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YourThoughts March 2013

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Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For March we asked: When was a time you were called on to be a peacemaker?

Blessed are the peacemakers
Years ago our baby daughter died of SIDS. We were told to be "at risk" for illness, accident, job loss and divorce. It is believed that 75 to 90 percent of couples who suffer the death of a child [eventually] divorce. It is a heartbreak like no other. Grief is exaggerated, prolonged and intensified. In our grief we became focused upon having another child. Finding ourselves unable to conceive, we pursued surgeries, infertility treatments and finally open adoption. When the unwed mother, bending to parental pressure, changed her mind, we reached the end of our dream and our marriage. We were exhausted, emotionally estranged and devastated. Yet remembering the love that brought us together, we carefully and compassionately mediated the property settlement, divorce decree and held a private ceremony of divorce-coming together not in joy, but in acceptance to heal our hearts and find a new path. We released each other with love and forgiveness and joined in the recognition that through grace there are no endings but only the chance for new beginnings. Vowing to remain parents and sacred friends forever, my ex moved away. Until his own death of a heart attack in 2007, I received cards from my ex at Christmas, Mother's Day and the anniversary of our daughter's death signed "Your Sacred Friend Forever."
Nancy, Minneapolis

My peace pilgrimage
By the early 1980s, 150 "Cold War" Minuteman I missiles with nuclear warheads, mostly aimed at the U.S.S.R., were buried in silos in the wind-swept prairies of South Dakota. I proudly participated in a massive peace demonstration in New York City during the height of the grass-roots nuclear freeze campaign.

People of every class, race, faith and age came from around the world in June 1982 to present petitions to the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament calling for an immediate bilateral U.S.-U. S.S.R. freeze of nuclear arms and to redirect budgets toward urgent nonmilitary human needs of the world.

On June 12, 1982, our nine-member delegation from the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center carried a banner in the 40-block-long parade that walked past the United Nations building, through the city and ended with a rally in Central Park. Our banner read from the Bible: "I want to see a mighty flood of justice-a torrent of doing good" (Amos 5:24). The media and "New York's finest" characterized the half-million-member march as the most peaceful demonstration ever held in the city.

Response from politicians was mixed; some representatives and senators supported freeze resolutions, while others were too locked into the military and industrial complex.

On July 31, 1991, U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty calling for the reduction of the number of nuclear weapons worldwide. Soon after that, the U.S. Air Force began deactivating the U.S. Minuteman force. Visitors can view a missile at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Ellsworth, S.D.
Carol Alberts, Plymouth


Peacemaking is full of paradox?
Whether on the international stage or in our personal lives, we must understand the position of people whom we sometimes despise. We must have constructive interaction with those whose actions have been despicable. We must persist and persevere when the odds are long.

My role models for this are Nobel Peace Prize winners. At 32, Tawakkol Karman is the youngest Peace Prize winner ever. This journalist from Yemen is confronting a regime that is arguably the most repressive regime on the planet. We here can scarcely imagine the paradox of a woman-and a young one at that-rising to her level of prominence and prestige within the Arab world. Her fire and magnetism are impressive, but more impressive is her passion for peaceful advancement of women's rights, democratic rights and the Arab Spring.
Maureen Reed is the executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Editor's Note: Tawakkol Karman will be speaking at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis on March 10. FFI: nobelpeaceprizeforum.org/new-2013-forum-the-power-of-ideas-people-and-peace/

My contribution to peacebuilding
My very strong interest in peace and justice prompted me to attend a STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) training in 2009 in Virginia, learning about how to heal after trauma, how to break the cycle of violence and how to build resilience. I see a need for that everywhere. I brought the first STAR training to Minnesota, and in 2010 I started the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute (MPLI) to offer professionals and laypersons ways to break the cycle of violence, to respond in healthy ways to trauma and to work toward resilience. I have given people information and hands-on tools to help them teach behaviors and options other than revenge and violence. I want to help people from all walks of life learn how to cope with trauma-individually and as a community.
Donna Minter is a licensed psychologist and executive director, Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute.

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