COMMUNITY PEACE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT CURRICULUM
OVERVIEW OF PAREM
The innerwork parem is the area where individuals prepare themselves for peace and leadership. Here we strive for a deeper understanding of ourselves in order to better understand others, especially people who seem quite different from us. This is a place for reflection, self-examination, and focus. Rarely do we get opportunities to focus intently on ourselves, in this section, we do just that. Particularly, we will focus on the following sub-topics: worldview, empathy, human dignity, mindfulness, meditation, forgiveness, listening, love, authenticity, tolerance of ambiguity, and stress and anger management.
After completing this section of the curriculum, participants will be able to:
- Understand the innerwork component of peace leadership.
- Reflect on current practices of peace leadership innerwork.
- Increase participant’s ability to be more self-reflective of their own reactions, behaviors, and potential triggers.
- Foster comfort in interactions with those of various viewpoints and backgrounds.
- Consider new areas of peace leadership innerwork practice to implement.
Gandhi once said, “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” Worldview is the way we understand and make sense of the world and all that goes around us. It is the map that guides our life and defines who we are as human beings. Our worldviews consist of our thinking, our beliefs, our values, our actions, and our convictions. Our worldview is often our own as individuals, but is rooted in the communities that we live our lives in- including our neighborhoods, our religious traditions, our countries of origin, and our education both formal and informal. For example, people with a worldview that is based on unity will view the participation of men and women in society as equal.
We must begin to understand our worldview before we can begin to understand others’. We must understand others’ worldview as we often interact with those from varying experiences, opportunities, and cultural backgrounds in peace leadership work. When engaging in this work, we must challenge ourselves to work beyond our assumptions, and learn of others’ worldviews so that we might find ways to work together to build a peaceful world.
Empathy is our ability to relate to what others are going through- their emotions, feelings, experiences, and thoughts. Empathy moves beyond sympathy, which focuses on being more supportive or sensitive than another. Empathy is when we can tap into a part of ourselves that may connect with the way that someone else is feeling. It requires us to be vulnerable and reach out to the person in a way that takes more of ourselves than just sympathy may do. We must feel with someone else.
Empathy is important in efforts of peace leadership as it provides a space for us to really reach out and connect with each other. It allows us to create a collective sense of a feeling or experience. It is an essential interpersonal skill to help build trust, collaboration, teamwork, and relationships within our homes, communities, organizations, and society.
Human Dignity is the belief that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human dignity is the equal worth we all have as human beings in this world. When conflict and challenges arise in our lives, it can become increasingly difficult to remember that those who may oppose us also have worth and value. We all should feel as though we can be seen and heard for who we are as individuals and as humans. The respect of human beings, both for those who are similar and different from us, can be a challenging practice- each day is a new opportunity for us to grow our skill.
The notion of human dignity is extremely important for peace leadership. In order to move forward when challenge and conflict arises, we must be able to connect with those who may oppose our ideas and viewpoints. When we can start from a space of respecting their human dignity and acknowledging that despite our different views, we all have value and worth, we can begin conversations, discussions, and negotiations for a quite different place than they might otherwise occur. Starting from a space of dignity, starts from a space of openness, caring, and acceptance.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and pay attention to the current moment without judgement. It is taking the time to recognize what is happening with ourselves, and our surrounding environment, at any given time. This observation should not be critical, but rather serve a pause and a space to better understand ourselves and our world. Being mindful allows us to better understand our habitual patterns and assumptions, and encourages us to be aware of the multitude of experiences available in any given moment. By stopping to capture the intricacies of these moments we are opening ourselves to a whole new potential in how we view and interact with the world. Mindfulness has been shown to increase productivity and innovation, flexibility, and organizational satisfaction.
Mindfulness is extremely valuable for peace leadership. In any given interaction or encounter in the work to build peace, there are a number of complex challenges and multifaceted realities. Being mindful while engaging in peace leadership allows for suspension of judgment and a new appreciation of our surroundings, including the diverse perspectives of those who may be engaging in peace leadership work with you. When we can be present to ourselves and our surroundings we are more attuned to the work we want to do and the people who we engage with to make it happen.
Meditation is the quieting of the mind in order to allow for a peaceful space of inward contemplation and awareness. Meditation is an active relaxation, or efforts to relax through concentration and breathing. It opens ourselves up to the broader world around us, by enabling us to slow down our thoughts and actions. By focusing on our breathing, meditation is a way for us to let go of our busy minds and constant thinking and open ourselves up to a new world of possibility.
Meditation has been shown to build one’s resilience, empathy, and intuition. Each of these skills are essential to being present and connected with yourself. In peace leadership, those of us who have connected in this meditative space and can build upon these skills will be more effective in connecting with others in an authentic, open, and more meaningful ways.
Forgiveness is an opportunity. It is a chance to build upon the humanity of one another and understand that when wrongs occur we can allow ourselves to move beyond the hurt and anger that results inside each of us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting the wrongs that have occurred, or about condoning those acts. It is a courageous act about giving ourselves, and others, the freedom to move forward, find well-being, and release ourselves from anger, hatred, stress, and depression. It is a chance to reconcile and to rehumanize those who are both victims and offenders. We must also remember that forgiveness may not just be about forgiving someone else; we may also need to practice the difficult art of forgiving ourselves.
Forgiveness is an essential practice for peace leadership. In order to act with the varying parties involved in any peace leadership practice, we must think about bringing people together. Forgiveness allows us to heal divides and limit separations from what might be some long-standing hurt. It is important for those involved in peace leadership to encourage a sense of inclusion, rather than one based on fear, uncertainty, and anger. Forgiveness allows for the understanding that in our efforts to make peace, mistakes can be made, feelings can be hurt, true offense can be taken; and each of these, with hard work and a focus on building a world in which we are all included and want to live, is worth the time, effort, and challenge of forgiveness.
