Building Peace By Peace Welcome to Building Peace by Peace, a space for exploring creative strategies to build a more peaceful, just, sustainable world. Mon, 30 Dec 2013 21:52:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A request Mon, 30 Dec 2013 21:52:59 +0000

As the creator and administrator of this website, I would love to learn what has been drawing people to the website recently.  There have been over 100 registrations in the past few months after a long time of inactivity.  If you are newly registered, could you let me know what is drawing you to the site?  Eg., is it a link provided at another website or something along those lines?

Thanks very much!

Judy Morgan

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Thoughts on Occupy and purpose Wed, 16 Nov 2011 21:42:34 +0000

Following are some thoughts in trying to envision what is the core of what the Occupy movement can become. I just learned that even before Occupy Wall Street started there was a ‘Take Back the Square’ movement growing in Spain, with a similar focus.

Any comments would be welcome! Thanks!!!


The Occupy movement is part of a new political energy that is spreading around the world. Many believe it is the beginning of a global movement that recognizes the shared need for common people to challenge the short-sighted self-interest of those who currently define national policies. It is a movement for transformation, of our institutions, our values and our consciousness.

As the world population moves to 8 billion in the next 15 years, we will be experiencing increasing crises due to climate change, limitations in resources, the interconnectedness of global markets, and the corruption of many of our current institutions which block constructive resolutions of these problems.

Following is one effort to summarize the core concepts that are at the heart of this movement.


IN ONE SENTENCE: Democracy, nonviolence, caring for our community

Respect for the dignity and humanity of all people, which is the essence of nonviolence as practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Caring for the community, the environment, and future generations, as well as for ourselves.
An effective democratic process that reflects the interests of all.


IN ONE SENTENCE: To build a healthy democracy and institutions that reflect respect for all people, the environment, and the future; and challenging and boycotting those institutions that do not.

To build healthier democratic processes that are more inclusive, transparent, uncorruptible, and that serve the interest of all citizens.
To withdraw support of large banks and large corporations that have engaged in practices destructive to people and the environment, and transfer support to businesses that operate ethically and responsibly.
To support governmental programs that are cost-effective in providing a safety net, including access to health care, for all of us, and that protect the environment for future generations.
To create new mechanisms needed to safeguard the integrity and responsibility of our public and economic institutions.


IN ONE SENTENCE: We treat all people, and ourselves, with respect, compassion, caring honesty, with the intent to creatively add to the well-being and joy of all; and we call on all others to do the same.

We seek to respect others, and ourselves, in all interactions.
We seek to listen deeply and with compassionate empathy to each other.
We communicate what we want and need as individuals with caring honesty.
We seek the win-win, or all-win, solution in every conflict.
We creatively add to our own and others’ happiness and joy whenever we can.

Good and Evil Sat, 06 Aug 2011 16:20:50 +0000

In response to a friend’s comments that the Tea Party is an expression of evil in the world, I wrote up the following thoughts:
What I experience within myself, as I do my mindfulness meditation, is a tension between parts of the brain, that may correspond with ‘good and evil’. The Reptilian brain – or instinctual part of our brain – causes us to want to fight or run away whenever we run into what appears to be a threat. It wants us to gratify physical and sexual needs even at the expense of others. The forebrain invites us to more thoughtful, to consider others’ feelings, to look at the wider picture and integrate our full understandings in whatever we do.

Much of religious thought had looked at the instinctual side of our being with shame and vindictiveness, calling it ‘sinful’. What I’ve come to believe through Nonviolent Communication and other things, is that the instinctual side is a source of aliveness and joy as well as suffering, and that we want to find ways to nurture and direct its power. Just like when a beloved dog is peeing on our favorite bush, we don’t hit and blame the dog, but rather try to get it to pee in a better place.

I see the instinctual side all the time with the day care kids. They’re forever hitting each other and saying ‘mine’ when another kid wants their toy. But it’s not bad, or evil, it’s just the instinctual side of us, part of our life energy, that has to be integrated into effective and harmonious ways of being.

The Tea Party has tapped into the Reptilian Brain emotions of many. People’s anxieties have found a scapegoat – something they can hate, and feel united and empowered in hating. Somehow we have to find a way to communicate in a way that invites others to move away from the instinctual anger, toward a more inclusive and harmonious way of thinking.

This is serious business. If we can’t find the way to do this, I don’t see anything that will stop a slide into a cycle of economic disruption, resulting in fear and anger, polarization that results in more disruption, then more fear and anger, etc. Somehow we have to find a vision of democracy that inspires us in this context, and the appropriate processes that empower people to engage in meaningful dialogue and participation in the societal decisions being made.

Maybe we need to approach individual leaders of religious organizations and dialogue with them about how to encourage a spirit of collaboration and positive action rather than fear and anger.

Violence and Nonviolence Mon, 13 Jun 2011 17:18:06 +0000

I went to a silent retreat last month. I was surrounded by stillness, quiet, and peace.  I felt very calm. On the fifth night I had a dream.  A close friend of mine was in the dream. She’s in her early seventies.  In the dream she has a small dog.  She irritates teenagers in the neighborhood when she walks the dog.  So they killed the dog.  She complains to them about the dog.  So they killed her too.  The dream consists mostly of me talking to this group of teenagers.  They are telling me what they’ve done.  No remorse, just cold, hard, no emotion. “She’s just an old lady.  What’s she to us?  She got in our way.“ One less old lady hobbling down the street. That’s it. That’s the dream.

I awake, shaking and distraught.  “She’s just an old lady so kill her, murder her”?

