Politics, the economy, the pundits, the dark clouds gathering outside my window…they all had me discouraged until I read a recent article in the Capital Journal (Pierre, SD) about how elementary schools are using peace tables to help students talk through their conflicts. As with most things, there’s a lot we can learn from kids.
The teachers and principals who have put this idea into action in classrooms are doing several things simultaneously. Yes, they’re helping students solve actual problems that arise in a timely way, but they’re also teaching those children valuable communication skills while at the same time building in them the awareness that conflicts can be resolved together and in a way that transforms that conflict into energy for change.
Over the last few years thousands of citizens across the three states and 23 Native nations the Bush Foundation serves have engaged in their own versions of peace tables. Whether the topic was tribal governance assessment and constitutional reform, state budget issues, health care reform, local government innovation, government redesign or myriad other issues that Bush Fellows and Native Nation Rebuilders have taken up, we are learning alongside citizens the hard and soft skills of civil society.
Hopefulness brightens the day. The rain is drenching the tomatoes that went into the ground last night.
And regarding those other distractions that had me gloomy, I’ve been reminded that we can work around them, together, just by looking each other in the eyes and talking civilly past our differences to solutions.
Talk Back to Bush
If you’ve participated in any of the Foundation’s several citizen engagement activities what did you take away from it? What tough conversations do you want to start in your community? What’s stopping you? We want to know what you think.