World Thinking Day is a day for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the globe to come together to learn from one another and speak out on issues that are affecting them. This year’s theme is peacebuilding, and we wanted to explore that a little further to seek an understanding of what it truly means to be a peacebuilder.
We spoke with Executive Director, Kevin Kelly, of the Dayton International Peace Museum about how this unique organization supports the learning and practice of peace in their community. They tackle some pretty tough topics, but to get there, they start with the idea of peace literacy to then bridge the gap between understanding peace and taking action. Peace, as with other habits and mindsets, is learned and comes with practice.
Mr. Kelly encourages us to start our mission to become peace-builders in our communities by reflecting on ourselves and asking, “Am I a person that expresses peace?” On the path to becoming a peacebuilder with others, you must learn to understand how you practice peace within yourself.
Focus on learning the concepts of empathy and compassion within yourself and when interacting with others. These can seem difficult to teach, but Mr. Kelly suggests starting with introducing these ideas by connecting with our beloved animal companions. Even the youngest Girl Scout can learn to understand the needs of others, see perspectives outside of their own and wanting to provide help or support when it comes to their favorite animal companion. It’s then a matter of transferring those ideas to interacting with other people and ourselves.
Mr. Kelly reminds us that an opportunity for peace is in nearly every moment. He challenges us to think of peace as more than niceness or calmness, but rather a delicate balance that can be disturbed; it is up to a peacebuilder with the courage, empathy, and compassion to face obstacles and restore balance. To restore peace in a situation, you must understand what the disruption is and why it’s happening. You must then be willing to speak out or take action in a manner that is potentially unpopular, which is never easy. Even seemingly small actions, such as inviting someone you don’t typically talk to over to your lunch table with friends or standing up against negative talk about someone else, is a practice in peace. Even speaking to yourself in a way that restores peace takes courage.
We learned a lot from our conversation with Kevin Kelly and found hope that it will inspire girls to think about how they can advocate for peace in themselves and their community, even globally. Let us know what you or your troop is doing to celebrate World Thinking Day!