Each time I pick up the paper, listen to the radio, or catch the news on the web or TV, it seems the world is besieged with violence, from my local community up to the global level. From hateful name-calling and accusations to death and bombing threats, it all breaks my heart.
As I pondered the dire mess and state of the world, I remembered this song that has lived in my heart for decades. I remembered the key message: LET IT BEGIN WITH ME! How can I play a larger part, I wondered. What else can I do or say? I can go to local Council meetings and speak, but what more?
Of course I know the answer. I can write! I can use the power of story in so many ways. For those who care to join me, let me list some ways:
Journal out fear and other ugly thoughts. Many years ago I began turning to writing to dig deeply into attitudes, beliefs and reactions to even small things. I ask myself questions, like “Is this true?” “How else can I look at this situation?” “What part might I have played in causing this situation?” “What might it look like to (fill in the blank with a person, possible action or other change)?” “What can I do to change this situation?” Write from a perspective of empathy and compassion, striving to build bridges across differences.
I don’t know who else this has affected, but I’m a happier, more confident person with a brighter outlook on life than I used to be, and that says something. At least my internal world is more calm and peaceful.
Write about times you faced conflict. Story is a powerful thing. It tends to snap the issues into focus. Whether you were the victim, hero, or stayed on the sidelines, write stories about your experience with conflict. These stories may involve personal relationships, work situations, community affairs, or how you were affected by national and international events like wars.
Write the story for yourself first. Include your fears, your pain, your hopes and dreams for the situation. Include some of the elements from those journaling suggestions, but put this in story form rather than random rawness. Get it all down. Let it sit awhile. Then decide if it’s one you want to keep private or share with family, friends, or the world. You’ll benefit from writing it, and probably feel more peaceful, whatever level of sharing you choose.
Write healing stories and letters. Sherrey Meyer has a lot to say on this topic. Her blog, Healing by Writing includes a page with “Letters to Mama.” These are letters Sherrey has written to her deceased mother as a path to personal healing from a painful girlhood and to allow her “childhood voice” to be heard. These letters are an important component of her memoir-in-progress.
Her letters will not be read by the person she wrote them to. We can also write healing letters, perhaps letters of explanation and/or apology, that can be read and make a difference.
Write happy endings. This is an odd suggestion in a life writing blog, because it sounds like creative fiction. But oddly enough, in my experience, writing stories like this has an uncanny way of making them happen. Sages through the ages have emphasized the value of visualization, and what better way to focus visualization than writing stories?
These are just a few of the channels we can use to write stories that can help peace “being with me” and ripple out into the larger world.
Write now: Write a piece of peace. So some journaling about unpeaceful thoughts you are having. Write a story about conflict. Please join me in using your memory and fingers to let peace begin with you.