I’d been reading Stephen Levine, Meetings at the Edge, which includes a chapter about families dealing with murder. He says: “There is just no way we can be protected from any of the changes that happen in the world. All we can do is allow ourselves to be open to the moment, to allow what we feel to arise, to honor the pain in our heart.”

I let go into feelings from the dream.  It rips my insides out.  The loss, the anger.  Just the look of utter disdain in their eyes, their words, their manner.  I surrender to the process of deep mourning.

I sit with it for awhile.

Eventually some questions come up.

I acknowledge my deep desire for safety in this world. I envision using force to restrain the teenagers and to protect others.  But what about the impulse towards punishment and revenge  that is also there, if I’m totally honest?  I start to get in touch with how violence and hurt can lead to further violence. When I recognize these impulses in myself, I find that people who might advocate punishment or revenge don’t seem quite so foreign to me anymore. I wonder, can nonviolence survive in the midst of deep hurt?

I begin to look at my own propensity for violence. I may not be, in my heart, only that loving, caring person that I think of myself as being. Seeing the impulse towards violence in my own soul seems to somehow help me loosen around at least some of my “good” vs “evil” ideas about the world.

At some point I realize what I really want is for people like these teenagers to fully comprehend the depth of my pain around violence and oppression but I feel powerless to bring that about.

I become fascinated by the interplay between my inner and outer worlds.

I start working with all parts of the dream as if they are parts of myself.  First, I notice myself in the dream. I’m oddly passive. I seem to be disturbed at listening to the teenagers but not overly upset. How can that be? Next, I notice the puppy and see aliveness, energy, creativity, enthusiasm, youth. My friend is an older part of myself, cantankerous.  I don’t like that part so much.  I don’t like watching myself grow older.  And the “gang”.  My gang rubs out, murders my contribution to life, my aliveness, my youth and vigor, my being, with complete, cold, hardness and no recognition of what they do.  How can it be?  Are there ways in which I really do that to myself?

There are no quick or easy answers. I start to watch how the outer world manifests itself internally and vice versa. Maybe if I can work with the dynamics internally, I’ll get some insight into how to live in the external world.  Similarly, the external world may help me see what is going on internally. If Martin Luther King can love those who beat and humiliate him, can’t I find love for myself including all my imperfections?

Conflict, violent crimes and wars are such an endemic part of our world, and my private world too, it seems. Is there any alternative to endless war? There will be times in my life when I feel deeply disturbed, hurt, angry, even vengeful. I will also come face-to-face with injustice and oppression many more times in my life, I’m sure. What can I do when this happens? What options do we have in these situations?

Next week:  Violence and Nonviolence, Part 2

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What is nonviolence? Thu, 02 Jun 2011 03:46:10 +0000

I was in high school when Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech as part of the March on Washington. I would have loved to take off for Alabama that summer, marching and helping with voter registration, but that didn’t go over so well with my parents. Instead I stayed home and helped with the family business. However, the vision of nonviolence stayed with me. At the time, it was, for me, about “us” the good people against “them” those Southerners who dared to turn the dogs and the fire hoses on undeserving innocents. I didn’t have any desire to get a gun and start shooting “bad” people, but I did want to stomp out the evil I saw every night on TV. Marches and demonstrations sounded like a good way to do that. It all seemed like a big adventure. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that nonviolence is about a lot more than marches, demonstrations and voter registration. At that time I had no concept of the full depth of nonviolence.

In college I started to glimpse a deeper vision. For instance, I read Thich Nhat Hanh who says, “Love is the essence (the core, the heart) of Nonviolence.”

On one level that made it sound easy. I just had to be a loving person. But it also opened up many more questions. What is love? How can we possibly love our enemies when they cause us so much pain?

Here is an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s sermon on peace:

“We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you.” MLK

I don’t think I ever seriously considered what might happen to me, physically or emotionally, if I really did go down to Alabama that summer. I never seriously thought about what that commitment would have meant to me or what it meant to MLK and his followers who were there. To this day, I’m not sure of my capacity to love in the way MLK describes it. But I’m also appalled at the immense violence of our world today. There has to be a way for each of us to dig deeply into our hearts and find maybe just an inkling of MLK’s spirit. If each of us dug out just a tiny bit of the love that MLK speaks of, then maybe, just maybe, we could live a little lighter on this earth. But I’m not naive. I’m not some pie-in-the-sky new-ager. I’m no longer that teenager sitting in suburbia thinking about easy adventure. I have a little more grounding in the blood, guts, and gore of this world.

My intention is to write blog entries over the next year on the subject of Living a Nonviolent Life. My intention is to explore what nonviolence really means in my interior world, in my life, and in the larger world. I will explore the following questions and much more:

What does it mean to live a nonviolent life?

What is my own capacity for violence?

Is it possible to bring nonviolence into my whole life including both my internal world and my external actions?

Given all the dangers on this planet, is nonviolence even desirable?

Violence is a big part of the natural world, why wouldn’t it be part of the human world?

Next week: Violence and Nonviolence

An idea Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:51:55 +0000

Inspired by a sermon by my minister, Rev. Eliza Galaher, about countering fear and violence with joy and celebration, I’m starting a new spiritual discipline…To stop at noon every day, wherever I am, and invite whoever I’m with to join in a couple of minutes of meditation on peace and gratitude for all that is good in the world. Then maybe work up to a ‘flash peace’ of inviting friends to go to public places and do a meditation on peace for a few minutes, with handouts inviting people to join us in celebrating peace and all that creates peace. Could be fun!!! Would welcome other thoughts on this!

Poem on Waging Peace Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:27:25 +0000

A beautiful poem that captures the connection of inward and outward peacebuilding…

Wage Peace
By Judyth Hill*

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.