Category Archives: Board Contributors

Thanksgiving Wishes

carmel and maxDear Writing for Peace Family,

I’m thinking this morning about all of you, our wonderful directors, inspiring advisers, and amazing contributors, Young Writers and readers, with gratitude.

There are times (especially in the last two years) when discouragement takes on a life of its own, much like the cartoon characters with black clouds hovering over their heads day after day as they go about their business. What they don’t have that we do is the community, support, and encouragement of each other.

I can never feel discouraged for long when I think of all of you, approaching each day with an emphasis not on what you can’t accomplish, but what you can. You chip away at seemingly insurmountable obstacles, smile at neighbors and strangers, and do your civic duties with diligence and good cheer. The work created in this spirit adds light and wisdom to our collective consciousness and humanity as a whole, making hope a beautiful and tangible thing.

From all of us at Writing for Peace, many thanks for your ongoing support and all that you do to make this world a better place. Whether you are in the U.S. or elsewhere on this exquisite globe, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Much love and appreciation,

Carmel

Carmel Mawle is president and founder of Writing for Peace. She writes from the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and Max, a ten-pound border terrier mix who firmly believes he’s a mountain dog. You can find her blog at www.carmelmawle.com.

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Historical Change, by Carmel Mawle

41644111_304358337033968_3514319838484889600_n-1 (2)As founder and president of the board of directors, I want to clarify that Writing for Peace is a Not-for-Profit (501c3) entity and, as such, we do not endorse political candidates. Our goal is to encourage young writers to do their own research and empower them to make a difference in the causes that are important to them.

With that disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I write now as a citizen of these United States, exercising my First Amendment rights.

It cannot be denied that the United States I love, the nation in which I was born and raised, has an abhorrent history. Built upon a foundation of genocide and slavery, much of the folklore around “old glory” is thinly veiled propaganda. But, like mythologies over the eons, there are truths, and something to be learned of both the best and worst of human nature.

George Washington, who led the American resisters to victory, became known to the Native Americans as “Town Destroyer.” After decimating a village, his troops would skin the bodies of Iroquois from the hips down to make “leather stockings.”

Abraham Lincoln, one of my personal favorites (and I highly recommend George Saunder’s novel, Lincoln in the Bardo), ended the Civil War and emancipated the slaves. But he also ordered the largest mass execution, 38 Sioux men who had been accused of war crimes.

The United States has (and continues to) supported dictators, interfered with sovereign nations, and committed war crimes and, despite rhetoric to the contrary, capitalism is more often than not the driving force behind both foreign and domestic policies.

There have, of course, been historical high marks. The signing, on December 10th, 1948, of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showed aspirations of our highest selves. In retrospect, I have to wonder if witnessing the worst of humanity at the close of WWII and the knowledge that U.S. corporations were collaborating and profiting by German atrocities while our soldiers gave their lives fighting fascism, had reached something deep within each of us, our responsibility to our brothers and sisters. Whatever it was, our government has studiously avoided being held accountable for violations of that signed declaration (or the Geneva Conventions) ever since.

Still, we have made some progress. We’ve made advancements in Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Rights (among others). I’m sitting here trying to remember whether that has ever happened without a fight. Would I sound too cynical if I said that, unless the oligarchy also profits by those advancements, they won’t be given to us on a silver platter? No, when it comes to human rights, we have historically had to demand change.

We march, we protest, we write letters and create art and raise awareness so our numbers will continue to swell. And brave journalists are at the forefront of these battles, showing us body bags and civilian casualties, the dogs and billy clubs and lynchings. They show us Black Lives destroyed by police brutality, white supremacism once again empowered to raise its ugly entitled head, refugees at our borders and detained children, school shootings and N.R.A. funded representatives with their bulging pockets, floods and fires and an unprotected environment in decline, and perhaps worst of all, voter suppression.

Current events, and our checkered past, have shown us that we can’t count on our government to do the right thing. Change depends on you and me.

If there was ever a time to march or write for peace it is now. Join me in marching to your polling station, filling out your ballot, and signing your name. Vote. Alone we may be a single wavering candle, but together we are the sun, shining light on this administration’s lies and oppression.

And if you need help getting to the polls, contact me at my personal website. I’ll help you in whatever way I can. We’re in this together.

