With the arrival of Fall, we began reaching out to you regularly to celebrate your children's success and ask for ongoing involvement with Association Building Community
(ABC) and Peace Practices
(PxPx). This seems like a good time to write briefly about our work together so that I may make our planning transparent and ask for your input.
As long as there have been people, adults have opened their eyes in the morning and seen both the beauty and the dilemmas that each day promises. Our generation is not the first to feel a drive to work today to make tomorrow better--more likely to welcome our children than threaten them. In every age, in order to flourish, each child must learn to shape and use their own attention in order to deepen their experience beyond mere functional adequacy and find the kind of meaning in life that leads to both an authentic individuality and humane participation in civic life. Even so, for each generation born into our world of instant high-capacity communication this particular challenge is more problematic than ever before.
Attentional capacity development now happens in the context of relentless and ever-expanding media exposure: not only the ubiquity of delivery mechanisms, such as screen devices grafted on to every social and management function, but also psychological campaigns designed to capture individual interest and operationalize desire to serve consumption, and infonews businesses whose entire revenue stream depends on exposing individual eyes unremittingly to the vast scope of our shared dilemmas. It is increasingly hard to handle any single choice while being barraged with too many. This is especially true of children whose brain development is happening under the influence of audio-visual media designed to keep and control a user's attention. They have no defense until they are provided with the time and attention needed to develop useful strategies. How are they to defend themselves against overwhelm while trying to develop the capacity to do so? It seems almost a parallel process to studying a martial art in order to keep one's balance and make conscious tactical choices during physical conflict.
Adults too have never before had potentially conscious access to the immense and impersonal complexity of the systems humanity is creating. Beyond the tendency of screened images to overwhelm and control how we think and make choices, the energy we spend communicating is often consumed by those willing to reduce ideas to their most simplistic, attempting to clutch our precious attention under the false pretense that an idea that is faster to grasp is more useful in the metaphorical hand of decision-making. Constant grabs for our attention prevent rather than refine our understanding as we try to find some way to grapple with challenges much larger than an individual can fully comprehend, much less decide how to respond in a way that includes all relevant aspects of our shared problems.
It is the purpose of Martial Nonviolence and the work of Peace Practices to be a whole conflict system, helping you and your child bring your body and attention together under your own direction, especially while in conflict and under pressure, in order to make decisions and act in a way that works out well for everyone involved. This is in order to give us, and generations that follow, more tools to deal with issues that reach from the broad, almost mythic ("As long as there have been people...") to the specific and daily (we have sought "some way to grapple with challenges..."). If you'd like to hear more about the details of our work, please read on. If you'd like more information after reading this, please email [ administration at abcglobal dot net ] and we will be more than happy to respond.
Determined to address the challenges we face, members of ABC want increasing traction for our work for a more hopeful future. We want to be part of a growing group of people similarly devoted to understanding and changing the Big Picture by working together. We believe that the group that creates itself as though the process of co-creation were an art form has the potential to actually change the world for the better (please see: Process Arts
). At ABC, we have found that purposeful association--attentiveness to the quality of our relationships--keeps us moving, together, in a relevant direction. Our daily association is building community. Roundtables
prepare us to understand the stories on which our world is built because we want our projects to make a difference that anyone can recognize and see the value of promoting.
Peace Practices is just such a project. Peace is that daily reality in which the most vulnerable, especially children, are more likely to find welcome than threat. "Community" is another word for this experience, a felt sense that conflicts are normal and will be approached as a practice, an opportunity to transform fear into opportunity with the help of others who care about the future and practice a dedication to nonviolence that is martial in character and commitment. In community, every individual learns to expect access to all that they need and an opportunity to work through conflict toward what they want and dream about.
The children and adults of Pacific Rim International School joined us in May 2014 to work toward this vision. Parents have joined us in regular training with their children and begun to attend the special evening classes for adults. Teachers report that the children studying Peace Practices (almost 100% on both campuses) are using the language of Martial Nonviolence every day to resolve conflicts and successfully navigate the troubled and troubling waters of disagreement. Parents report their children bringing uplifting options home from school and applying at home strategies they didn't even know were available several months ago.
It is time to grow. As we prepare to reach out nationally and then internationally,
- Aikido professionals from around the world have consistently expressed their strong desire to learn Martial Nonviolence and create Peace Practices programs of their own. We will provide an instructor training in the first quarter of 2015 and welcome those who are able to join us in the East Bay.
- We will begin our first study of this work in the very near future and are searching for a Study Director.
- You are no doubt already aware that we are offering sturdy uniforms as a fundraiser. They are necessary to keep your child's clothing from being damaged as they learn to keep their bodies safe, and we hope you will help the program by buying them at the promotional price. We are also prepared to offer them at cost, if your family is in financial difficulty. Please visit our store today!
- We have secured a working agreement to establish our office in downtown Oakland.
- We have assistant instructors working with us now, and more waiting their turn to begin. It is on these excellent folks that the future of the work also depends, as they will make additional programs possible. It is time to give them an unqualified message of support as well.
Now it is time to fund the future. We are counting on you to vote for your children's success and the growth of our work together with your attention and money. Inaction is not neutral, but is a vote against a profoundly hopeful and practical path to peace that can reach around the world, building one community at a time. As you consider how you will spend your time and allocate your treasure this holiday season, please join your children and join us in actively practicing peace.
PLEASE RSVP and come to Peace Practices for adullts at PRINTS:
Thu Dec 4th, 5:30-6:30pm at the Emeryville campus
Wed Dec 17th, 5-6pm at the San Mateo campus
or Free Aiki Dojo class (please see our schedule at freeaiki.com).
You are more than welcome to visit a Community Building circle and Roundtables on the second Sunday of every month (next one December 14th starting 5pm at The Joint in Berkeley).
Please cast your unambiguous vote for our success by creating a recurring donation!