By Mary McPhail Gray
NVW Board Chair
The people of Taos spoke to all of us during the two months—from February 5 through April 2– that TCA’s Encore Gallery and Nonviolence Works presented the exhibit “The Art of Nonviolence.” They responded to the question: “What is the path to Nonviolence? Share your Hopes and Insights… ”
We gathered 173 comments left by viewers of all ages—from 8 to 87. While there was one comment from Indiana and another from Amsterdam, Holland, we can assume that these messages were from our own residents who welcomed the opportunity to respond. We will review these messages over the next two weeks and share them with you as a reflection of our voices.
The majority of responses urged a personal expression of positive values that supported self-esteem and close trusting relationships—leading to the ability to avoid violent acts. Often these beliefs and actions are nurtured in families and religious communities. Examples were:
“Love yourself—you are so beautiful.”
“Stand tall.” “You are enough.”
“Love.” “Love of peace for all.”
“Don’t be ashamed.” “Don’t let others put you down.”
“Let people share their feelings and thoughts in confidence—be a listener. “
“Self-respect first, then respect for others, respect for nature, respect for all beings.”
“Cultivate self awareness: peace within, dropping self judgment.”
“Know yourself. Always remember that everyone else is no leas equal to you.”
“Forgiveness—of self and others. Tolerance and acceptance of people and paths that are unique to their own.”
“In the eyes of many—you matter.”
“Care, compassion, gratitude. Listen, listen, and listen.”
“Breathing. Looking into your comrade’s eyes and express love for their pain.”
Other comments stressed the importance of community connections and actions that respond to the stresses in our community:
“See something, say something.”
“Education. Explain mental illness at an early age.”
“Connect with community. Develop and build connections that make your world and everyone’s better.”
“Share more. Use less. Be selfless.”
“Give workers a living wage.” “Create a living wage community.”
“Stop the silence. Take action. Be the change.”
“Teach peaceful conflict resolution.”
“Teach peer support skills.”
“Take down our backyard fences, create co-op parks, and get to know each other through weekend picnics, etc. Kids will have more exposure to other adults and ideas and become better rounded.”
Our residents took the invitation seriously. I hope you will too! I will continue with some more voices next time.
In the interim, note plans for activities on April 20th commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Contact NVW if you have ideas about how to answer the invitation to respond—and what needs you might have. We will create our future together.
Nonviolence Works has the largest staff of behavioral health counselors and clinicians in northern New Mexico. Reach us at www/nonviolenceworks.us or 575-758-4297.
Mary McPhail is the board chair of NVW and can be reached at email@example.com or 575-779-3126