Your quarterly inspiration - February 2020
Visit us on social media:
Visit our website:
Scroll Down For....
Welcome from SI Co-Chairs 
What is peacefulness?
Why does peace not prevail on earth?
  • Are humans “born to kill”?
  • Changing the narrative.
Pacifism does not mean passivism: Nonviolent social change movements.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Theory and practice.
Internal peace work.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh and the introduction of meditation to the west.
  • Meditation and privilege.
  • Historical trauma and internal peace.
  • Ongoing trauma, new peacefulness resources.
  • What it means to be an ally in peacefulness.
Book Review
  • U.S. Department of Peace proposals
  • Peace education
  • Women-driven peace initiatives
Welcome from SI Co-Chairs
It is easy for us to get caught up in the throes of frenzy while in the presence of all that is disturbing in these uncertain times. With news of aggression, the political climate, the fact that people are hungry, both physically and spiritually, it can seem daunting to navigate life with a sense of peacefulness. In order for us not to be snagged into the net of negativity and hopelessness, as elders we must claim that we have the capacity to individually and collectively change the world. By becoming increasingly aware that we have potential for “being peace” (the title of Thich Nhat Hanh’s 2005 book), we gain a deeper understanding that we can influence positive change in the midst of circumstances beyond our ideals. 

You might ask, “How do I develop a practice of peacefulness? How might we—as sages and elders—move toward being peace ?” Reb Zalman, founder of Sage-ing International, wisely advised: 

Ultimately, our questions must emerge not from mental categories, but from deep within the heart. They must rise to the surface as we sit in silence, so that they are not just the old questions which we raise whenever we have nothing else to talk about or just for the sake of argument. They need to be the questions which make a difference in our lives. 

Our answers may come while pausing in solitude waiting for the magic of new insights to emerge. Even so, with an intention of being peace , it is wise to recognize that we are first called to find peace within ourselves and our own lives to successfully achieve being peace as we co-exist with all living things and with our beautiful planet at this time in history. 

We, at Sage-ing International, invite you to join us in an expansive intention of being peace to exponentially effect more harmony in the world. We welcome you in this vital endeavor.


Marilyn Loy Every, DMin, CSL and Jerome Kerner, CSL
Co-Chairs, Sage-ing International
Like all of these Communicator issues since February 2019, each dedicated to one of SI’s ten “Qualities of a Sage in Service,” researching this one on Peacefulness has been a journey for me. Gauzy images of “Peacefulness” gave way quickly to a profound respect for the complexities of making and maintaining peacefulness – internal or external – in the real world. 
I found I could not think about “peacefulness” without thinking about the gross social injustices and environmental destruction that make peacefulness so elusive for so many of us today. How do we achieve and maintain peacefulness – internal and external – in this world? This lengthy issue of The Communicator reflects my wrestling with these questions. I’m afraid you’ll find more wrestling than resting in peacefulness. But I hope you will find the path of my discovery illuminating to you as well, and worth your time.
I want to give special thanks for assistance with this issue to Certified Sage-ing Leaders Elizabeth Bell and Caroline Blackwell. Despite the plethora of peacefulness-related resources included in this issue, I know scores exist that are not reflected here. Please do send them to me – – for inclusion in future issues.
With many thanks,
Theresa Reid, Editor
What is peacefulness?
Internal or external, peacefulness is not merely the absence of overt conflict. A true state of peacefulness is richer, warmer, and deeper than the absence of conflict: it is the positive emanation of deeply principled lovingkindness and justice.
Although moments of peacefulness can certainly occur spontaneously, maintaining peacefulness, internally or externally, requires a mixture of qualities: focus, intention, discipline, commitment, practice, open-heartedness, and more.
Why does peace not prevail on earth? 
Peace on earth is a universal dream. So why does it not prevail?
Are humans “born to kill”? (No.)
A common assertion in popular media as well as academic papers is that primates are incapable of lasting peacefulness. The alleged evidence – repeated so frequently it almost feels like a truism – is the existence of lethal aggression among chimpanzees. But great primatologists challenge us to think more deeply about both the data we privilege, and the conclusions we draw from them.
In his article in Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine , “ Peace among Primates ,” Stanford primatologist Robert Sapolsky argues that "Anyone who says that peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves." Sapolsky reminds us that “For 99 percent of human history, humans lived in small, stable bands of related hunter-gatherers. . . the perfect setting for the emergence of cooperation.” These cooperative bands were also highly egalitarian, displaying advantageous and attractive qualities that seem increasingly elusive in today’s world. 
But Sapolsky acknowledges that the stability of these small groups “can come at a heavy price.” He writes, “Small homogenous groups with shared values can be a nightmare of conformity. They can also be dangerous for outsiders,” who are reflexively viewed as the Other. Some brain studies have shown that, when presented, even subliminally, with images of people from a different race, the amygdala – which plays a key role in fear and aggression – becomes active, alert, and ready for protective or aggressive action. We see evidence of this reflexive, dangerous “othering” everywhere we turn these days. Some have concluded from these observations that humans are hard-wired for xenophobia.
However, more recent studies brighten the picture. In people who have lots of interracial experience, the amygdala does not activate in response to images of people of different races. These people are not “other”: they’re known. Another study Sapolsky cites found that priming subjects to think of others as individuals rather than group representatives also inoculated them against the amygdala’s alarm response. Sapolsky observes, "Humans may be hardwired to get edgy around the Other, but our views on who falls into that category are decidedly malleable."

