“Creative tilling wakes up my soul!”
Creativity, quality of character, and respect for people closest to the problem are vital ingredients for effective peacebuilding. Libby Hoffman, a generous contributor, helped lead URI’s peacebuilding training program, The Moral Imagination Project, from 2006-2008. She shares her views about peacebuilding:
Perhaps the most joyful of all the learning experiences in the peacebuilding training was the abundance of ways we were given to explore one of the core qualities of the Moral Imagination, “the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative act.”
How do we cultivate creativity in ourselves and creativity in others? How does the creative act provide an alternative to patterns of behavior that cause conflict, violence and harm? How do we become better people by tapping our creativity? How do we come to know ourselves and use our very presence to bring about a reduction of conflict in our midst and bring about the possibility for peace?
There are many ways to help people tap creativity and begin to see and enjoy its fruits. When more traditional styles of learning are integrated with activities that invite people to use their creative resources, people awaken to ideas, images and new possibilities. These “creative fruits” bring energy, spirit and strength to the work at hand. People notice transformations that begin to happen within themselves. After immersing in some of these creative activities, people might exclaim, “I never knew I was a poet!” “I feel so light and relaxed just to be invited to write this way!” “I learned that I had wisdom inside myself and here it is in a teeny-tiny book I wrote myself!”
One of the other things that I have observed, that makes peacebuilding really successful, has nothing to do even with the kinds of projects that people are doing, so much, or the tools that they’re using, but the qualities of character that individual people bring to it. It seems to me that in situations where conflicts can transform, where there’s a moment of opening, it’s often because of some expression of extraordinary character on the part of an individual or some individuals involved. And the things that I see being most important would be things like humility, or generosity, or courage, or honesty, and creativity. And if that’s the reality of what really brings change, then how do you help create situations and settings that help develop those qualities?
Libby is the founder and director of The Catalyst Project – “building peace from the inside out.” The Project believes the resources and wisdom of ordinary people in local communities—those people and places most impacted by wars and conflict—are too often ignored or undervalued in conventional international approaches to post-war justice, development, and peacebuilding. Libby presented a TEDx talk, Forgiving the Unforgiveable.