Should parents shield their children from the plethora of day to day violence?

Below are excerpts from Frida Barrigan’s piece

“Should We Shield our Kids from a Violent World?”

For the full article: http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/should-children-remain-blissfully-unaware-of-the-violent-world-around-them/

 

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“Since she entered kindergarten last fall, our violent and unpredictable world has pressed in close. In December, a young man armed to the teeth massacred 20 kids and six adults at an elementary school less than 80 miles from our town. Just last week, two heavily armed young men detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon’s finish line killing three and injuring hundreds. Our plan was to be right there, too . . . cheering our friend as she finished the 26.2-mile course” (6).

“And then, of course, a little further away is the daily dose of violence wrapped in plastic and delivered to our door every morning—killing in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq; saber-rattling and threats of war on the Korean peninsula; death and destruction from West Texas to Dhaka, Bangladesh; the random and not so random brutality displayed in inner cities and suburbs throughout our country; the grind of poverty, racism and sexism; the looming threats posed by cataclysmic climate change, nuclear weapons proliferation and environmental destruction. The list goes on and on” (7).

“Can I protect her from all of this? Should I?” (8).

“As far as I know, Rosena does not know about the Sandy Hook massacre or the Boston bombing—she is blissfully unaware. And despite my own youthful exposure to the dark side, I think that is a good thing” (14).

“Lots of kids don’t have the luxury of being shielded from tragedy and deprivation. Almost 17 million kids in this country are hungry. Every hour, 84 kids end up in a U.S. emergency room as the result of violence perpetrated against them. And there is no “war” on our urban streets and suburban cul-de-sacs. The picture is equally grim (or worse) outside of our borders—every five seconds, a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world” (15).

“I want Rosena to know all of this and feel it too. I want her grow up compassionate and empathetic. I want her to work for justice and peace. I want her to be curious about people and empowered to help them. She already is and those impulses will grow and mature with time. But, right now, I just want her to be six years old—innocent, lucky, happy and horse mad” (16).

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The author begs the question: Should parents shield their children from the plethora of day to day violence? Weigh in and let us know what you think!

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Oakland high schools utilize restorative justice ideas in an effort to address Oakland’s high rates of violence. Eric Butler, whose sister was killed by her Boyfriend, is excerpted below:

Mr. Butler, who grew up in a vast segregated housing project in New Orleans, knows the urge for retribution: Two years ago, his sister was murdered by her boyfriend. “I wanted my quart of blood,” he told students disturbed by Kiante Campbell’s death.

Then the boyfriend’s mother showed up, seeking forgiveness. “This
brave little woman knocked on the door in her robe and flip-flops,” he told his classroom. “The want for revenge in my stomach lifted.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/education/restorative-justice-programs-take-root-in-schools.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp&

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An apology goes a long way

Often those with political clout seem to display a sense of aversion towards public apologies, however examples like this show apologies can be and often are remarkably effective.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/51026118#51026118

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/03/22/yes-netanyahus-apology-to-turkey-is-a-very-big-deal/

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“I’m sorry” Libya and the Muslim world

We at the Wisdom, Mediation and Dialogue Foundation want to offer our condolences to the families of the Ambassador to Lybia, Chris Stevens, and his three colleagues killed by a “mob in the tragic events of this last September 11.

The attack purportedly instigated by a “hate video,” uploaded to You Tube by an unknown American citizen, was later attributed to the militant group Ansar al-Sharia, a brigade of rebel fighters, heavily armed with weapons still in possession from the “violent” overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The plethora of attacks throughout the Muslim world, which were supposedly over the video, have currently subsided, and were met by the posturing of American politicians that punitive actions were immediately necessary to show American resolve.

The greater question is: What is happening to the idea of an international rule of law? Just as we Americans are understandably not willing to silence one individual for his or her misguided or hateful speech, and do not want to be identified, as a nation, with that individual, we should not categorize or punish entire populations on the actions of a criminal faction within their country.

