“Three things in human life are important,” wrote novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.” James’ quote opened the third session of Global Peace Women’s (GPW) Webinar Series “Families Raise Peacemakers: “Strategies for Bringing Service and Kindness into Everyday Life,” on April 24, 2021. The Zoom webinar, radiating with kindness, service and action, drew participants from 35 countries and was broadcast live on Facebook.
Sarah Aadland, the director of Big-Hearted Families, a project of the U.S.-based Doing Good Together, and Ana Marie Mira, Country Coordinator of GPW Philippines, addressed peacemaking at home and in society. They shared tools and strategies for families to increase empathy and kindness and promote peace from a young age.
Peacemaking is an everyday practice, a mindset and requires components of service, routines, reflection, and education, explained Sarah. Conscious and regular peacemaking cultivates stewardship, compassion, inquiry, and respect, while inspiring families to expand their circle of concern, to learn and think deeply about making a difference from home to the world.
“We must teach our children the quiet strength of compassion and the courage involved in solving problems peacefully.”
“In this age of overloud opinions and ‘I am right, you’re wrong’ discourse, it is easy for children to get the wrong idea that peacemaking is weak or cowardly, and that the most courage belongs to the loudest voice and the reddest face,” Sarah said. “But we must teach our children the quiet strength of compassion and the courage involved in solving problems peacefully.”
She presented practical tools, strategies, examples and projects of practicing peacemaking starting from home and to the world. Even simple acts such as noticing works of family members, assigning chores, making a gratitude list, or connecting over family dinners, she added, is a way of practicing peacebuilding and that it helped foster service and kindness among families.
Ana Marie Mira talked about her family service projects and how kindness spreads, encouraging and inspiring others to do the same. Ana and her family have been sharing rice with their community in the Philippines since the initial COVID19 outbreak in March 2020. This April she relaunched these efforts under the Family Volunteers for Peace initiative.
Emphasizing leading by example, she said, “You can spread peace by showing peace, you can spread kindness by showing kindness and you can spread love by showing love. If you want others to do something, you have to show it first yourself. Every time we show kindness, it emits a positive vibe and inspiration for others.”
She and her family have opened a community pantry called, “Kindness with a Smile.” It is part of a movement started by a young woman who put out a small bamboo cart pantry with a sign “Share what you can, Get what you need” in Maginhawa. In one month, over 500 community pantries have opened all over the country.
Even simple acts such as noticing works of family members, assigning chores, making a gratitude list, or connecting over family dinners is a way of practicing peacebuilding and that it helped foster service and kindness among families.
The project has brought together the family. Ana’s mother and children have been behind the packaging and distribution since last year. “I feel joy in my heart knowing that I can do good for others,” said Ana’s 11-year-old daughter Shin.
“If we value a more just and compassionate world, we need to put a greater focus on raising caring, kind children,” said Doing Good Together founder Dr. Jenny Freidman. She gave compelling reasons to practice peacemaking as a family: people who serve tend to live longer, volunteering together as a family makes us healthier and happier and is a great way to teach children key values.
Service decreases stress, lowers blood pressure and makes us more confident, she said. Additionally, children who volunteer with their parents are twice as likely to volunteer as adults and develop lifelong habits of giving.
Doing Good Together is a U.S. based nonprofit focused on raising kind and compassionate youth and is a GPW partner.
To learn more about the Family Volunteers for Peace, please contact Ms. Yeonshim Park at [email protected].