Senior Columnist EdNews.org
Eastern New Mexico University
1) First of all, what prompted you to write a book about teaching children the importance of tolerance?
I wrote Where Peace Lives because I had two burning questions: What is the gap between our global intention for peace and our present day reality? (According to the Carter Center we are living in the most violent chapter of our human history). And, can I make a difference? What I discovered in writing this magical adventure to change the world is that, yes! , I can make a difference. Also, that a primary reason we don't have more peace is that we treat peace as an ideal, a wish, a dream, when in fact it's a discipline, a practice, a skill, a skill set. If peace is a discipline then it is incumbent upon us to study, learn and practice peace.
2) Many people may say "Why should this be done in the schools? Is it not the parent's responsibility? Or the churches?"
My opinion is that peace is everyone's responsibility. Unfortunately, we can't control what goes on in people's homes or even in their places of religious worship, but school is a place that bears the responsibility of inspiring children to become the best human beings they can be. School is where we learn those things we place the most value on as a society and I strongly believe it is time to place as high a value on peace as we place on English, math, history and science.
3) I know that Gavriel Solomon has done a lot of work in peace education. Has he impacted your work?
Absolutely. Dr. Solomon's stance is identical to mine. In Where Peace Lives, the narrator travels to the City of Right and Wrong where the animals are embroiled in a never ending conflict over who likes milk and who doesn't like milk. I agree that as long as we are playing the right and wrong game there can never be peace. I also agree with Gavriel that peace is a choice, at every age and in every circumstance and we must strengthen our peace muscle until it becomes our most dominant global trait.
4) In order to teach tolerance and peace in the schools, should we lengthen the school day or school year? Or could this be done as an assembly?
I think it has been come crystal clear that our school day does need to be lengthened to keep us competitive globally. Peace needs to be an actual class, at every grade level, in classrooms all over the world so our children can become the peacemakers they are destined to be.
5) You indicate the three biggest challenges for children are gang violence, racial slurs and sexual discrimination. Are these educational issues, or discipline issues or perhaps even legal issues?
I think gang violence, racial slurs and sexual discrimination are 'peace issues'. I think they reflect our omission of peace from our global educational curriculum. I think they remind us that our children do not have strong enough reference points for choosing peace. And if they don't, adults will certainly fair even more poorly.
6) What led you to this book? What happened in your life to commit yourself to this task?
What led me to this book is my optimism and my loving. At the core of my being, I want to contribute as much as I can while I'm here. I care deeply about others and want to make a difference. I also am committed to resolving my own 'againstness' and using this journey to better myself. Peace is hard work and something we never really talk about. Writing my books reminds me to choose peace.
7) What about other issues that the "schools" seem to need to address- sex education, driver's education, computer education, internet education? Are we not asking WAY too much of the schools and teachers?
This is a great question and I understand why you are asking it. It seems that the technologies have not decreased our work loads but increased them. However, my answer is that there is time for everything of value. In my experience, what has ravaged our public school system is No Child Left Behind.
Rather than giving teachers the time and freedom to teach all the things you list above, they are consumed with trying to get their classes to pass test after test after test. I ask you and your readers to consider this; ultimately, what is more important, how your child does on their math test or what kind of human being they are and will become?
8) How can interested others get a copy of your book? Do you have a web site or 800 number?
Where Peace Lives is at every major bookstore as well as on line venues ranging from Amazon to Barnes and Noble.com. The website is http://www.wherepeacelives.com
I would like your readers to know that Where Peace Lives has endorsements from Deepak Chopra, Gore Vidal, Maria Shriver, director Penny Marshal, actress Jane Seymour and best selling author Debbie Ford.
It has ranked #2 in the nation on Barnes and Nobles best seller list and #4 on Amazon's children's best seller's list with only Harry Potter's above it. Please make peace your gift this year, for yourself, your children, your family, friends, teachers and community.
9) What question have I neglected to ask?
I think your questions have been awesome--thoughtful and intelligent. Thank you on behalf of Where Peace Lives and the angel Peace. Peace is a choice, at every age, and we can...no we MUST make a difference.
Published December 3, 2007
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