This research makes clear that an important part of our work as healers in the world – as peacemakers, neighbors, grandparents, friends, and activists – is to take every opportunity to blur the lines between “other” and self, as recommended in this resource-rich article from The Evolution Institute . Another outstanding example of blurring racial lines is the work of contemporary peace warrior Bryan Stevenson in his Equal Justice Initiative , which is responsible for the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice , both in Montgomery, Alabama, and ongoing legal advocacy for racial justice. In this interview with Terry Gross and in his book, Just Mercy (and the 2019 movie based on it ), Stevenson highlights the importance of breaking down artificial barriers that separate us into tribal groups.
An even more pointed critique of the claim that primates – including humans – are “born to kill” comes from Frans B. M. de Waal , a Dutch-born primatologist, professor at Emory University, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. He is the author of The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society, The Bonobo and the Atheist , and more than a dozen other books. In his article, “ What Can Bonobos Tell Us about Ourselves? ” de Waal points out that the “born to kill” claim is based on an arbitrarily limited reading of available data. Categorical claims about violent human tendencies rely on twenty-five percent of available data to tell a thoroughly biased story as if it were the only one available.
Bonobos are exactly as much like and unlike us as chimps are, and are far more peace-loving, female-oriented, and cooperative than are chimps. People who make categorical claims about violent human tendencies are selectively examining male chimps, and ignoring evidence from the behavior of female chimps, male bonobos, and female bonobos. That is, they rely on twenty-five percent of available data to tell a thoroughly biased story as if it were the only one available. De Waal notes, "Violent scenarios inevitably turn around males, with females being the prizes rather than the engines of evolution." A story of our ancestry and behavioral expectations that focused exclusively on peace-loving female bonobos would be equally valid. 
Changing the narrative, teaching peace.
If, as these great primatologists tell us, data equally validate stories about peace and cooperation, why do we insist on telling stories that suggest that conflict and war are inevitable? Who’s telling these stories? Why is inescapable violence a more compelling narrative for the tellers than peace and cooperation? Obviously, war mightily benefits some people financially, but surely not everyone who flogs the “born to kill” narrative is a war profiteer. Certainly, lashing out in anger is, at first, more immediately gratifying, even exciting, than cultivating a disciplined, peaceful response to conflict. Prioritizing the story of violence might also be a matter of habit and expectation: we’ve become so accustomed to war it’s hard to imagine peace. Clearly, one major task before us is learning and routinely telling stories about the power of peacefulness.
But another inescapable factor in favoring violence is the atavistic fear of defenselessness. If “peacefulness” means unilateral disarmament, no one can afford to pursue it. The great scholar of religions and founder of the international movement, Charter for Compassion , Karen Armstrong discusses “Ashoka’s dilemma” in this brief interview about her book, Fields of Blood : “I wanted to call the book ‘Ashoka’s Dilemma,’” she said, after an Indian king in 268 B.C.E. who, towards the end of a bloody reign, became a Buddhist and preached peace and compassion throughout his kingdom. “But he could never disband his army. Had he done so, all these wannabe emperors would have started fighting each other and there would have been mayhem. Ashoka’s dilemma is the dilemma of civilization itself. No state, however peace-loving, can afford to disband its army.” How do we pursue peacefulness without being eliminated by people who don't share our values, principles, and commitments?
Pacifism does not mean passivism : Nonviolent social change movements
The most important distinction to make in thinking about creating a peaceful world is that pacifism does not mean passivism. The greatest teachers of peace of the last century – Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 – present), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) – were all social justice warriors who galvanized followers to use exclusively nonviolent means to change the world. Through principled, disciplined nonviolent civil actions, Gandhi freed India from British rule; Thich Nhat Hanh and his sister and brother monks promulgated “engaged Buddhism” to bring peace not just to his native Vietnam but globally; and Martin Luther King, Jr., fought America’s blatant, systemic racism against African Americans.
Far from being passive, these leaders each saw active engagement to end social injustice as a moral imperative. Inspired and guided by Gandhi’s example earlier in the century, Martin Luther King, Jr., developed a robust theory and practice of peaceful social justice work that is as urgently needed today as it was when King worked.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Theory and practice 
In his astonishingly radical 1967 speech, “ Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence ,” King refuted critics who counseled caution, invoking his well-known phrase, “the fierce urgency of now.” He wrote, “There is such a thing as being too late. . . . The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’”
In ” I’ve Been to the Mountain Top ” (and elsewhere), his final speech, delivered on
April 3, 1968, the day before his assassination, King warned, "It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. This is where we are today."
The King Cente r continues to teach nonviolent social justice activism based on King’s brilliantly articulated principles : the Triple Evils, Six Principles of Nonviolence, Six Strategies of Nonviolence, and the Beloved Community . In brief (summarized from the King Center site):
The Triple Evils are poverty, racism, and militarism – interdependent forms of structural violence. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence , required for fighting the Triple Evils, are as follow:

