In the journey towards peace, reflection sits at the heart of each person who decides to take the leap into such a practice. The practice of peace itself is a conscious effort, and seeing a group of men, who in society’s viewpoint have nothing, come together on the journey towards peace was not only inspiring but even more so humbling.
We often tell ourselves not to take things for granted, and to always realize one’s own privilege in the world we live in no matter our circumstances. Sitting as a black, college-educated female, I knew my privilege, but was also aware of what burdens were predisposed against me because of how I am labeled in the world. Because of this consistent awareness to both privilege and hardship, I was able to reach the deep level with these men who consciously placed themselves in the peace circle that day.
They spoke on the systems they felt were against them, leaping back into history with reflection upon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the reasoning behind his undoubtedly heroic downfall. We discussed not only the progressive impact he made on what we as an American culture have progressed to today, but also the inquisitive question, did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. die from his own ignorance? With varying opinions in the group, we were able to move the conversation into the ultimate question of how do we react to things, and how our reactions can be changed to reflect and resolve in a more peaceful manner. Dr. King chose a peaceful and consistent protest to display to the country the hideous mistreating of black people in America. How one progresses to that took center stage.
One man suggested that you could only live for yourself, and to find peace within starts with the desire to better yourself first. Others reflected on the idea that you cannot progress on your own with either looking to others for guidance, or having a solid support system around you. Even more compelling was the discussion of if believing in a higher power constitutes as still living for yourself or if you are still “living for someone or something else.” Such deep, philosophical ideas were discussed that early Thursday morning, creating a much more in-depth and reflective state in the Father McKenna Center than any I was expecting that morning.
The overall idea of progress through one’s own means left a steady impact on me the rest of that day, causing me to look at how I am progressing towards my utmost peaceful life, and what that life constitutes for me. I have always known I am advocate for “peace on earth,” but where did that desire put me as an overall entity of myself? That morning, the men at our peace circle pushed me to think about peace from a standpoint of the less than privileged, and why to them progress was more than what the American Dream entails. As a whole, I left the Father McKenna Center enlightened, thoughtful, and overall more peaceful knowing that those who seemingly have nothing continue to be able minded and steadfast in themselves and their dreams towards peace in whatever capacity that means for them beyond the walls of adversity.