Breakthroughs Online
September 2011Issue No. 11



Registration is now open for The Trust Factor 2011!  

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It has been an exciting experience to work with our creative partner organizations to design this series of events in Washington, DC, October 10-15. We hope to see many of you there!   


News from this summer includes a story on how Hope in the Cities facilitated a civil rights pilgrimage for students in Mississippi and several articles from the conferences in Caux, Switzerland, including a perspective on the Caux Scholars Program from its new academic director.  


This issue of Breakthroughs also brings you the 2010 IofC Annual Report. 

Writing a New History
2011 Mississippi Pilgrimage

Taking a stand! Students at the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, AL.

By Karen Elliott Greisdorf

This fall schools throughout Mississippi will begin covering a mandated civil rights history curriculum for the first time. But this past summer, 18 American 8th-through 12th-graders of African, European, Asian, and Latino descent, from Philadelphia, MS discovered there's no substitute for literally walking through history. They took part in the Writing A New History Civil Rights Youth Pilgrimage and traveled to Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN, and on to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, AL.  


Coming To The Table (CTTT), a program of Eastern Mennonite University, led the trip and Hope in the Cities' staff contributed to the curriculum development and facilitation.


"No one does transformative work quite like Hope in the Cities," says Sha Jackson, Associate Program Director of CCCT. "Their expertise, professionalism, and sound passion for history proved to be an invaluable asset."


"The idea of writing a new history is an important concept," says Cricket White, of Hope in the Cities, who developed the curriculum for the pilgrimage with her colleague Rev.Tee Turner. "Young people today hear about things that happened 50 or 75 years ago and ask, 'What difference does it make? My life is not like that.'" White added, "Reframing that history together, as black and white young people, helps them tell it in ways appropriate to their peers."      


On the outskirts of Philadelphia, MS, three civil rights workers were killed in 1964. Nearly 40 years later, one of the men responsible for the murders was convicted. Along with this painful impact on the town's history came a culture of silence and a resistance to discuss their history. Many of the students on the pilgrimage began the journey with little knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement.


"There's been a code of silence in our country for centuries that is not just across race lines, but within racial groups," says Bonnie Dowdy, a Hope in the Cities facilitator who took part in the pilgrimage.


One student, Alexis Euyogue, remarked, "On this trip I got to hear from people who were there themselves. To hear from them about what happened is to know the truth, not just what textbooks want us to know." Another student, Kendrick Tripplet, says, "Something that I've experienced on this trip is to always stay motivated. To take information that I've learned back home. Take it and run with it!"   


Karen Elliott Greisdorf is a photographer and film producer who traveled with the pilgrimage and is now editing a half hour documentary on the journey.

Read the complete story here.
Read more about the Writing A New History Pilgrimage    
The Flow of Caux 
2011 Caux Scholars

Scholars engage in an exercise with  

Dr. Carl Stauffer

By Dr. Carl Stauffer


As the newly appointed Academic Director of Caux Scholars Program (CSP), I was invited to enter a world of unknown surprises.  


Caux, as a movement and as a structure, in many ways remains a mystery both to those inside and those outside its reach and influence.  Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful, welcoming mystery that opens up before you with each step you take - like the grand elegance of the Caux Palace that draws you in as you enter its spacious hallways. This being my first year at Caux, I felt this mystery in three distinct ways - deep reflection, accompaniment and encounters of serendipity.  


When I stepped out onto the awaiting balcony of my room for the first time, the breath-taking beauty of the view before me was stunning and I knew in my spirit that my stay at Caux would foster many times of joyous worship, silent prayer and awesome reflection.


While there would be much to say about the exceptional, gifted group of 19 scholars that came to CSP this year and their energetic engagement with the content of the course on "Exploring Justice: Transitional, Restorative and Indigenous Applications," it would be negligible of me not to mention the 'whole-life' connections and bonds that were forged while at Caux. I am convinced these will represent transformative markers - points of turning - in the lives of many of the scholars. My privilege was to walk alongside, to accompany these scholars in these various learning moments.


The central pull of Caux as an international "meeting place" - a space of warm hospitality - is both amazing and contagious. Who would have guessed that at my first meal after arriving I would be reunited with long-time African friends from South Africa and that together we would spontaneously break into song and dance as we reminisced about life in the historic transition from Apartheid to democracy?  


May the 'flow of Caux' continue.


Read the complete story here.  

Healing Wounded Memory  


Brenden McAllister

Brendan McAllister, Northern Ireland's Victims' Commissioner

Dr. Margaret E. Smith, from the School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, reports on the Caux Forum for Human Security in Switzerland.  


Overcoming the mistrust created by the wounds of history was the focus of one of the workshops during the Caux Forum for Human Security. There is a need to shift historical narratives that perpetuate personal trauma, power imbalance, injustice and other social divisions.


