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Rhythm, Humility, and Peace.

Rhythm, Humility, and Peace.

Yesterday the school held an all school assembly to mark the passing of International Peace Day. This is a holiday that was set up by the United Nations. The United Nations was set up, some would say still being set up, in response to fact that between 50,000,000, and 80,000,000 people died in the violence of World War II.

One of the things that is difficult as a teacher is provide a sensorial experience of the world of values. I can show with beads how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, but what are the beads that show us the structure of peace?

Our creative response to this yesterday was to have the whole school in two concentric circles. To the rhythm of a drum we bowed to each other and wished each other peace. The outer circle would move to the next person and bow, wishing peace again to the new person, to begin the next cycle of 4 beats.

This was, in kid terms, and even for some of us grown ups, a long exercise. It took about three minutes for one half of the school wish the other half peace, one person at a time. Besides having to hold a wish in our feelings for a longer-then-usual time, there were several other remarkable aspects of the work. Another was that there were moments where about 240 people of all ages (our whole little nation of Thacher) at the precisely same moment, and in rhythm, bowed to each other and wished each other peace. From where I was, at the center of the circle, where the Big Odaiko Drum* was rhythmically keeping the sound of our oneness and our wish, the sensorial experience of Unity, and of the wish for Peace was very pronounced. The experience of Unity around the wish was echoed in the observations of the staff and students, and though one younger, smaller student observed that some of the bigger students were startlingly big, like “big slimy monsters”, there was a general sense that we accomplished our aim.

This was the very beginning of the exercise:

One of the works we have been focusing on very intensely so far this year is Rhythm. One very interesting aspect of rhythm work is that one cannot work with rhythm and have the idea that translates roughly as “I’ve got this”. To work with rhythm is to stay humble to what is unfolding. The moment one identifies with the ego wholly, one is left on the banks, as the river of time flows on ahead. The nature of this humility to the flow of time is practical, functional, and the experience of this humility through rhythm is sensorial. Adding the rhythm element to Peace work seemed to very much keep us grounded in the humbler more functional side of ourselves and create a structure in which this essential higher value could be physically experienced.

Lucy and Ethel trying to stay humble to the flow:

*(The Largest Drum in the World according to one Children’s House student)

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