Now, back to our regular programming: Thank you for supporting Writing for Peace.

~~~

Carmel Mawle writes from the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and Max, a ten-pound border terrier mix who firmly believes he’s a mountain dog. You can find her blog at www.carmelmawle.com.

 

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Small Bites: Regional Chapters of Writing for Peace, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Gandhi gentle way quill

Small (Local) Bites: Creating Regional Chapters of Writing for Peace

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

I’ve had the privilege of working with the national organization Writing for Peace for the last four years, an organization dedicated to employing the skills, talents, and energy of writers toward the goals of promoting empathy and peaceful activism. The dream of one woman, Writing for Peace was started in Colorado by our founder Carmel Mawle, with its initial goal of particularly reaching out to young writers, through an annual Young Writers’ Contest. The dedication of this organization, to writing, to working to create real social change, to the belief that art can be and is a powerful tool for changing hearts and minds, and especially the organization’s dedication to young people, mirror in nearly every way the beliefs that drive my own writing, my own teaching, so I was thrilled when asked by Carmel to join the team of Writing for Peace advisers.

Writing for Peace continues to grow under the direction of our new President, Andrea Slack Doray, and an excellent board, all committed to the mission Carmel first set out years ago.

I introduced the organization and its mission to my own students, young poets, essayists, and fiction writers, in the classes I teach at Longwood University, and they loved it. They loved how the goals aligned with their own desire and passion for activism and social justice, loved that it embodied what they saw as the vital role of artists in creating real change in the world. From this initial introduction, we created the Online Youth Summit, an educational venture featuring keynotes from young activists from all over the world, creating a safe space for young people to engage, and fostering discussions of social justice and change, as well as celebrating their own creative work.

But Colorado’s a long way from the rolling rural farmland of central Virginia, and while we share so much in common, no matter where we live, every community and region faces its own unique needs and challenges. One question that kept arising among my students was How do we bring what matters about Writing For Peace home?

So, as is my habit, to promote and make space for autonomy and ownership, (and because I learn as much from them as I’ll ever teach them), I answered my students’ question with a question. I sent a message through an online thread to a list of twenty or so of my current students and alums, asking, “How do you see us bringing Writing for Peace here to Virginia? What would a regional chapter of WFP look like to you?”

The thread exploded, with the energy and enthusiasm and wisdom young people can bring, and the idea of WFP Regional Chapters began to grow, including community activists in our area, and supporters of the arts, as we developed the proposal, sought board approval, and began the steps to making a first chapter of Writing for Peace a reality here in Central Virginia.

This past Sunday, using the magic of online video conferencing, we gathered, a small group of like-minded collaborators, for the first meeting of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace.

Writers of all backgrounds and ages, supporters of the arts, community activists, we, as a chapter, along with anyone who wants to join our efforts, have come together to do what we can and use the skills we have to make our own communities and region better, stronger, more peaceful places for all who live here. We believe, too, that one of the most effective roles we can play is in acknowledging, assisting, and providing support to other activists and organizations already doing good work on the ground where we are.

We envision the work we will do together arising from three primary goals:

Awareness. Education. Action.

In every day real-world terms, we envision chapters affecting change through projects we develop as a group, through the support we extend to efforts already in place in our communities, and through our own writing, using our voices right where we are.

I tell my students when they’re overwhelmed, as so many of us are these days:

Take small bites. We can’t run to the UN and create world peace all by ourselves. But we can, each day, in our daily conversations, promote peace and be willing to listen, even to those with whom we don’t agree. We can’t run to the White House and single-handedly stop the onslaught against the civil rights of American citizens. But we can show up for our own neighbors, our colleagues and peers, doing whatever we can to defend and protect their rights, and to let those in endangered populations, through real presence and action, know that we stand ready as allies, that we are truly there for and with them. We can’t cure world hunger, or solve homelessness, or rescue every child caught in domestic violence or fostercare. But we can work at food banks, distribute coats and blankets to the homeless, or come together to raise funds in support of domestic violence shelters.

I recently opened a small food bank in my office, so that any student who struggles with hunger on our campus can come in and be helped. When they show up in my office for food, I don’t ask their politics, don’t ask how they voted. In that moment, in my community, on the local level, politics don’t matter. In that moment, in my community, on the local level, I can make a real-world difference. And in that small act, both of us, the student helped, and I, can move a little more peacefully through the rest of our day.

Doing what we can, where we are, with what we have, to help—that’s what matters.

This is the heart of Writing for Peace, at the national and international level, and now, at the community level as well. So Writing for Peace chapters were born.

For anyone who is interested, or wants guidance, in starting a chapter, the Central Virginia Chapter stands ready to help in any way we can. For more information, check out our page on how to start a chapter here.

