With staff and partners based in Colorado and a "hub" of programs operating out of the Boulder area, all of us at the National Peace Academy have felt personally connected to the difficult summer that Colorado and its people have endured - from the devastating fires to this tragic shooting - with impacts that have rippled across the nation.
Indeed, horrific events of violence and suffering occur every day around the world, but when we have even a small personal connection to the people or places involved, we are poignantly reminded of the interconnectedness of us all - of the deep, significant interdependence among human beings and between humans and Earth. It is such a powerful feeling of healing and oneness to empathize with people that we may barely know on a personal, day-to-day level yet feel a deep bond with on a global human level.
It is these connections and the understanding of the importance of building and sustaining healthy relationships that are at the heart of the National Peace Academy, that have indeed motivated its founding.
The disasters in Colorado have opened new conversations and deep reflection. During the fires, citizens, scientists and universities discussed the pine beetle epidemic, climate change and the relationship between human beings and the planet. Now folks around the world are reflecting on gun control, mental illness, trauma, good versus evil, and how something like this shooting could possibly occur.
As we educate ourselves on the facts of each situation that emerges - whether in Colorado or anywhere else in the world - and reflect on the myriad ways in which our lives are impacted by violence, we are called to also reflect and educate ourselves and each other on how to prevent violence and proactively build a healthy and safe society, a beloved community.
If anything good can come from an event like the one in Aurora, it is the opportunity to remind ourselves of our relationships with one another and with Earth. Not just the fleeting unity that brings everyone together immediately after a crisis or tragedy, but the ongoing work of relationship building. The constant reminder that we are living with each other on a planet that is both influenced by and helps shape all that we are and all that we do. We have all been impacted by this shooting-because we can all empathize as one human family.
At the National Peace Academy, we take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to doing all we can to foster the emergence of a culture of peace, a culture of right relationships with self, others, and the world around us based on such principles as listening, understanding, compassion, cooperation, recognizing and valuing the humanity in everyone; and learning to love one another and the beautiful, living Earth we all call home.
"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"