[Catalyst 13 - 2016] Countering Violent Extremism & American Citizen
By Stephen Dinan, founder and CEO of The Shift Network
In the past two weeks, I have attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
It has been quite truly transformational to attend these events and expand my engagement across partisan divides while the news has been filled with so much intense polarization. It has been an exercise in what I call “political cross-training” and also meeting remarkable souls committed to bringing more love into politics (see my article on “Love at the RNC”).
When we engage more respectfully across divides, that’s when we find higher solutions. For instance, one week I was on a panel with Grover Norquist and the next connected with leaders of the Democratic LGBT caucus. If we look past the political ideologies, everyone shares a common concern about the good of our families and our country, as well as the world and I come away convinced there is far more common ground than we might think..
The trip has not only been one of getting out the messages in my bestselling new book, Sacred America, Sacred World (via 17 live events and 80 media spots) but has led to a re-invigorated commitment to help evolve our democracy in a transpartisan way, particularly focusing on positive, practical solutions that integrate the best thinking of different political parties to work collaboratively to address complex problems.
This is why we are creating the first ever American Citizens Summit — August 1–4, 2016. Many innovative leaders will share how to build bridges across divides and implement effective solutions for co-creating our communities, nations and the world. (To register free, click here.) This is a first-of-its-kind summit and the sessions will be truly inspiring, particularly if you are disheartened by the quality of our current discourse.
I personally want to thank Amanda Kathryn Roman for leading the production and John Steiner for his visionary leadership in co-hosting this amazing summit!
One of the most complex problems facing the world today is how to address acts of terrorism. One of our close partners, the Alliance for Peacebuilding — a network of over 100 organizations working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries — has been playing a leadership role in looking at the roots causes of and ways to counter violent extremism.
As part of the Summer of Peace, we are supporting the Alliance for Peacebuilding in bringing forth the first online Countering Violent Extremism Summit — August 10–11, 2016. This free summit will take a complex and fearful situation and make it more tangible and less frightening. We hope you will be left with greater understanding, a sense of hope and practical ideas on how to play a positive role in countering violent extremism. (To register free – click here.)
The importance of Countering Violent Extremism is brought home in the new Global Peace Index 2016 (see Movement News). The report ranks 163 countries on their peacefulness. Findings show that “the world became less peaceful in 2016, reinforcing an underlying decade-long deterioration in world peacefulness driven primarily by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability.... The economic impact of violence was $137 trillion over the last decade - greater than global GDP in 2015.”
The Summer of Peace is continuing through the International Day of Peace (September 21) with powerful free interviews that are well timed for the events taking place in the world. (To register free for all Summer of Peaceofferings, click here.)
In this edition of The Catalyst, we have thoughtful articles from Phil Bolsta on uniting families and communities beyond political lines; Melanie Greenberg on what drives people to turn to violent extremism; Karen Abrams Gerber and Andrea Jacobs about From Stalemate to Solutions; Glenn T. Mullins about The Sovereignty of Humanity; and, I share a heartfelt story of love at the Republican National Convention.
Our Member Profile from Eva Zygmunt is an inspiring and practical example of bridging racial divides through early childhood education. Our other Member Profile from Victoria Hanchin is a passionate and personal response to terrorism.
Phil Bolsta and David Nicol offer insights on how prayer and meditation can affect global events (See Featured Media). And, the Shift Global Meditation will feature Jude Currivan, PhD on Finding Wisdom in a World in Transition on August 1, 2016 – click here to register free.
Finally, as a reminder, for people wanting a restorative summer break, please join me, The Shift Network staff and friends for River of Bliss — August 11–14, 2016 - a riverside adventure on the beautiful American River, just 2 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area! It’s an adult summer camp for renewing body, heart and soul through yoga, live music, conscious dance, rafting and more. It’s a total blast! To learn more, click here.
Join The Shift Network, The Gaiafield Project and people around the world for Global Shift Meditations the 1st of each month – click here to register free. We will feature Jude Currivan, PhD on Finding Wisdom in a World in Transition on August 1, 2016. (Free recording will be available afterwards – click here.)
