#653 – Dick Bernard: Thoughts on being "for" or "with", rather than "against".

Nov. 14 I had the great honor of being on stage with five students at Great River School in St. Paul MN. Paving the way for me was my dear friend, Melvin Giles, peacemaker par excellence whose mission, quite succinctly, is “bubbles instead of bullets” in the pursuit of peace.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Melvin Giles, at left, and Dick Bernard with the five students who organized the event.

My role was to help dedicate Great River School as a World Citizen Peace Site; the students who received the dedication plaque were organizers par excellence whose work had brought together their second annual day-long IRace Summit, “A Young Person’s Perspective on Racism”. The Dedication as a Peace Site and raising of a flag of planet earth was the culminating activity.
Melvin, who works with Peace Poles and is active in the international organization World Peace Prayer Society, later said “I like the way you invoked [World Citizen founder] Lynn Elling’s spirit into the dedication. It was the first time I experienced the raising of the World Peace Flag at a Peace Site Ceremony. I also thought it was powerful that volunteers and parents were present.”

Some of the participants at the Peace Site Dedication Nov. 14, 2012

It was my great pleasure to be involved in the ceremony. It reminded me of another recent Peace Site dedication, on International Day of Peace, Sep. 21, where new Eagle Scout Eric Lusardi’s motivation and great effort brought to fruition a focal point for peaceful relationships in his community of New Richmond WI.
My main point to the young people in attendance was it would have to be their responsibility to take on repairing our world for their future. I think most of them, at some level much more profoundly than we adults, understand the meaning of that snip…if only we adults could internalize this message….
I’m long retired now, but this week in particular has been full of examples of where peace works, or is severely strained.
I have seen this week, as I see every week, the profound difference between being FOR something, rather than being AGAINST; of being cooperating FRIENDS or competing ENEMIES.
Tonight I facilitate a de-brief of a successful three day conference at the end of September which could easily have fallen apart due to the untimely serious auto accident of the conference coordinator three days before the event was to take place.
Succinctly, there were perhaps twenty or so of us, roughly equally divided between North Dakota and Minnesota, who were doing the routine stuff to make the conference work. We didn’t expect to be in charge at the end.
But the accident happened, and it fell to us to pull it together.
In the end, everything happened, and happened pretty well. On my end, here in the cities, the ten of us, mostly only casual acquaintances, took on our share of the load, and shared our unique and special talents to pull the threads together and make the event succeed.
Tonight we talk about next time, should the event re-mount in the future.
I have on my list, as I write, five other events this week on which I could comment. Some of them I would comment on the sad role of conflict in our adult life; another on the need for inclusion of excluded individuals in a particular conversation; another conversation about the passion of my friend Lynn Elling for appropriately remembering World Law Day in 2013.
And there are others as well.
But those kids at a St. Paul school, and that young Eagle Scout in New Richmond WI, give me hope for the future of this world in which we live.

Handmade poster from many years ago made by friends Lynn Elling and Win Wallin

Before the Great River event, one of the staff at the school showed me a book, Education and Peace, by Maria Montessori. (Great River is a Montessori School.) The link also shows other books by Maria Montessori on the topic.

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