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"I need peace right now"

I have been offering people copies of my bookmark-size Pocket Guide to Practical Peace. At the Women’s march in Boston, when I need to describe very quickly what it was, and I came up with the phrase, “It starts with compassion and ends in action.” I was struck by how often people said, “Thanks. I really need that right now.”

People feel inflamed, I think, and stuck there. Maybe a guide to peace could offer some balm. The acute alarms of fear, frustration, rage, and outrage are a necessary and healthy response to the recent election of a braggart sexual predator as president and his appointment of white supremacists, voter suppressors, public school eviscerators, petroleum executives, radical anti-contraceptionists, and purveyors of lies and doublespeak to his cabinet and staff.

I am reminded of cytokines, our bodies’ messenger molecules of alarm, damage control, and repair in the case of infection or trauma. They cause inflammation, an essential survival response to bodily assault. But inflammation can also be toxic, as most cells can’t function properly in the microbicidal chemicals and enzymes of inflamed tissues.

It turns out that inflammation can be triggered by psychological forces, such as fear, in the absence of any assault on bodily tissues. The body mounts a generally inflammatory response to a perceived internal threat. The defenses swarm, but have nothing to do and nowhere to go, and they start attacking healthy tissues and cells.

This is a danger we face if we stay inflamed. If we want to engage effectively with the threat posed by the current government and the values and worldview that brought it to power, we will need to calm the inflammation of moral outrage, see the forces at work with a clear mind, dig deep, and find the equanimity to sustain the tasks of healing our social body.

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About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances and Publications
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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