Learning to Live Gospel Nonviolence by Juliet Onufrak
“Many of us feel desensitized and disconnected from one another. We experience this feeling in political polarization, depression, and an epidemic of domestic and youth violence.”
Center of Concern (Center) is a non-profit organization that researches, educates, and advocates from Catholic social tradition to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community. The Center executes their mission by engaging with influential people and organizations that promote a similar mission of building a global and sustainable community. In April 2018, Education for Justice (EFJ), a project of the Center, asked LFFP’s Co-Directors MJ and Jerry Park to write an article for EFJ detailing their own mission, and how they advocate for peace and teach communities and individuals new practices and skills in order to promote peace at individual, community, and global levels.
The Center recognized that LFFP’s mission and vision are effective, scalable, and sustainable as means of creating global social justice. MJ and Jerry’s article captures the founding of their life work as well as the many successes they have had over the years. Various case studies are detailed in the article that provide evidence of the psychological and spiritual changes that MJ and Jerry’s work creates in individuals. The article also thoroughly reviews the structure of MJ and Jerry’s process of teaching peace, and provides the reader with some of MJ and Jerry’s tools of nonviolence, including: “The Wellness Wheel”, “The Peace Circle”, “The Body, Heart, Mind Practice”, “The Stop, Think, Act Practice,” “The Peace Table,” and finally the “The Restorative Circle.”
MJ and Jerry’s practices have been present in our society for 35 years. In 2018, violence has become normalized within our everyday lives. 78% of children from low income families in Washington, D.C., are exposed to violence before the age of 4. The desensitization and depression that has become a reality for so much of our country is because we have all been neglecting to take care of one another. As MJ and Jerry’s article highlights, the only way to fix the anxieties and pain that we all feel is to come together as a community and help one another learn the skills necessary to find individual and global peace.
To read MJ and Jerry’s article, please go to the Education for Justice website by clicking here: https://educationforjustice.org/resources/learning-live-gospel-nonviolence.
Little Friends For Peace will be marching to end gun violence- AND working as we have for 37 years to replace the guns with skills for peace. Meet us at: Archives Metro Stop, 11 am, Saturday March 24.
With daily practice in the loving tools and practices of nonviolence, LFFP equips people to build a culture of peace: to create healthy relationships in our schools, communities, and homes.
We need to stop and heal from the trauma, from the fear and the anger that make people feel the need for guns.
We need to rewire our brains to respond, not in anxiety and paranoia, but in trust and creativity. We can build the beloved community of healthy minds and bodies with loving hearts.
Each day we can start with the Wellness Wheel to ground ourselves, then invite our families, colleagues, and students to share what's going on inside that delights and what demands effort and courage today.
We can share our gifts and talents. We can trust in our skills to resolve conflicts and restore our relationships with compassion and empathy.
LFFP offers the care and skills to let go of our fears and to build caring communities where we all can share, shine, and win.
Please join us and dance with us in a culture of peace!
My name is Brian McLauchlin and I am at LFFP as an intern through Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. Currently I am earning an MA in Conflict Transformation, but my focus is on trauma and healing. While at LFFP, I want to lead our organization through a process for becoming “trauma-informed.” What “trauma-informed” means is that we, as a staff, become more aware of the influence of trauma in the lives of the children and adults with whom we work. Such knowledge helps us in the tools we use to build skills for peace. More importantly, such tools should be geared toward healing, healing of self and others.
One peace skill we can use toward healing, for example, is the use of movement. Sometimes at McKenna Center, we have the men stand up and do some simple exercises. At the after-school program or in Summer Peace Camp, we have the children do exercises. Although such activities may seem “simple,” such techniques helps people connect with their bodies. Research has shown that trauma can disconnect a person from his or her body, even to the point that people can lose bodily sensations. Under such circumstances, people can operate in their head, but are not able to function well within the body. Exercises, such as yoga or other bodily movements, can help one to connect with the body so that there is a more fluid movement between mind, body, and spirit. This connection helps to promote healing in our clients. While at LFFP, I hope to highlight such techniques.
My name is Vyonne Akoth. I am the founder of a local nonprofit organization in Kenya known as Impart Change, as well as a Community Solutions Program (CSP) 2017 Fellow. Community Solutions is a professional development program implemented by the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) and supported by the US Department of State. I have a bachelor’s degree in peace, security, and conflict resolution. A few weeks ago I was delighted to join fellow CSP fellows for a workshop orientation, having being selected among 93 successful applicants out of more than 2500 applications. My immersion into Little Friends for Peace (LFFP), my host organization, began on an exciting and high note: summer Peace Camps!
Never have I had so much fun. The summer Peace Camps provided an opportunity for me to learn about LFFP and see how the lives of children are being impacted and transformed positively from a very young age. What made this so exciting is that it was done on the basis of learning while having fun for both the campers as well as the counsellors, me included. The Peace Camps impacted me on a personal level, seeing how campers are being empowered organically to be peace champions at heart, and carry that peace to their surroundings: their families, friends, neighbours and communities at large. I could see the campers learning how to love and respect each other irrespective of their age, race, religion, and cultural differences.
Fun peace tools were used. They included art, games, talent shows, storytelling, and recess time where campers as well as counsellors had the opportunity to harness their peacebuilding skills. I was really inspired seeing how at a very young age, campers knew how to solve conflicts among themselves using peaceful communication messages that focused on STOP, THINK and ACT. Many thanks to MJ for the excellent work she has done developing these messages over the years! What stood out for me was the phrase, ‘Stop, we can work it out.’ This particular phrase was used by younger campers to address little conflicts among themselves. I was happy to be in a position to see its effectiveness.
As an adult, this was a learning curve for me. Whereas I have always had the knowledge of non-violent communication, LFFP has taught me a new kind of peaceful non-violent communication which I have now adopted in my life. This peaceful non-violent communication has taught me how to work on my communication from a personal level to an interpersonal and intergroup level. I have noticed that this has happened to me unconsciously as a result of working with the campers. The whole world needs peaceful non-violent communication!
My journey with LFFP has just begun. I can’t wait to see where the next months will lead, being part of a visionary organization that has the potential to impact the whole world, using humane, exciting, and interesting peace tools for a much needed change both close to home and globally.
Our peace is broken with the sudden loss of Zach, our peace is coming from his light, our Holy one and our LFFP community. Zach- peace camper, JCIT, CIT, Counselor and Lead Counselor of Little Friends For Peace.