal is in peace education, but the most important message we transmitted during this training is what I will call Creative Solutions.
Creative Solutions seems pretty straight-forward, looking for new ways to solve a conflict. And that was part of the role-plays we did discussing different solutions to a conflict. In this activity we divided the group into three teams to do a role-play to resolve a village land dispute between brothers. Each team was given the same scenario to develop their own solution. As they presented, the solutions to the conflict seemed to remain the same. Now how is this Creative Solutions if the solutions all seemed the same? The answer lay in the process. Each group found a different way to the same solution, a new path to the same town. The idea that was developed out of this activity was one brother Erik and I have been wanting to develop for some time; the idea that there is not one right path to solve a conflict. Not knowing the answer to a question about peace, or not knowing how to resolve a conflict is not a reflection of one's ability to work for peace, it is a chance to grow together and find a new solution. Peace is not about knowing the right answers, peace is about a common goal and a process for coming together. This was the essential element in freeing us from a feeling of inferiority and inadequacy because we did not have the answers.
Ami ki phol chai? What fruit do I wish to see from this Peace Committee? I hope this Peace Committee comes to an understanding of peace as a wholistic and powerful goal of humanity. A vision for the empowerment of not only Mymensingh, or Bangladesh, but the world.