Cris Williamson asks this question in her 2003 song titled, “We the People” (click here).
This week in Canada, we experienced violence that is prompting us as a society to ask if globally-related violence really is growing on this part of Turtle Island (North America; click here). Our government is proposing that we increase national and provincial security measures. In effect, our government and uncritical media are suggesting that we be fearful.
But, others, like the people of Cold Lake, Alberta (click here) and Cris Williamson offer alternative perspectives. Here are the lyrics to the chorus of Cris’ song:
We the people
Stand in the hard rain pourin’ down
We’ll not be prisoners of war
We will not cast the stone
We can and are choosing non-violent responses to violence. Yesterday, for example, in Cold Lake, Alberta, as local Muslims gathered for Friday prayers, they discovered violent words spray-painted on the side of the mosque. They and many other Cold-Lake residents responded with concern and began to wash off the violent words, together. They were brave and chose peace.
I believe that Canadian society is capable of being brave, too, and choosing peace. By responding to global violence with more violence, are we not contributing to the problem by destroying the places in which the next generation is trying to grow? If we contribute to destruction, how can any little person develop in healthy ways and relationships? It’s not too late to declare that war with its violence is unhelpful. In 2005, Jean Shinoda Bolen described that “when the problem is violence, solutions have to be found to keep noncombatants safe from physical harm and emotional trauma” (p. 95, see more here). She writes that women (and I would suggest men, too, who have been given the love and resources to develop healthy, sensitive selves) “…have the qualities that are needed for the human family, the planet and all life on it to survive and thrive” (p. 98). And, she notes that we need to make our healthy relationality visible.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to participate in the 2014 People for People conference in Edmonton (click here; coordinated by Kara Stokke, click here). Teresa de Grosbois (click here), one of the great keynote speakers, encouraged us to speak with the intention to be heard.
And, so I offer this posting with compassion for the larger whole… we don’t have to choose fear. In Canada and globally, we can choose to “Stand in the hard rain pourin’ down” (Cris’s song) and declare that increasing Canadian security measures could contribute to the building of walls that exclude and potentially humiliate and diminish others. We can choose connection and create spaces in which to listen to each other with care and curiosity, to understand.
I write with the intention to be heard. I believe that we are capable and can be brave enough for peace. Okay, here we go – on the count of 3, let’s stand up together… perhaps it’ll be raining, quite possibly snowing… [grin!]