As many of us continue to struggle with the impacts of increased loneliness, an economic downturn, and other effects of the pandemic, there is much that we can still do together. Indeed, our support for each other toward a world that promotes justice and health for all may be more important now than ever.
We need a peace virus to help counteract the pandemics of COVID-19, violence, and hate. There are so many ways that the peace virus can enter our lives and express itself in our thoughts and deeds. In our own small ways, each of us has the power to nurture it and help it spread. A series of online workshops offered by CFSC has been supporting participants to do just that.
So far these workshops have been offered to four groups, each group participating remotely from various parts of Canada and the US. Participants have been in their 20s to 80s, bringing a rich range of life experiences and perspectives to each 90 minute session.
Facilitating these workshops has been one of the most rewarding and fascinating experiences I’ve had.
Over the course of five weeks, participants share their stories of struggles and success. Some discussions take place in the full group (not more than 20 participants), others one-on-one in breakout rooms. Everyone gets to practice finding what they want to share and saying it, as well as really listening.
Activities and content covered include: why we see people as “other,” types of power, communication techniques for difficult conversations, how beliefs form and why they can be so impervious to counter-evidence, and how to care for ourselves and address barriers to inner peace.
Participants raise questions like how identity categories such as gender and class play into our support for peace, what to do when someone will not listen, and how to engage in activism more effectively.
My co-facilitator—CFSC associate member Trevor Chandler— and I draw out the wisdom of the group as we reflect together on these challenging topics. The course also draws from content in CFSC’s award-winning book Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division. Each week participants read a chapter or two and bring those practical tips and stories with them to the discussion.
For me, facilitating these workshops has been one of the most rewarding and fascinating experiences I’ve had in my service work at CFSC.
But what do the participants think? All respondents to our anonymous survey said that they would recommend the course and they found it useful. One explained: “The book and the course itself was FAR MORE than I had anticipated. The facilitators were knowledgeable, sensitive, and supportive. I am sad it is over… It was so wonderful.” We’ve had some valuable feedback about several details we can improve on as well.
You can register for free for a fall session of this workshop series.
Matthew Legge is CFSC’s Peace Program Coordinator. Find out more about Are We Done Fighting?