While supper is simmering on the stove, are political tensions already heating up at your dinner table?
Now, consider what life would look like — not just in an election cycle, but all the time — if acrimony gave way to harmony, if building walls gave way to building bridges, if time spent with family and friends transformed from a battleground to finding common ground.
That not only can happen, it is happening — at dinner tables, neighborhood gatherings and community events all around the country, says Mark Gerzon, an expert in “transpartisan dialogue” techniques for transcending party differences, and author of The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide.
A common media narrative asserts that we can do little to avert terrorism because there is no coherent pattern for why people turn to violent extremism. We, at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, disagree.
Recently those in the media have stated that the backgrounds of those who support terrorist groups like ISIL are so diverse they defy a single profile and that what turns people toward violence — and whether they can be steered away from it are questions that governments have faced for years. In fact, while it may be difficult to predict whether any one specific person will turn to violence, those working in the peacebuilding field know a great deal about what drives violent extremism — and we are working around the world to prevent it.
By using a dynamic framework for authentic collaboration, we can increase the potential for problem-solving and create long-term, societal level change.
With political vitriol at an all time high in government and beyond, authentic collaboration — where multiple, even divisive, perspectives are welcome — can seem unattainable.
But it is possible — and it doesn’t require converting everyone to a single point of view. We waste time asking, “How can we change the way people think?” when we should be asking, “How do we change the way we do things?”
While the headlines are filled with “red meat”, scandals and intense polarizations at play in Cleveland, I wanted to take a moment to share another story that is far more heartening and aligned with what America now needs.
When I arrived on Sunday, July 17, I was on a plane with Republican delegates and I had a thoughtful, calm conversation with a Trump supporter who was sitting next to me. Once we arrived, I was struck by just how friendly and organized the volunteers were at the airport, giving people a warm Ohio welcome. One man led people waiting in baggage claim in a boisterous “Happy Birthday”. There was real love in the air.
Our time is a time of vast danger for the future of humankind and the integrity of our precious Earth. Forces of disintegration, division, and war everywhere attack human unity and inhibit the emergence of a planetary civilization based on our common humanity. Human beings continue to cling to pseudo-realities, pseudo-realities that become extremely dangerous and tear our world apart: nations, races, religions, ethnicities, cultures, languages, corporate interests, etc. Attachment to pseudo-realities obscures from us our common humanity, our common human reality evolving out of the vast cosmic evolutionary process from the Big Bang, to human emergence some two million years ago, to human ascendancy over nature and colonization of the entire Earth in the past two centuries.
Author Beverly Tatum says, racism is like “smog in the air we breathe” … as we daily and deeply respire, we often know not what we take in and how it can toxically permeate our spirit and soul. And lest we become aware of how our heads and hearts are damaged by the contaminating forces of a collective history of oppression and inequity, the lens through which we view the world can be blurred, and our thoughts and habits can manifest a destructive reproduction of the malady which must be remedied if our society is to be healthy and whole.
For years I have, like many of you, responded with various attempts to act mindfully to the unrelenting acts of terrorism, and the copy-cat gun violence mass shootings engendered by them. I refused to be hijacked by fear, and shrink my world. I refused to participate in hate-mongering, and become part of the problem. I participated in community vigils, prayers and silent honoring of the lost lives, group chanting, offering donations, engaging in discussions, working for a greater good world, alone and with others.
But today, some other part of me showed up in response to the newest terrorism report. Something big inside of me coalesced and then suddenly erupted.
You’re invited to join the first online Countering Violent Extremism Summit. Produced by The Shift Network in partnership with Alliance of Peacebuilding, our hosts and guest speakers will answer your most pressing questions about terrorism — and empower you with accessible, relevant solutions. Plus you’ll hear stories that will restore your hope for our global family. This summit is part of The Shift Network’s 5th annual Summer of Peace — the largest online peace event on the planet! It’s happening for free all summer long. TheCountering Violent Extremism Summit takes place August 10 & 11, 2016. To register free, click here.