Brendan McAllister, one of Northern Ireland's three Victims' Commissioners, defined the task of the politician in Northern Ireland as finding a way to retain your own group's loyalty while doing business with the other. The vision of true community, said McAllister, is well defined by the Mennonite activist and scholar John Paul Lederach, when he speaks of the "moral imagination."  In a society held together by the moral imagination, relationships - especially with those different from ourselves - are the core of the matter, and creativity, risk and curiosity contribute further dimensions. Curiosity means taking a caring interest in the "other side," showing concern for their welfare, and making sure the opponent's interest is served.


Rev. Tee Turner, director of Hope in the Cities reconciliation projects from Richmond, VA, told about his reaction, as an African American, to a statue of a confederate soldier in his city, and how he had realized that white southerners had built the statue out of grief. "I had encountered compassion for someone whose actions I hated and despised." He described his work with the city's Slave Trail Commission, and Richmond's joint memorialization of the slave trade with Liverpool and Benin. "I have to own my history, in the same way I own the family members I would prefer not to claim. My history is part of who I am."


Another participant asked whether those currently alive are supposed to adopt a feeling of guilt for what previous generations did? Tee Turner responded, "No. But each of us is accountable to engage in the truth and walk in the truth. That is what we mean when we speak of 'white privilege.' White Americans do experience privileges that they have inherited because of slavery and other inequalities. The question is what do we do with that?"

Read the complete story here. 

Transcending Difference and Creating Harmony


2011 Caux Artists The inaugural Caux Artists Program (CAP) brought 19 artists from five continents to the IofC international conference center in Caux, Switzerland this summer.  Performing artists were invited to challenge themselves to work with a world perspective in an interdisciplinary course in music, music theatre and the humanities.  


As well as a daily schedule of classes, workshops, and rehearsals the artists and faculty provided interdisciplinary arts events for two of the summer conferences.  


The Caux Artists Program is an international initiative launched by Bev Appleton (USA) and Uwe Steinmetz (Germany), which grew out of the Renewal Arts conferences presented in Caux from 1997 - 2008. The faculty and mentors came from Colombia, Germany, India, Nigeria, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the USA. 


One participant writes, "CAP brings to Caux a lot of experienced artists from all over the world; creating harmony among people from different backgrounds, transcending generations, and expressing their human experiences through art." 


Plans are under way for 2012 in Caux and a CAP Outreach in India.  Further information and updates are on the website. Follow on Facebook at Caux Artists Program.  

The Claims of Trust  

Lester A. Myers

Lester A. Myers

Lester A. Myers is a professorial lecturer in ethics at Georgetown University, a Caux Round Table Fellow, and chair of the board for the Sustainable Business Network of Washington. His statements represent his own views and do not necessarily represent the views of these organizations.   


Since at least the 1960s, public trust has declined in government, business, religion, and other institutions. The parade of lamentable behavior from these institutions has contributed to pervasive skepticism about the authenticity of their missions and the integrity of their leaders. Due to the vast scale of many institutions, e.g., global corporations and national governments, the distance between these decision makers and the public can feed suspicions. It is harder to trust others when one does not have regular direct contact with them, and, in such gaps, perceptions about trustworthiness can become reality.

In an increasingly coarse atmosphere of self-aggrandizing privilege, narcissistic opportunism, and indifference to the common good, many leaders revel in bread and circuses when they should lower their heads in shame. It is no wonder, then, that, when leaders come along who sincerely mean to discharge their duties, help improve their institutions, aspire to personal integrity, and promote the common good, they can face uphill battles in overcoming presumptions that they are self-serving frauds taking the stage for their 15 minutes of fame and plundering.

We, of course, are largely responsible for our leaders, since, despite growing concentrations of political, financial, and media power, they still reflect our choices in the market place and the polling booth. The perennial issue of trust in leaders implicates the question of trust in one another. Aristotle wrote that politics is a higher science than ethics, a claim likely to elicit derision, or worse, today. However, his point was that ethics is the discipline for bringing the good to oneself, while politics is for bringing the good to the community.

The founders of the United States possessed a robust vision of happiness as the human good, not as an undisciplined egoistic indulgence of individuated whims that reflexively construes oversight as a menace to liberty. The former aligns with the ancient Greek notion of well-being that reflects the integrity of virtues. The latter nihilistically clings to an insecure and immature anthropology that masquerades as "rugged individualism," but that readily degrades into socio-pathological dissipation and self-victimization.

The issue is not whether we should aspire to trust, but rather where we shall place our trust. The question is whether our willingness to acknowledge trust's claims will allow us to see through the shallow seduction of bread and circuses to embrace a holistic vision for the common good worthy of our trust.

Read the complete commentary here.
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Thank you!
In This Issue
Writing a New History
The Flow of Caux
Healing Wounded Memory
Transcending Difference and Creating Harmony
The Claims of Trust
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