Communities, Borders, and "Persons of Peace" [excerpt]

Persons of peace...know they’re never going to [achieve peace] by exhibiting an exclusionary stance toward others. The fact of the matter is that there are persons of peace in every neighborhood, city, and nation. The trick is for these people to come together across society’s dividing lines (in the face of the cries of infidelity or impropriety that they inevitably face for doing so). The community developers I met this summer have all settled and invested into communities which they were warned not to enter, and in so doing they have been able to form incredible and unlikely partnerships that were the catalyst for neighborhood transformation.

This is not how we normally operate. Most of us are conditioned to see the world in terms of the good guys vs. the bad guys; us vs. them. It’s almost as if we approach real life the same way we do a sports event. Think about how it goes: All the fans gather together with their team’s regalia and cheers, and are there to rally behind their team in a defeat of “the opponent.” When a call is made against our team, we boo, hiss and lash out, regardless of whether the call was correct. When our team makes a mistake, we either say nothing or blame it on the opponent.

Does any of that sound familiar? The team sport approach is how we seem to run a lot of things...

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