Champions of Compassion and Peace
I have a 16-month-old daughter. Her ancestors come from all over the world — she’s Asian, Caucasian, Native Hawaiian. She’s beautiful and she’s starting to show signs that she’s strong-willed, caring, persevering, artistic, and much more. And I’m terrified for her because I’m not sure our society is ready to fully accept her and help her to thrive. She’ll someday be a young woman of color in a society that doesn’t fully respect young women of color. There’s a good chance that she’ll be paid less than her counterparts, that she’ll be a victim of some form of violence, that she’ll be bullied, that her home of Hawai`i will be ravaged by climate change or that she’ll be priced out by the wealthy, that her culture will fade. I could go on and on. My wife and I have brainstormed how we can give her the utmost freedom to pursue her own interests and passions while still feeling safe and while still developing into a young woman who possesses our two non-negotiable qualities — to be resilient and kind. And I’m terrified for ourselves because I’m not confident that we have the skills to do so. I’m able to work on both of these fears through my work with Ceeds of Peace. Ceeds of Peace is a Hawai`i-based organization founded by Dr. Kerrie Urosevich and Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. Over the past five years, Ceeds of Peace has reached over 7,000 community members, equipping them with the skills and inspiration to raise a generation of leaders who will create peaceful, just, and sustainable communities. Our founders define sustainable communities as communities that come together to protect their most vulnerable members, while designing and adapting socioeconomic systems to reflect the unique needs of their people and land. We offer a number of peacebuilding and action planning workshops and presentations for teachers, families, community groups, and youth. We help participants to plant and nurture essential leadership skills, including critical thinking, courage, communication, compassion, conflict resolution, commitment, collaboration, and connection. Hence our name, Ceeds of Peace. We focus on proactive peacebuilding efforts that address underlying causes and risk factors — for example, efforts that raise compassionate children and prevent bullying rather than efforts that intervene and punish bullies. Some confuse us as a structured social emotional learning curriculum or a cure-all elixir to address bullying or violence. We are not, and this cure-all elixir doesn’t exist. Our goal is to bring out the knowledgeable expert and the courageous leader in each of our participants. Our participants leave us more confident to create and implement action plans that work best for their unique selves (peace within), their own families and friends (peace with others), and their own communities (peace in community). This is the approach it’ll take to build a community that fully accepts my daughter and other youth and helps them to thrive. At the same time, this is the approach it’ll take to empower my wife and I, as well as other adults across the globe, to raise resilient and kind young peacebuilding leaders. #
Scott T. Nashimoto is the Executive Director of Ceeds of Peace. For more information, please visit CeedsOfPeace.org.