Sunday, May 1, 2011

SU/GU Conference: Leadership for Global Peace and Understanding

Hi Colleagues,

I enjoyed participating with Seattle University and Gonzaga University's 2011 Conference for Leadership for Global Peace and Understanding.  The Saturday morning began overcast and then turned to full sun illuminating the blooms on campus.  I marveled that the biodiversity garden lived up to its name with purples, pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, and bright green. 

Rhododendron (above)
 The event hosted keynote speakers Drs. Jean Lipman-Blumen, Thornton F. Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Organizational Behavior at Claremont Graduate University's Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management and director and co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership, and Fred Mednick, founder of Teachers without Borders.  

I found the panel most touching as panelists shared their stories about injustices towards Japanese and Japanese-Americans during WWII and their work to rebuild in a spirit of peace and friendship:  Gene Fujita, hibakisha, or survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, Yosh Nakagawa, interned in an Idaho camp during WWII, and Joe Copeland, journalist and deputy editor, Crosscut.com and 1986 Hiroshima International Cultural Foundation Hibakusha Project recipient. In 2009, Joe researched the legacy of the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima under a Fulbright grant.  Drs. JoAnn Sims, co-director World Friendship Center, Hiroshima, and Dick Moody, 1984 Hiroshima International Cultural Foundation Hibakusha Project recipient, co-facilitated the panel.

Joe Copeland and Yosh Nakagawa (above)
Drs. Larry and JoAnn Sims and Jean Lipman-Blumen (above)

Enjoy this montage from the event [2:29], below which I share my musings on peace:


Worship, Faith, & Peace

Peace is not something we can do on our own or that just happens on its own.  Peace doesn't seem practical because it isn't.  Beneficial and needed, yes, but not always tangible or by our own efforts.  Peace is a spiritual act, and we need the help!  As a Judeo-Christian, I reflect on why worshiping God can help with peace:  God is God, and I am not.  This reality assumes equality in humanity, where adversity constitutes a human experience.  Adversity implicates the need for compassion, or suffering with others through empathy, friendship, and acts of kindness.  I believe such a spirit comprises the balance point on which God weighs, and the fulcrum on what God upholds, the world.  Political, academic, spiritual, and civic leaders carry a special responsibility assuming that they have the power to influence others' lives through controlling access of resources, including information, and setting a prescriptive or normative precedent, or asserting how things ought to be done based on a standard or law, past or present.  

Violent Projectile: Projectionism

The following passages remind me that violence comes with arrogance of situating and projecting myself as god over others.  Such a mindset can be as subtle as reacting in anger to people when they do not behave or identify or express themselves as I expect them to.  If we serve an angry God, it's because of the violent and arrogant ways we treat each other:  

How long will you judge unjustly
And show partiality to the dysfunctional?
Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice with the afflicted and destitute...

What does God require of you?
To love mercy,
do justice, and
walk humbly with your God.


Leadership as Resilience

I dare not say that those victimized are weak.  On the contrary, I felt encouraged when Dr. Lena Walker reminded us to reframe leadership in trauma as resilience.  I've often said that a drawback of the evolutionary perspective includes influencing a survival mindset, when we need a thrival mindset.  How do we thrive, not just survive, in adversity?  Answers to this question can help foster peace.  For me, faith intersects with peace studies when I focus on the Prince of Peace and following his example.

A Loving Kind

I attempt to answer this question in part in my Master's Thesis, where I explored fear of death in end of life caregiving via poems and photographs that I produced on a blog during my maternal grandma's end of life.  I drew on my own challenges with fear, which explains why framing leadership as resilience in trauma appeals to me.  I studied Terror Management Theory, which, to oversimplify, suggests that people react to situations that remind them of death by power-holding ways such as clinging to people who are like them and withholding resources from people who aren't.  You can imagine the implications for peace studies as we all one day will die and fear remains, if I may be so bold, a universal part of human experience.  I found that though I expected to find a record of fear in my blog, I found other virtues such as love, most prominently:  "When you died / I did not feel your death / I felt your love."  This poem reverberates my favorite Scripture:

Perfect love casts out fear,
for fear involves judgment,
so s/he who fears
is not made perfect in love...

