This year the NAPF 4-day summer workshop, “Peace Literacy Skills and Leadership,” was held from August 5 -10 in Standish, Maine, on the campus of St. Joseph’s College and sponsored by Unity of Greater Portland, Maine. Over thirty activists, veterans, clergy, educators, and concerned citizens participated in what one called a “powerful and thought-inspiring training” and said, “Know your efforts have made a profound impact on many of us.”
Workshop attendees were intrigued by the overturning of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the understanding that our human needs can be more important than our physical needs, and how the tangles of trauma can interfere with these human needs.
In an unpublished article on the workshop, environmental activist Sally Chappell (no relation to Paul) summed up the essence of Peace Literacy and the four day event: “In the same way that literacy has transformed human history, peaceful human relations has to be taught from an early age in the same way that reading, writing and math have become a requirement for a person to be considered literate. Chappell uses metaphors and allegories to propound his non-violent methods of achieving peaceful interactions on a personal, community and global scale.”
She also wrote: “Peace Literacy is critical in an age of weapons that can obliterate life as we know it. By addressing human needs that sometimes supersede even our most basic requirements of food and water, we can better understand the human condition and learn ways to navigate our world in peaceful ways. By seeing aggression as a distress response, we can learn ways to heal different types of aggression. Maximizing respect is a powerful way to resolve conflict with the power of calm. Understanding how dehumanization works is needed to ensure that rehumanization is possible.”
Sally Chappell echoed the words of Paul K. Chappell put forth in his books and his talks. “In many ways, waging peace and waging war have much in common. Both require courage, discipline, planning, training, recruiting, strategic thinking, selflessness and leadership. By sharpening our peace literacy skills, we can entertain a realistic hope for peace.”
Stephanie Plourde, office manager for Unity, said, “I have already used the workshop worksheets in a discussion with my son about mass shooters. The discussion, specifically about unmet/trauma-tangled needs, led us to look at other behaviors we are faced with and ask some thoughtful questions. It was a rich discussion.”
For seventh grade teacher Kim Cowperthwaite, it was her second summer workshop with Paul. “Last year I taught 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) and social studies. I anchored several lessons for both classes around essential questions from my peace literacy training. I discovered that adding peace literacy questions for both classes lifted the level of student thinking and writing, as well as class discussions around literature, history, and current events.”
For Kim Cowperthwaite, English Language Arts and social studies can be the vehicles to establish Peace Literacy as a content area in education.
Web designer and editor Wendy Thomas said, “I feel social-emotional learning – with Peace Literacy as a cornerstone – is the best hope for addressing our epidemics of bullying, gun violence, among others.”
Veterans for Peace member Roy Bath commented, “Found the Metis information particularly intriguing and useful. The power of discernment, the higher burden of proof, together with Metis and the allegory of Plato’s cave and the power of calm, I found to be very useful in the real world.”
Activist Patricia DuBois said, “I still refer to the nine ‘muscles’ as I listen to the news and in conversations…giving me insight into the ‘other’ as well as how I’m hearing and interpreting everyday life.”
Paul K. Chappell also stressed the importance of learning how to navigate the upcoming societal disruptions that will be caused by emerging technologies such as VR, AR, and AI, and how Peace Literacy can assist us in developing the ethics needed for creating peace, justice and well-being in this new world. Wendy Thomas added, “And I like the case Paul makes for Peace Literacy as an evolutionary necessity to ensure upcoming technologies are used for our empowerment vs. domination and control.”
For many in the group, Peace Literacy is also a vehicle for profound personal development. Roy Bath said, “I will try to see with the ‘eye of empathy’ more. Gandhi’s idea of turning an enemy into a friend; now there’s a challenge!”
For more information on Peace Literacy, visit peaceliteracy.org.