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Monday, February 29, 2016

Respect (Part 1 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

The gathering of the tribes is dedicated to creating peace on earth and the positive evolution of the planet. Sometimes peace seems so hard to attain, it can be helpful to focus on strategies that create opportunities for peace.  Today's concept is "Respect."

From the beginning, the gathering included concepts of respect. The invite to the first gathering in 1972 started off:

We, who are brothers & sisters, children of God, families of life on earth, friends of nature & of all people, children of humankind calling ourselves Rainbow Family Tribe, humbly invite:
All races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals -- out of love.
All nations & national leaders -- out of respect
All religions & religious leaders -- out of faith

 If I were authoring the invite today, I would modify it to:
All races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals -- out of respect and love.

So how then does respect contribute to creating peace?

Peace needs nurturing and dialog to plant its roots and grow.  Peace needs food and water.  If we do not respect the needs of peace and honor those needs, we are doomed to failure.  So how then do we go about creating respect at our gatherings?

When we gather, we are a community with a diversity of backgrounds, religious beliefs, political affiliations, interests, hopes and dreams. Honor that diversity in each of us -- our differences are what make us capable and interesting. Our connections are what make us strong.

The following ideas are commonly shared ideas, I didn't invent them, but I find it helpful to be reminded of them.

Respect is one of the core values in our attempts to create an egliterian culture. By approaching my family with respect I am laying the roots for a relationship. By treating people the way they wish to be treated, I can connect with others. If I offer respect to another person, that person is more likely to offer respect to me and to others. People who are treated with respect, learn how to treat others with respect.

We are all part of this big, wonderful planet called earth and hence we are all connected. Rather than trying to severe these connections, let's strengthen them. In 1994 at the Wyoming annual gathering, a forest fire occurred at the edge of the gathering up on a ridge. We formed a human bucket line from the creek at the bottom of the meadow to the ridge. None of us could have individually carried enough water up that hill quickly enough to put out that fire. But standing shoulder to shoulder and passing buckets hand to hand, we connected water and fire and extinguished the flames.

Separate issues from people in a respectful manner. When someone is engaging in non-respectful behavior, respect the person enough to explain why the behavior is creating an issue that needs to be addressed.

Acknowledge the emotions behind the inappropriate behavior and ask the person if they could refrain from the behavior and share their feelings with us instead. We all do this with our children when we refrain from saying "you're bad" and instead say "you made a poor choice"  or "please use your words to tell your brother why you are upset instead of hitting him."  Why can't we use this same method with adults?  Especially those of us who are children in the bodies of adults.

As the early gatherers (or earlies as they are more commonly known) wrote a long time ago "we are all of us children" as we are just now learning how to live with each other.  Be patient. Some of us learn more quickly and some of us learn less quickly. We all started from different places so we all have different journeys ahead of us. Let's be fellow travelers on this uncharted sea.

Everyone has an opinion and their opinion is no better nor worse than my opinion or your opinion. When we create space for people to freely share their thoughts without fear or judgement, we are creating a space where we respect each other.

Listen. We show our respect to others by listening to what they have to say. We not only listen with our ears, but our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our hands.  When people feel heard, they feel respected. When they feel respected, they are more likely to respect others.

Respect is an important starting point for creating peace.

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