For those who are ready and willing to do more than sit in front of the breaking news on TV wondering what you can do in the face of the suffering being unleashed by Russia, here are nine steps you can take. By doing something constructive, individually and/or collectively, with the shock, fear, helplessness, and outrage you’re experiencing, you can turn these feelings into action that leads to peace.
1. Reduce the conflict in our own lives, communities, and nation—on the highways, at school board meetings, and even in our places of worship. Caught up in debates about democracy, race, voting rights, COVID, masking, and vaccinations, any subject can become a political litmus test if we allow it. Rather than feeding into division, meet conflict with an eye toward understanding, connection, growth, and peace. Prioritize creating peace at a time when our nation and world desperately need more of it.
2. Practice self-care. If you’re running around catastrophizing about the state of the world, you risk burning out, becoming radicalized or paralyzed by fear. Use your voice and resources in productive ways, contribute to solutions, do your best to take stress breaks from the news, go for walks in nature, and cultivate a center of calm commitment. Get yourself into game shape, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, to be a voice for peace.
3. Learn to have courageous conversations. Turning conflict into growth and cooperation requires engaging with people who hold a different world view. This can be uncomfortable. Each summer, Hands of Peace brings Israeli and Palestinian youth together to learn skills that help them navigate uncomfortable encounters with “the other.” For three hours a day over the course of three weeks they learn how to listen, ask curious questions, and practice nonviolent communication. Learning how to listen and how to speak in order to be understood changes their lives—and doing this can change yours. The world needs more peacemakers and fewer warmongers right now.
4. Stand in service. Get involved with and support organizations and causes that counter violence, like the San Diego Diplomacy Council in our community. These organizations, and others across our nation and around the world, promote dialogue, people-to-people interaction, and the building of bridges. Support President Biden, Prime Minister Macron, NATO, President Zelensky, and the United Nations’ peace initiatives, reach out to your representatives, protest acts of violence and war, and become an advocate for peace and justice.
5. Be informed. Misinformation is a tool of war being used now more than ever. Open your eyes and heart to see in real time the dangers and cost of authoritarian aggression to Ukraine, Russia, and the world; uncover the real reasons behind this invasion; and rise up in support of a people under siege. The nations, leaders, and news outlets of the world are working tirelessly to expose and resist Putin and use diplomacy to prevent further suffering in Ukraine.
6. Share accurate information. As you engage with others on social media or in real life, be sure that you’re sharing accurate information. Check your sources, be aware of false flags, and prevent the spread of misinformation. Doing this contributes to the peace process by creating an atmosphere of trust, credibility and integrity.
7. Refuse to demonize. Rather than condemning an entire nation or people, assign blame where it belongs, on leaders like Putin who see political value in unprovoked violence. Dialogue circles can also help you see how other people are seeing this conflict and hear perspectives outside of the echo chambers created by our segregated communities and social media channels. Find virtual communities, exemplary TV journalists like Fareed Zakaria, and international dialogue spaces like Clubhouse that enable direct people-to-people connection, compassion, caring and fact sharing.
8. Send your hopes, wishes, prayers, gratitude, and support (financial, emotional, and spiritual) to those who are in harm’s way on the front lines protesting, advocating, protecting/defending their country/loved ones, and fighting for peace.
9. Mobilize resources to help the people of Ukraine. Doctors from Israel are headed to Ukraine at this very moment to save lives. Step up and support organizations like Care, Ukrainian Red Cross, Amnesty International, UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders who are coming to the aid of Ukrainian citizens.
Please share your additions to this “Menu” with us [email protected].