We hope that this inaugural chapter will inspire others to do the same, to come together to create Writing for Peace chapters across the country, across our beautiful planet.

This, we believe, is how real change happens. This is how we work together, boots on the ground, to make the world safer, kinder, more peaceful for all of us.

Mary Carroll-Hackett
Member, Central Virginia Chapter
Regional Chapter Liaison
Board Member, Writing for Peace

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace Adviser2Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of The Real Politics of LipstickAnimal Soul, If We Could Know Our Bones, The Night I Heard Everything, Trailer Park Oracle, and A Little Blood, A Little Rain. Her newest collection of prose poems, Death for Beginners, will be out from Kelsey Books in September 2017. Learn more about Writing for Peace Adviser Mary Carroll-Hackett and her work here.

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Take Advantage of Our Donation Match Offer:

An anonymous donor has generously offered to match all donations up to $2500 during the month of December. This, coupled with our holiday Fundraising Special (below), means your contribution will go further and supplement more libraries than ever before!

5 books 2

Holiday Fundraising Special!
During the month of December, we will donate a complete five-volume set of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to the public school library of your choice for every tax-deductible donation of $75 or more!

Our administration is board operated, and all members, board and advisers, work on a volunteer basis. 100% of contributions go to support our mission. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027.

Ours is a simple mission with profound affect on the lives of our young writers:

Through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace seeks to cultivate the empathy that allows minds to open to new cultural views, to value the differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity, to develop a spirit of leadership and peaceful activism.

Donate now to take advantage of our special library offer and see your contribution doubled!

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

On Empathy, by Andrea W. Doray

 

Empathy unites the hopes and dreams of humanity

by Andrea W. Doray

From left to right: Picture Me Here mentor Meredith Turk, program fellow Gulsum Katmir, and Writing for Peace president Andrea Doray. Gulsum is also director of the Mosaic Foundation, an interfaith alliance in Denver, CO.

From left to right: Picture Me Here mentor Meredith Turk, program fellow Gulsum Katmir, and Writing for Peace president Andrea Doray. Gulsum is also director of the Mosaic Foundation, an interfaith alliance in Denver, CO.

One Friday night recently, I was in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. I smelled the jasmine and heard the mourning doves of Syria. I savored lunch in Afghanistan. I felt buildings collapse in Mexico, and witnessed the capture of a terrorist in Iraq. I visited a hospital, an airport, and a high school hallway. I met siblings and parents and grandparents, and felt the loss of those who are gone.

Why was I so fortunate? Because I am mentoring writers in a fellowship from Picture Me Here, a storytelling program in Denver, Colorado, USA, for refugees, immigrants and others who have been displaced. The Picture Me Here program uses writing, audio, and video to help people explore their cultural and artistic identities through their stories of migration, memory, and place. That Friday evening, these fellows debuted the audio versions of their first stories.

I was partnered with two young women to mentor them through writing these stories: Sunday, of Burmese descent, and Gulsum, from Turkey. Gulsum, 30, and her husband came to the United States 10 years ago to get their master’s degrees (hers in economics from Penn State), never intending to stay here. In her recorded story on Friday, she recalled receiving a phone call from her husband with news of the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey. In that moment, she knew she could never go home.

In her story, Gulsum said: “Unfortunately, the [government’s] scapegoat was the social movement called Hizmet – [whose members] believe in peace all around the world and promote interfaith dialogue – declared as the enemy of the Turkish state … My worries were because we were planning to go back to Turkey and I am [part] of the Hizmet movement [and President] Erdogan now could do anything to [us].” Gulsum knows she will be jailed upon her return, even if just to visit her parents.

Sunday – who was born to Burmese parents in a refugee camp in Thailand and who came to the U.S. at 13 – wrote: “I lived my whole life in the camp, only leaving when my family came to the United States. Because my mother could not afford to go to a hospital, I was born at home in the refugee camp and not granted Thai citizenship. But I did not have citizenship in Burma, because I was born in Thailand. I didn’t know which country I belonged to.”

Sunday, now 18, says she looks forward to finally gaining citizenship – in the U.S. – and: “I hope to make a living serving others. I am so happy to achieve for what I want.”

Like the rest of us at Writing for Peace, I am deeply committed to our mission to cultivate – through education and creative writing – the empathy that allows us to value our diversities and differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity.

Through Sunday’s and Gulsum’s intensely personal stories – and the stories of the young Ethiopian man who had to wait 10 years to bring his mother here, the Iraqi man who had worked with the U.S. military there, the siblings from Afghanistan who cried when they remembered their grandfather, and the young woman from Syria who contrasted her life from before and during the war – I felt the empathy swell in me and the others in the room, uniting us in common hopes and dreams. In moments like these, I truly believe peace is achievable.

And that’s how I see it … from my little corner of the world.

# # #

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association. Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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Writing for Peace News

The Writing for Peace Board of Directors extends our deepest condolences to those affected by the recent shootings, and asks…

