Poems for Peace

It was my great pleasure to be a keynote speaker along with Pricilla Cookson and Dr. Paul Saint-Amand at Portsmouth Poet Laureate Katherine Leigh‘s event “Poems For Peace” held at 3S Artspace this week. There were twelve young poets (some with tie-died shirts!) all under the age of eighteen getting up in front of their parents and everybody else to read their poems about peace. Thanks Kate for bringing that 60’s style to 2017 and for reminding us how much we need peace love and understanding!
 You can watch the entire event on youtube here.
Below is the brief speech I gave aimed at our young audience.
Peace: Listen

When you look at evolution and human history one thing that’s clear is that life on earth has never been completely safe or peaceful. And things are no different now.  In times of change, some people go backward. They want things to be the way they remember them, even if that way is only good for them. Because change can be terrifying. And if you look past angry faces and voices, you will see fear.

But change is inevitable. Though there are backward steps, life, ultimately, is moving in only one direction. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” And we are all somewhere along that arc trying to figure it all out.

But the one thing I see that exacerbates the process and stalls the evolution towards justice and peace more than anything is the belief that you are completely right. But no one is completely right. This belief, no matter who it’s coming from, is the energy that feeds the seeds of anger and hatred. What you end up with is what we have now; this boiling indignant war of words that goes back and forth and leaves us stuck in the mud.

To be a true voice of peace in the world requires humility. Historically it’s those quieter, more humble voices that rise above the fray, endear the hearts of those who hear them and lead people to peace. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And that’s the hardest thing: every day, in your words and actions, to be an example of peace.

Because of technology there are more ways than any time in human history for the individual to connect and use their voice. But how you connect and use your voice is extremely important. But equally important is how you listen.

Listening to each other, especially to those with who you disagree, listening with quiet humility, is the most important thing we can do for peace. Listening is peace. Listening is a gift we give to someone else, and it’s the only way we get that gift in return. If you want to be heard, first you have to listen.


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