Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
October 30, 2013

                A friend of mine in prison has recently apologized for a recurring episode of depression.  This story is for you, dear friend.
                It was a warm, sunny day in late summer 1995.  I was sitting on a rock looking across the fjord toward Oslo.  Jill, Katy and I were returning for a stay with Birgit Brock-Utne and Gunnar Garbo.  As I sat I thought of a story I had read in an East Asian literature class, where a sage told a prince that the prince was like any one of the colony of ants marching before them.  I felt so insignificant.  I felt so guilty for claiming the salary and benefits that my birth in white male privilege had given me.  I could neither claim credit for any of my supposed accomplishments, nor do anything of significance to the well-being of humanity in my lifetime.
                At the time, I was singing in nursing homes, where I met great grandmothers who seemed largely abandoned, as though Mable’s time singing with me singing with them was the single light of their days.  It came to me that the most precious commodity to a sense of social security is to feel honestly valued by so much as another soul (human or superhuman) for what one truly believes and feels.  In day-to-day terms, that means knowing one has made a significant difference for the better in at least one other being’s life.
                As I write today, thanks to loving relations like yours and mine, and to the miracle of coming home, my soul is full with reassurances.  I have reached a state of relaxation and appreciation of living and learning I had thought unimaginable.
                Here’s the thing: The world hasn’t changed.  As I got to telling my students, I believe that would-be peacemakers like me know violence to be far wider and deeper than those who practice punishment allow themselves to imagine, let alone hear.
                Bottom line: My friend, you keep enriching my life, and that’s as good as it gets.  Love you, hal

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