A Most Glorious Journey
(How I Became a Peacenik)
To honour the people who have taught me to live by peaceful means and more recently to lead through a lens of peace.
Peace to me is love lived. Since a young age I felt deeply, as I imagine all children do, the harsh, cruel words, the violent emotions and actions, in contrast to the joyful loving moments, the dedicated work that my family undertook to provide us with our needs. I was hurt by the tears and desperation that we expressed with no resolution being achieved. We just endured and were compelled to meet each day’s tasks.
Much later in my life I could begin to connect to my family members in a meaningful way and to reconcile some of the hurts. In reflection, I assume these challenges created radar in me for conflict and how it is resolved.
I was often in conflict in school consistently the one having a different view on things, challenging authorities with what I perceived as injustice. I was criticized and disciplined for my views and belligerent behaviour, often called an idealist and bold and brash. I didn’t even know what I was looking for so how could I know what to ask for of people.
I am sure no one thought I was open to learning but I was soaking up what people said and did in regard to the conflict at hand. I noted what worked to make things better and what made things worse for the people involved. I unconsciously tested each limit for resiliency and integrity.
It has been a long journey and I am thankful to all my teachers who showed me what heals the hurt generated or expressed by many conflicts. Now I am a senior. I have lived through relationships and institutions, pushing limits, continuing to verbally challenge and often feeling a lack of belonging.
Yet, there are two groups who at first meeting I knew I had found what I was looking for.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) taught about a loving simple God who created us to love all of Creation unlike other faith communities, ideologies or peace groups I explored that used divisive dogma and life instructions based on fear. I was searching for peaceful ways to live. Quakers had found it by Stop killing, Love all beings, Listen deeply to the voice of God in our own hearts.
My second source of evolution came through a note in my email suggesting Canada needed a Department of Peace. While this news felt like water to a shriveling soul there was no space in my life to do anything about it.
Then one day a dear friend sent me an email saying someone was speaking on a Department of Peace in our neighborhood. Bill Bhaneja spoke about this group that had formed in Victoria BC to begin a campaign for a Department of Peace. I have been a member for eleven years since that first meeting.
What have I learned? One day at a Canadian Peace Initiative meeting we reflected on our challenges that seemed much larger than our achievements. I shared with them that I appreciated them and my Quaker community for a deep personal reason. I explained that in the life circumstances I face I start from a familiar emotional behavioural place.
Yet my teachers, and especially my two communities, continue to show me the essence of nonviolence for myself and others that does not deny pain, requires a creative heart and always Love. Regardless of our tasks, that inspires me to continue participating.
I am truly thankful for the individuals and communities who have shown me through positive and negative examples how to live through Love. I live free to be who I am and am committed to pass this gift on to others.
By: Theresa Dunn