Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Learning to Cast Off Fear

This evening I attended my first peacemaker training session, facilitated by a seasoned Quaker and peacemaker. Did a lot of role playing --not my favorite thing, but it's much more kinetic, that's for sure.

After listing all the things that we are right to be afraid of in participating in nonviolent actions, we practiced what Gandhi called "casting off fear." We each chose a type of tree that we would like to be (if we could be a tree!) and practiced breathing into our
hara (or center) and visualizing ourselves as that tree, rooted, branches spread, and steadfast. We paired up and each one tried to push the other over, first in an ordinary stance and then after having done the breathing and visualizing. It works!

I learned that a peacemaker's mission during a nonviolent vigil/rally is to 1) serve the other participants, 2) maximize the effect of the event, and 3) ensure safety. We do this by fulfilling our role: setting the tone, providing information to the participants, and minimizing conflicts. We learned how to deal with situations such as: hecklers, witnessing a violent scuffle, someone get injured or faint, and having our route blocked by the police.

We learned the 3 nonviolent techniques of intervening, intercepting, and isolating. We also learned when it's appropriate to call for police assistance (when someone has a weapon or when someone is injured), how to guide participants along a route or around a corner, how to direct them calmly away from a potentially panicky situation...and most of all, that it's important to

I feel a lot more reassured and conf
ident now.


  1. Good, always, to face the fears, Liberata. Your workshop sounds fascinating. And I wonder where you will next be holding vigil--or protest. Blessings, PaL

  2. Hi Peter,

    The peace group I belong to has held a vigil every Saturday morning from 11-12 in front of the county courthouse for the last 5 years, since the lead-up to the war. (I don't join them nearly as often as I should.)

    Lately we've been joined by counterdemonstrators who heckle us (besides writing all sorts of lies about us on their own blogs ... but then that's their right).

    There have been a few incidents when some people from "our side" heckled back, but I think that those of us who are in it for the long hall realize that it's the war we're against, not the people who come out to support it, and most of us simply ignore the shouting that emanates from the bullhorn across the street.

    The facilitator also covered other issues that could occur in larger demonstrations. This was great, because our group does rent buses a couple of times a year and we join in larger actions being held in D.C.

    Have a great weekend!


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