New Book by Stephen Dinan: Sacred America, Sacred World is Infused with visionary power, Sacred America, Sacred World is a manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual. It offers profound hope that America can grow beyond our current challenges and manifest our noblest destiny, which the book shows is rooted in sacred principles that transcend left or right political views. To order your copy, click here.
River of Bliss — August 11–14, 2016 — Join The Shift Network staff and friends for a riverside adventure on the beautiful American River, just 2 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area! Activities include: Yoga, Meditation, Conscious Dance, Delicious Catered Meals, Rafting, Playshops, Sound Healing, Massage, Live Music and Kirtan, Swimming, Kids Camp, and Talent show! Special guests include Stephen Dinan, Devaa Haley Mitchell, Miranda Macpherson, Mark Coleman, Sylvie Minot, DJ Pangea, Bob Duchmann, and Lori Schwanbeck. To learn more, click here.
The Global Peace Index 2016 was released. The Global Peace Index, which ranks 163 countries on their peacefulness, has helped shift the world’s conversation about peace to a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. Highlights from the report:
Global inequality in peace has widened in 2016 as least peaceful countries spiral into increased violence
The world became less peaceful in 2016, reinforcing an underlying decade-long deterioration in world peacefulness driven primarily by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability.
The economic impact of violence on the global economy totalled $13.6 trillion or 13.3% of gross world product, equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.
The economic impact of violence was $137 trillion over the last decade — greater than global GDP in 2015.
Refugees and displaced persons have risen dramatically over the last decade, doubling to approximately 60 million people between 2007 and 2016, nearly 1% of the world’s population.
Iceland is the world’s most peaceful country, followed by Denmark and Austria.
Syria is least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Available in Paperback: Subtle Activism: The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation. David Thomas Nicol introduces the concept of “subtle activism” to describe the use of consciousness-based practices like meditation and prayer to support collective transformation, such as global meditation directed toward peaceful resolution of a conflict. Subtle activism represents a bridge between the consciousness movement and the movements for peace, environmental sustainability, and social justice. It is not a substitute for physical action but rather a potentially crucial component of a more integrated approach to social change. To learn more and order a copy, click here.
New Book: Strategies for Peace. Serious about world peace? Like a crystal, peacemaking has many facets. Review them in this definitive trade book featuring prominent scholars describing the alternatives. Topics include: Leadership, Language and Literature, Interspiritual, World Citizenship, Family Relations, Role of Women, Education, Medical Actions, The Arts, Conflict Resolution. Authors include: Ada Aharoni, Maria Cristina Azcona, Celia Altschuler, Joseph Berolo, Raïs Neza Boneza, Bruce L. Cook, Gloria Ines Currea Córdoba, Daniel Erdmann, Philip M. Hellmich, Kurt Johnson, Ernesto Kahan, Muli wa Kyendo, Glen T. Martin, Nina Meyerhof, Lida Sherafatmand, and Sunita Singh-Sengupta. Special discounts available for classroom use, write to: click here. To learn more, click here.
The Circle Way Practicum, August 17–22, 2016 — Movements like ours, and the shifts that we support together, require not only essential process for meeting with others, but also, a way of being together that can scale. Movements need grounding that can hold us in the complexity of shift. The Circle Way offers a simple yet powerful way to do that. Join Amanda Fenton and Tenneson Woolf on Whidbey Island, WA (near Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC) for The Circle Way Practicum, a five-day intensive on the process that underlays so many participative leadership approaches. To learn more, click here.
We are happy to announce we are offering Part I again as a mini 4-Day Immersion, which will allow new participants to join in on Part II, October 14–21, 2016.
This two week immersion training takes place at a 30 acre lakefront rustic retreat center near Gainesville Florida. Imagine...you...further developing essential skills, knowledge, confidence, perceptions, sensitivities and new understanding for your own personal development as well as contributing to a cultural shift in your community. Come join us for this innovative approach to community peacebuilding with a small group of like minded and committed individuals. Share in meaningful dialogue, new challenges, discoveries and fun. To learn more, click here.
