How often do we hear or say, “Be the change you/we want to see in the world?” We now have the tools to do it.
The BePeace or Connection Practice developed by international peacemaker, Rita Marie Johnson, provides precise know-how to gain insight into our inner life in an efficient and powerful manner. Application and regular practice in the use of these tools directly impacts our day to day interactions in a real, authentic and sustainable way.
Rita Marie Johnson has been living “Humanity’s Peace Story” since childhood. The first inkling of her mission came at age 10, when she heard the words, “You will be a peacemaker.” She remained in the dark about how to go about this daunting task until some years later, when she learned that Costa Rica had dismantled their army in 1948. In fact, just two years prior, in 1946, the Costa Rican educator and diplomat, Roberto Brenes Mesén, had published a breathtaking and prophetic epic poem, “Rasur, or the Week of Splendor.” The poem, originally written in Spanish, tells of a master teacher, Rasur, who mysteriously appears one day in a mountain village where he woos the children deep into a mountain where he teaches them the way of peace. During that week, the children impart to their parents what they have learned from the master, Rasur, transforming relations of the entire community.
I first spoke with Rita Marie Johnson on a 2010 Peace Alliance conference call. She had just returned to the U.S. from Costa Rica where she’d spent the years since 1993 discovering and developing peace-making methods and a training program to “feel peace, speak peace and teach peace.” Rita Marie even wrote and produced an opera during that time: “Rasur, the Week of Splendor,” once the poem was translated into English. The BePeace movement eventually gained the support of the President of Costa Rica, a former Minister of Education, and was installed in the country’s classrooms. To date, over 40,000 students have learned the BePeace method in public school settings. Rasur International, http://rasurinternational.org/
Rita Marie Johnson has combined the work of the Heart Math Institute (Heart-Mind Coherence) and that of Marshall Rosenberg who initiated NVC, (Non-Violent, Compassionate Communication), adding a special dimension in her synthesis of the two. Walking the “BePeace Path,” I’ve sensed a deepening clarity and coherence, as though stepping into someone else’s shoes to gain insight into their world almost from inside their skin. “Ubuntu,” where “me” becomes “we,” cultivating true understanding and compassion by which to craft a universal culture of peace.
People of all ages have been learning these methods. BePeace, now known as the Connection Practice, is the only peace skill-building course offered at the United Nations-mandated University of Peace. Because seasoned mediators - graduates from every culture, ethnicity, and language group across the globe - routinely experienced an “a-ha” during the course, (“Ah, so, this really works!”), they suggested that the course be the first requirement of all training at the university.
Rita Marie has recently published a book, Completely Connected: Uniting our Empathy and Insight for Extraordinary Results, available in bookstores and through the Rasur International website. http://rasurinternational.org/rita-marie-johnson/
The BePeace Foundations Course appeared to me to be the perfect complement to my mission, the gypsy wagon journey of SingPeace! Pilgrimage for Peace & Global Harmony. SingPeace! - crafting a culture of peace in community through music, creative arts and exuberant play - was the “celebratory” component of a powerful skill-building process. As founder and director of the SingPeace! Pilgrimage, I determined to bring BePeace to the Northwest.
To begin with, I needed to learn and experience, first hand, the validity of the BePeace methods. Three of us from my project traveled to Santa Cruz, CA to attend a BePeace Foundations Course. On completion of the 4-day retreat, I invited Rita Marie Johnson to present the first training of BePeace at Whidbey Institute, near my home on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle.
In 2011, musicians from around the U.S. and Canada were in residence at the first 4-day BePeace Foundations Course, offered in the Northwest. Among them were singers, guitarists, 3 violinists, 2 stand-up bass players, drummers, etc. Leading up to the event, several of us took part in a day-long facilitator training in order to assist Rita Marie during the retreat. I must say, I have never felt more thoroughly listened to than when paired with Rita Marie in that training. Once heard, I was better prepared to hear others. A ripple effect has taken place since the BePeace Foundations Course, with several of us in attendance taking advanced training to become facilitators, group leaders coaches and trainers of BePeace or the Connection Practice. [i.e. “BePeace” is often used in faith-based communities, “The Connection Practice,” is the terminology generally used in secular settings.]
The following interviews with Rita Marie Johnson shed light on the methods she has imbibed and synthesized:
"Humanity’s Peace Story,” an illuminating audio interview with Emily Hine during the 2011 Shift Network Peace Week, along with the BePeace Anthem, composed by Sam Guarnaccia can be found at this link: http://samguarnaccia.com/bepeace-anthem-childrens-peace-songs/
During the Shift Network’s “Summer of Peace,” Rita Marie spoke again in more detail, taking interviewer, Philip Helmich, through the steps of the Connection Practice: http://summerofpeace.net/program/130
(Also available at rasurinternational.org)
“Introduction to the Connection Practice, “ Rita Marie Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
“The Connection Practice, Scientifically Based Social-Emotional Learning for At-Risk Kids," a talk by Rita Marie Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXf2LdpeFY4
“BePeace Camp 2014:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhbNzptZoHQ
“Completely Connected - The Magic of Combining Empathy and Insight:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-MwWna5aAo
BePeace Course Retreat http://singpeacepilgrimage.ning.com/profiles/blogs/international-pe...
Peacemaker, Singers will meet at Whidbey Institute http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/lifestyle/124319498.html