[Editor’s note: In recognition of International Day of Peace on September 21, we offer this story of engagement from guest author Dot Walsh, a lifelong peace activist.]
Being asked to write something about my life journey on the path of peacemaking is both humbling and challenging.
What I am most sure about is that the journey has always been about people.
When I recall memorable moments in different situations, it is the connection to a human face and story that has most meaning.
Reading of the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust and the devastation as a result of war fueled my belief that there must be different answers to world problems.
The Vietnam War found me married with a small baby who went with me to meetings and marches. It was then I knew that I could only embrace the views of pacifism; there was no good war.
Later in life I was introduced to the prison system in Massachusetts, first as a volunteer in the Norfolk Fellowship program and then employed in several different situations. I saw the connection between the violence of war and the violence of poverty.
Spending time working with the women at Rosie’s Place and the clients at a treatment on demand organization helped me to learn more about the roots of violence.
With Mother Teresa’s visit to Walpole prison in 1988, I found the connection to a place that honored the principles of non-violence. The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA, became my new home.
During my years working at the Peace Abbey, its director, Lewis Randa, introduced me to people whose lives of courage were inspiring. Sometimes it was the unknown people in everyday life who planted seeds of peace and went about unnoticed as well as those who were famous.
Each has a place in the transformation of humanity from violence to non-violence.
Since the closing of the Peace Abbey, I have joined with Dr. Mathieu Bermingham and The Center for Peace and Well-Being to continue my quest.
We can have a world that values every act of kindness. We can nurture and educate everyone and create a culture of peace.