STORYTELLING FOR PEACE IN TIMES OF WAR

Sometimes stories are a matter of life and death.

War doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. It is not inevitable. War is the result of an ecosystem of violence. The top of the pyramid. 

This pyramid of violence can be built up over time and is largely fueled by stories. When disconnection and aggression become normalized, it lays the foundation for war. Without this foundation, war is not possible. 

The definition of ‘war’ is an armed conflict between states, nations or political groups. Yet, the violence happens between people, and it is entirely dependent on the individuals’ ‘will to fight.’

What kind of stories do you have to believe to bomb other people?

Image by Mosaic Project

Everything we do at Actuality Abroad comes down to being anti-war. 

  • We connect people who are different than us because we are anti-segregation.
  • We challenge inherent bias and discrimination because we are anti-prejudice.
  • We disrupt the existing power dynamics because we are anti-exploitation.
  • We speak up about harmful behaviors and systems because we are anti-oppression.
  • We elevate local community leaders in each place we travel because we are anti-imperialist.
  • We promote peace through radical compassion because we are anti-war. 

 

We condemn Russia’s attacks on Ukraine

AND

We recognize that we are citizens of a country that is just as guilty. The United States has committed countless acts of violence, murder, destruction and war in the pursuit of power. This doesn’t mean we excuse ourselves from the conversation. It means we strengthen our resolve to speak up and call out exploitation, oppression, and imperialism in all forms. 

Humans are doers. When faced with crisis, we feel better if we can ‘do’ something in response. You don’t have to be on the frontlines of a battle to contribute. As a storyteller, you can wield influence from wherever you are. Stories may seem insignificant in the face of death and destruction but remember, they are how we got ourselves in this mess to begin with. 

Right now, for Ukraine…  

and as anti-war global citizens who stand in opposition to any group that seeks power through violence, we CAN take action.

Witness what is happening. 

In the movie “Don’t Look Up,” the antagonist and her minions rally behind the idea that we can just ignore what is happening and perhaps it will go away. It is far more comfortable to turn away from the violence and focus on things we can control. 

Instead, we can turn towards awareness. When we choose to pay attention we become witnesses. It’s not about doomscrolling, but acknowledging what is happening in real time from media outlets that you trust. This is war and these are the consequences. Bearing witness is a necessary part of accountability, however far down the road. Tap into empathy instead of tapping out of current events. 

Here are some folks we’ve been following: 

https://theconversation.com/global

https://twitter.com/olgatokariuk

https://www.instagram.com/realnewsnobullshit/

Look for the helpers and amplify their efforts.

Despite all our faults, when disaster strikes, some humans always rise to the occasion. Find the organizations and individuals making a real, tangible difference in the lives of victims and refugees right now. These are folks who are physically, financially, and emotionally positioned to provide direct aid. Their stories restore our faith in humanity. What’s more, increased awareness leads to increased resources. We can help the helpers go viral. 

Talk about them. Share across digital platforms. Bring them up at the dinner party or the zoom meeting chit chat. You can donate your energy as well as your funds.

We have been inspired by World Central Kitchen providing relief and support by way of hot meals. They have set up mobile kitchens on the Ukrainian border and at other transit hubs. They are serving thousands of meals each day to refugees fleeing the war. You can find stories to share at https://wck.org/ or  https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChefsForUkraine

Contribute to a culture of peace in your own community.

Conflict exists everywhere. When disconnection and aggression are enabled, it can eventually build to violence. We each have the ability to interrupt that nasty kind of growth and create a culture of peace within our sphere of influence. 

Image by Mosaic Project

You choose peace when you…

  • find a way to connect with someone you have a disagreement with. 
  • work to understand someone else’s point of view. 
  • see beyond the stereotype and the single story.
  • empathize with someone else’s struggle. 
  • celebrate another’s success.
  • communicate without passing judgement. 
  • commit to resolving an ongoing conflict. 
  • love someone different than you. 

Humanity is on a collective journey and the arc does bend towards justice and peace. The path is not straightforward but each individual effort – through our actions and our stories – chips away at the pyramid of violence and builds up the pyramid of peace.