- Seniors Discuss Peacemaking Circles Ideas – solrac_gi_2nd on MorgueFile
Senior citizens who have read Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth Bringing Justice Home (Living Justice Press, 2008)by Carolyn Boyes-Watson are finding applications for these ideas and practices in their daily lives. Borrowed from aboriginal and native tribal circles, Peacemaking Circles give older adults a chance to make peace with their lives – and people they care for – both past and present.
What are Peacemaking Circles?
Roca, an organization which served marginalized youth in the Boston area, utilized practices of peacemaking circles. These included creating environments for communication and problem-solving which first emphasize belonging, generosity, competence, and independence. This foundation sets the stage for dealing with issues being faced in modern times. Treating each other as equals is one of the most effective strategies.
They used these circles for conflict, healing, family, brainstorming, management, art, court-related issues, visioning, and support as well as simply talking circles. The atmosphere of mutual respect created by use of these talking circles elicited very different and creative solutions to current problems, which may never have been produced using traditional styles of dealing with the challenges of society.
Conversations held in such groups are voluntary, trusting, and a way to be together which treats the circle as a sacred space. This is somewhat reminiscent of time spent with relatives in days gone by when family groups weren’t so spread out and isolated. Since many seniors can remember such times, they are able to make a contribution to society by creating gentle and trusting rapport with young people and others they deal with.
How Seniors Can Benefit Using Concepts of Peacemaking Circles in Daily Living
Peacemaking circles have been used with disenfranchised parts of the population of Boston. Both senior citizens and youth are at times found in this situation of being undervalued by society. Seniors can leave a growing legacy by promoting these principles and methods in their daily lives, whether it be in the larger society or their own families and communities.
Given the fact that youth and seniors have much in common, older adults stand to gain from peacemaking circles used for either talking or support. Senior citizens can help give a boost to young people by showing them the habits of communicating and resolving issues in a peaceful way. Often both ages in this intergenerational pairing will be encouraged just by the foundational practices of acceptance, and therefore will find themselves better able to deal with life’s challenges.
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As people age, they see more and more peers die, and sustain grief as well as survivor’s guilt. A trusting circle of friends can serve both as a support system and place of acceptance where companionship is always available. Employing peacemaking circle ideas and practices can be effective in dealing with grief and a number of other related issues of aging. This can happen in a church, friendship group, YMCA, among neighbors, etc.
These circles of conversation present a family-like connection where a senior feels valued no matter what, and can experience companionship via the sense of community. This is due to the groundwork of acceptance along with valuing diversity and independence – both prerequisites for peacemaking circles.
Senior citizens can apply the concepts of peacemaking circles to their everyday lives, thus improving their own lives and those around them while showing younger people these effective ways to deal with life’s challenges.
Boyes-Watson, Carolyn. Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth Bringing Justice Home. St. Paul, Minnesota: Living Justice Press, 2008.Workshop materials to teach conflict resolution skills.