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. 
3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people. 
4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. 
5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body. 
6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.

Photo from the Library of Congress
These Six Principles inform King’s Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change :

1. Information gathering: You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem, becoming an expert on your opponent’s position.
2. Education: It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.
3. Personal commitment: Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.
4. Discussion/negotiation: Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. 
5. Direct action: These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.
6. Reconciliation: Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the “Beloved Community.”
In the Beloved Community all people share in the wealth of the Earth. Poverty, hunger, homelessness, and bigotry are not tolerated, and inevitable human conflict is resolved peacefully, with love and justice prevailing. “For Dr. King,” the King site states, “the Beloved Community was a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.”
The courage of principled nonviolence
As a perusal of these principles makes abundantly clear, there is nothing easy about nonviolent social change. Peacefulness does not come naturally in response to provocation and violence. Pursuing nonviolent activism requires great vision, discipline, persistence, and courage. Many nonviolent social justice warriors have been grievously injured or killed in their work. But even more dangerous than nonviolent social change work is perpetuating the cycle of endless violence. As King’s mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, observed, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
Internal peace work.
Thich Nhat Hanh and the introduction of meditation to the west.
Every peace warrior who has maintained the work dedicated considerable time to cultivating the internal discipline required to continue. For King and many of his followers, this discipline came from deep Christian faith and prayer. Many other mid-century American activists joined allies worldwide in developing the inner strength necessary for sustained peace work through the forms of meditation taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, who was instrumental in introducing mindfulness to the West.
Initially, mindfulness meditation was both the core and totality of Thich Nhat Hanh’s life. A priest, he lived his mediation practice in a monastery in Vietnam. But, he writes in Peace Is Every Step , “So many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection, we decided to do both – to go out and help people and to do so in mindfulness. We called it engaged Buddhism. Mindfulness must be engaged. One there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?"

