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Striving for a Peaceable World

By Scott Dickman, Compassionate Listening Facilitator

Curiously, with all that the world of art has to offer, one of my favorite paintings is Edward Hick’s (an American folk painter and minister of the Society of Friends ) “The Peaceable Kingdom”, an image by all accounts drawn from the Old Testament passage Isaiah 11:6-8. In this passage, an aspirational and timeless evocation of a world where conflict recedes and reconciliation prevails, it is prophesied that “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together…” A universally compelling image that symbolizes replacing conflict with peace, unity and a hopeful vision for the future.

 

Not being religious, if you were to inquire why this painting opens my heart as it does, and why at this time… I offer the following reflections:

 

Firstly, my connection with TCLP and my daily practice is grounded in the belief that, as Andrea Cohen so perfectly stated (Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening): “We believe that by opening and changing our hearts, we can contribute to changing the world – one person at a time.” Indeed. A vision and practice that requires engagement with and holding space for all the complexities of the world - all the while deepening our capacity for a sacred connection with each other.

 

And, secondly, returning several days ago from the Braver Angels National Conference, an organization dedicated to a “cross-partisan, volunteer-led movement to bridge the partisan divide”, I was immediately struck by how BA’s values conformed to my own (“harmony”, “balance” and “compassion”) and those of TCLP. There, a CL workshop hosted by Joel Berman, Yael Petretti and 5 other CL facilitators expanded BA’s own LAPP model (Listen, Acknowledge, Pivot and Perspective) for exploring ways to listen and discuss different political opinions with people from the other side of the aisle. The intent of the CL workshop was to demonstrate how LAPP might be deepened further by introducing CL techniques and, by any measure, we were successful beyond our expectations. 

 

There, on the Carthage College campus along the vast shores of Lake Michigan, I personally witnessed how some 700 individuals from across the political spectrum eagerly – I would even go so far as to suggest joyously - broke bread together, seeking every opportunity to meet and engage in conversation while leaving “judgment” and the attendant discord aside. Overall, the experience was revelatory. Why? If previously asked whether communion amongst competing  values and ideologies would be possible in the political realm… my response might have been “when pigs fly”. No more.

 

Taken together, both organizations aim to foster dialogue and understanding but approach it from different perspectives. Compassionate Listening focuses on peacemaking and advancing a culture grounded in empathy, equity, and inclusivity through respectful engagement and self-reflection. 


Alternatively, Braver Angels aims to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen democratic institutions by addressing the corrosive animosity that demeans us as individuals and threatens the public square. Significantly, both organizations advocate for civil dialogue and deep listening while not imposing another’s opinion. And, returning to Andrea Cohen’s call above, both affirm that by opening and changing our hearts, we can contribute to changing the world – one person at a time.


Both missions, both visions, complement each other in their overarching commitment to a more empathic, compassionate and cohesive society.


 

Scott Dickman is a longtime peace advocate who resided in Israel during the '70s. He later joined the CL Israel & Palestine Journey in 2016. He engaged with the New Hampshire Board of Building a Culture of Peace and now serves on the NH Peace Action Board, along with NH Friends of Combatants for Peace and J Street. These organizations focus on reconciliation and bridging differences. He is currently facilitating Israel-Palestine discussions at a local synagogue. Scott is semi-retired, and relishes family time with his new grandson, while pursuing his outdoor passion through conservation easements with conservancies.

 

 


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