In 2007, Lucas Pinelli and Chelsea Callas, seniors that year at West Linn High School, took it upon themselves to approach the West Linn City Council with a remarkable initiative. They asked the Council to endorse a House Bill in support of a National Department of Peace. The Council voted unanimously to approve this initiative and West Linn became one of a number of cities in the United States to take a stand in favor of Peace as a patriotic goal and vision.
It was my privilege that year to hear Riane Eisler address the Peace Alliance conference in Vancouver, Washington in support of the Department of Peace initiative. Dr. Riane Eisler is a renowned scholar, futurist and activist, the author of the groundbreaking international bestseller The Chalice and the Blade, as well as the award-winning Tomorrow’s Children, The Power of Partnership, and Sacred Pleasure. Her newest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, charts a new course for economic and social policy. She is President of the Center for Partnership Studies (www.partnershipway.org) and co-founder of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence www.saiv.net Her website is www.rianeeisler.com.
As I begin a year of service in support of SAIV’s vision, of a world where leaders of all spiritual and faith traditions work to abolish intimate violence in all its forms, I remember my teachers (though officially they were my students that year) Chelsea and Lucas, how they led by example so that all of us, the many adults at City Hall that evening, were humbled and honored to follow them. Maria Montessori, another visionary scholar and teacher who worked for peace – even as the clouds of war were gathering over Europe in the 1930’s – believed that if adults would learn to honor the wisdom of children, to follow humbly in their light, and to work only so as to make the world safe for them, that world peace would necessarily follow.
As I transition away from the role of classroom teacher and mentor and into new and uncharted work/territory, as the Spirit leads me, I hold dear to my heart the many young people who inspired me in my nearly three decades as a high school teacher. The members of GATA (Global Awareness, Take Action) who reached out to students in Kenya; the young musicians and members of YAP (Young Advocates for Peace); Rebecca’s student chapter of Amnesty International (faithfully writing letters to prisoners of conscience each week, including to Father Roy Bourgeois), French students raising money for “Doctors Without Borders” each year, and the girl mentors of “Girls Today” educating their younger sisters about relational aggression so as to put an end to “mean girl” syndrome, all come to mind. I think of the many essays, persuasive speeches, poems, and even letters to “Monsieur le President” that I read over the years which were eloquent pleas for peace. The vision of adolescents is crystalline in this regard; they are still so close to their own tender childhoods. They know how precious peace is to the healthy development of a child and how destructive fear, violence, and angry conflict are to a child’s soul. They feel keenly the lack of balance in our world today and they long for a healthy future for themselves and for their children.Riane Eisler puts it this way, “Young people are in the forefront of looking beyond the old to the new. They are looking for new ways to change traditions of violence. They are looking beyond conventional categories such as capitalist vs. socialist, East vs. West, religious vs. secular, and technologically developed vs. undeveloped. They understand that we need new categories that tell us what kinds of cultures support peace and caring. They want to construct solid foundations for a more peaceful and sustainable future.” (Building a World of Partnership and Peace: Four Cornerstones)
Can we find the humility to follow them and the courage to let them lead us?
In peace and in hope,
with gratitude to my many young teachers
1986 – 2012