By teaching our students to think, care, and act, we empower them to build a peaceful future.

Welcome to Think, Care, Act, where teachers and students can find rationales and resources to infuse required curricula with peace, character, global, and multicultural concepts throughout the year.

To act in a world whose problems seem overwhelming requires being able to use the powers of critical and creative thinking and compassionate and inclusive care. Employing these tools, adults and youth alike can work effectively and conscientiously to solve problems big and small, global and local.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Irwin Abrams on Working for the Unseen Harvest

Recently, an online conversation among members of the Peace and Justice Studies Association began with responses to this quote posted by a member.  Author, poet, and activist Alice Walker was asked, “What good is the antiwar movement if it has failed to stop war?”   

Walker responded, “Sometimes you can’t see tangible results. You cannot see the changes that you’re dreaming about, because they’re internal…. But what we’re doing as we try to stop war externally, what we’re trying to do is to stop it in ourselves. That’s where war has to end. And until we can control our own violence, our own anger, our own hostility, our own meanness, our own greed, it’s going to be so, so, so hard to do anything out there. So I think of any movement for peace and justice as something that is about stabilizing our inner spirit so that we can go on and bring into the world a vision that is much more humane than the one that we have dominant today.” (quoted in Static by Amy Goodman, p. 295)
Her words remind me of Gandhi’s: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 

A few years ago I asked a similar question about the effectiveness of peace education.  I was doing a program in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with Irwin Abrams, renowned peace education scholar and biographer of Nobel Peace Prize winners.  After our presentation I asked Irwin what I should tell people who complain that peace education is a process that is too slow to be effective.  I really wanted to know what to tell myself.

In his nineties, Irwin did not miss a beat.  He spun around and assured me, “We work for the unseen harvest.  There are consequences” of the work we do.  This promise of the “unseen harvest” has soothed, inspired, and kept me going in the years since. 

I guess it pays to be a historian.  Irwin took the long view, seeing the work of peace educators as having lasting effects, over generations of students, many of whom will take action for peace and justice.  Historian Howard Zinn’s long-term perspective of history also helps me see humans as ultimately good—striving for a better world as best we can, and our work as ultimately effective.  I am also inspired by the events portrayed in the film and book A Force More Powerful.  Thus, I am teaching students whom I feel will be better equipped to think, care, and act to build a peaceful world.  The harvest may be unseen, but our duty is to sow the seeds. 

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