A core principle of engaged Buddhism is the concept of “interbeing,” the recognition that everything in creation is connected – not just spiritually, or conceptually, but at the molecular level. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us to notice that even flowers and garbage “inter-are”: the flower grows from and then becomes the garbage. In us as well, the good and the bad, joy and anguish, compassion and cruelty, inter-are – exist within each other – and only by accepting and not fighting the full range of our own humanity, and that of people we think of as “enemies,” can we flourish and find true peace.
Essential to effective nonviolent social change is the ability to harness anger – a universal human emotion that serves as a necessary spur to sustained social justice work. Suppressing or denying anger separates ourselves from ourselves, and from a great source of moral knowledge and strength. “If we face our unpleasant feelings with care, affection, and nonviolence,” Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “we can transform them into the kind of energy that is healthy and has the capacity to nourish us.” 
His five-step for transforming anger (and other agitating emotions) into peaceful power involves allowing the feeling into consciousness; embracing it as part of ourselves; calming it as a loving parent would calm a troubled baby; releasing it; and, finally, looking deeply into the roots of the feeling, exploring its causes. This is where knowledge of self and society deepen. 
Readers of The Communicator are familiar with many of the thousands of teachers who have followed Thich Nhat Hanh. One fine introduction is the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn ( Wherever You Go, There You Are , and other books) who developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with chronic pain patients. An excellent, free, multi-media introduction to MBSR and several mindfulness teachers can be found at .  
Meditation and privilege.
Most people find the discipline of mindfulness quite challenging; but it’s fair to say that this practice is harder in some situations than in others. I am a privileged white woman in America, and practicing mindfulness is hard for me . Thinking about the necessary search for inner peacefulness, I immersed myself in the Western mindfulness literature for this issue of The Communicator ; as I did so, I was struck by how tacitly white and middle-class it is, divorced from historical and social contexts that make the practice of peacefulness much harder for some people than for others.
I began to ask myself: How is it different to search for peacefulness if you're a victim of racial, sexual, or other systemic cultural or interpersonal violence? What’s the relationship of inner peace with righteous anger? With historical trauma? For no group in America today are these questions more urgent than for African Americans.

A search, “African-Americans and meditation,” reveals a rich, recent trove of powerful culturally informed resources created by and for people of color addressing just these questions. 
Historical trauma and internal peace.
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten
Martin Luther King, Jr., was well aware of the crushing effects of internalized racism on African Americans. In “ MLK Decried the Psychological Enslavement of Blacks ,” psychologists Enola G. Aird and Taasogle Daryl Rowe took as their starting point King’s final presidential address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967. In “ Where Do We Go from Here? ” King said, “First we must massively assert our dignity and worth.” He continued: “Any movement for the Negro’s freedom that overlooks this necessity” – for black people to regain their “psychological freedom”— “is only waiting to be buried.”
A large body of research has explored the emotional, psychological, and physical (neurological and cardiovascular) effects of horrific trauma, and the transmission of these effects across generations. Children of survivors of the Holocaust , and of atrocities perpetrated by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other tyrants, as well as by Europeans upon Native Americans and African Americans, frequently suffer from the persecution of their parents. In the words of this brief teaching video from the University of Minnesota , historical trauma is the “collective, cumulative emotional wounding across generations from cataclysmic events targeting an entire community.” 
As Martin Luther King, Jr., asserted, psychological healing of the effects of historical trauma is necessary to support work for lasting social change. In their article in The Root , Aird and Rowe discuss the commitment of the Association of Black Psychologists to developing and practicing trauma-informed therapy that acknowledges the profound impact of historical trauma on generations of African Americans. The authors highlight as well the Community Healing Network , whose mission is “to mobilize Black people across the African Diaspora to heal from the trauma caused by centuries of anti-Black racism, to free ourselves of toxic stereotypes, and to reclaim our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry.” 
The emphasis on “community” is especially meaningful in the context of resistance to the white ideology of individualism. “Community” reflects the value expressed in the well-known African proverb, “It takes a village,” and points to the fact that the effects of racism can only be effectively addressed in solidarity. “Community Healing is about our shared responsibility, as Black people, for confronting and working to overcome the centuries-old narratives of White superiority and Black inferiority.” An important strategy of the Community Healing Network is Emotional Emancipation Circles , “evidence-informed, psychologically sound, culturally grounded, and community-defined self-help support groups designed to help heal the trauma caused by anti-Black racism.”
Ongoing trauma, new peacefulness resources.
But African Americans in pursuit of peace, internal or external or both, have to address the effects not just of historical violence but the betrayal of what seemed to be progress and the intensifying experience of anti-black racism in the U.S. Psychologists Taasogle Daryl Rowe and Kamilah Marie Woodson address this resurgence powerfully in their article, “ How to Heal African-Americans’ Traumatic History ,” in the online magazine, The Conversation . “Do you smell it?” they ask. “That foul odor that floats in the air, when something you thought was dead is unearthed.”
That’s the smell of ole man Jim Crow crawling back into our daily lives. . . . In the last 50 years or so, black Americans thought ole Jim Crow had died. But really, ole man Crow had simply gone to finishing school and emerged as James Crow, Esq. He had polished up his language and was operating in an alleged system of diversity and multiculturalism, soft-selling his system of exclusivity as ‘traditions.’ Those traditions were called ‘states’ rights’ and ‘customs,’ ‘school choice’ and ‘law and order.’. . . Our communities experience direct and vicarious trauma every day.