College and University Peacebuilding Approaches to Violent Extremism and Youth Recruitment — Oct. 6–8, 2016 — Cleveland, Ohio — The conference will include a focus on prevention, intervention and response with an overarching focus on prevention methods such as community engagement, youth and community empowerment, and education. The conference will review and highlight strategies that help build relationships in the community. Hosted at Cleveland State University, in collaboration with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Baldwin Wallace, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, George Mason University, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Kent State University, The Ohio School Resource Officer Association, The Ohio State University, Stark State College, The United Network of Young Peacebuilders, The University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. To learn more, click here.
Recovery 2.0 Retreat — Costa Rica — with Tommy Miller and Kia Miller — November 19–26 (Thanksgiving) 2016 — Join Tommy Rosen & Kia Miller for a rejuvenating week of recovery, yoga and relaxation in one of Costa Rica’s finest retreat centers. The Blue Spirit Retreat overlooks the Pacific Ocean and a three mile long white sand beach, which is a turtle preserve. This extraordinary setting will provide us with a deeply nurturing and unforgettable experience together. To learn more, click here.
The Spiritual Life TV Channel features free wisdom teachings from many spiritual traditions and gives a practical focus that shows how a person can use these teachings to live a more spiritual life. New videos feature: James O’Dea, Edgar Mitchell, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marilyn Schlitz, Gleen Mullin, Stephen Dinan, Philip Hellmich, and more! To learn more, click here.
Awake: The Life of Yogananda— Now available on Netflix, Amazon and other livestream programs.Plus, DVDs available with subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Dutch and Japanese. Plus there are new film showings in Australia and United States! You also can bring Awake to your yoga studio or community. To learn more click here. (The filmmakers were interviewed in the Yoga Day Summit, the recording is available for free.)
World Peace Library — Free Resource — Be sure to take advantage of the World Peace Library, a wide-ranging resource on peace newly compiled by the Shift Network: It contains more than 300 inspiring talks and mini-workshops from individuals such as Archbishop Tutu, Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, James O'Dea, Karen Armstrong, Chief Phil Lane and many more. With neuroscientists and lamas, faith-based activists and political leaders, this Library offers something for all in their peacebuilding efforts. The Shift Network has made the World Peace Library a free resource for all and encourages its use to promote peace in your families, schools, and wider community.
If you live in a country that has violent-free, fair elections, reflect on how democracy is a gift and a responsibility. Then, see what you can do to inspire people around you to participate in the democratic process — learning about issues, contacting their representatives and voting in elections.
Alliance for Peacebuilding — the Shift Network is proud to be a member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, the institutional home for the peacebuilding community — a network of over 100 organizations working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries. We strongly encourage anyone interested in peacebuilding to consider becoming a member and/or making a donation. To learn more, click here.
Mediators Foundation’s mission is to foster global leadership for a peaceful, just and sustainable world by identifying, supporting and connecting visionary leaders working in the best interests of our small planet. To learn more, click here.
CTG Associates is catalysing the emergence of transformative solutions to our systemic challenges by unleashing the creative power of diverse experiences and shared values. To learn more, click here.
The creative spirit behind Aloka's beautiful new album is Ojai/Maui-based Alokananda, who, in addition to being a musician, is a healer and teacher of heart centered living who helps people to ground spirituality in tangible planetary service. This mission shines through in the lyrics of each song. His acoustic-electronic music is a blend of hip hop, folk-rock, roots and world flavors. He writes that he chose the word "North Star" as his album title because it "translates as the guiding light of my soul's commitment; it's there to keep one focused on that soul trajectory through the dark night. It also symbolizes the mystical teachings of the esoteric lineages. Music is my North Star and the birthing of countless Eco-Villages, Sanctuaries and hubs of nourishing planetary culture." To listen to the album click here.