What Can I Do?

by Jody Rein, Writing for Peace Board Member

More senseless tragedies in America; more assault weapons used to kill and maim the most innocent among us. We feel increasingly impotent, searching for something we can do that will make an impact.

Of course, we can never eradicate violent behavior; humans are imperfect. But we are NOT helpless to change the multiplier—the gun.

Gun safety laws fail to pass at the Federal level because a relatively few people, primarily through the NRA, give a lot of money to fund political campaigns. But your vote can weigh more than their money. When thousands of constituents vow to withhold votes, NRA-funded legislators’ loyalty waivers. We have the numbers: the vast majority of Americans, including many NRA members, support reasonable gun safety laws.

When it comes to influencing lawmakers in the United States, know this:

  1. Your call matters. Your email matters. Most people keep silent.
  2. Most gun legislation today is done at the state and local level. This is where you can have the most influence.

Actions that Make a Difference

  1. Use the Gun Law Navigatorto learn generally about your state’s gun laws.
  2. Find out what laws are on the books in your state, and call or write your local representative to express your opinion. How do you find out? Google local chapters of MomsDemandAction OR the Brady Campaign OR simply “gun safety advocate [your state].”  In Colorado, for example, we have www.coloradoceasefire.org, as well as branches of the national advocacy groups listed above. Colorado Ceasefire is a one-stop-shop for information. It lists upcoming legislation, legislator voting records and NRA ratings, and actions you can take.

Most of these groups also have email alerts; sign up. Act when asked.

  1. Volunteer, either for a gun safety advocacy group, or for the political campaign of someone who supports gun safety. We need you in 2018, desperately. We can’t change the Federal laws until we change the people who refuse to enact reasonable gun-safety legislation.

We can do this.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Poetry fuels the fire; powerful play… by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

Poetry fuels the fire; and the powerful play goes on…

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray

Not surprisingly, I am in love with the written word. I love the power of the pen on the page to move, amuse, anger, or delight. The power to take us places we’ve never been before. The power to take us back to times and places we have come from.

Fiction, nonfiction such as biographies and creative nonfiction, memoirs, and essays have always had their devoted followers. Poetry is now also finding its way further into the mainstream … and even into the commercial realm as well. In an ad last year for the Apple iPad Air, we heard Robin William’s voice in his portrayal of John Keating, the beloved English teacher in the U.S. film Dead Poets Society.

From the sound track, replicated in the iPad ad, Williams/Keating quotes the poet Walt Whitman … but it’s far more than a quote, more than just a reading of words on the page. When Williams recites from “O, Me! O, Life!”, it is a performance that is as much a celebration of Whitman’s poetry as of the life about which Whitman writes. And for those of us who need a reminder of the profound power of Walt Whitman’s words, Williams gives it to us with a tantalizing invitation: “…the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Our just-released fifth edition of DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts, published by Writing for Peace, features both new and established poets (as well as talented artists, photographers, essayists, and fiction writers), writing on the theme of “Refugees and the Displaced.” As Carmel Mawle, founder of Writing for Peace and editor-in-chief for the issue, says: “Their suffering is in the front of our collective consciousness.” Carmel reminds us that their situation has descended to new levels of hostility and danger:

What can we do to change this trend? We march. We show up at airports. We boycott. We call and write and demand accountability from our legislators. We write to shine a light … and we are making a difference. Don’t let the drumbeat of dystopia dampen your passion for justice.

As Carmel tells us, this book is fuel for the fire in our bellies.

* * *

Sam Hamill, revolutionary poet and scholar, co-founder of Poets again the War to protest the conflict in Iraq, is our featured advisor in “Refugees and the Displaced,” and we are fortunate to include three poems from his book, Habitation.

When celebrated poet Martín Espada was asked to comment on the release of Habitation, he said: “When future generations want to know the truth of these times, they will turn to the words of Sam Hamill.”

As is evident in his poetry and his activism, Sam Hamill is a man who intensely feels the suffering of others, much like the character of John Keating from Dead Poets Society, who said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.”

John Keating wanted his students to experience poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings. In our “Refugees and the Displaced” issue of DoveTales, the winners of our Young Writers Contest share this authenticity and power in their poetry.

Poetry judge E. Ethelbert Miller says of Lisa Zou’s first-place entry, “She Serves in Ben Hai”: “This is a beautiful poem – haunting in its tenderness … about family, aging, and the shadows of displacement created by [the Vietnam] war.”

Zou writes:

“… Each summer, my grandmother knits guilt / into my waitress dress and hot privilege lacquers my tongue. / I swallow each gated community, each “made in Vietnam” sticker, / one bleached spoonful after the other.”

Second-place winner Lydia Chew’s speaker issues an apology to a young woman harassed in school because she is Muslim. Says Miller: “Chew’s work attempts to understand what is at the root of our fears.”

In “Dear M,” Chew writes:

I don’t know if you remember me, / but this is my apology. / … I remember that I never saw you, / I only saw your hijab.

As Miller commented, “There is hope (in this poem) that perhaps we all have the capacity to change – no matter how long it may take.”

* * *

To quote from Walt Whitman:

“That you are here – that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