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell
Maintaining equanimity, dignity, and peaceful resistance in the face of historical and continuing racism is a challenge that most white people struggle to understand.
In addition to the resources generated by the Association of Black Psychologists and Community Healing Network , people of color from a variety of professions are developing mindfulness-based support structures for their community. In tacit response to the question posed in the title of a blog post on the site Black Zen – "How can you meditate when the world is going to hell in a handbasket?" – a number of African Americans are saying, “You can’t afford not to.” Mainstream outlets like Black Enterprise and Fast Company are paying attention, with articles asserting that regular meditation is in fact a competitive necessity for black businesspeople , and acknowledging that “ Wellness Has a Diversity Issue ” that is being addressed by women of color. Julio Rivero, an Afro-Latino businessman, created Liberate Meditation, an app specifically for people of color with meditations, dharma talks, and other resources designed to help users defuse the daily insults of racism. All of this activity is resonant with the statement of the African American poet, Audre Lord , decades ago: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
Three new resources – all created by women of color – stand out for their strength and seriousness.  
Black Zen a wisdom- and resource-rich website founded by two young women, the sisters Stacey and Jasmine Johnson. They write, “While the current focus is on incorporating wellness in communities that currently bear the brunt of social, economic and political injustice, this movement is about all people finding more peace. . . . Black Zen is not another self-help initiative, but a social movement dedicated to changing the course of human tolerance and interaction.” Their site offers introductory tools for new meditators, articles, a podcast, guided meditations, and more.
Another strong leader of this work is Buddhist priest Rev. angel Kyodo Williams . Her animating principle is a direct descendant of King’s: "Love and justice are not two. Without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters." In her first book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace , Williams writes, “People of color are especially in need of new ways and new answers to the separation and fear we face each day. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that as black people, more than most groups in this country, we live our daily lives with the distinct taste of fear in our mouths.” Williams’s website offers videos, podcasts, articles, and additional resources that “are not an antidote to the underlying reasons for our fears [but] . . . can give us a different way to approach those fears.” 

Finally, the site Mindfulness for the People , established by the powerhouse scholar of health disparities , Dr. Angela Rose Black , takes as its tagline, “Radically Re-Imagining the Mindfulness Movement.” Black states: “Mindfulness for the People is a Black-owned social change agency dedicated to disrupting systemic whiteness in the mindfulness movement in three key ways. First, we center the wisdom, insight, and needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in mindfulness research, teaching, practice, and tech. We also facilitate racial awareness processes among white people in mindfulness research, teaching, practice, and tech. And, we bring our signature compassionate mind-body wisdom methods to the field of racial justice on university campuses and among social good organizations.” They provide services to engage what Dr. Black calls “Racial Battle Fatigue” among people of color, and “White Fragility” among white people. 

Photo by Pedro Lima
What it means to be an ally in peacefulness.
I think we all understand that responsibility for breaking down barriers, for being peace , does not belong “over there,” with “others,” but with ourselves. We know that peace begins at home. But I think many white people – myself certainly included – fail to recognize the extent to which “home” harbors racial barriers invisible to ourselves that prevent our being true allies in peacefulness with people of color. 

We eagerly endorse Robert Sapolsky’s directive to blur the lines between self and “Other”; we warmly embrace Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept of inter-being. To fully implement these values, a hard but necessary action step is to confront and dismantle the internalized racism many of us are not even aware we experience. 

