White ribbon day Nov 25th

White ribbon day, Nov 25th, 2016

By John Steward.

 

This is such an important day on the world calendar: the international day for elimination of the violence against women. This day commences the UNs 16 days of activism against Gender-based violence and the action to “Orange the world”.

 

I am ‘all for’ this focus.

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And yet I don’t feel satisfied. It is not enough, not even close. It’s the same feeling I have when I see the signs that read: SAY NO TO VIOLENCE.

 

Twenty years ago I discovered that my marriage was on shaky ground; I took advice from a friend and attended a community health program, where I began to face some truths about myself. The most shocking insight was that I did not know how my wife and children experienced me.

 

I was proud of my marriage and family but devastated by how they were affected by my attitudes and demands upon them, my inflexibility, my correctness, my need to be right, my lack of feeling and empathy for them.

 

It took 16 months for me to do enough work to regain stability in my key relationships. But the greatest revelation was yet to come: my work took me to Rwanda after the genocide of 1994, where I participated and deepened my journey and then supported and promoted inner healing of others.

 

There, to my amazement, the processes used to promote the change were broadly the same as in my own experience. That’s because domestic violence is not different from national violence. The cause is much the same, only the scale changes. Genocide begins in the human heart.

 

MEN and boys – saying NO is not enough. You must find a space to open your heart and find the violence that is within. It will be there in the form of sadness, guilt, failure, a sense of being lost, an unknown or unexamined or well-hidden grief or pain. Often it is disguised or covered by an overlay of activity and outward success. Or buffoonery. Or bravado. But those who are closest to you will know, because they suffer the effects.

 

Ask them – but first put a tape across your mouth. Just listen to those closest to you – and for the first time hear how those you love experience you. Then you will know you have work to do.

 

I cannot say ‘No’ to the violence of others until I know my own, and have begun to deal with it.

 

 

Dr John Steward is the author of the award-winning From Genocide to Generosity – hatreds heal on Rwanda’s hills.

 

For further insights into human healing and change keep in contact with www.2live4give.org

Like From Genocide to Generosity on Facebook.

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THE NEXT STEP:

The stories in the award-winning From Genocide to Generosity contain principles for steps of healing and change for individuals after difficult events. But the stories do not spell out how you move from grief, bitterness, hatred etc. This is now developing.

 

To enable your small group to find some of the principles in the book that can help you, I’ll work with a videographer to film key questions and ideas on how to take some steps towards change.

 

I am consulting with reference people who will assess, test and improve what I develop. During 2017 as I receive feedback and suggestions I will update the material on the 2live4give.org website.

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Whilst the INDIEFAB GOLD award was for the topic of ‘Grief and Grieving’, the themes to be covered include a range of practical issues, including:

  • telling my story in a safe and trusting circle
  • bereavement, grief and loss
  • identifying and trusting my emotions and feelings
  • expressing emotions appropriately – where does violence come from?
  • understanding forgiveness – what it is not, as well as what it is.
  • knowing when reconciliation is possible – the role of confession & justice
  • what about relating to Indigenous Australians?
  • what about communicating with people from other faiths?
  • Suggestions to guide your small group facilitators

 

To keep in touch with progress write to me at 2live4give@gmail.com Come, be a part. Sincerely hopeful,

John Steward, who has founded a reconciliation program that has had more than 100,000 people go through it in Rwanda following the genocide. Relaxes at a writers retreat near Beechmont , outside the Gold Coast .
John Steward, who has supported reconciliation programs that have had more than 100,000 people go through in Rwanda following the genocide.