In poets such as Sam Hamill, Lisa Zou, and Lydia Chew – and, indeed, in writers of all stripes – we find the compassionate, empathetic members of the human race John Keating describes in Dead Poets Society. We find knowledge, and authenticity, and power. We find fuel for the fire in our bellies.

And the powerful play goes on.

###

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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2017 DoveTales, “Refugees and the Displaced” Now Available

2017 Front CoverThe fifth edition of our annual literary journal, DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is now available. Our “Refugees and the Displaced” themed DoveTales is a timely affront to a status quo comfortable with the suffering of others. With contributors from every continent on the planet except Antarctica (we’re working on that), this is a book that is meant to challenge assumptions and explore issues of peace, social justice, and our responsibility to our fellow man. Cover art is by Canadian artist, Allen Forrest. Purchase your copy here, or find all our books at the Denver Lighthouse Writers Litfest!

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

A Special Peace Correspondent: The Coming Student Edition, by Elissa Tivona

elissa-tivona-3With the snow recently melted, the first crocuses that break through packed patches of dirt seem, in a word, impossible. I am awed that nature understands how hungry the human heart is for the green promise of growing things. Those tender, fierce flowers awaken a yearning I barely notice at other times of the year.

Likewise in sleepy winter months when the Peace Journalism course gets underway, the intensity and resolve that drove me to create a new curriculum lie dormant. I start out with reasonable intentions: to explore news media’s complicity in shaping violent environments and to teach students methods for turning that woeful trend around.  I craft assignments pointing students toward enlightened, alternative approaches for reporting news, that ask young reporters to elevate social solutions rather than feature stories of persistent strife. But, by the concluding weeks of the semester, I am ready to jump out of my skin. I’ve been staring into too many faces dulled by too many years of schooling and too little inspiration. I have days when I leave campus dispirited and think, “Why bother? This is just not working.”

Still, I keep pushing and prodding up until the day they submit a final assignment. Their challenge is to tell an extended, multi-dimensional, nuanced story; to avoid demonizing one stakeholder over another; and to reach for promising solutions—case studies, prototypes, models, social experiments, moments of insight— real news stories of real people who expend energy in efforts to heal and solve some of the greatest challenges of our day.

And, behold, the crocuses start to emerge.

I offer results of this pedagogical experiment: student stories that point to possibility for new media. These are the green and growing insights of a new generation of young writers.  You will notice a range of voices: some with sustained and focused messages, others that falter.  But each effort loosens the soil, making a little more room for media that nourish hope and dignity rather than perpetuate violent conflict and infamy.

Look ahead to the June edition of The Peace Correspondent, highlighting the work of Colorado State University students. These novice writers feature articles in four categories: Take Another Look, longstanding conflict and new perspectives; Heart to Heart, conversations on challenging topics; On Our Minds, where news media and mental health intersect; and The Peace Correspondent’s regular column Spotlight on Solutions.  Go in peace, friends, spring is here.

Elissa J. Tivona is a renegade journalist who believes media can be part of the solution to achieving sustained peace. She helped establish the Peace and Reconciliation minor at Colorado State University: and she developed the innovative curriculum for the program’s core course, Education for Global Peace, as well as curriculum for a new Journalism offering at CSU, Journalism, War and Peace. Along with her work as an educator, Tivona writes for both academic and popular publications. She is an active volunteer, including: serving on the Board of Writing For Peace; vice-president of the United Nations Association, Northern Colorado Chapter; consultant to Tiyospaye Winyan Maka, an NGO building sustainable homesteads and right livelihoods in collaboration with the Lakota people; and longstanding convener of multi-faith peace advocates in Northern Colorado.

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Coming Soon! Our 2017 DoveTales, “Refugees and the Displaced”

2017 Front CoverThe fifth edition of our annual literary journal, DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, will be released on May 1st. Our “Refugees and the Displaced” themed DoveTales is a timely affront to a status quo comfortable with the suffering of others. With contributors from every continent on the planet except Antarctica (we’re working on that), this is a book that is meant to challenge assumptions and explore issues of peace, social justice, and our responsibility to our fellow man. Cover art is by Canadian artist, Allen Forrest. Watch for more information as it becomes available in the next few days on our website, and mark May 1st on your calendar!

 

Young Writers Contest Results

Results are coming on our 2017 Young Writers contest. Announcements will be made on May 1st here in our blog. Stay tuned for the excitement!

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

What I know for sure, by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

What I know for sure

by Andrea W. Doray

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a line in “Brilliant Disguise,” a song by U.S. rock music artist Bruce Springsteen, that goes: “God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of.” This poignant verse has always rung true for me, and in the current world of gaslighting and alternative facts by the American president and his administration, and by despots around the world, I have found myself pondering more and more often what it is that I am truly sure of.

And here is what I know for sure:

