Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 22, 2006
Sister traces path to peace
Women religious get tips for non-violent coexistence
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"We are so used to being a superpower we don't have the humility to do something different."
- Sr. Anita Whitely
Using examples from Gandhi and Jesus, Whitely gave the sisters skills to address conflict and challenged them to "become conscious of the violence that surrounds them and to become consciously non-violent."
"Non-violence is not easy and it isn't just that is not easy because it's a violent world but because we are dealing with ourselves," the sister said.
Whitely then walked participants through a series of steps to resolve personal conflict. Participants did exercises in non-violent conflict resolution in pairs and in small groups.
Before you take action on a problem, think about the consequences of your actions. "Peace is the practice of mindfulness, the practice of being aware of our own thoughts, our actions and the consequences of our actions," Whitely said, quoting Gandhi.
Violence happens mostly because we make no effort to solve conflicts on time. If you have a problem with someone, try to set a date with that person to talk about the problem, Whitely recommended.
But don't try to talk to someone if you are angry. If that person is a non-morning person, don't schedule the conversation in the morning. "If you set up a meeting, you have to be prepared to listen to the other person's point of view."
Whitney also warned against using accusatory words or words that place blame.
"If I say to you 'I'm very angry about that,' your response is going to be very different than if I say, 'I'm so hurt.' But sometimes it takes anger; it takes energy to cover up our most delicate emotions. It is easier to say, 'I'm angry' than to say 'I'm hurt, I'm afraid.'" Another unhelpful statement that people use is, "I'm upset."
Once we know how we feel about a situation, we have to name this feeling and then tame it, the sister said.
"To tame a feeling doesn't mean you walk away from it. It means you aim it. What you want to do is decide what to do with all the energy that emotions give us because emotions give us heat and they give us light and insight if we work through them."
As a way of example, Whitely asked her audience to think of families who have lost children to drunk drivers.
"Think of what they had to do with their emotions to get to the point where they created an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Drivers," she said. "Think of all what they did with their energy. Instead of letting it eat them up inside they aimed it and made a difference in the world. And I think that's what we are called to do."
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