So I emerged from the subway on Tuesday to see the streets jam-packed with people standing still, infused by a vibe I couldn't quite put my finger on...an admixture of low-level panic, consternation, solidarity, and an odd hint of celebration. It was evocative of a Japanese monster movie streetscene, with choreographed crowds gawking in awe and horror at an enormous rubbery dinosaur with curiously humanoid proportions. (Was Godzilla here this time to save us from some other lumpy latex monster, or to go all stompy on our houses?)
I happen to be in California today, getting regularly ribbed about our east coast "earthquake." People here are almost New Yorky in their quickness to crack wise about the news footage of overturned yogurt containers and houseplants that characterized our quake.
True, our tremors would have barely elicited a "meh" here out west. Also true that unexplained shaky buildings and evacuations in downtown NYC can elicit some traumatic feelings for some folks, especially as we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
I wish we in the peacebuilding community could really shake things up, and truly awaken the public to mediation and other nonviolent conflict response approaches. I most definitely felt the ground move beneath my feet when I learned that there is a better way of dealing with conflicts...a way that meant neither giving up, nor giving in. One that promotes assertiveness and improves understanding and heals relationships.
I've posted before about how we get it wrong in getting the word out. And while we're not a unified, standardized, professionalized field, we peacebuilders -- mediators, conciliators, facilitators, conflict coaches, violence interrupters, trainers, arbitrators, appreciative inquirers , nonviolent communication practitioners, etc. -- are nevertheless a movement. A scattered, diverse, motley movement, but a movement nonetheless.
Let's shake things up and peace out.