To help us white people become more aware of the internal barriers that prevent our being full allies in peacefulness with people of color, I chose Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility as the book to review for this issue.
Book Review
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism , by Robin DiAngelo (NY: Beacon Press, 2018).
Reviewed by Theresa Reid

Many years ago, a white woman named Robin DiAngelo took a job as a facilitator of racial harmony in American work places. Everywhere she went, DiAngelo ran into the same roadblocks: defensiveness, resistance, and anger from white people. No matter how gently she stated the facts, no matter how soothing her tone, DiAngelo could not overcome the opposition of white people to hearing about the effects – including on themselves – of the racist system in which all Americans are raised.

Eventually, DiAngelo named this reaction “white fragility,” and realized that its function is to maintain the racist hierarchy by shutting down conversation about it. 

Her 2018 book, White Fragility , is a thorough, eye-opening, and deeply disturbing explication of what white fragility looks like in action, and how it functions in relationships between and among black and white people in America and beyond (for white supremacy is a global phenomenon).
DiAngelo’s fifth chapter, titled, “The Good/Bad Binary,” explicates “perhaps the most effective adaptation of racism in recent history”: the belief that good people can’t be racist. Images of racist whites viciously assaulting blacks throughout American history have given morally conscious white people the comforting illusion that racists are ignorant, blatant, and violent. This illusion creates the outrage many white people feel at the suggestion that they themselves hold racist attitudes. 

One of DiAngelo’s major points is that, because we’re raised in a racist system, we cannot avoid unconsciously harboring and furthering race-based attitudes. We’re not at fault for this, DiAngelo stresses: we didn’t choose to be raised in a white supremacist system. But we’re responsible for our choices about whether and how to dismantle it. She writes incisively about systems that keep us from participating in its dismantling, including what she terms “white solidarity.” This is the set of habits and norms that keep white people from noticing out loud racist comments and attitudes made by other white people: doing so is “rude,” it “makes people uncomfortable.” White people who don’t let evidence of racism slide are likely to be accused of being politically correct, to be told to “lighten up”; those who do are rewarded as good sports. Of course this system of white solidarity – sometimes subtle, sometimes overt – keeps racism firmly in place.

Another sobering insight comes in DiAngelo’s penultimate chapter, “White Women’s Tears.” Here, DiAngelo brilliantly exposes the implicitly coercive nature of the tears of white women who are hurt – not angered – by the thought that they could be personally implicated in racism. Not only have the sensitivities of white women resulted in the lynching of black men – a history strongly salient to blacks if not to whites; white women’s tears put the onus on black people to make them feel better. DiAngelo writes, “White people do need to feel grief about the brutality of white supremacy and our role in it. In fact, our numbness to the racial injustice that occurs daily is key to holding it in place. But our grief must lead to sustained and transformative action.” Too often, tears based in white guilt are a self-indulgent excuse for inaction.
In an otherwise excellent New Yorker review of White Fragility, writer Katy Waldman complains mildly that DiAngelo doesn’t spend much time telling white readers how to identify, reckon with, and remedy our role in maintaining the racist system from which we benefit. I disagree. Throughout the book, DiAngelo offers examples of how to begin to recognize and take responsibility for the racism we inherited, and devotes her final chapter – “Where Do We Go from Here?” – and her outstanding “Resources for Continuing Education” to just this formidable task.

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo pushes white readers relentlessly to enlarge our moral imagination to encompass the lived experience of people of color in our white supremacist world, and to find the mettle to act as true allies in dismantling the system that grants us so many privileges. Difficult as that charge is, the courage required of white people cannot begin to match the nearly superhuman bravery shown by Martin Luther King, Jr., and his allies and spiritual descendants every day of their lives.
Asked once to describe peace, the twentieth-century American poet and peace activist, Denise Levertov, wrote, “Peace as a positive condition of society, not merely as an interim between wars, is something so unknown that it casts no images on the mind’s screen.” (Quoted by the poet Philip Metres in his deeply thoughtful article, “ Poems for Peace ,” for the Poetry Foundation.) In this poem, “Making Peace,” Levertov challenges all of us create the ability to imagine peace through the daily actions of our lives.
“Making Peace”
By Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets of the forming crystal.
The ongoing call for a U.S. Department of Peace
Since the founding of the country, various proposals to create a U.S. Department of Peace have been before the U.S. Congress almost continuously. Marianne Williamson , erstwhile presidential candidate, is the only 2020 candidate to call for a U.S. Department of Peace, which she is promoting through the Peace Alliance . The U.S. Institute of Peace , founded in 1984 as an independent, nonpartisan federal nonprofit, is dedicated to pursuing peace initiatives in conflict zones worldwide. It has done critical work and had important successes, but its small budget (~$40 - $60 million) and vulnerability to political winds sadly limits its effectiveness. 

