Today is the International Day of Peace which is being celebrated around the world. Its message this year is “the right of peoples to peace” and I ponder how can I, as an educator, contribute? I contribute by raising awareness and doing what I can to contribute to world peace beginning with myself and with “my world” which is working with children, parents, and fellow educators at school. I invite you to join CCKids “Circles of Compassion,” a circle of conscious educators and parents who are committed to work or act together for a common purpose or benefit of raising a more compassionate and peaceful generation through a commitment to nonviolence in thought, words, and actions.
I was inspired to create “Circles of Compassion” a few years ago upon hearing this story of an African tribe that chooses the most beautiful and compassionate response when someone does something hurtful and wrong. Their response is to take the person to the center of the village and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell him every good thing he has ever done because they believe that every human being comes into the world as good and desiring the same things each one of us desires: safety, love, peace, and happiness. They understand that sometimes in the pursuit of happiness people make mistakes. The mistakes are a cry for help. They recognize this as a temporary disconnection from his true nature, his essence, or goodness within. So they band together to reconnect him with his true nature and help him affirm: “I am good”.
I believe this should be the model for raising our children – surrounding them daily and helping them to know and connect with their goodness, and helping their hearts to grow and glow brighter. “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” (Thich Nhat Hanh) Our “Circles of Compassion” can provide this model through its committed membership of caring and compassionate parents, neighbors, educators, and friends. We cannot expect raise children who are self-controlled and gentle if we are not. Our children can’t be what they can’t see. When one adult thinks humiliating and punishing children is “the way” then what will children learn? If we yell, they will learn to yell to solve problems or gain control over others in their relationships, if we spank and hit, they will use physical force in their relationships, and so on.
Are we giving children all the tools they need to have positive and peaceful relationships with others? As responsible adults (parents, teachers, etc), we need to continually be learning best practices with guiding children. Children soak in and model after the things we say and do so let’s practice modeling behavioral responses worth repeating! With practice, children will learn to access the tools within their hearts and minds to handle any challenges with the same calm and mindfulness that they observed in us. What a beautiful legacy we are leaving for our children. This is how each of us can contribute to a more compassionate, peaceful, and kinder world. Form your Circles and share your successes with us!
“Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. I believe that love, compassion and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.” (- Dalai Lama)
Take our Compassion-Fit Challenge! For you individually, or do it with your family or classroom!