SED Student Helps Bring Israeli, Palestinian Youth Together

by Joel Brown

Dana Dunwoody (SED’19) (above) spent part of her summer using disc games to bring Israeli and Palestinian youth together at the Ultimate Peace camp in southern Israel. Photos courtesy of Ultimate Peace.

By Joel Brown

Just about everyone has tossed around a Frisbee for fun. Dana Dunwoody is doing it for peace. At a summer camp in an Israeli desert, she is using the flying discs to bring together Israeli and Palestinian youth—and maybe change the world, one toss at time.“As youths, we get inundated with information about who we are and what our cultures are, and when there’s a lot of violence and hostility going on, there’s a lot of misinterpretation,” says Dunwoody (SED’19), a doctoral candidate in applied human development. “To be able to come together and realize, I can have a say in changing that narrative, is a very empowering experience.”This is Dunwoody’s second stint as a volunteer counselor at the Ultimate Peace camp. Using the grounds of an Israeli boarding school for a week each summer since 2007, the organization strives to build ties between Israeli and West Bank youths. It does that with Ultimate, a game that’s extremely competitive, but depends heavily on teamwork and sportsmanship. The 200 or so 10-to-16-year-old campers come for the hours of practice and games each day. They have some fun away from the burdens of daily life in that conflict-wracked corner of the world, and if things go the way they are supposed to go, they begin to see one another differently.“We encourage conversation and sharing of culture,” says Dunwoody, who has a bachelor’s in psychology from Temple University and a master’s in athletic counseling from Springfield College. “We have a lot of different activities the kids do together to create safe spaces to share their identities and explore other cultures.”

Dana Dunwoody speaking with camper

Dunwoody uses her skills as an educator and athletic coach to help campers find ways to get along.

Mostly, though, there is Ultimate.

Flying-disc sports are a lot more organized than they were in the peace-and-love days of the 1960s. Millions of people in the United States regularly play Ultimate, which is not officially called Ultimate Frisbee because Frisbee is a Wham-O trademark. Long Island native Dunwoody picked it up as an undergrad and quickly became an avid player.

“You hear about these opportunities to use Ultimate culture as a way to connect people,” she says. Ultimate Peace, created by Ultimate-loving Americans and one Israeli, also offers a year-round program that brings Israeli and Palestinian youth together to play the game.

In Ultimate, the disc is advanced only by passing—players cannot run with the disc—and a team scores a point when one of its players catches the disc in the other team’s end zone. Most important, as far as Ultimate Peace is concerned, there is no referee, so players must call their own fouls.

According to USA Ultimate’s “Ultimate in 10 Simple Rules,” “Ultimate stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.”

“The spirit of the game infiltrates all parts of your being,” says Dunwoody. “For me it feels like it’s alive. Every person manifests it in the way they communicate with you on and off the field. At Ultimate Peace, it’s mutual respect, but it’s also integrity and collaboration and cooperation.”

“The Ultimate Peace project is an example of sport for good, or sport for development, which is kind of an emerging field,” says Dunwoody’s faculty advisor John McCarthy (SED’98, SED’04), a School of Education clinical associate professor and director of the Institute for Athletic Coach Education. “These projects hold so much promise in areas where a lot of people have struggled and there are some really deep societal problems.”

“Dana’s very committed to social justice,” McCarthy says. “This project brings together a lot of her passions: social justice and her energy for using sport and exercise as a vehicle for positive change and just her kind of caring for other people.”

None of which surprises McCarthy. Dunwoody is SED’s first Holmes Scholar, and was elected national president of the program for 2017 to 2019. The Holmes Scholar Program, which is overseen by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education provides mentorship, peer support, and professional development to students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

“She’s a bright light,” McCarthy says. “She can do a lot of good for a lot of people.”

Posted in Champions of peace, Nonviolence, Reconciliation and healing, social justice, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rambo and the Dalai Lama:The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival

Product Details

by Gordon Fellman

This book builds from the proposition that until now most encounters have been organized so that the point of them is to overcome the other. This is true for the most part of relations between men and women, parents and children, whites and non-whites, leaders and publics, rich and poor, labor and management, athletic teams, business firms, advanced societies and developing societies, straight and gay, tall and short, well and ill, and so on.

