Letter: Insist that students receive peacemaking tools

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thanks to Mountain Xpress for printing Ed Sacco’s letter lamenting the continued presence of military and martial-oriented influences in local public schools [“The Militarization of Our Children,” May 23, Xpress].

In a place like Asheville that likes to tout itself as progressive, you’d think our school administrators would be paying more attention to the educational treasures local citizen-teachers are offering here, both privately and in public venues. In particular, I refer to the ongoing and generous work of teachers like Steve Torma (The REAL Center), Cathy Holt (HeartSpeak), Jerry Donoghue (Inner Presence Coaching) and Roberta Wall (Steps2Peace), to name just a few.

These dedicated citizens offer mind- and life-changing information and practices that have the power to transform our relationships with ourselves and others through the wisdom of NVC (Nonviolent Communication), restorative circles and other communication “technologies” that are at the forefront of inner and outer peacemaking efforts throughout the world. Their work helps us sort out the fabricated from the real, contend with fear, anger and resentment (among other challenging emotions) and learn the art of empathy toward ourselves and others.

Empathy — a natural human experience that has practically been expunged from public life except under the most tragic conditions — is no small thing; its value in transforming aggression into understanding and submission into empowerment is playing an increasing role in more enlightened governments and societies worldwide. Why wait, Asheville schools? And why wait, Asheville people? The time is now to insist our students receive tools that will give them, their families and their world a million times more benefit than would the tools of defense and attack still (sadly) popular even in progressive Asheville. Check the web! Sign up for a class! Learn and share!

— Arjuna da Silva
Black Mountain


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9 thoughts on “Letter: Insist that students receive peacemaking tools

  1. B.E.Vickroy

    Ms da Silva = Your passion/concern for less violence and humane lifestyle is understandable. I venture to say, shared by the majority of people on this earth. But how to achieve those worthy goals is the rub. If one believes the unfolding of the human story, as told in the Bible, you must first begin with perfection “IT WAS GOOD” at creation, followed by the story of man’s fall from fellowship with the creator GOD, and being subject to sin/violence . And that’s where we find the differences in perspective and approach on how to reach world/inner peace. As I was reading through your list of goals for students and mankind, my solution is to get more in tune with our creator GOD, through study of His Word and of course, prayer and meditation. I suspect that the path advanced for the solution to the problems of violence, selfishness, greed, etc advocated by the groups cited in your letter, would be to avoid the Bible at all costs, using man-created “wisdom” as the guide/template.
    And, not a rhetorical question – please name the “more enlightened governments and societies worldwide” who are leading humanity toward a peace-centered life? Although it is a noble-sounding goal, the idea of the ‘perfectibility of man, through training is not new. It has been tried in every age, and has been corrupted by man’s sin-nature that will be ameliorated through a heart-relationship with our Savior, but truth to tell, this side of Paradise [perfection restored] that sin-nature will too often prevail. (Romans 7 ) My dear, though we may disagree on methods/pathway, we can meet with love at the desire for peace and harmony.

  2. boatrocker

    I like how Christians always put forth assertions under
    the false premise that their constantly revised Bible is
    somehow accepted by all as fact and not merely a collection of
    Bronze Age fairy tales written by goat herders
    and then cite their own faulty sources for credibility.
    And then have the gall to suggest the onus of proof
    is upon the non believers….

    How very humble like Jesus.

    Me (boatrocker 6:10).

    • Lulz

      Gee and here I thought that listening to communist defend their ideology because it’s never been done right as a reason for its historical failure time and time again is gold.

