Be open to give peace a chance

Look for win-win approaches in communicating differences

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Dr. Robert Bowman is a professor emeritus of the Music Department at Chico State University and a concert pianist.

Coming together
Promoting Peace in Our Community, a free forum and potluck, will be held Sunday (April 19), 4-8:30 p.m., at Trinity United Methodist Church (285 E. Fifth St., Chico).

Most people want peace, but they feel at a loss about what can be done to make a difference. They often ask questions like: “The problems seem so great; what could I possibly do?” “Will war ever become obsolete?” “When will there be an end to senseless bloodshed?”

How can we as citizens help create better understanding, compassion and engagement among different ethnic, religious, socioeconomic-political groups in the campus and local communities? Whether it is the Jewish/Israeli-Palestinian/Arab issue, terrorism, gang violence, red-blue-green political rancor, prejudice and hate crimes of one group against another, or domestic conflict and violence, the old ways of resolving conflict through violence in thoughts, words, and deeds just perpetuate chaos in our world.

While there is a place for public debate and citizen activism in creating social change, lasting peace and justice will only be fully realized when the hearts and minds of individuals embrace and manifest the change that they wish to see in the world.

Even the best of friends have times of conflict. So often, habits of communicating our feelings, needs and requests to others are heard as blame, guilt-tripping and demands, which create the opposite results of what we truly desire.

One important tool for change is engaging others through compassionate, openhearted dialogue. This is a central principle contained in the many successful approaches to non-violent communication and conflict resolution.

Change requires learning tools for non-violent conflict resolution. One important approach is engaging others through compassionate, openhearted dialogue. This is a central principle contained in the work of Len and Libby Traubman, who have been bringing Israeli and Palestinian youths together since 1992 (see

Learning how to truly listen to other people as they share truth from the heart, not the head, is central to this approach. So often, communication is an ego battle of ideas based on the world view “I win, you lose.” Instead of listening, one person is already thinking of a rebuttal to what the other is attempting to communicate. No wonder that individuals, groups, and countries don’t understand each other.

Another approach is Nonviolent Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg. Like the Traubmans’ work, NVC aims for “win, win” solutions to conflict. There are several ongoing NVC groups in Chico; for more information, call (530) 354-8010.

In addition to the above, Butte County has many dedicated local professionals, volunteers and organizations working to promote a more peaceful community. Seriously consider getting involved.