Monday, August 30, 2010

The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard:
An Excerpt

What makes Anastasia run? 

Community-life as a Foundation Have you wondered, yet, what it is that fuels the Small “Zones of Peace” Project – and – these blogs? What it is that makes Anastasia so --
  • stubborn about the importance of people conversing as a fundamental element of peace-building;
  • focused on the essential need for small “zones of peace;"
  • committed to the importance of one-on-one, person-to-person (as Brittany suggested in the essay she wrote that won her our first prize) as essential facets of both local and global bridge-building.
If you pay close attention you will notice that “what makes Anastasia run” is consistently intertwined with actions that correspond to the words of Gandhi (from which our organization takes it name)
"We do best to begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won't be used."
If you want to see me -- Anastasia, the lion goddess in a roar -- watch what happens when my lion cubs and/or my closest ties; family, friends and community, are threatened by social inequities. Here is a personal story of mine that accounts for some of my passion for social justice; i.e. building "zones of peace" -- 

(If you ask the right questions about what is missing for your understanding of the relevance of the story, I will give you the answers to fill in the blanks.) 

(Following excerpted from the Frederick News Post, June 14, 2008 -- "The Middle East Crisis In Our Backyard" by Anastasia.) "When I was a little girl, as far as I knew there were no strangers. To me, a community was a place where you knew everybody, and everybody knew and cared about you. With three movie theatres on our main street, one of my favorite adventures back then was a Saturday afternoon double feature. 

 When I was old enough to go by myself, a directive from my father went something like this – “When you’re done at the movies, go to Joe Gardner’s store (or someone else’s). Tell him who you are (meaning my father’s daughter), and use his telephone to call me to pick you up.” Certainly I was known here. My family was known. I belonged to everyone around me. We all belonged to one another. I was safe and secure, and I knew it. We were a “community.” 

(One main point behind this story is that a secure community-life in childhood becomes a foundation for life. Every child deserves one.) 

(Following excerpted from "The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard" (manuscript in progress by Anastasia) 

 Those of us who have been blessed to grow up in a place we can call “community” carry the gifts of this good fortune throughout our lives. Growing up in a small mid-western town with a close-knit Jewish community provided me a sanctuary as a child that did just that; blessed me with gifts beyond measure. Unfortunately, this idyllic life of mine was aborted before its full-flowering. 

At eight, family circumstances; (my baby sisters death, my mother’s “nervous breakdown” (as they called women’s distress in those days) and the scandalous divorce of my parents, resulted in my losing this bountiful and stable community. The loss was so wrenching, and the early years so sumptuous, that while I've spent most of my life exiled from that early community (until recent, almost ceaseless, storytelling with a cousin), I have, also, always sought to heal from that loss and transcend it. 

Through the work of the New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project, I am accomplishing that (in a community re-building manner -- and -- so much more. (Eventually, the story will come forth and you will see how important my involvement with the "Middle East crisis in my backyard" -- and -- the "Saving Centennial" mission were in helping me bring forth an enormous treasure chest full of gifts -- for me as well as others. That is the personal aspect of my dedication to this manuscript in progress. 

The words my deceased friend, Rabbi Edwin Friedman, offered in his noteworthy book, Generation To Generation: Family Process In Church And Synagogue, are useful in shedding light on how this bounty could come about --
"There is an intrinsic relationship between our capacity to put families (groups or other systems) together and our ability to put ourselves together."
So – call it “beshrt” the Yiddish word for destiny or – what? I know of no other way to express it; I serendipitously ended up becoming a psychotherapist who specialized in creating therapeutic communities. And, when that career had run its natural course (including my eight year sabbatical being blind and recovering from it) -- and -- I bumped into a "beshrt" Jewish/Muslim controvery in my backyard, I birthed the New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project that changed the course of my life. Not alone, mind you, but with my "right arm," board member, Sue deVeer as midwife.

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