The brightest lights in any city are in the hospital emergency room. Whether you are there seeking help (as I have been numerous times after mountain biking accidents), or are there with others who need help, the light is unrelenting. The glare from metal doors and instruments bounces off fluorescent bulbs, white walls and white floors. Night and day are one and they both have hard, well-lit edges, softened only by the voices and faces and hands of those who ultimately provide that help.

Contrast this with dust and gas filled rooms of the makeshift hospitals in Syria, where people – having been poisoned by their own government – are seeking help, only to find themselves again victims of bombs and terror. We, as writers and peaceful activists, need to shine a light – a very bright light – on these war crimes and demand action from the international community.

My parents left me with too many questions. I was so lucky to have my parents for as long as I did, into my late 40s and early 50s. The world was a better place for their having been here. But … I wish I had asked more. About their military experiences – both served in the Army in World War II, my dad in Europe and North Africa, and my mom in the Philippines and New Guinea. About the details of their young lives, his in Louisville, Kentucky, and hers in Chicago. I wish I had learned more about their parents, and their parents. I wish I had asked more, and then listened more.

By listening more, all of us, and learning from history, we can help prevent the travesties of the past, prevent the descent into fascism, xenophobia, and authoritarian rule, and the exploitation of women and children around the globe. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past, but continue to point out the danger of demonizing and isolating ethnicities, religions, gender identities, and class.

Everybody needs a GoPro camera. I’m convinced that each of us rides a different path and that it would be extraordinarily instructive if we could actually experience one another’s. I’d like a GoPro on my mountain biking helmet and on my rock-climbing helmet so I could take others with me, so people would understand the hows and the whys of each decision I make on a challenging trail or a slippery slope.

And perhaps more importantly, people with different perspectives could share their journeys with me, and I could begin to understand their hows and their whys. Understanding puts us all on the path to empathy and conflict resolution.

Human rights are the rights of all humans. All humans, equally, without regard to class or social status, no matter our gender or race, or who we worship or who we love. And I know this to be true: There is grave danger in abridging these rights. Too many people have fought – and continue to fight – too hard for too long, around the globe, for the rest of us to simply stand by and watch.

Now is the time for vision, voice, and vigilance. For asking and listening. For appreciating what we have and fighting against its loss. For looking through others’ lenses and for sharing our own. Now is the time.

This is what I know for sure.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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A Deep Loss for Our Community

Hazel Krantz, Writing for Peace Advisor

Hazel Krantz
(1920 – 2017)

Longtime board member and young writer advocate Hazel Krantz passed away the evening of April 5th. We extend our deepest condolences to Hazel’s family and friends. She will be deeply missed.

Hazel Newman grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. She married Michael Krantz and they moved to Long Island. In 1982 they came to Fort Collins, Colorado.

Hazel Krantz was the author of ten books, primarily young adult fiction.  She was a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Hazel’s career combined writing and teaching.  After receiving a degree in journalism from NYU, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Hofstra University. For a time, she worked for New York buying offices, planning the advertising for member stores.  When her children started school, she taught elementary school in Nassau County for twelve years.

Returning to editorial work, she was full charge editor of New Frontier magazine, and then joined the editorial staff for The Sound Engineering Magazine. Until recently, Hazel still actively wrote, enjoyed weaving, participating in interfaith and peace organizations, and loved spending time with her dog Willie, adopted from the local humane society. She especially loved working with young writers through Writing for Peace.

Editor-in-Chief Elissa Tivona interviewed Hazel in the latest Peace Correspondent. You can read that wonderful interview here.

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Self-Compassion, A Bridge To Understanding, by Andrea W. Doray

 

President’s Corner:

Self-Compassion, A Bridge To Understanding

by Andrea W. Doray

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn December 2016, the Dalai Lama spoke during the Emory-Tibet Symposium of Scholars and Scientists at the Drepung Monastic University in India. According to Atlanta-based Emory University, “the ultimate goal of the symposium is to build a bridge between two complementary systems of knowledge.”

In an interview with CNN, the Dalai Lama was asked about what was happening in the United States at that time. His Holiness said that although he considers America the “leading nation of the free world,” he also acknowledged that the U.S. is a democracy where the “power is divided.”

Indeed, America is a country that mirrors societies around the world: divided – rather than shared – in which many people are angry, many other people are angry at the people getting angry, and civility seems to be a veneer stretched too thin on both sides to conceal the contempt and derision below.

His Holiness offered some advice for finding equilibrium in these times: self-compassion. As opposed to self-esteem or self-respect, self-compassion is defined by some scholars as open to and touched by our own troubles, worries, or fears, and yet not avoiding them or disconnecting from them. An important piece of self-compassion is to be nonjudgmental about what is causing us pain.

In our divided world, people are beyond judgmental with each other … vitriolic in name-calling, shaming, senses of entitlement. Some people are so certain of their own beliefs that anyone who stands for an opposing viewpoint becomes a target of scorn and hate. The divisions are sharp, wide, deep. No wonder so many of us feel a bit battered, bruised.