Peace education
Betty Reardon , PhD, now 91 years old, was a professor in Columbia University’s renowned Teacher’s College and an early developer of peace education curricula for school children. With colleagues, Reardon established the International Institute for Peace Education to continue to evolve effective research and practice and to maintain communication among peace educators globally. This article by University of Minnesota Professor David W. Johnson lists five Essential Components of Peace Education . I nitiatives to teach peacemaking to children and adults have flourished all over the world. Here are some of them:

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – the preeminent research organization providing knowledge and sophisticated analysis to peacemakers worldwide.  
Center for Contemplative Mind in Society – dedicated to spreading peace education in higher education.
Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) – an international network promoting peace education among schools, families, and communities. 
International Institute for Peace Education – continuing to evolve effective research and practice and to maintain communication among peace educators globally.
International Peace Institute – an independent, international not-for-profit think tank dedicated building resilience to promote peace, security, and sustainable development. 
Interpeace – working in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to build lasting peace by reinforcing the capacities of societies to overcome deep divisions and to address conflict in non-violent ways.
Nonviolence 365 Youth Initiative – the King Center’s curriculum and support for young peacemakers. 
Peace Education – begun in the 1950s by school teachers and peace activists Grace Contrino Abrams and Fran Schmidt, Peace Education provides resources to teach peacemaking skills and values to kids of all ages in schools and communities.
Peace Insight – connecting and supporting local teams working to create peace worldwide.
Religions for Peace -- the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Includes the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Interfaith Youth Network.
Seeds of Peace – equipping youth and educators worldwide with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace.
Veterans for Peace – a nationwide group of veterans, with many local chapters, exposing the true costs of war and militarism since 1985. 
Women-driven peace initiatives
CodePink – a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism and redirect U.S. tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs. 
Nobel Women’s Initiative – created by eight female Nobel laureates to draw attention to the work of women peacemakers internationally 
  Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – women working internationally to achieve feminist peace for equality, justice and demilitarized security.
See also, from Mindful magazine, “ 12 Powerful Women of the Mindfulness Movement

All of the resources included in the Compassion issue of The Communicator are relevant to this topic as well.
Photo by Faye Cornish

(Thank you to Elizabeth Bell)

By Maya Angelou

My wish for you Is that you continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart

In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter

To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined

To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you

To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely

To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless

To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise

To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected

To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good

To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit

To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing

To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name

And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
Sage-ing International
Coordinating Circle
Marilyn Loy Every
Jerome Kerner
Georgeanna Tryban
Nancy Gray-Hemstock
Bob Coulson
Don Adams
Elizabeth Bell
Gary Carlson
Gayle Dee
Mary Anne Ingenthron
Brian McCaffrey
Cindy Siemers
Rains Cohen
Sage-ing International
Program Leaders
Rosemary Cox
     Education Coordinator
Jeanne Marsh
   Certification Coordinator
Karen Clementi
Administrative Coordinator
Anna Wisehart
  Website Assistant
Theresa Reid
Penny Clark
Editor, The BULLETIN

Register with "Amazon Smile and donate 0.5% of your purchase to Sage-ing International. Go to , go to "my account" and designate Sage-ing International as your preferred charity.
Sage-ing International Membership... open to anyone interested in conscious eldering. SI is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. There are no dues or membership fees; we are supported by our members' generous contributions of time, talents, creativity, and financial support.
We welcome your  financial contribution  to support our Sage-ing work.
Click the link just above for details. We are grateful for your donation...!

Visit our Website: