Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Friday, September 12, 2008

Peace Conference: Day 1

The days starts chilly and dark, as I bike through the pre-dawn to the University. The early quiet gradually transitions to chaos, and by 9 a.m. I'm still staffing a registration table, no relief in sight, when I'm supposed to be entering the ballroom for Marshall Rosenberg's pre-conference workshop. They hold the workshop open for latecomers, though, and fifteen minutes later, I'm still on time. I meet Kristin outside, and we go in and sit in the back.

Marshall slumps on a stool onstage, the deep grooves in his cheeks and sunken mouth bearing witness to his age. He begins his talk, and it's soon clear I've heard most of it before. It's the same spiel I've listened to hundreds(!?) of times on his CD's. The talk is mostly question and answer. Marshall is sharp, and no matter what pain or judgment people throw at him, the answer is swift, the empathy and connection perfect. Though I've heard many of these stories before, I fill five pages with notes of things I want to take away from it. I'm moved to tears three times, to laughter many. Even if the material is mostly familiar, it's worth seeing Marshall in action. For some, the role play and empathy must be precious. One woman shifts from not caring if her mother lives or dies to renewed hope and love.

We return home early to make sure the boys get plenty of Maddy time and prepare for the action today, but they're busy playing with their friends and we don't spend much time together until supper. Even so, there's time for healing. Trin's borrowed a toy gun from the neighbor. Though partially broken, it still shoots, powered by a spring. He shows it to me, and I ask what he's using for bullets. "Wood chips." I heard the clunk as it hit the floor, though, and I know he's lying. I find the missile. A rock – a small piece of crushed gravel. I react with empathy, showing that I understand why he used it. "Were you scared that I'd be angry if I knew it was a rock, so you lied to protect yourself? You had a need for safety?" "Yes." Though potentially loaded, the interaction is brief, and healing. I make a request: "If you're feeling scared, would you be willing to tell me how you feel, instead of lying?" "Yes," he says. "I feel good," he says, and goes back to play.

The perfect way to remember 9/11.

1 comment:

ajandmac said...

Wow. That must take incredible patience to handle situations with empathy like that. I hope we can all learn to practice these behaviors, and I'm seriously thankful that you have been such an awesome example to me and others. I'm interested in this conference....

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz