Guest Post by Elissa Tivona
I was drawn to the name of his book: Courage Grows Stronger at the Wound. But after I read several of the essays in the book, I was stunned. Where has Bob Koehler been all my life? Not in the sense of attention from a SWM; rather, in the sense of a mentor, someone who views the world through eyes that notice what I notice and can write brilliantly about what he sees.
What Bob Koehler sees and talks about in both his book, published a year and a half after his beloved wife succumbed to cancer, and in his blog, Common Wonders (commonwonders.com) are possibilities for creating genuine, thriving cultures of peace. Koehler takes on the big issues: society, media and language, inventing peace, empire, eco-spirituality and war (with ourselves and with the world). And he does so without taking rigid positions, without posturing and rhetoric, and without strident calls to raise fists against an evil “other.”
Using the platform of Peace Journalism, Bob Koehler argues that all voices belong at the table, not just political elites. He ferrets out the hidden stories, often drowned out by the blaring bombast of headlines.
Koehler does not tout political triumph; rather he favors solutions to the worlds’ most traumatic and troubling conflicts. He writes about unsung heroes, problem-solvers within local communities, who are rarely recognized in headline news. For example, he writes about Mel Duncan, one of the co-founders of the Non-violent Peaceforce; and Burma Bushi, an Anishinaabe elder of the Hollow Water First Nation Reserve in eastern Manitoba, who creates space for healing from sexual abuse in her community; and Lori Crowder, executive director of the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) in Chicago, who organized Remedy to Violence, a conference aiming to eliminate all violence in Chicago neighborhoods in a decade.
In a recent blog, dated June 2013, Koehler wrote, “We can shut down this system of self-perpetuating violence and geopolitical chicken. We can dismantle the glory machine and redefine patriotism. We can curtail the most toxic enterprise on the planet. We can end war. Oh, the audacity to say such a thing! Yet it amounts to no more than saying: We can evolve, individually and collectively. We can bring wisdom to conflict. We can reclaim the institutions that run our lives. We can look into the eyes of children, those we know and those we don’t know, and vow to protect them. We can start caring again about future generations and bring their well-being into our thoughts and plans.”
I wonder at times if I can still stand up and claim likewise; I want to believe I can. I want to think of myself as a like-minded Peace Journalist with the courage, resourcefulness and sheer talent to write with similar conviction. This is voice I have been missing for nearly 40 years.
Never mind. Whether I can or not is irrelevant. Today, I stand by this man’s side, satisfied to hammer a few planks on a wider Peace Journalism platform and to open a little more space where stories of peace-builders can be amplified.
If you are interested in this growing phenomenon called Peace Journalism, join Bob Koehler and me. He will be appearing at CSU in Fort Collins via Skype on Monday, October 28 at 4:00 pm. NCW members and guests are welcome to attend: Clarke Room C-238A.
All are welcome.