Obviously, as many people in the world are doing, I am currently thinking about peace quite a bit. Without trying to get into an argument with anyone, I wanted to share a quote I used in a training with teachers in Texas last week. No political agenda intended, I just read the words above and thought, "This is what teachers (probably all of us, to be quite honest) need to hear, believe, and act on right now." If we believe we can do one little thing to keep/maintain/create peace, and everyone else believes they can do the same, maybe our generation could be remembered for goodness and peace. Does anyone else feel this way?
So, as most all of you know, I believe communication is one of the biggest parts of that. I may have said, "How we say things makes all the difference in the world" a couple of hundred thousand times (maybe a teeny-tiny exaggeration)
Here are some recent examples of peace and communication (or lack of) I have experienced:
1. While in Bogotá, Colombia this week, my dear driver and mi amigo nuevo, Julio, and I were talking about all of the wars, attacks, and hatred going on in the world right now. I asked him (in Spanish, of course---after all, I am practicing the best I can) why he thought people attacked innocent people. His answer was "envy". I asked him to explain. He said he thought people attacked (like 9/11, hate attacks, terrorist groups, etc.) because they envied the peace and happiness that others experienced. He believed negative people are envious of happy people. I had to think about that, but I do agree, in part, that toxicity and poison don't respond well to happiness and peace. I have witnessed that in schools and districts and states and countries.
2. While waiting for my midnight flight from Bogotá back to USA on Friday night, we all saw that the flight was going to be delayed a bit (not by much, but enough that people started wondering why). Everyone around me who was lined up (speaking Spanish or English or some other language) to board the flight was asking, "Why?" "Por que?" aloud. Not a word from the gate agents. Four gate agents were at the gate, laughing and talking to one another (at least they were happy, right?), but not talking to us at all. Passengers started to get really frustrated. You could sense the tension. After a few minutes of this, I decided to take one little tiny portion of action. I stepped to the gate and said, "Excuse me, I know you may not realize it, but there are a bunch of us who are wondering when we are going to board, as we were supposed to board almost 30 minutes ago. Would it be possible to simply announce when you think we might board, so everyone doesn't get so frustrated?" They nodded and an announcement was quickly made. You could almost feel a palpable sense of relief from the passengers. What people really wanted to keep them from getting up in arms was some communication. Without it, the frustration would have grown...and grown...and grown. But sometimes, we just stand by and complain until we burst with frustration and then there is tension everywhere. I'm working on not letting that happen to me.
3. In one area I was recently working, I conducted a keynote on giving teachers the support they need to grow in their practice (which was extremely well-received), then I worked with smaller groups over the next couple of days on some practices that school leaders and coaches could do to help their teachers. While I had given everyone expectations and guidelines about how we would be engaging in conversation among ourselves (not just me talking AT them) and even modeled how they might encourage a more shy participant to speak up ("What do you think, Sonia?" etc.), just like we want students to do, one man sat in the last row of tables, writing constantly but not in the "workbook" we were using. At one point, I went back, knelt down and asked, "How are you doing?" He smiled and said, "I'm fine." I asked, "How can I help you engage in the group?" He said, "I'm doing the work." Okay, but....ummmmm....you're not (notice I said this to myself but not to him). Later, he began asking aggressive types of questions, to which people around him looked down but did not say things I had modeled, like, "While I understand Ray feels _______, I see it differently, and I believe _______." I found out later that this type of "bullying" (the word that was said to me by several participants) was simply accepted and not counter-acted.
I'm not positive that it was peaceful, but at the end of the day, I thanked everyone for coming, and I noted my email address on the slide in case anyone wanted to ask me questions privately. I then had them read the quote by R.F. Kennedy, and I proposed the following: If we are always looking for problems, we will have no trouble finding them. After all, they are everywhere!!!! We barely have to look for them. The hardest part is searching for solutions----in education, in life, etc. But the searching and finding the good in what we do, especially if done together, is so worth the effort. My hope and fervent prayer is that every one out there that is drowning in negativity find one simple act they can do to make a change for the better.
I believe in solutions. I believe in communication. And, above all, I believe in peace.
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