Dear Readers,

Today, I received an email (below) from a peacebuilder who was feeling some despair and anger following the U.S. election, in which barely a majority of Americans voted directly or indirectly for the "Bush Doctrine".  Since the Bush Doctrine forebodes a strong continuation of a culture of war and violence (not that the alternative was pushing a Culture of Peace) I suspect this person's feelings are shared by many of us.  I took the opportunity to get my own thoughts together (following the original message). 
Bob Stewart
----- Original Message -----
From: (name withheld)
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2004 10:33 AM
Subject: Hello

Hello again.  I e-mailed you about 2 months ago, asking permission to use your works at our voter awareness concerts.  I must say, a lot of people stopped to read "50 Ways..."  I'm sorry I can't remember the entire name but I am at my wit's end right now.

As you know, the US just elected George Bush as president.  I don't understand this, I can hardly see straight between my eyes filling with tears and the anger and frustration I am feeling towards others living in this country.  

I am writing to you to tell you not everyone in the US is an idiot.  There are so many of us fighting the fight for peace, for justice, for common sense to be returned to so many.  Please accept my apology for the millions of idiots that voted so selfishly yesterday.  Tell others you know that we are not all bad.

Thank you for all you do,
Sacramento, CA
Dear R,
Thank you for writing.  It is nice to hear from you, and nice to hear that  50 Ways to build World Peace  was a hit with your group.
I very much sympathize with you.  I am sure that the results of the vote has been very depressing for many people in the U.S. and abroad, myself included.  It is a sad state of affairs, and a period of mourning and reflection is appropriate.  
"The ending of things is almost inevitably traumatic, particularly when that ending comes for persons, organizations, ways of life, or whole countries. Say what you will about ending being a part of the natural order, when it comes there is pain, caused by those earthquakes of our existence which tear life into pieces. In such moments, the Peacebuilder is called to the epicenter of the evolving drama, not to eliminate the pain or reverse the course of events, for neither are possible, or probably desirable. The role is a deeper one to be the guide and support as one of the great, natural processes of human life unfolds. At stake is the continuance of life, not as it was but as it may become. For the Peacebuilder, this is the heart and soul of the task." 
This is a quote from the Book - The Practice of Peace - by Harrison Owen.  It comes from the first paragraph of "Chapter IX: Endings and New Beginnings - The Epicenter of Peacemaking".  I recommend this chapter to you.  You may quickly read what I highlighted at  (near the bottom of the page), and you can read the detailed Chapter which is available online beginning with and ending in .  It helps show the path through (1) Shock/Anger, (2) Denial, (3) Memories, (4) Open Space as Despair, (5) Open Space as Silence, (6) Vision and Renewal.  (The complete book is available online and the links are near the top of .)
The point of all this is that we peacebuilders are needed more now than ever.  We must be strong and creative.  The vast majority of peoples in the U.S. and the world do want peace - they just do not know 'How'.  Our challenge is to work smarter, not harder.  We are empowered people, and critical thinkers, and the price we pay is that we can see the dysfunctions and violence.  It is worrisome and frustrating to have much knowledge but lack power (we all lose some sleep over world and community affairs; we empathize and hence we can not help but share the needless suffering of millions).  The way we cope is through a support structure of like-minded people, helping each other.  Solidarity is one of the cornerstones to building a Culture of Peace, and to building a public power base to advance change.
So it is even more important now for each of us to come to terms with world events, and be the guide and support for others as this next phase of life unfolds.  We need to have the mindset of most professional peacebuilders and be systemic optimists - those who believe that life can get better when, collectively, we fundamentally alter the way we think and do things (and specifically get our leaders to fundamentally alter the way they think and do things). 
Look to the silver lining of the current clouds of war.  More peace education has taken place since 9/11 and the Bush Doctrine than ever before in the history of mankind.  There is a new and growing awareness of the dysfunctions (starting with Leadership and a Culture of Violence ), and the need for change.  "If it does not kill you, it will make you stronger."  I urge you to become stronger, and renew the good fight for peace, justice and common sense.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get my own thoughts together.  I feel better already.

P.S. - Also please see the article, "Where do I start?" .  And "Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada".

Bob Stewart
"The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything." - Albert Einstein
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