How many times do we hear people talking to us, but we are not really listening? How many times are we distracted by the technology that is now so readily available to us? How often do we set this technology aside and really focus on the person talking? Really listen to what they are saying; listen without thinking about how you will respond, thinking about the grocery list, or any other to do list that may be also pressing for your attention. Listening is more than just hearing someone talk. Listening is an act of concentration, of connecting with another person, deeply experiencing their words, emotions, and experiences.
Listening builds trust and allows others to know that you care about them and their experiences, and that you trust and value their thoughts and opinions. Those engaged in peace leadership should find listening an essential element of peace leadership work. Listening to both those that share your thoughts and opinions, and those that may differ, allows you to explore the full range of ideas and experiences that may contribute to our peace leadership work. When we embrace new ideas, and take the time to truly listen and engage with those who are sharing with us, we increase the value of our engagements, our interactions, and our opportunities to create peace.
When we think about love, we often think about it being reserved for personal relationships with family and even friends. What might happen, however, if we were to extend that love to all of the people we engage with? What might happen if we were able to bring our capacity to love to everyone we interact with- even those with whom we may disagree. It is important to think about who we love, and how we love them- how we care both for and about them. Bringing love to the forefront opens us up to new possibilities with among the people we interact. It creates a space where people feel as though they are a part a process. It directly challenges the all-too-common practice of leadership with and through fear. Fear closes us off and forces us to make quick, short-term decisions. Love opens us up to possibilities, creativity, and innovation. Love is a space the delights in the well-being of others, and just as importantly, ourselves.
Bringing people into a process, and ensuring that they are loved and cared for is essential for the work of peace leadership. When we open our hearts to others we are opening up our actions and interactions for peace. In peace leadership it is essential to have caring, powerful relationships, and we cannot reach those relationships without love. When we embrace leading with love, as opposed to fear, we create a space that fosters creativity, innovation, and true connection for growth- essential elements for peace leadership.
How well do we know ourselves? And when we do come to know ourselves, how well to do portray that true self to others? When we engage in work around authenticity, we are striving to understand our true selves better, and learning how best to communicate this self to the people we engage with- both personally and professionally. When we are being authentic, we are connecting with our inner consciousness, and sharing the depth of that space with others. Leading with authenticity takes practice, courage, and discipline. We must work every day to find our true selves, connect with that self, and share that self with others.
There has been much research and discussions around the importance of authenticity in leadership, and it is equally, if not more, important for peace leadership. How can we ask others to join us in a movement toward peace and societal change if we are inauthentic and hidden behind veils of our false selves? How can we engage in the meaningful relationships it takes to engage in peace leadership if we are unable to take up a meaningful relationship with ourselves? Research demonstrates that leaders who are more authentic are more adept at leading groups and organizations. Peace leaders who are more authentic will be more likely to be strong in their resolve for peace, and more likely to encourage others to join in their work for the greater good.
TOLERANCE OF AMBIGUITY
The world is an increasingly complex and uncertain place, one which often leads to distress and discomfort as we try to navigate and even control the unknowns that surround our lives. As we become more interconnected, and live in many intersecting spheres, we must learn to better tolerate the ambiguity that comes with our new way of living. In fact, embracing the unexpected and the unknown is shown to provide a better space for decision-making, as we can often be open to more possibilities and opportunities to advance and think about the world in new ways. When we are tolerant of ambiguity, we begin to see that there is more than just one right way to do something, which is connected to more organizational satisfaction, and the building of stronger relationships.
It is clear to see that tolerance of ambiguity is also essential to those engaging in peace leadership work. Peace leadership is the chance to engage with others and build relationships; a chance to explore interconnectedness and new opportunities. Peace leadership requires that we embrace varying points of view, and that we do not always know exactly what may be coming next in our endeavors. If we can live in a space of open-mindedness and willingness to let go of some of our need to control, we can foster the kind of innovation, creativity, and growth that will lead the way to the peaceful, sustainable change we desire.
STRESS AND ANGER MANAGEMENT
Anger and stress are often side effects of our busy, technologically-enhanced lives. These are natural feelings and responses to daily life. We know that we often cannot control the factors that bring on these reactions and emotions, but we can begin to control how we work to manage them and operate in a world that is often ambiguous and challenging to grapple with.
In the inner work section of peace leadership we focus on many of the ways that can build ourselves up into being better individuals in the face of some of life’s difficulties so that we can better handle the various complexities of challenges of peace leadership. Learning how to manage our stress and anger is an essential way for us to provide space and openness for much of the other work in this section. When we find ways to relax, breath, exercise, and sleep better, we open ourselves up to the creative possibilities that may be possible in our lives. As stress and anger can often blind us to creative potentials, and some of life’s joys and simple pleasures, learning how to manage these feelings and emotions can enable us find new meaning in our work in peace leadership, and can challenge us to serve as examples for others engaging in these efforts.
SUMMARY OF LEARNING
This section of the curriculum has focused on the Innerwork of peace leadership. Innerwork is the deeper connections we make with ourselves as we engage in peace leadership work. It is the chance we give ourselves to connect to ourselves in a unique way that encourages our authenticity, reflection, and love. It is the space that prepares us to work with others through empathy, deep listening, forgiveness, and recognition of their dignity. As we embrace our self-exploration, we are becoming more courageous in our efforts to embrace peace leadership and our work with others to foster these efforts. As we become truer to ourselves we can be more open and connected with the work we do. Our reflections and practices lead us to new relationships with ourselves, with those whom we work, and with those who may pose as a challenge to us. We are creating a new space for our own emergence and our own transitions as we foster transitions of peace and change in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.