Submitted by Dr. Beth Allen, DVM:
As you read the heading of this essay you are probably asking yourself, “why what?” What do I need to ask about that is so important to my life, my future, my family and my community? I am asking everyone to ask themselves:
“Why would I want to be involved in an organization like Peaceful Genesee?”
I am asking that we each as individuals truly and honestly take a few moments to ask ourselves how deeply we care about ourselves and others. We can glide through life so quickly -- especially in the busy circles of life we surround ourselves in, and never truly take the TIME to examine and explore how we all affect and touch one another.
It’s easy to vent to our family and friends when things don’t go well at work or when we have personal troubles with others. But more often we don’t take the time to reflect on how it all could have been avoided. Or perhaps we feel distressed when we read about crime rising in our community, but helpless to know what to do about curbing it.
Perhaps we read about someone that has been assaulted or injured in our community, but we feel powerless to know how to help that person or prevent it from happening again. Perhaps we know a child that has been a victim of bullying, yet we don’t feel we have the skills or tools to help them properly. Perhaps the old messages of “we shouldn’t get involved in other people problems,” or “that would never happen to me” comes into our minds. Perhaps it is fear or comfort in our segregation from other populations or cultures that keep us feeling more sheltered and we don’t want to change or grow away from those comfy boundaries.
You may be asking, why should I try to be more tolerant when others are not tolerant of me? And around and around we go in the never ending cycle of “me or us vs. them." Perhaps we have not been taught the skills to aid us in “peacekeeping” methods like understanding healthy boundaries, regulating our emotions, or understanding the kinds of things that we do that break down healthy communication with others. Perhaps you have been a victim of violence in the past, yet you don’t feel supported enough in your community or support system to break free of its chains and long-term effects.
Perhaps you have been fortunate enough to have not been affected by violence, but you would like to keep it that way for yourself and your family. Peaceful Genesee is devoted to all these issues and many, many more. But Peaceful Genesee cannot create real and lasting change or growth in our community without each person making it a priority in their lives. We need to develop short-term and long-term goals for ourselves and our community.
For example, a short-term goal may be to commit to being involved with Peaceful Genesee on a level that we can fit into our lives. But again, it must be on some level of priority from each of us. Let Peaceful Genesee help you to define that level that is workable and comfortable in your life. An example of a possible long-term commitment may be in working on projects for our schools or communities that increase a child’s ability to feel empathy.
Did you know that empathy development happens very early in their development? It takes continuous and consistent reinforcement through humane activities for years in family, church and school life to make it sustainable and part of their natural nature?
Children need cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and socialization skills through many sources to achieve this. Wouldn’t it be a worthwhile dream to envision a community and world where most of us were capable of feeling empathy, and compassion? Let us build a future where we appreciate the roots of kindness automatically and we don’t have to examine the roots of violence so often.
I can see it, can you? And I have been a victim of violence. But it took a lot of work on my part to NOT permanently fall into the easy path of recycling my anger or frustration onto others. I’m not perfect. None of us are. I have hated. I have given up at times. But building a supportive system to help me learn new skills and process those wounds saved me.
It is a goal of Peaceful Genesee to offer those solutions to each of us.
Begin by renewing your commitment to fighting violence, but also the flip side of that which is building a foundation of skills, support, and tools to enrich our lives with kindness. Can you think of a grander goal for ourselves and our children?
Please check out the Web site www.peacefulgenesee.weebly.com for further information on our upcoming educational series beginning Oct. 3 at Genesee Community College. Also, we are having essay contests for both high school and college students in which there is a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card. Details will be following soon or can be viewed on the Web site or call Sue at 344-2611 to register now.