We at the WMD are aware that the situation in many of the “Arab Spring” countries is complex, and hold that the fate of these young and fragile governments will often hinge on a compassionate, careful and calculated response to unfolding events as opposed to a poorly thought out re-action.

The best response we have heard thus far is that this is a teachable moment in which people can be helped to understand the beauty, importance and limitation of protecting free speech.

When the tragic events of Aurora Colorado occurred earlier this year, we did not call out for the collective punishment of the occupants of that state, nor did we call for the punishment of all San Diegans upon finding out that the individual was from San Diego. No, we called for the criminal to be brought to justice. We reviewed the tradition and mores of our country. We offered our condolences to the victims and expressed our sorrow for their loss.

In effect, we told the victim’s and their families, along with the community in which it happened, how sorry we were for the magnitude of their loss and suffering.

So when the embassy in Cairo did what diplomats do and offered the following apology for the content of the video: “The Embassy of the United States condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” We at the WMD view this as a courageous act in an attempt to quell an already volatile situation.

And although President Obama did not offer the “apology” for the offensive video, as Mitt Romney had mistakenly implied, what would have been the harm if he had? What harm is posed in acknowledging that we have hateful people in our country too? What is the harm in reducing the amount of pain and suffering caused by the acts of a few “misguided individuals”?

Certainly we must see the contradiction here. We ask that the countries of the Middle East acknowledge and recognize that they have hateful intolerant groups of individuals, which they must be cognizant and watchful of, but for some reason we are not comfortable acknowledging the same.

Since when has an act of understanding, i.e. saying I’m Sorry for an egregious act of cultural disrespect, become a position of weakness? On the contrary, we at the WMD would like to offer that saying, “I’m sorry” in such instances is an act of courage and moral certitude.

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Event: In Search of a Non-Violent Future

 

Free entertainment: three separate musical and spoken-word performances, beer, wine and food.

Guests, if they wish, will have the opportunity to offer “I’m sorry” statements while being videotaped by WMD members and volunteers (scripts/prompts will be available on table “menus” for those who prefer to use them).

The objective is to create 50+ videos from a culturally and generationally diverse group for use in establishing an open dialogue and mediated discussion between American and Iraqi citizens in an upcoming WMD workshop series as well as encouraging cross-cultural and international dialogue via social media.

Please join us on this journey of human dignity & hope, celebrating the compassion shared by all humanity.

Details below…

 

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Desmond Tutu – The Power of Apology

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks with the WMD Foundation

Before hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the “Be The Spark” conference in Tacoma, Washington, WMD was privileged with the opportunity to meet the Archbishop for an hour-long conversation.

 

Steve Garber and Alexis Dixon of the WMD meeting with the Archbishop

 

The meeting gave WMD an opportunity to share our vision with the Archbishop and ask for his support. He agreed to make a short video on the healing and transformative power of saying “I’m sorry” and consented to have a few pictures taken of him with us. When asked what we could do for him, he laughed and said, “You can help me find 30 million dollars to build a peace center in South Africa.”

 

WMD presents the Archbishop with a small token of appreciation

 

Being in the presence of Desmond Tutu was like standing in a light breeze. When asked what he thought of our project he said, “I think you are crazy, and courageous. What you are trying to do is bring people to their higher self. We are giants, yet we want to be dwarfs.”

 

In November of 2008, immediately after the election of President Obama, Amy Goodman interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu and asked if he had any advice for the new president. The Archbishop suggested it “would be wonderful if, on behalf of the American people, the President could apologize to the Iraqi people.” The entire clip of the program begins with an excerpt of Tutu giving his advice to President Obama.

It was this interview that inspired Steve Garber, President and founder of the WMD Foundation, to begin his quest, via social media and video, to start the “I’m sorry” project on a grass roots level.

The WMD has extended this project to include American soldiers, coalition soldiers, their families and all who have suffered pain and/or loss as a result of the war in Iraq.

 

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