I call this assumption that one must strive to overcome or submit to being overcome, the basis of the adversary paradigm. It also applies to humans’ relations to nature which, like people, has been constructed as an enemy to be overcome.

The ultimate expression of the adversary tendency is murder, and that collectively is war. War has usually been fought with the maximum technology available. The use of atomic bombs in 1945 suddenly and drastically cast adversarialism in a new light. For the first time in the history of warfare, it became possible, indeed likely, that in using maximum technology in all-out confrontation, overcoming the other would necessarily also mean overcoming the self; i.e., homicide became inextricable from suicide.

The threat of massive destruction by nuclear devices was complemented by another form of technological assault, the industrial degradation of the environment to the point of numerous deaths and severely damaged systems of land, water, and air needed for survival. The human tendency toward adversarialism has become incarnated in objective processes which neither created nor defined adversarialism but rather came to represent it in stark, terrifying ways.

Historically, alongside the adversary paradigm and in secondary relation to it is the mutuality paradigm, based on the mutuality assumption that the other can be a friend, a colleague, an ally. Religious notions of community and love flow from this paradigm, even if they are ordinarily undercut by the adversary organization and practices of organized religion.

Political systems idealize mutuality in official documents like constitutions and in politicians’ rhetoric but contradict it in their behavior. The same is true in most if not all other institutions such as education and the family.

My claim is that in order to survive adversarial forms of onslaught, including the ethnic and religious strife which appears to be replacing the one over-arching conflict of the Cold War, mutuality will need to become the primary governing paradigm in human affairs and in humans’ relations with the environment, inverting the historic and continuing condition where adversarialism is primary and mutuality, secondary.

My analysis attempts to provide a useful vocabulary for what I see as fundamental crises, indeed survival issues, on our planet today. It is a contemporary version of the timeless contrast between competition and cooperation. I find that in the speaking and teaching I do on this topic, people pick up the words and concepts I use and employ them immediately, and most effectively.

The central innovation of my presentation is my analysis of adversarialism and mutuality as coming in both normative and compulsive or pathological forms. By the adversary compulsion, I mean something beyond ordinary competition in sport, business, or any other social context. I mean an addiction, a drivenness that subordinates other considerations to a passion, indeed an obsession, with “winning.” It is this compulsion that, for example, defines the destructiveness of political systems that forsake the political possibility of resolving real societal problems, in favor of destroying the other candidate, the other party, the other program, no matter what it may be.

I also identify a mutuality compulsion. Including in mutuality the ideas of empathy, recognition of the full humanness of the other, caring, nurturing, support, and love, I see mutuality that denies adversary inclinations as compulsive, just as I see adversarialism that denies mutuality inclinations as compulsive. Based on denial of essential parts of the self, each form of compulsion works against the possible reconciliation of humans and nature to each other in ways that can enhance human survival and well-being.

The book goes on to deconstruct both compulsions.

I claim that people tend to project upon others qualities they have been taught they can not and must not face in themselves. Hence the other becomes the repository of the selfish, dirty, violent, lustful, failed, immoral parts of oneself that one denies, and as well, the nobler, communal, loving, caring parts of the self that extend beyond immediate friend and family relations and which most people feel are beyond their capacity to realize. In both cases one assumes that one ought not or can not achieve what is implied in one’s desires.

Survival requires what I call reappropriation of the full range of qualities that the self is. In a chapter called “Reappropriation of the Self,” I offer an analysis of the extent and nature of what can be reappropriated.

I also claim that a more fully mutualistic society is already at hand, but in minor form that is difficult to recognize until it is identified. Most people are familiar with mutuality in some contexts but so far fail to see their proliferation, their connections, and the possibility of a freer organization of society based on mutuality as its premise rather than adversarialism. In three chapters on “Seeds of Mutuality,” I examine old seeds in old institutions, new seeds in old institutions, and new seeds in new institutions.

The book nears its end with an analysis of what I see as the major alternative to the destructiveness of the endless adversary relations with which we are currently saddled: globalism — recognition of the globe as the primary unit of loyalty.

