All Newsletters : March 2003 : The Courage "to Change"
The Courage "to Change"
I write this regular column for readers of the C-BERS newsletter against a backdrop of saturation media coverage on the war in Iraq. As so many of us watch and listen to the daily media coverage of the events unfolding in the Middle East, I’m sure there would be many who, like me, feel confused and uncertain about what sort of world awaits us all once this conflict is finally resolved.
In the current climate, many have taken to the streets to express their unqualified desire for peace. Many others endorse the use of force as a way of achieving peace. Still others are going about their daily lives, as best they can, hoping that the threat to peace will pass as quickly as possible.
In thinking about these issues, I have been reflecting on whether any parallels can be drawn between the troubles occurring on the global stage and those that threaten peace and harmony on the smaller scale…both in our everyday relationships with others and, perhaps more importantly, within ourselves.
At whatever its scale, the origins of conflict can usually be found in either a perceived immediate threat or a threat that occurred in the long distant past. Fear is a natural human response to feeling threatened. Where fear is coupled with a sense of powerlessness, it often progresses to anger, and eventually to hatred. When it comes to events that are long since gone, we may well ask –
“who is really being hurt by this stored up anger and hatred ?”
I am reminded of a well known prayer called the “Serenity Prayer” which is often quoted in self-help groups set up to support people who are struggling to overcome enormous challenges in their personal lives. This recipe for “personal peace” is conveyed in a simple, four line plea, as follows
This newsletter features an account of the quest for personal peace of a C-BERS ex-resident which, I believe, illustrates the wisdom of this prayer more powerfully than anything I could say.
The story of Bill (not his real name) as told to C-BERS Counsellor Patrick Howard is a journey through counseling in which Bill, who suffered overwhelming abuse as a child, came to realize that he could not change the events of the past, but that he could choose to no longer live with anger and hatred in the present. As he said “I’ve been angry for sixty years”.
Bill had the courage to do something about changing the things that were within his power to change. The power that Bill claimed as an adult, which was denied him as a child, was to change the way in which he thought about himself, and his life, which, in turn, changed the way in which he related to others.
I hope that Bill’s story is as inspiring to you as it is to me.
Perhaps it may even contain some wisdom for those whom we entrust to make decisions that will determine whether we live in peace or conflict at a global level.
C-BERSS Chairperson, Maria Harries