Each of us does face our own battles, every day. And this means that everyone else we meet or interact with is also fighting some sort of battle, that may or may not have anything to do with political divisions. Personally, I’m not sure which needs to come first, though – compassion for self or compassion for others, in which we are touched by someone else’s suffering, we are aware of their pain, and we are not judging them. Clearly, neither is easy.

Is it possible for us to “build a bridge between two complementary systems of knowledge?” Can we practice compassion, including self-compassion, for better understanding of the other sides of the divide?

For my part, starting this weekend – oh, mercy, starting right now! – I’m going to practice self-compassion. If it’s good for the Dalai Lama, it is definitely good for me.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11, by Andrea W. Doray

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Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11

by

Andrea W. Doray

 

I haven’t watched the videos of the recent slayings of American journalists. I read the news accounts and the still photos were horrific enough for me, and I knew that I could never unsee it.

But in the theater of my mind, I did see it; in fact, I see it over and over. I see it because I’ve read accounts in the news about what happened, just as I did about the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook, CT, the innocent civilian casualties in armed conflicts around the world, and the transports and death camps of the Holocaust. I wasn’t a physical witness to any of these, and yet I can see, I can see, I can see these wicked events taking place.

Such is the power of words.

In September especially, but often throughout the year, my mind returns again and again to the images of the Twin Towers. Like most of us, I watched first in disbelief, then in growing horror, anger, and helplessness. Because of the immediacy, even 13 years ago, of real-time news reporting, I watched September 11, 2001, unfold as I was clustered around a television with dozens of coworkers. The planes, the fires, the collapsing buildings…all seared into our shocked and grieving collective consciousness.

I don’t remember if I watched this next part actually taking place, but I’ve seen the photographs of people leaping from the flaming buildings, caught by the still frames of a camera. And as much as these images haunt me, it’s what I have read that frequents my memory and deepens my sorrow on September 11.

I’m referring to a critically acclaimed poem by Brian Doyle, entitled “Leap.” Doyle’s opening line, “A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand,” sets the scene. If you search the Web for this topic, as I did for this column, you’ll find that some people think the images of a man and a woman holding hands as they fell are a hoax, claiming the pictures are photoshopped. But Doyle relies on eyewitness accounts from people who did the seeing – not just of this couple but also of others, very real people forced to make those harrowing desperate choices.

Doyle gives us descriptions from horrified spectators, descriptions made even more chilling in their spare language: “people ‘leaping as they flew out.’ ” And “ ‘falling over themselves’ … ‘too many people falling.’ ” Doyle also relates the events on the streets below, where pedestrians and a firefighter were killed “by people falling from the sky.”

Doyle ends the poem by speculating about the moments leading up to the hand-in-hand plunge. To paraphrase: did they know each other…friends, colleagues? Or were they strangers “thrown together at the window at the lip of hell,” strangers who “held on tight, and leaped….”

Through these unblinking words, I make more of a human connection with the victims than I ever could by watching videos or viewing photos. And it’s because I have read “Leap” that I can’t unsee their desperation, the agony in their final acts. But perhaps that’s what needs to happen, so that these victims, too, will never be forgotten, to keep this tragedy in the theaters of our minds.

Such is the power of words.

 

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About Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Member

Andrea W. Doray is a member of the Writing for Peace board of directors, and a writer who, not surprisingly, sees things in words. You can find “Leap” at PBS.org, and can hear Brian Doyle read his work on YouTube. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com if you would like the links.

A version of this article appeared in Colorado Community Media newspapers and is reprinted here with permission.

 

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Writing for Peace News

Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf
Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

What Will It Take To Create Climate Justice?

by Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers, and Kevin Zeese

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserAll of the elements required to create climate justice seem to be in place. Activists are well organized, polls indicate public support, and overwhelming consensus among the scientific community, so why aren’t governments taking appropriate action to address climate change? Read the article here.

 DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is now accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Read our guidelines and submit here.

Young Writers Contest Now Open!

2015 Young Writers Contest JudgesOur Young Writers Contest is now open! To date, Writing for Peace has received entries from young writers with a passion for peace from 24 countries. Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our wonderful panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here.

he recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed. – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf
Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act

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The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed.

– See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

Support Writing for Peace By Purchasing Our Latest Edition Of DoveTales

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed. – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" Edition2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” edition, is now available for purchase. The 2014 issue is themed “contrast” and includes the beautiful black and white photography of Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following contributors:

