Posted also to Anastasia The Storyteller
In the ordinary scheme of things our Abkhazian Dinner incident might have been written off as just one more instance of the way things are. However, this was the Abkhazian Dinner, presented on behalf of the annual Season For Non-Violence, commemorating the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, the locale for our event was a Quaker Meeting House. Quakers, one must remember, stake their lives on the belief that violence/war is not the answer.
The necessary elements were, thus, present for what occurred to not be taken lightly. Several days after our Abkhazian Dinner, a guest called me to report that a brief, but traumatic, encounter had befallen her right in the midst of our beautiful event, leaving its sting. I knew right away that what she was reporting, though a short-lived incident, could not be disregarded. However, reported our guest, a lovely woman I had no reason to dismiss, was, at the moment, too upset to discuss what had happened.
As far as the principles of New Horizons go, the incident could not be simply ignored. After all, subtle violence is not so subtle, especially when you are the target. And, we had, quite pointedly and successfully, been protecting people from subtle violence since 1980, doing our best to guide them to do otherwise through many teachable moments.
I had staked my life, personally and professionally, on doing my best to put a stop to unseemly interpersonal interactions, especially violence, the subtle and the not so subtle. Still the means to do otherwise are not always simply and easily determined, particularly in the “subtle” department. Nonetheless, this, effort is, sometimes, a necessary precursor to the possible human building a possible society.
The situation suitably in motion, I thought, and myself amply fortified with a growing team of peace builders, I had no reason to doubt that all would be well. The woman would get back to me with details as soon as she felt able. In the meantime, she wanted to apprise me that something of an emotionally violent nature had occurred for her at our Abkhazian Dinner, the last place she’d have imagined.
Duly alerted, I reported the incident to my board of directors, told several others I knew I could trust, putting the matter on hold, pending further details. Given the composition of our group of attendees, study participants, local peace activists and a mix of supporters of the Season For Non-Violence, I believed that, collectively, whatever went awry would, of course, be set aright. This is the heart of community-building, right? All for one and one for all.
After about one month the woman came forth with her story, having no apparent agenda other than telling her story, being listened to and her distress acknowledged. We were grateful that this was all she needed for healing.
It might have ended there – and -- even better, lifted us all to our higher selves, individually and collectively. But another chapter, related to the incident, began just as this one came to an end. And, here, more significantly, than the original incident itself, is what brought me, New Horizons and, especially, our Possible Human, Possible Society Study to a turning point. Another teachable moment.
To be continued.