    • B.E.Vickroy

      Hi Boatrocker – though we so often cross swords in this venue, you are always interesting, and that’s saying a lot. As you can guess, because I believe the words of the Bible are wonderfully wrought for our benefit, you’re “fables written by goat herders” is a timeworn catch phrase which does no credit to the intelligence or Biblical knowledge of the one using it. And how can you have an opinion about that which you have no knowledge?
      So many examples to show that either the words are crafted by men inspired by a holy source or by some very talented goat herders. Looking for a good example of Biblical wisdom that is both exalted [deep, complex], poetically descriptive, timeless, and intensely personal. The subject is LOVE, the most complex, multi- layered, misunderstood emotion we know. The wisdom in this 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians always touches me, not just because it was read at my wedding, but because it is BEAUTIFUL:
      *** “And now I will show you the most excellent way. *** If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. *** If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. *** If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. *** Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. *** Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. *** It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. *** Love never fails. *** But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. *** When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. *** Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. *** And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ” Hope you know I submit this not for competitive one-upmanship, but thinking it might pique your interest enough to give it a look-see.

  3. B.E.Vickroy

    Well, trying to stay within the spirit of the original letter, and being rather grieved at the harsh worldview expressed in your comment – it seems to me that looking at the natural world is a good place to start. Have you ever stood in the cool silence of a redwood forest – next to a waterfall, close enough for the sweet mist to cover your face – looked into the face of a newborn baby – felt your heart swell with joy at the achievement of one you love? Among the many attributes I find in studying God’s Word is contained in the word JOY … not to mention COMFORT, and COURAGE. Isaiah 41:10 has gotten me through some real heartbreak [and that’s even B4 I had gotten into Bible study]
    Back to nature as a way to tap into fellowship with our Creator – Psalm 19 describes the awe and wonder at God’s creation perfectly for this old tree-hugger [https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+19&version=NIV ] Obviously anyone can take or leave my viewpoints, just as they can yours. But I wonder how much you have dipped into the Bible that you dismiss. A good starting point is Proverbs – wisdom boiled down into bite-sized bits. “A cheerful heart….” better than “keep your chin up “https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+17%3A22&version=NIV there are literally 100s of references to JOY in this book that has lasted though ages of people denigrating, dismissing, and misusing it. And pondering on the many levels and layers of meaning in that one word – JOY – is a pretty good recipe for personality development at any age. [and never gets old] Go in peace – and JOY.

    • B.E.Vickroy

      The principles espoused in this letter brought a saying I’ve often heard to mind: “Character Is Destiny” … went online and found its source: “… is a quote attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. This quote implies that destiny, or fate, is not a predetermined outside force, but that one’s future, or destiny, is determined by his own inner character. ” Heraclitus was active about 500 B.C. So, one can surmise that humanity has been wrestling with how to obtain, keep, and maintain a more humane society for quite a while, with spotty success, at best. And as I stated [to the dismay of some posters] that it is the fallen state of mankind that damns our best-intended efforts. And the way around that is a deep [not superficial] relationship with He, who paid the debt for humanity’s sins – Jesus Christ. And delving into the Bible is the most effective way to get to know Him. Based on historical track-record, well-meaning purveyors of “issms” new or old, eastern or western will founder on the shoals of our sin-nature. Maybe sounds harsh, but getting the ‘big picture thru the Word of God’ puts that into perspective.

      • boatrocker

        -make an assertion based of a book of fiction
        -quote said book in order to cite sources via false assertions
        -demand non believers deliver burden of proof
        -lather, rinse, repeat.

        Many schoolkids did just fine as adults reciting the original Pledge of Allegiance
        pre-1954 when “under God” was added, which messed up the meter of an
        otherwise good poem.

        In thinking about this peacemaking tools idea thingy, my 2 cents would be
        to require some sort of minimum hours of volunteer work for high school graduation
        in order to expose kids to the idea of empathy.

        For having watched the original ‘Bladerunner’ movie (great movie) and the newer sequel,
        the method used in both to tell the difference between humans and android copies
        (it’s a sci fi thing) is the ability to demonstrate empathy for others which I find increasingly hard to
        spot in conservative/libertarian thought. Buckminster Fuller called it something like
        ‘Spaceship Earth’ or something similar, but many here and off the comments section subscribe to
        tribalism, aka ‘I got mine’ which helps the player but not the team.

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