Appreciative Inquiry – Personal Commitment for Peace
We often hear that peace begins with me. We can help each other sharpen our commitment to peace by engaging one another in Appreciative Interview conversations.
An Appreciative Interview is a simple process that creates opportunities for people to speak about what is meaningful in their lives. It is a mutual interview with another person where both partners listen and speak with an open heart.
Appreciative Interviews can be offered to begin a meeting or as the focus activity to deepen perspectives on the chosen topic.
People can be placed in pairs or groups of three. Each person takes a turn being the interviewer and interviewee. As an interviewer, ask each question to the person you are interviewing. Give the gift of listening. Switch roles.
Read the following poem and then conduct an Appreciative Interview based on the poem.
This poem was written by Thich Nhat Hanh after he heard about the bombing of the village Ben Trc and a comment made by an American military man, "We had to destroy the town in order to save it."
I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm - two hands protecting,
Two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my soul from leaving me in anger.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, "Call Me By My True Names"
Many of us have experienced violence and prejudice among people from different religions, ethnic or racial groups. In his poem, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that there are alternatives to these reactions. We have witnessed these kinds of alternatives in life-giving acts of charity, mercy, forgiveness, kindness and nonviolence. Think of a time in which you experienced a shift in your own spirit toward a more peaceful or constructive state of being. Perhaps you shifted your perspective in a relationship, or in a situation. Perhaps you were able to shift your emotions from fear to love. Please tell me the story of this shift. What happened? How did it work out?
Imagine it is ten years into the future. There is a prominent billboard in your community that has a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and his words, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." What if, through individual or collective actions, people had shifted the balance towards peace, justice and healing in your community? What do you imagine would be different? Describe what you see.
Imagine that Gandhi's phrase had become your mantra and you had been consciously following through on your commitments to be the change you want to see in the world. Describe the highlights of what happened. What changes were the most rewarding for you? How has the quality of your life or the lives of your family, or your community, or even the world changed because of your commitments?