Sunday, November 13, 2016

Being Peacemakers

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

We each have the potential to be a voice of peace. We each have the potential to be a messenger of peace. We each have the potential to create three feet of peace and to change the world.

You can read others' stories of how they are finding or creating peace. More importantly, you can create your own stories through your actions in and reactions to the world. 

Here are some thoughts about realizing your full potential as a peacemaker.

1. Listen. Listen deeply, allowing another to be heard. Listen especially to people who are different from you. Ask questions, clarifying, to help you understand.

When we experience being heard and respected we feel safer. When we feel safe we are more likely to be kind and generous.

2. Step back when you need to. If someone posts something inflammatory on your Facebook page or says something that is painful or frightening to hear, step back. Wait before you respond. Give yourself time so that you can answer from a place of stillness and reason.

When we respond to anger or hatred with calm and sensitivity, we start to break the cycle of verbal violence and begin to heal relationships.

3. Counter your fight or flight syndrome. Minimize retraumatizing yourself and others by refraining from reinforcing the dark emotions. Bring positive energy into your being. Interrupt your day with cute puppy videos, moments of meditation, walks in the woods or park, or playing with a baby. 

Our biology is designed to respond to dangerous situations in ways that don't match our 21st century lives. It takes an active effort to counteract that biology and pull us out of fear or anger and into brighter emotions, but we can do it.

4. Take meaningful action. Channel your frustration, fear, anger, despair, grief, or other dark emotion into making the world a better place. Reach out to others in need. Act to protect the planet. Join an organization doing good work and help them extend their reach.

When we turn our dark emotions into action, we can help to raise up someone in despair or heal a broken piece of the world.

5. Be a "gentle angry" person and sing for your life. Sing, draw, dance, write poetry, make music, plant flowers, and otherwise express yourself through creativity. Share your beauty with friends and family.

Finding an outlet for our creative energy relieves stress, deepens our understanding of ourselves and the world, and brings meaning to those with whom we share our efforts.

6. Hug someone you love. Send an unexpected snail mail card to a friend. Call someone just to say hi, you mean a lot to me.

We all need to know we are loved. It makes a world of difference.

7. Hang in there. Don't give up. Stay determined. Keep on working to make the world a better place. It's worth it.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is not the only outcome from trauma. There is also Post Traumatic Growth. But the process takes time. Solidifying the three feet of peace around us is a lifetime journey.

May the sun shine on your life.
May you raise a mighty voice for peace. 
May you become a powerful messenger of peace. 
May you create a solid three feet of peace around you. 
May you help to change the world.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a hospice chaplain at CareGroup Parmenter Hospice. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY. 


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