Research Power

To promote peace, it's important to emphasize communicating in love instead of judgment.  Gungor (2009) defined judgment as a lack of inquiry; I add that judgment carries with it a spirit of contempt and hate for another person that caricaturizes and even demonizes a person.  This kind of judgment is a convenience to the judge as contempt requires little effort to confront one's own assumptions and draw near to the person in a spirit of empathetic engagement, or compassion, instead.  So much in the world already reeks of judgment, including death.  From this research I recommend an ethos for confirming people as they describe themselves and their experiences, for dialoguing with others, and, most of all, for compassion, or drawing near to the people with whom we study, rather than pretending to be an objective researcher.  I recommend that teacher-scholar-practitioners embed this ethos in their research design to offset what I call research violence, or the separatist and arbitrary measures with which we evaluate others without regard for how our assumptions and attitudes influence our findings and potentially mis-frame and even mistreat our participants.  Researchers carry power in writing and analyzing their findings (Chase, 1996).  

Peace in Health: Reconciling Disparities

Moving forward, I want to study the arts, communication, and leadership as applied to organizing, sharing, equalizing, and doing health.  For instance, I'm a member of UC-Davis Healthshare Initiative, seeks to reduce global disparities in nutrition and health.  I'm consulting them with their social media.  I'm also keeping health narratives via Storify about my experiences as a constituent in health organizations.  Health stigmas and disparities need empowerment and peace studies via arts-based and other methods that rely on identity and an ethos for compassion.  I'm seeking a publisher for a trilogy I've written about my grandma and my interactions in her caregiving and end of life to show peace via intergenerational storytelling.  I find such research and praxis avenues to be in need of signage, and I hope my work contributes a little piece of peace in a hurting world.  

Being Peaceful

Leading for peace comes with first being peaceful (J. Caputo, personal communication, September 27, 2010), which challenges me to be consistent and improve with communicating in peace in all my spheres (1) and to continue seeking ways to live by love, courage, and resilience instead of fear in my life and vocation (2).  As the award-winning documentary Hibakusha: Our life to live implores, "Life is a precious gift. May we live it without fear."  Being peaceful, or living without fear, can be as simple as communicating honestly, yet courteously; leadership forthrightness includes disclosing to people how they are being evaluated, allowing for opt-in/out, collaboration/self-managed teams, co-cultural communication, and so on.  Storytelling can be an asset for organizations wanting peaceful change.  If it's possible to know peace with God (Rom. 5:1-10), then it must be possible to know peace with each other.  If we approach peacemaking in locally, perhaps we can find peace within ourselves and that, my friends, must be scalable. 

Becoming Whole

To me, peace relates to holism.  We are whole when we are at peace.  The terms are almost synonymous save the "at;" otherwise, peace would assume unity or lack of conflict, when a lack of peace is more akin to division and separateness.  The litmus test for being at peace comes when someone disagrees even in showing violence:  Do I love them? Do I forgive, or do I boast that I know all the answers and am more tolerant than thou and so make myself a hypocrite?  A lack of inquiry signals judgment.  Do I care about someone enough to draw near to them, get to know them, study them, or do I find comfort in caricaturizing, demonizing, or reducing them instead?  Caricatures make fine comics, but I know well how they hurt.  

Litmus Test

The litmus test for true love is when I love my enemies, just as Jesus said, because loving enemies costs me.  Being whole, synonymous to perfect, means loving well, and sets us apart, but in a good way.  I look forward to knowing a perfect love.  Knowing perfect love means participating with it.  Jesus (Luke 6:35; Matt. 5:43-45), Tutu (1999), and Freire (1970) were right:  the litmus test for peacemaking prowess comes when we behave peacefully, show forgiveness, in a spirit of love instead of contempt, toward the very people we blame for the problem.  After all, forgiveness/love go hand-in-hand:  whoever forgives much loves much and has experienced both.

