What Does Conversation Have To Do With Peace?

John and I were recently invited to attend a panel session at the UN exploring the role of innovation in education and peacebuilding. It was sponsored by The Permanent Missions of Costa Rica and El Salvador to the UN, in collaboration with the Permanent Observer Mission of the University for Peace to the United Nations (UPEACE), the Peace Innovation Initiative (PII), and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU). This was the beginning of the initiative focused on “building an ecosystem for sustainable peacebuilding.” Visionary leader, Barbara Winston, Founder, Chair and President of PII set the stage by personally welcoming everyone and intoning the need to revive the global conversation on peace as she invoked peace as a practice disruptive of the status quo.

I was surprised it felt like home to be among this group, yet up until now, when John and I think of our work in culture and conversation we hadn’t thought much about “peacebuilding.” But why not? Why isn’t peace at center stage?

Is it because “Peace sells… but who’s buying?” – a phrase shared at our latest BreakBread Dinner on Interdependence. Yes, I know it’s the title of Megadeth’s 1986 album but they have a point…especially given that 1986 was much different than 1968, the era where peace was a central theme in the zeitgeist.

But what is peace today?

I’ll share an email that John wrote to the incredible young woman, named Emily, who invited us to this forum. He wrote:

“We both came away inspired and ignited by the profound work being done by PII and all who attended and especially you, a masterful connector – and connection is at the very heart of peacebuilding.”

It’s true. Emily connected us to this event and a couple of other visionaries, but it’s not just the connection she made, it is that she treats every relationship with care, respect, and love – and ultimately it’s this that makes her a masterful connector and ultimately a masterful peacebuilder. That struck me, “connection is at the very heart of peacebuilding.” So if we want peace in our communities, doesn’t that mean we need to be better at connecting? And better at connecting with our hearts?

Also, John’s reading “Kayanerenkó:wa: The Great Law of Peace” the book that tells of the Peacemaker who in the 12th century brought together the five Native American nations that would become the Haudenosaunee. This Great Law of Peace focuses on lasting relationships, respect for the natural world, building consensus, and on making and maintaining peace. Also, note that was a very reductionist sentence as the Great Law is complex and we are by no means any authority (and what is authority?).

At one point, the Peacemaker acknowledges the process of building peace is slow and deliberate and the statement “‘We two should talk’ indicates the need for conversation. Conversation, communication, the process, is the beginning of peacemaking.”

So I guess in a way, our work with Mindful Conversation and BreakBread Incubators: creating spaces for conversation to thrive is…peacebuilding.

Over the course of the next three weeks, we are hosting 3 one hour intro classes on Mindful Conversation-mindful-conversation. These events are free and an opportunity to get a taste of a new perspective on conversation and to perhaps find some inner peace.

The dates are Eastern Time: Tuesday, July 12, 6-7 PM, Thursday, July 21, 1-2 PM, Wednesday, July 27, 6-7 PM.