Dr. Bernard Lafayette had an unbreakable commitment this past weekend and asked the Founder of the Positive Peace Warrior Network, Jonathan Lewis, to conduct a meeting in Trenton, NJ to explore the institutionalization of Kingian Nonviolence education and leadership development programs. I have joined Doc on many of these types of meetings over the years. 10 years ago I did not know why I should be at those meeting and now today many of Dr. Lafayette’s efforts to help develop me as a leader are cherished with ultimate gratitude. Because of Doc’s efforts yesterday I and many others are ready today.
I met the challenge and brought t warriors (Kalyanna “5th Elament” Champlain and Chief Raymond “Two Hawks” Watson)I have been working with over the years; who are both from my home state of Rhode Island.The task before us can not be accomplished by one only. We must work together and let those who are effective lead.
During the meeting we were asked how is Kingian Nonviolence different to all the other Bullying & Teasing curriculum’s out there? The response is simple but profound. Our focus is not on punishing the bully. Our focus is on the Leadership Development of the entire community and the expression of the bully’s desire to be a leader.
Below is a written reflection of Kalyanna’s experience rollin with PPWN.
PPWN: Sunday in Trenton
November 11, 2012, Trenton, NJ- 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. My friends are still sleeping in from the night before, but I am awake. I was given an invitation that week that I took with open arms. I check a text message from Jonathan “Globe” Lewis letting me know he is on his way with Ray “2 Hawks” Watson. We are headed to Trenton, New Jersey to offer them a solution toward nonviolence. We are headed to Trenton, New Jersey to be this generations’ cause to stop the wars, internal and external, that are ravaging our communities. We are in the first step, gathering information: talking to the people, finding out what they need. We are in the first principle: driving there courageously to help them find a way. We do so with humility-for all the things that we can offer, but also for all the things that we can receive.
We are greeted by a shared history of struggle and conviction parking next to this old Quaker Church that has called on us for a solution. Its stones and declarations of peace place its position in history; the building stands quiet but strong against the horizon. It is the morning as we pull over on this side street that is adorned with families exiting church in their best Sunday gear. Later it would be desolate except for a street fight that would take place between a gang of middle schoolers, complete with the arrival of a police task force. Welcome to Trenton. where your odds of “being a victim” are 1 in 7.
Much like the times of Civil Rights we are greeted by all races, religions, and backgrounds. Much like during the times of Civil Rights, we were challenged being this young generation committed to what sometimes seemed to be an impossible task. But after 3 hours of dialogue and 2 servings of macaroni and cheese (because apparently “quakers know food”), we were sure that we could somehow build together to find a solution. We met with religious leaders, community leaders, those in political office, and a 14 year old young man who has had 2 instances of being bullied. A young man who when I spoke to him later stated, “I think I could be a leader, with the right help.”
They spoke of many of the issues that plague so many areas today: School systems that are more concerned with academic scores than personal well being, teachers burnt out from lack of support, drop outs that feel unreachable, young people exposed to violence in media that normalizes the degradation of our humanity, never mind the violence in the streets and the unspoken violence that floods our homes.
So what can Positive Peace Warrior Network offer? “The framework stays the same, but for each location it tweaks itself accordingly. What we are saying is that we know the frame works, it is just about how your location needs to WORK IT,” stated Globe with a smile, “That is what we hope to provide for you- a way to work it.” Everyone nodded in agreement as PPWN begins its moves to form national examples to help invite the use of Kingian nonviolence in schools, communities, homes, and prison systems.
We arrived home late that evening, tired but grateful. We drove there with determination and hope, and returned with conviction. We are the healers. We have a mission. We are the Warriors of a new generation. Aho
Kalyana “5th Elament” Champlain holds a Masters degree in Communication Studies, is a member of PPWN, educator, and hip hop artivist.