When I was a little girl, I had a keen sense of loneliness. I would notice if there happened to be one person who didn’t appear to be having a good time and quickly run to my room, find an item or toy I particularly cherished, wrap it with anything I had in my vicinity, and timidly present it to the intended person. It didn’t really matter to me if the recipient actually wanted my plastic dinosaur or cheap Chinese purse. The small action just felt right and I knew it would rouse happiness. This instinct was usually correct.Read More
“I’m sorry, two words I always think after you’re gone and I realize I was acting all wrong.”
We have all been forced to apologize as little kids, whether it was to our siblings, friends, random children on the playground, or even our enemies. Both of us always ran to an adult, pointed at another child accusingly, and tattled about some extremely serious transgression. Sometimes these petty arguments would even escalate to the point where balling up our sweaty fists and slamming one of them into our opponent’s closest body part seemed entirely reasonable and justifiable. This behavior always warranted a forced “I’m sorry,” while we stood there red faced and sniveling, snot across our cheeks and a mean glare in our eyes. I never walked away from those interactions feeling even the slightest bit sorry for what I had done. I only feigned remorse because there was an interrupted game just waiting for my arrival.Read More
In my second post, The Cellist of Sarajevo, I described how one Bosnian man became a symbol of peace and hope in a country devastated by war. He defied the violence, tragedy, and hopelessness surrounding him and transcended his reality with the use of a single instrument, his cello. He also has emphasized a profound, grander concept. Music is powerful.Read More
We like to think of ourselves as open-minded, accepting people. I can’t imagine a single person I know who would revel in being described as narrow-minded and reclusive. However, despite this self-description, we all have our own cliques. Take a minute and think about those with whom you identify, who your friends are, who you admire, and who you allow to be in your inner circle. This is your “in-group.” Now do the opposite. Think about from whom you choose to disassociate, those people you just don’t want to be around, and those who elicit apathy. These people constitute your “out-group.” They are your out-group for a variety of reasons, justified or not.Read More
As I stood in line at the airport, waiting to check my bags, I couldn’t squelch my nerves. I had chosen to travel to a country I never thought I would visit and knew little about, but there was no turning back now. I was on my way to Ethiopia. My anxiety didn’t diminish as I sat in the back of a dusty van, being chauffeured through the streets of Addis Ababa, and was instructed to remain indifferent to the droves of mothers, children, and severely handicapped people who repeatedly approached me, pleading for anything I could give them. I didn’t speak the language, understand the cultural nuances, and hadn’t ever witnessed such extreme poverty. I was uncomfortable and immediately started to miss my life in Denver, CO.Read More
I taught at a Montessori school for five years, and we talked a lot about “peace curricula.” At one particular staff meeting when this topic managed to make it onto the agenda again, I noticed my mother, who worked at the school with me, was getting increasingly irritated. Finally, she blurted out “I’ve had it up to here with peace!” Everyone was a little taken aback by this confession. How could anyone be tired of peace?Read More
As much as I hate to admit it, maybe the hippies were right. Maybe if we’d all accepted the “love in” as a genuine form of conflict resolution, the world would be a more peaceful place. Just take the endangered Bonobo monkeys for example. These monkeys are 98.5% similar to humans and therefore fight, but before a fight becomes violent, they engage in an interesting mediation strategy. No, they don’t talk about their feelings, use “I” statements, practice active listening, or negotiate a settlement. They have sex. Brief, but apparently meaningful, sex. After an encounter, all problems are then solved and they can go about their other daily Bonobo activities, no hard feelings. I’m not sure the human world is ready for this approach, but just throwing it out there as an alternative. So, remember the Bonobo next time you’re trying to resolve a conflict.
Watch this short Nightline video to get a lesson in Bonobo peacebuilding.
Bonobo Chimps Practicing Conflict Resolution