Mother's Day event focuses on building peace

File photo -- Teresa King, left, and Select Board member Jeanne Conner lead participants in a Peace Walk a couple of years ago at the conclusion of the Mothers & Others for Peace event in downtown Bennington. 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made life more challenging for most of us. And at the same time, many gifts have come from it. Our air is cleaner, people have slowed the pace of their lives down and less gasoline is being consumed, because more people work remotely. I would say that acts of kindness have increased significantly, too. An important byproduct of the pandemic is that it has forced all of us to become much more conscious of our actions. And it has opened our eyes to see how much needs to change on the Earth.

I have very specific ideas about how we can affect great change and improve the quality of life for people and for all living things. These ideas revolve around two concepts: Honor and Acceptance.

If we truly and completely honored the Earth, there would be no air pollution, no water pollution or desecration of the land. The air we breathe would become healthier. The waters we drink, cook with, swim in and bath with would be much cleaner. All living things would thrive and probably live longer.

If we honored and accepted each other for who we are, with all of our differences, there would be no division, no bullying, no discrimination or bigotry. We wouldn’t have enemies and war would become a thing of the past! Everyone would be able to live with greater ease.

If we could see each person as our neighbor, knowing deep in our bones that we are all part of one large human community, we would learn to work with each other to accomplish our goals. Most likely, we would save a great deal of time, money and energy doing so.

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How do we honor the Earth? We spend more time in nature. We appreciate her beauty and pick up garbage along the way. We notice how the seasons change and learn from the Earth’s wisdom about the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. We learn from the elements by flowing like a river and embracing the winds of change. We notice that the trees that weather storms well are the ones that are flexible and have deep strong roots. We will remember to feed our inner fires.

How do we learn to accept each other? It begins with flipping a switch on black and white thinking. Most of life happens in the gray zone. Things that are initially seen as polar opposites, can be reassessed with wider vision that reveals a deeper truth; those opposites are actually part of the whole. Spend time observing how many things are seen as “either/or.” We would be wise to embrace “and” more often.

I learned a great deal about accepting differences from the members of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. I had the good fortune to meet them in 2009. Their most powerful teaching is that they see their differences as a source of strength. Some of them come from Mexico, the Highlands of Central America, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Nepal, Tibet, Gabon in Africa and the Arctic Circle. They spent 12 years visiting each others’ homelands and shared their ancient wisdom traditions. They learned each others’ teachings, sacred ceremonies, ways of healing and prayer. The 13 Grandmothers unconditionally honor each others’ ways and they honor each other as sisters.

When an individual chooses to see with this kind of vision, it changes everything. It changes how you see and what you see. It opens a person to greater understanding and deepens one’s ability to have compassion for others.

When we can learn to see more similarities between us than differences, we will have reached a much higher and deeper place within ourselves. I believe that if we can do this, we will be more kind, gentle and patient with our sisters and brothers, here and abroad. We will discover that we have become much more able to love others. And from this place, we will find deep peace.

Teresa King facilitates the Women’s Sanctuary, a monthly women’s circle in Arlington and Greenwich, N.Y., and facilitates Community Healing Circles at the Arlington Common. She can be reached at teresaking1@live.com or at https://thelargerpicture.com


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