Jordi Alonso, Cassandra Arnold, Maggie Bàra, Henry Braun, Lorraine Caputo, William Cass, Lorraine Currelley, Colin Dodds, John Garmon, Diane Giardi, Mark Goad, Veronica Golos, Sam Hamill, Dawnell Harrison, D. Iasevoli, Ed.D, Allan M. Jalon, Shelley Kahn, Richard Krawiec, Paula Dawn Lietz, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Veronica Marshall, Sandra McGarry, Iwona Partyka, Sy Roth, Andrew Sacks, Carol Smallwood, Julia Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Bänoo Zan

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Bearing Witness, by Andrea W. Doray

Bearing Witness, On The Birthday of Eva Levine

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Memberby Andrea W. Doray

Last week, July 6, was Eva Levine’s birthday…July 6, 1916, to be exact, and I am writing here to commemorate this day. She was the second daughter of five children born to Jewish parents in Lodz, Poland. Her father dealt in real estate, and the family owned the building in which they lived. Eva finished high school and studied history at a local university.

I know this because I was given Eva’s Identification Card when I recently visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Actually, I selected Eva’s card at random from a bin of such ID cards for females – women and children – who were victims of the ghettos, deportations, concentration camps, and, for so many, the mass murders in the killing fields and gas chambers of the Holocaust.

I too am a student of history, and I’ve read extensively about the World War II theatres in Europe where my father served, and those in the Pacific where my mother was stationed. And – as painful as it is – I want to know as much about the Holocaust as possible. Because such a thing must never happen again.

Eva was 2½ years old when my mother was born in Chicago, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Romania around the turn of the century. Just 20-some years later, my Romanian-American mother would serve with the Allies to help liberate families such as Eva’s who had become trapped in their homelands.

In Poland, Ava married her boyfriend Herman in 1939; then the Germans invaded. One day the Gestapo banged on their door and slapped Eva’s father-in-law around. They demanded the family’s valuables, which had already been looted, and Eva herself confronted the officers.

In 1941, Eva and Herman were tossed into the ghetto of Piotrkow Trybunalski after they arrived there looking for food. Eva’s family was deported there as well, and she worked with her mother and sisters for three years in the ghetto. In 1944 all the women were deported to Ravensbreuk, a concentration camp in Germany.

Eva’s health deteriorated, and the by the time she was evacuated with the other prisoners to Bergen-Belsen ahead of the Allied advance, she had lost most of the tissue in her spine. Eva’s mother, Machla Spicehandler Braun, became so weakened by starvation and disease that she lay dying in Bergen-Belsen on the floor of her filthy barrack.

Two days before the British liberated the camp in April 1945, Machla died at Bergen-Belsen. Eva’s father, Yakob, had been deported to Buchenwald in 1944 and then to Bergen-Belsen, where he died without ever making contact his family. Eva was liberated by the British and she moved to the United States in 1950. The Holocaust Museum has no record of what happened to Herman Levine, and I know nothing more of Eva.

Eva’s story lives on with me, however, because I received her ID card #2633. This July 6 was the first of her birthdays that I will commemorate by bearing witness for both the dead and the living, and – as a member of the human race – working to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Because such a thing must never happen again.

This piece appears in Colorado Community Newspapers and is reprinted here with permission.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in communication from the University of Northern Colorado. Andrea has authored several children’s books and is currently assembling her children’s poems for a collection that incorporates principles of lifelong literacy. A former Peace Corps trainee, Andrea is a national speaker who advocates for education, literacy, and opportunity for the unserved, the underserved, the marginalized, the at-risk, and the family-next-door populations. Andrea believes that wherever we are in the world, wherever we are in life, we have an obligation to offer our voices when others have none. Visit her page and read her other Writing for Peace blog posts here.

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  • Erica Chenoweth Joins Writing for Peace

Erica Chenoweth smallI am joining Writing for Peace because of the ability of written expression to deepen empathy for one another. Because empathy is crucial for resolving violent conflict, I believe the young artists of the world have unmatched potential to tap into sources of empathy, creativity, and understanding to create new solutions to today’s conflicts. ~Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). An internationally recognized authority on political violence and its alternatives, Foreign Policy magazine ranked her among the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for her efforts to promote the empirical study of civil resistance. Chenoweth received the 2014 Karl Deutsch Award, which the International Studies Association gives annually to the scholar under the age of 40 who has made the greatest impact on the field of international politics or peace research. Visit Erica’s page here to learn more about her work.

  • Release Date Set for 2014 DoveTales

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts “Contrast” edition is set to release on July 30th. With the change in printer, our primary concern was to maintain the quality our young writers and contributors have rightly come to expect. With that in mind, the book will be published by McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., a printer recommended by Writing for Peace Adviser Richard Krawiec.

Watch the website for contributor information and new art reflecting the book’s beautiful black and white photography by our Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz.

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.