Peace Begins Inside: Confessions of a Mobile Peace Journalist
Peace Log, March 1, 2018 —It’s March — almost Spring, preparation time. I’m getting ready to go back out on the road later this month.
Today marks the day that I will be writing an informal Peace News Log as often as possible to share my thoughts with you — as I chronicle my trip across America to showcase peacebuilders in action. It’s called #TripForPeace. This is my dream, the next step of the journey, a social entrepreneurial venture that has been in the making since 2013.
To put #TripForPeace in context, I want to share a blog with you that I wrote in Corpus Christi, Texas in 2014, while homeless. It first appeared on ThePeacePirates.com. One must remember the lessons learned along the way.
This blog reminds me about the starting point for peace, about what I learned about peace firsthand through my unskillfulness and hypocrisy.
“Homeless, 53, with a Masters Degree (Excerpt from our blog, April 2014)
You know how it is when you’re on a roll? Your emotions are running high and it seems all of your life experience is merging into a beautiful mosaic. Life is clicking. You’re on a natural high. You feel as if all of the pieces of you life are finally leading to a defining moment, a defining action… And, of course, the Universe is on your side. You just know it in your bones.
You figure, “With such a wonderful idea, and my passion and enthusiasm and all of my skills, success is assured.” You save up whatever money you can, and are ready to test your faith. You say to yourself: “Self, this is the boldest thing you’ve ever done” — in a life that’s already would be called anything but conventional.
So it was when I left my college teaching job at Cape Fear Community College in September 2013 — and along with James and Curious George who believed in me — set out on a modern peace mission. I no longer wanted to be a woman who talked about making a difference from her armchair, but instead become a woman who boldly set out in support of peace.
Here was the article in the paper:
Susan Beaver Thompson and Arthur Lewis will begin the first leg of their peace expedition in June WILMINGTON | "Peace…www.starnewsonline.com
I reasoned, “If the Apostle Paul found sailboats to travel from place to place in his day, we can find a sailboat and launch our journey in the present.” Thus began “The Peace Pirates” and our mission to establish an in-person (and on-line forum) where regular people can convene, discuss practical ways to cultivate peace, and take action to turn the tide for a world that seems hell bent on continual war. And likewise, thus began our opportunity to use Augmented Reality (AR) for global communication — #techforgood.
It all makes sense. If nations are too invested in the war economy to make a change, it follows that the people must come forward and stand up for peace. We can create a “vehicle” in more ways than one to help change the world. I figured… Everyone wants peace. Right?
By Fall 2013, with a few (low-attendance) peace conferences under our belt, and less than $1,000 in donations, I found myself homeless, 53, with a Masters degree. In June 2014, we got off the streets, securing shelter and privacy (what I missed most while homeless.) You can read my five-part personal narrative series, “Hope Street: Navigating Homelessness” here.
In a worldly sense, our social entrepreneurial effort thus far had been less than a “success,” but then again, what is success? My definition of it had surely changed since I had found the corporate world less than fulfilling back in 2000.
[After our first peace trip in 2013–2014], I’m immensely richer in understanding for all that’s transpired. And, I am here to tell you what I discovered… Amazingly, everyone does not want peace. Some people make money from war, and mistakenly think that’s real power. [But, that is changing. So many more people are awake and engaged now than they were even five years ago.]
The takeaway? My desire to be an effective peace journalist and activist, while laudable, could not have been accomplished [during our first peace mission (Season 1) in 2013-2014] — not because of lack of funding (though more would have definitely helped) — but because I was not yet embodying what I was advocating: peace.
To build peace, one must be peaceful inside. One must master oneself.
As Thich Nhat Hanh writes in For a Future To be Possible: “If we work for peace out of anger (out of division), we will never succeed. Peace is not an end. It can never come through non-peaceful means. What’s most important is to become nonviolence so that when a situation presents itself, we will not create more suffering.”
I have seen firsthand that leaders — and change agents — of any sort (especially the new kind of leader I envision for the future) must first practice what they advocate — and be real with everyone they meet. People see through hypocrisy in a nanosecond.
I found that a lack of peace has to do with judging a situation or another person. I was still buying into that lie, you know… that there must be two sides, and the people on the other side — the war mongers — are my “enemies.” It’s the way our American culture seems to operate these days: we focus on how the other guy (or gal) — or nation — is different and wrong, rather than on what we have to offer that’s new and better. In this case, what’s better for the people of the planet should be the ultimate measure. Peace must become our #1 priority on Earth.
To be sure, it’s easy to fall into the “us” versus “them” mentality, whether it’s in politics, or whether it’s insisting on being right in a personal relationship situation. (I have to guard against it all the time and am not always successful.) I’ve found that it takes going absolutely against the grain of everything we’ve been taught. It’s only when we purposely choose our tone and words that our life — and whole approach to the world and our role in it — begins to change, and enlarge.
I’ve learned that to avoid this adversarial tendency is exactly where peace begins. I must seek understanding and dialogue from all points of view without labeling or judging a person, or a group. When we actually see that we’re all connected, that’s when the magic begins.
It’s all about collaboration. Those who can bring people together and be hubs for reconciliation and shared action will be the leaders who help usher in a new world. I know that any growth in consciousness for one of us affects all of us — and also our ancestors and descendants. We are powerful creators.
We would not have a vision of peace, if we did not have the ability to help make it happen.
I remain committed to being a catalyst for peace on Earth. The Universe is preparing all of us for bigger things to come. It’s saying to me, “Learn well, Susan, much more is ahead.” I look forward to writing about our experiences in the days to come, and sharing what’s next. The Peace Pirates will eventually sail. It’s a work in progress. There is no giving up. Join us on the journey. Let’s envision what a world without war looks like, share it with others, and move toward it boldly together.”
And now, as I continue the peace journey that began in 2013 — as I share on #TripForPeace here on Medium, I am blessed to have learned these lessons and am challenged daily to be peace — to be kindness — to all I meet (including myself).
Join in as we venture out again to help change the dialogue — and our shared reality — from war to peace.
#TripForPeace is the prequel to The Peace Pirates, my larger vision. Read about the big picture here: http://www.susanbeaverthompson.com/the-peace-pirates