As many of us have completed our first full week of work in 2014, I’ve been thinking about what it will take to bring about the peace so deeply hoped for in the messages on the holiday cards now strewn across my mantel. While it may not be the entire solution, I’d like to propose a start: eliminating violence from our meetings.
Thirty years ago, I became a Catholic sister as one way to live out my desire to make the world a peaceful place. Almost immediately, I ran into heartbreak. At age 30, I thought I had at last found “my tribe”—people with whom I could work to establish justice and nonviolence, writ large. That was until I started attending meetings.
In meeting after meeting, I would watch, awe-struck, as some sisters’ attitudes, language, and behaviors were some of the most hurtful, disruptive, and destructive I had experienced to date. I witnessed people being rude, dismissive, cutting people off, using sarcasm as a weapon, or exploding in anger. The same was true for meetings of other nonprofit groups I thought I wanted to join as a volunteer.