I see a global culture already emerging in outline form in political values, language, economy, music, religion, and more. My goal is to analyze and to move beyond analysis in offering hope in the form of visions of mutuality and actions to help bring it about.

Believing that films speak to and reveal major concerns and phenomenological definitions of character, issues, and tendencies in a society, I illustrate many major points by way of interpretations of major motion pictures including High Noon, The Godfather, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, Rambo, Silence of the Lambs, and Strangers in Good Company.

This use of films is in the tradition of Erik Erikson’s work on the films Wild Strawberries and The Childhood of Maxim Gorky and is an alternative to the more conventional analysis of literature in such contexts. Some popular music lyrics are used to illustrate points about adversarialism and mutuality in popular culture beyond film. Numerous contemporary issues and events, such as reproductive rights, criminal justice, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also are examine closely to elucidate and extend the analysis.

 

 

 

 

Posted in environmental issues, Movie reviews, politics, resistance, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to Better Signs

In response to my last post, “Getting to Good“, several engaging peace readers sent  photos of signs displayed at the counter-rally on Boston Commons last Saturday, when members of a number of social justice groups faced off against the group rallying on behalf of “free speech.” This rally and counter-rally were responses to the  August 12 violence at a White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

Consider the signs in these photos.  To what extent do you think they can be effective if their goal is to promote nonviolent anti-racist activism?  Are some better than others?  Which ones? Why?  Have you seen anti-racism signs that you think are more effective than these might be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To me, these signs serve their purpose more effectively than other banners I saw full of curses.  I am definitely not convinced that blazoning the F word on an anti-anything placard helps any cause .

Moreover, when the cause is one in which I believe, like the fight against racism (or environmental devastation or hunger), it distresses me that the advocates for these causes cannot conceive of a more civil manner to promote their goals. Where is the evidence that expletives resolve conflicts?

And are the bearers of hateful anti-racism placards really supporters of equal rights, social justice, and peace, or are they mostly trouble-makers, spoilers, infiltrators?

Again, I would love to have you submit your views on these questions. Thank you.

Posted in Champions of peace, Democracy, Nonviolence, politics, racism, resistance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting to Good

Anti-BP sign, Coney Island Mermaid parade. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: R. M. Calamar

By Kathie MM

In a response to my recent post  honoring Gene Sharpe for his long commitment to nonviolent opposition to dictatorial regimes,

Ed Agro commented, “the prescriptions are of little help in the next step: once the struggle is “over” – when the dictator is deposed, or the social malaise is evident to everyone – how do we actually form a government or social order that builds upon the struggle?

Good question.

In a brief (eight minute) Ted Talk   Jamila Raqib, one of Sharpe’s disciples, provides some insight into the problem. She explains, powerfully, that

*Nonviolence won’t accomplish much as a moral philosophy; it needs to be a tool, a program of action.

*Nonviolence has proven its effectiveness over the centuries; for example, most of the rights that women and people of color currently have in this country were gained through nonviolent action.

*It’s not enough just to protest against the misuse of power; the sources of that power must be identified and overwhelmed with nonviolent tactics—for example economic power can be weakened through massive general strikes; government-controlled propagnda can be combatted by alternative media.

*To be successful, nonviolent struggle needs to organize and coordinate acts of resistance within the context of strategic planning. It needs clear objectives, and carefully thought-out plans regarding how to achieve them.

Listening to Jamila’s inspiring speech, I decided I would like to see, at peace and social justice rallies, fewer general slogans and more specific recommendations for action.

Philosophically, “Make peace, not war” is a great feel-good mantra, but it doesn’t provide much guidance for anti-war activists.

Ban the bomb” may be a step in the right direction, but wouldn’t the following be better:

“Call/write Congress!                                                                                              

  Tell them Heed the UN.

Ban the bomb!”

For examples of some other action-oriented signs, see here

and here and here .

And then please:

Engage in Peace Action!

Assume your objective is to:

End racism!

What specific steps could you recommend?

 Submit your peace and social justice action slogans to engagingpeace.com.

 

 

Posted in Armed conflict, Champions of peace, Democracy, Media, Nonviolence, Pacifism, politics, Protest, resistance, social justice, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments