Take a moment to envision a community where all of our children can flourish.

Peace Takes Courage

Fatherhood by its nature brings people together. A unifying feature of fatherhood is its powerful universal tenets. All fathers, no matter who or where they are agree on the universal principles of love, harmony, togetherness, provision and protection. Of course, there are many more principles but as fathers we understand that these are some of the ways we express ourselves to our children and families. As much work as, it is to practice these principles in our individual families I believe as fathers we have an added social responsibility. We have the responsibility to teach and train our children that everything we do or fail to do has an impact on everyone else whether immediate or at some time in the future.

One of the greatest gifts that we as fathers can give to a community is a well-rounded child who is eager to contribute to society and peacefully coexist with other people. In a book titled “Nationbuilding”, the author Akoto offers some questions to ponder as a nation is formed. Similarly, we need to ask ourselves these questions as we seek to create a paradigm of peaceful social relationships between us.

So here are some questions that we have to ask ourselves as fathers as we work to promote peace in our families and the larger community.

  • First of all, what are the problems that we need to solve?
  • What keeps us from living in peace with each other whether in a neighborhood in Philadelphia or between the Soviet Union and Ukraine?
  • What kind of people do we have to become to solve these problems and promote peace?
  • What kind of social relations, institutions and attitudes must we develop among ourselves?
  • What type of education and social experiences must we undergo as adults and children?

One of the keys is to solving a problem is to correctly identify the problem. Whether peace is possible or not is all in the way that that you think about it.

Our belief systems inform us as to what is possible and guide us into the actions that we take in achieving our aims. Peace as a state which can be shared by all may seem unattainable but is it really? Is it really so out of the question for us to build communities where people, despite their differences, enjoy harmonious relationships.

In a world that seems so committed to war and the instruments to execute it, peace may seem unrealistic and out of reach.

Looking at the enormous amounts of money, time and effort which are invested in creating weapons and systems to destroy one another there appears to be little interest in peace. Granted, peace is more than just the absence of war and physical conflict but many nations are eager and proud to display their weaponry as a sign of national strength and security. But is it really an indication of strength or does it make us more vulnerable and insecure. If security is in the possession of 10 bombs what happens when the other guy gets 11 bombs? The only way to stop violence and secure peace in this way of thinking is to escalate to greater violence. We have seen far too many examples of this and have a long track record of human atrocities to show for it.

I believe fear is a root cause of much of the violence that we encounter and in the building of such elaborate weapon systems. Fear forms our enemies for us. People or groups who are different give us all we need to justify our fears.

We often use highly structured ways to magnify the differences and confirm our fears. We take that fear and build weapons that are powerful enough to annihilate the planet in order to feel secure. What are we so afraid of? What makes us so insecure? Our ways of thinking have trapped us into believing that we can’t live together. Higher walls, bigger more sophisticated bombs and technology are the best way protect us from our enemies.

If the fear of “others” is the problem how do we recognize it and then overcome it? Fear is a great trickster, it prevents us from looking at ourselves. Fear makes us focus on everything and everyone outside of ourselves and there is always a boogie man out there justify our fears. When I looked at myself, I realized that there were some ways of thinking and acting that I lived by which were very unproductive.

Personally, I don’t like feeling afraid, angry, suspicious, and separated and I knew I had to become someone different. Then came the most difficult and frightening step. That step is the releasing of the old way of thinking and acting. Releasing old beliefs systems, offers an excellent opportunity for self- transformation. What a scary and sometimes lonely place to be!

Going against the expectations of your family, friends and tribe is too much to consider for many people. Even though sometimes deep inside we know what we are doing and thinking are wrong we still go along with it because of the safety that our old belief systems provide.

The dictionary defines release in a couple of ways.

One is liberation, defined as the act of setting somebody or something free, or the fact of being free from imprisonment, restraint and obligation, or anything burdensome or oppressive. Another definition is the act of making something available for the first time, or the fact of being made available in this way. It further goes on to define release as the removal of a burden; the removal of something that makes someone feel trapped, restricted or burdened.

If our ways of thinking and acting restrain, restrict, and trap us into actions that don’t create peace than its time to let them go. It’s to move on to ideas that do create peace.

T. D. Jakes said “Big ideas come from forward thinking people who challenge the norm, think outside the box, and invent the world they see inside rather than submitting to the limitations of current dilemmas” Facing any challenge requires courage.

Courage to change, courage to grow, courage to persists and so many other demonstrations of courage are necessary for change. It takes courage to admit that we’ve made some mistakes, and it also takes courage to let go of the ways that we’ve become comfortable with, even though those ways may be harmful to others, and ourselves as well as being unproductive. Fear may be what stops us, because we don’t know or can’t know or be sure what is waiting for us on the other side of release. How are we going to make new friends? How are we going to engage in unfamiliar activities? How are we going to find new people to trust? And most importantly, how are we going to begin to trust ourselves to do things we haven’t done before?

This new way of thinking may cause us to go against our family traditions or mediocrity and failure, as well as some of the cultural paradigms that we engage in that we may be afraid to violate. But rest assured that once we have the release, we begin to develop the confidence that comes as we begin to exercise our new muscles and practice a new way of life.

You ask yourself some tough questions like who am I now, who will protect and support me what am I supposed to do without my tribe and old ways of being in the world? I have found that while many in the tribe will not immediately support your transformation that there many people out there who already do. And, eventually as you set a new way of being people and resources will be drawn to you.

As fathers we have to develop the habits of courageous action that give all of our children a pathway to peace.

We can create the environment that we want for our children’s future. Take a moment to envision a community where all of our children can flourish. Can you see it? If you can’t, then take a courageous look at your beliefs systems and release some of those tired ideas. If you can see it then lock arms with your brothers and let’s move courageously towards peace

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