I’ve joined a Peace Blogfest sponsored by Aimee at A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman. I am copying some of those details below (thanks Aimee). I found it via Ms. Mouse Cleans House.

The laudable goals of overcoming discrimination and ending violence seem monumental. When I think about these goals, I get paralyzed with the magnitude of what must change in the world, each society, each community, and each individual. And that’s just one person’s opinion of what must change. There are as many opinions as there are people. It’s simply too big to wrap my head around, so I find something else to think about, like teaching Scrappy a new trick or organizing my email folder.

Come to think of it, this task seems a bit overwhelming, too. Here, Scrappy! Wanna learn how to dance like the Stars?

Even if goals are colossal, they can be achieved effectively with patience and perseverance. I believe that. I am also an eternal (and infernal) optimist. But how? One person and one kind act at a time, beginning with me, will put a dent in the discrimination and violence problems that are epidemic in our lives.

Here’s how it works. If I had a loaf of bread and wanted to feed a flock of hungry birds, I could throw the loaf at the flock and let them have at it. Pandemonium would ensue and the strongest, meanest birds would get most of the bread. The rest would go without. Alternatively, I could spend my time carefully breaking apart that loaf of bread and walk around the area, tossing a few crumbs here and a few there–trying my best to spread the crumbs around so that more of the birds would have a little food. Sure, the more aggressive birds would follow me, chase other birds away, and I might even get a little poop on me for my efforts–but more birds will have eaten because of my extra efforts.

I figured it wasn't accidental. Consider being called a "bird brain" a compliment.

Applying this to concept to kindness, people and ending discrimination and violence, I take every opportunity to:

  1. smile, sing, dance and be happy in public, private–just be joyful
  2. compliment people and say “please” and “thank you” (try complimenting the baggers at the grocery store, you’ll make their day)
  3. show respect to others (holding a door open, letting a driver get in front of me, waiting patiently and not expressing annoyance at someone who is moving slowly)
  4. gently correct a person who generalizes about just one class of people (If I hear: “Women work so hard. They need time to relax.” I will say, “All people who work hard need time to relax, right?”)
  5. laugh at myself or my situation, helping to diffuse an otherwise tense situation
  6. distract or divert conversations that is heading in unwholesome directions
  7. speak kindly and without harsh or foul language (never underestimate to power of words to hurt or heal)

All of these simple gestures take the very difficult act of keeping your attention focused on the present moment and each interaction as it’s happening. As you behave in these ways, they become both habitual to you and contagious to others. You become one of those “good” bacteria spreading kindness places you’ll never know.

When kindness counteracts fear, discrimination and violence have nothing upon which to feed. No law, or universal decree will end the troubles of our world; only small acts of loving kindness spreading like tiny breadcrumbs among very grateful, hungry birds. Not so different from us, really.

St. Francis of Assisi

About the Peace Blogfest…

In 1999, Jeremy Gilley founded the film project Peace One Day to document his efforts in creating an annual day of ceasefire and nonviolence with a fixed calendar date. In 2001, Peace One Day achieved its objective when the United Nations unanimously adopted the International Day of Peace 21 September.

The remainder of Aimees schedule is:
Tuesday 20 September 2011 – Peace Through Tolerance and Non-Violence

Despite religious, racial, socioeconomic, or personal differences, everyone deserves respect. I know this can be a touchy subject for some people, so there are many blogging options for this day. You can do one or more of the following: discuss ways we can overcome discrimination and stop violence, describe an organization that you support that helps other people, tell about a time that you helped someone and what you learned, describe a time when someone helped you through a rough time and how it changed you, or tell of an experience in which you or someone you know was discriminated against and how that shaped your view on peace. Share your experiences!

Wednesday 21 September 2011 (Peace Day) – Peace Through Connection

Bringing people together in celebration should be the goal for this day! How do you connect with other people? How do you interact with people around you in a peaceful way? What unites people? Think about this one, and be truthful. And remember, peaceful actions don’t stop when Peace Day is over! What can YOU DO to be peaceful and to continue spread the word about peace? What inspires you to be peaceful?