John Hancock, of Friends of Compassion, talks about peace at Chairs Coffee

John Hancock, of Friends of Compassion, talks about peace at Chairs Coffee

Peace is a short word with a complex meaning. It’s a word that a group of about 30 people spent discussing Wednesday evening at Chairs Coffee for Peace Conversations Cafe, the kick-off event for the Pathways to Peace project.

“The purpose is to inspire people to live lives of peace,” Joan Broeckling, of One Peace, Many Paths and the Spokane Interfaith Council. “It’s about expanding out comfort zone, about testing ourselves and about stretching out our sense of inclusion.”

She explained in a previous interview that Pathways to Peace is a project designed to turn the sorrows of Sept. 11 and transform them into something positive by cultivating peace.

Peace Conversations Cafe drew in people of various faiths, including Christians, Mormons, Buddhists, Religion Scientists, Sufis, Sikhs and other traditions.

“I hope we can see past our differences to our commonalities as spiritual human beings,” Broeckling said to the group as the event began.

Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. discusses personal peace practices.

Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. discusses personal peace practices.

The cafe was designed as a round table discussion with four tables set up. Each table conversed about a different topic and was lead by a facilitator. 

Personal Peace Practices
“I come from a violent background, lead a violent life,” said the Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr., of the Center for Spiritual Living. “Forgiveness is the biggest practice I have. As I forgive myself, I can love other people and with that love and understanding comes peace.”

Compassion and Service
“The Buddhists taught me a couple of important lessons. One is that when someone asks you to do something, you should say yes. So I try to do that,” said John Hancock, of Friends of Compassion.
The second thing he learned, he said, is that he can’t truly help others until he’s spent time examining his own failures. “Attention to self is a basic service to others.”

Peace and Justice
“All the people in the world have different beliefs and religions, but the values should be the root of the tree. With the right values and a positive attitude, the tree can grow strong, even if some leaves may fall,” said Amarjit Kaur, a member of the Sikh Temple of Spokane.

Spirit and Human Nature
One woman said she rejects that it’s simply in human nature to do bad things.
“I don’t believe it’s in human nature to be evil,” she said.
Niemic chimed in, “I believe we came into this world to love and to be loved…Love is the essence of life.”

After two hours of table discussions the group came together to talk about how the four topics could be used toward cultivating a more peaceful world.

Layne Pavey, of One Peace, Many Paths, which co-organized the event, said peace comes down to community, responsibility and respect.

“We are each other. I’m not better than you, because I am you,” she said.

Pathways to Peace continues at 7 p.m. Saturday with  Sounds of Peace at Unity South.

Pathways to Peace Events:
- Sounds of Peace, Unity South, 7 p.m., Saturday
- Peace Pole Pilgrimage, Center for Spiritual Living, 3:30 p.m., Sept. 16
- My Recipe for Peace, Unity South, 5:45 p.m. dinner, 7 p.m. program, Sept. 19
- Honoring the Nations Ceremony, Center for Spiritual Living, 6 p.m., Sept. 21

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