Peace Engagement

Thoughts on Peace – Reflections from the Newark Peace Summit: Peace Engagement

Crumpled PaperAs you and a friend walk down a street in your community, you see a piece of trash on the ground. What would you do?

A) Go out of your way to pick it up and throw it in the trash.

B) Keep walking on your intended path. You’ve got better things to do, and besides, it’s not your trash, why should you pick it up?

C) You were the person who threw the trash on the ground in the first place.

One of the workshops I attended at the Newark Peace Summit described how people’s engagement could be broken down into three categories: A) Engaged – you pick up the trash, B) Not Engaged – you walk by the trash, or C) Actively Disengaged – you threw the trash on the ground. As he described these categories, I began to consider how this framework could be applied to peoples’ “Peace Engagement” levels. Here’s what I came up with:

1) Engaged – You show love and compassion for all of your fellow human beings. You care about the well-being of other people, no matter if they are your friend, foe, complete stranger, or even that person who is driving 10 miles under the speed limit in front of you. These feelings are expressed by your words (you speak kindly to others, don’t gossip behind others’ backs, and never disrespect others, no matter the circumstance). Your positive words then translate to action (you act in a spirit of service to others, putting others before yourself. You always treat everyone the way you would want them to treat you).

2) Not Engaged – You don’t see the point or value in putting others before yourself. Most of your thoughts throughout the day are about yourself. Do I look good right now? How can I entertain myself today? Why is this person driving so slowly, don’t they know I need to get to work on time?! Your actions are also aimed at self-gratification. Your primary reason for work is money and material gain. You spend your money on material possessions that make you happy. You spend your leisure time doing things that are self-indulgent: watch T.V., go to the movies, go on vacations, etc. Nobody helps you, so why should you spend your time or money helping others?

3) Actively Disengaged – It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and you feel that in order to be successful, you have to put down anyone who gets in your way. You feel that certain types of peoples’ lives are more important than others. You pre-judge other people based on their demographics. If you feel that someone does you wrong, you make sure to get even with them. Your swerve in front of the person driving 10 mph under the speed limit and give them the middle finger in order to “teach them a lesson.” You feel that peace and love are a bunch of BS, that evil and violence are the reality and their continuance is inevitable.

As I personally reflect, I know that while I strive to be “Engaged” in building peace at all times, I presently switch between all three categories, depending on the circumstance. I think that, until we critically analyze our thoughts in this way, we are simply a product of our experience and environment. Once we personally identify our level of peace engagement, we become enlightened and empowered to act. In fact, it becomes our personal responsibility to take our newly found knowledge and act in a positive fashion to become more peaceful.

As you reflect on these different categories, I ask you a few important questions:

1) What Engagement category do you feel you currently fit into?

2) What are some other examples of behaviors that would demonstrate someone being “Engaged,” “Not Engaged,” or “Actively Disengaged” in building peace?

3) What’s one thing you can start doing to be more “Engaged” in building peace?

8 thoughts on “Peace Engagement

  1. Nice looking blog. Just added it to my favorites bar.

  2. Richard Jeffers

    As 1 of your parents, I am proud to see that you are Engaged in the Peace process demonstrated by the fact that not only talk about it, but you go to conferences and donate your time and resources to charitable causes. I feel I was Engaged when I was younger but as I have grown older I would say I am Not Engaged as I have become more pessimistic vs hopeful since I haven’t seen a lot of Real change over the past 25 yrs toward a more peaceful world. Dad

  3. Emery Jeffers

    1) I have so few face to face interactions outside of work & have so many personal things to get done on a daily basis to stay ahead that I feel I fall into the Not Engaged.

  4. For the most I would say I try my hardest to be actively engaged. However, I do slip into the not engaged category, even actively disengaged. I love picking up trash, but I don’t always try to interact with people I don’t know, even though I know I should. Once we start caring more, the desire to help becomes stronger. It might help to ask ourselves why we choose to be disengaged from certain things in the first place. I can’t wait to read your next post!

  5. Rico – like to hear it! Hope you enjoy the future posts!

    Daddo – Glad to make you proud! That’s interesting that you feel you were more engaged when you were younger. I feel like I was definitely much less engaged for the first 21 years of my life. I think what shifted for me was surrounding myself with other people that are engaged and by reading books that “feed” engagement. Do you feel like the people you have surrounded yourself with later in life also fit in the “not engaged category?” What about earlier in life, were the people you were surrounded by more “engaged?”

    Emery – You make an excellent point that I’m sure most Americans can relate to. I think what has helped me be much more engaged in the last year is that I’ve selected a field of study and a job that both allow me to help other people and be “engaged” on a daily basis. However, I think that even volunteering for a good cause for a few hours on the weekend here and there can be really nourishing for the soul and allow you to help bring more peace to the world. I remember you tried Habitat for Humanity, have you looked into any other organizations or opportunities that might allow you to be more “engaged in peace” without making a big time commitment?

    Mallory – All great points! To further discuss your point and question, why do you think you choose not to interact with people sometimes, causing you to be “not engaged?”

    • 1) Because I might want to be alone in my own thoughts during that time
      2) Because I think others want to be left alone
      3) Because I can’t think of something to talk about
      4) Because I am about to leave that area and I wouldn’t have enough time to start a conversation with someone.

      However, I know that the benefits of communicating and connecting with my fellow human beings outweighs all the reasons why I sometimes choose not to. I think it is very important to at least acknowledge a persons existence when walking down the street or on a bus, anywhere really, with a smile and a “hello”. I LOVE when people I don’t know say hello to me, it makes me so happy to experience friendly people.

  6. Colby,
    I love what you’re doing! You’re an inspiration and I’m proud that you’re my cousin. Grandpa is most definitely proud of what you’re doing and is working with you.
    I mostly mix Engaged and Not Engaged. Sometimes I think about egotistical bull of the Not Engaged in myself and just wonder, “Why??” I find it difficult to be in Engaged modus all the time but, I suppose that our striving to attain more and more of the Engaged modus is part of the beauty and process of this life we’re living. So, I guess mostly I try to make myself aware of my consciousness, but not fixate on how I “could’ve been better.” That sort of thinking only gets in the way.

  7. Emery Jeffers

    I like the line of work I’m in because I get to meet with people & but it can certainly be unfulfilling because it is sales. I haven’t really looked into volunteering after coaching the Boys n Girls Club about a year ago. I don’t know why exactly, I just haven’t.

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