Redefining Peace by etssetcf


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									           "Peace is about taking responsibility for
             being born into the miracle of life."

From the Peace Times on the Peace x Peace website

Redefining Peace:
An Interview with Patricia Smith Melton

"Courage, love and action - that combination gives
meaning back to the word peace."
~ Patricia Smith Melton

How do you define peace?
I don't know what the word "peace" means anymore
- too many paintings of doves and rainbows. Global
harmony takes more than pretty images. So, the
dove went across the flood and brought back a stick,
but who's going to pick up those sticks and build
communities with them? That's work, that's getting
off the ark, that's creating a place where humans can
live together and thrive. No one gets to sit on the
sidelines. We can all do something and, however
small it may seem to us, it helps. Peace is about
taking responsibility for being born into the miracle
of life.

As I lost the personal relationship with the word
"peace," my commitment to changing social
conditions has intensified. I believe in courage,
forgiveness, education, respect, financial equity,
equal representation, women's rights, all human
rights, freedom of speech, the end of violence
against all living beings starting with the travesties
against women and children, and I believe in
communicating our human sameness to each other.
That's what I believe in. and I'm not alone. The
hundreds of thousands of women gathering on
International Women's Day around the world prove

Is love necessary for peace?
Love of others isn't necessary for peace. I don't have
to love someone to let them live in peace or to
cooperate with them so we can both thrive. But love
fuels peace building, it gives energy and purpose,
and it brings all the parts together so you
understand them as a whole.

For me, love is pervasive and all-inclusive, which
doesn't mean we always act on it or are aware of it.
Fear can cancel out the sensation of love. Then
existence becomes perceived as trying to stay alive;
we become constricted and suspicious rather than
expansive and embracing. The sheer energy it takes
to shut others out of our emotional-psychological
world is disempowering.

Let's face it, humans are works in process, we are
unfinished. But we carry within ourselves tidal waves
of the impulse to love. For me, free will is whether or
not we put into action the impulse to love, quite
literally do we let love flow through us and do its
work. We have the key of free will, but do we turn it?
That's the choice.

Are women better at expressing love?
Women don't have a monopoly on the ability to love
and, in western cultures at least, that myth helps
alienate and marginalize men into roles where
decisions are made by statistics, finances and
military hardware. Women need to be activated, but,
like it or not, we still have that role of inspiring men.
The world doesn't need "perfect wives," it needs
women who choose to show that good will, listening,
connecting and communicating everyday human
needs have influence for security and living well -
and that it is safe for men to do the "feminine"
things of caring, of saying "no" to violence. We can
have peace when "feminine" ways of perceiving and
acting are understood by men with power not only as
courageous but as effective and right.

What role does courage play in building peace?
Courage is like love, it has a million facets depending
on where it's needed and the style and beliefs of the
person who's expressing it. Courage is protecting the
children from violence and educating them with
curtains over the windows, testifying at post-
genocidal war crimes, forgiving the neighbor who
tried to kill you during ethnic cleansing, wearing
make up under your burqa, rising at 5:30 am each
day to cook for children's soup kitchens. Courage is
flexible, and, like love, it will find a way.
Courage, love and action - that combination gives
meaning back to the word "peace."

What makes you believe women can bring
peace to our world?
Throughout history we see instances of impassioned
women organized to bring change - standing up to
injustice and violence - but now a worldwide
movement of women is coalescing. A critical mass of
women has come to understand that the world is
their nest, and it is threatened.

Most women find safety for themselves and their
families by bonding with others - to tend and
befriend rather than "fight or flight" - and they are
influenced by the desire to build a nest that nurtures
everyone in it. These two impulses make women
natural peace builders.

What does "nesting" have to do with building
Just as most women feel impelled to make a
nurturing environment in which they and their family
can thrive, they will fight to protect that "nest" from
danger they perceive from the outside. So the
question becomes: how large do women see their
nests? What's inside the nest and what's outside? If
they view their nest as limited to their house, then
people beyond it will not have the benefit of their
talents for bonding, inclusion, tending and
Yet, today's reality is no woman's home is safe
unless we have global peace. We no longer have the
option to shut out people we view as the "enemy" -
we all live in this messy global nest together

And once you see yourself, your most vulnerable
self, in someone outside of your protective nest,
perhaps in very dire circumstances, everything
changes. A deep side of women - of most humans -
becomes activated to nurse, cherish, empower,
educate, feed and love.
That's when women experience the world as their
nest and start cleaning it up. A woman who suddenly
sees the world as her home - filled with treasures
among the debris - and who has decided this is the
time to clean, is unstoppable. That's what PEACE X
PEACE is empowering.

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