What was the highlight of your middle and high school years? For some, it might be getting a high SAT score or helping their school winning the state football championship. Well, for a group of determined students in Massachusetts, it’s probably fair to say that their highlight was working year after year to break a world record by creating the world’s largest book. And it’s all about peace: the Pages for Peace Foundation Big Book Project.
Led by their remarkable teacher, some students participated in this after school program from fifth grade all the way through their high school graduation. Their journey and accomplishment is profiled in this Boston TV news story.
We were honored to participate in a small way in this project by contributing a copy of Great Peacemakers for the students and contributing a letter to their book. The letter shared our response to the students’ question of what young people can do to help create a more peaceful world. Here is an excerpt from our letter.
“…we have found that developing empathy and compassion for others is essential to creating a more peaceful world. It is through the process of trying to understand how and why someone looks at a situation the way they do that we truly begin to appreciate the unique perspective they bring to it based on their past experiences.
Once we look into and understand another’s perspectives, we begin to feel a connection with them and are less inclined to feel personally attacked when their position differs from ours. This connection with them allows us to be more open to their thoughts and ideas because we understand why they see the world the way they do. The attention gets focused on the issue and not the person. As Ms. Gene Knudsen Hoffman, founder of Compassionate Listening, said, ‘An enemy is one whose story we have not heard….’
So, we encourage you to develop empathy and compassion, now and throughout your lives. By doing so and encouraging others to do so, you can give those in your life the gift of understanding, help your relationships be more harmonious, and leave the world more peaceful than you found it.”