The Tension:
Situated<=>Systemic

Yet what do you do with a repeat offender?  This question only begins to address the tension in peacemaking on an individual and societal scale, or situated and systemic.  If I judge people, I place them as both outside of me and yet failing to be within me, or to meet my standard.  When I stop projecting myself, I acknowledge the other person as that:  a person.  No longer do I require they validate me; I let them be.  Yet what happens when people situated in society use their power or influence to perpetuate violence?  Do I stand by, do I help the victim, do I fight?  Do the people rejoice when a terrorist or tyrant dies? Do I fault them for this? Do I gloat over the dead and so bring judgment on myself?  Perhaps I rejoice over the freedom from fear, from violence, from injustice.  Peacemaking seeks freedom, but freedom from or for what?  Peacemaking in our world must also account for love, and sometimes love can't stand by in passivity or acquiescence.  

Resolutions for Local Peace=>Global

For this reason talks of peace aren't always as simple as anti-war, though I want peace from war.  I also want peace to live.  What do you do in a world with people who believe that some have the right to live and others don't?  This belief often comes with arbitrary and hateful measures embedded in a value-laden system, or a society that values certain things over others and so in turn perpetuate the society they've created.  Do we create a society of peace by financial profits from war, or closer to home, illusions of freedom called individualism and isolationism?  What is our criteria for peace (1) and how do we maintain it (2)?  Sometimes I resolve this tension locally, such as by valuing professionalism, or communicating with clarity, precision, and courtesy; sometimes I confront, but usually with a gifts- or faith- based approach that resonates with me.  If you see acts that hinder peace, do you confront, do you write a letter to the editor, do you make a phone call, do you meet for coffee, do you try to reconcile, do you want to, and do you do what you can to make peace?  Do we mistake struggle as a war to wage outside of us, as holy, or, closer to the meaning of the term, do we try to reconcile our internal struggle, pursue justice, live by our faith, and promote harmony?  While it's altruistic to wish for world peace, what do we do that violates or instills peace?

Exercising Wisdom

Peacemaking requires prima facie discernment to know when to remain silent and when to speak for there are times when passivity can be aggression depending on what it permits.  One person can save a city via wisdom.  Sometimes peace comes as a paradox.  Peacemaking requires a toolkit of virtues.  What do virtues of love, forgiveness, and peace look like when paralleled with responsibility?  Most of all, peacemaking needs a framework for restoration and redemption.  Responsibility means using my freedom to care for people and their success (Rom. 14:19-23).  In any case, peacemaking, as dialogue, situates people in tension.  There often seem no easy solutions.  If it took Jesus laying down his life to make peace between people and God, then perhaps peace with others requires just as much from me.

Though None G[r]ow with Me,
Still I will Follow...

While results matter, they can be beyond our control.  Peace as daily praxis, or habit, means that intent and effort matter more as the attitude can make a difference simply by exuding peace.  The habit is not so simple at first; it can be hard to live and be at peace with people, including myself, but the habit comes in small ways:  say please/thank you, ask questions, state what you want, ask for help, encourage, inquire, support, and listen instead of complain (guilty!), criticize, gossip, slander, or libel.  Make peace in word and deed.  Make every effort to be at peace with all people (Rom. 12:18) means we try and continue to try as we learn and grow and live.  May we rest in peace while we live!

Graceful Measures

If there's one thing I'd like more of, it's poise.  Grace under fire.  That spirit that stays calm and refuses to give in to fear or anger.  Of course, be careful what you ask for!  I might get the practice I need, but I suppose I'm already beyond that!  Being human means failing a given standard from time to time.  Being at peace with others assumes conflict.  Requiring peace via proximity or similarity or even equality might perpetuate conflict as, given disparities and diversity in the world, the former may not be doable, and worse, compliance-driven.  Compliance is where diversity/tolerance movement has failed because it equivocates acceptance with peace.  Confirmation and dialogue assume difference, but those, too, may not meet the challenge.  If I make a measure, then we must situate the self, people, and created realm in grace (we're going to need it!).  Grace accounts for our weakness and keeps us from becoming conceited in our strengths (2 Cor. 12:9-10).


Life is a precious gift. 
May we live it without fear.

Honoring human capacity to learn and choose and encouraging human need to love and be resilient offer beneficial solutions, sure, but what do you do with repeat offenders?  All I can say is I bet the answer relies on grace, and with that grace comes the opportunity to live a new way.  For instance, instead of judging or policing each other's behavior, we can trust each other a little more, act on our wants a little more, follow our dreams a little more, even laugh a little more, and contribute to our success a little more.  No need to be jealous or territorial if we're staying our course; no need to fret if we have courage enough to relax.   

Reframing & Demystifying Peace

Reframing peace to a different set of dialectics might help:  fear/love, judgment/mercy, failure/responsibility, adversity/resilience, problem/opportunity, task/courage, and freedom/caring.  These dynamics might give us more flexibility when seeking ways to bridge any given perceived or real divide, which may be more local than we realize.  After all, peace is not something situated "out there," nor is it necessarily the absence of conflict.  Demystifying peace helps, too.  If I wrong someone, then apologize (see James 5 for context, ISV transl.).  If I want something, then ask for it.  Asking helps intimacy (Campbell, 2009).  More than that, emphasizing life and love redirect our attention instead of camping us in the problem.  Peace speaks to a relationship of understanding, one that allows another to be, but within a realm of respect, recognizing that our actions and attitudes at home impact people's lives near and far.  The latter challenges me.  I often fail.  Here's the encouragement: Living things grow, even if confined to a pot.  So let's grow, then.

Annotated Questions

What do you think?
In what ways do you communicate peace?  Do you think peace-behaviors differ at home, at work, at large?
What peace do you want? 
For yourself? For Others? With God? With Others?
For Society, Culture, the World?
How do you want to contribute?
For what do you want to be known? Why?

Special Thanks

Thank you to Seattle and Gonzaga Universities, conference organizers, facilitators, presenters, panelists, and participants for giving me the opportunity to learn from and network with you.  It was sobering and beneficial to soak in the leadership juices.  Special thanks to Gene and Yosh for sharing your stories and resilience, and Dr. Larry Sims for your advice on decision-making!  Thanks to Hiroumi for another great song, Up in the cloud.  Support him at Jamendo.  Be free to connect with me or learn more via my channels (sidebar upper left under Affiliates), or share your loving and resilient memories at The Living Memorial

Thank you for reading.  
Kindly,
Dena

Recommended Reading

Campbell, S. (2009).  I want... In J. Stewart (Ed.), Bridges not walls: A book about interpersonal communication (10th ed.).  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Center for Creative Leadership, Pulley, M.L., Wakefield, M. (2001). Building resiliency: How to thrive in times of change. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.

Chase, S. (1996).   Personal owner ability and interpretive authority and narrative research.  In R. Josselson (Ed.), Ethics and process in the narrative study of lives.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Copeland, J. (2011, April 29). What will alarm Americans about nuclear weapons? Retrieved May 1, 2011, from http://crosscut.com/2011/04/29/internationalrelations/20863/What-will-alarm-Americans-about-nuclear-weapons-/

Gitomer, J., & Hersey, P. (2011). The little book of leadership: The 12.5 strengths of responsible, reliable, remarkable leaders that create results, rewards, and resilience. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Gungor, M. (2009). Laugh your way to a better marriage. New York: Atria.

Patterson, J.L. (2010). Resilient leadership for turbulent times: A guide to thriving in the face of adversity. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Rosko, D.M. (2010, Dec. 17). Master's thesis: Performing impressionistic autoethnographic narrative in Text and Pixels to explore fear of death in end-of-life care-giving contexts.  Retrieved May 1, 2011, from http://www.textandpixelreflections.com/2010/11/masters-thesis-performing.html

Rosko, D.M. (2011, Jan. 3). Thesis reading list.  Retrieved May 1, 2011, from
http://www.textandpixelreflections.com/2011/01/thesis-reading-list.html

Sikich, G.W. (2003). Integrated business continuity: Maintaining resilience in uncertain times. Tulsa, OK: Pennwell.

Sertl, J., & Huberman, K. (2010). Strategy, leadership and the soul: Resilience, responsiveness and reflection for a global economy. Axminster, UK: Triarchy.

Author's Note

I describe myself as a Judeo-Christian due to here. Intense language, but this passage speaks to sharing salvation by using agriculture as an analogy. Though none g[r]ow with me section title refers to hymn, I have decided to follow Jesus.  No turning back, no turning back...

My peace I leave with you,
not as the world gives,
but as I give you.