Asia West Pacific – November 2018
Busan, Korea: We Need Each Other
by Nadine Hoover
Life Lines, a network of volunteer counselors for a crisis hotline, celebrated their 40th anniversary at their national gathering in Busan. Pullip, Director of Life Lines and AVP facilitator, invited Nadine Hoover and Park Jungjoo of Friends Peace Teams to open the celebration with the approximately 250 attenders on 31 October 2018, 3:30 – 4:30 pm, in Busan, South Korea. One third of the attenders were professional counselors and the rest volunteers. They have been dedicated to the work of crisis counseling and referral without recognition for many years. Nadine shared this message and Jungjoo interpreted in Korean:
Pullip, Nadine Hoover, and Park Jungjoo at the 40th anniversary of Life Line in Busan, South Korea
We Need Each Other: Trauma and Resiliency
Many people want the best for others. Such good intentions are very important, much better than bad intentions. But few have the commitment to organize ways for people in need to find us when they need. Few have the skills of listening, empathy, caring and support to meet people where they are in this messy work of suffering. Please stand and give a hand to your commitment, skill and generosity, and greet the people around you by saying, “Thank you for being part of this.”
There are two kinds of people–those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don’t. I may be a third kind, however, who believes both. The human struggle has many choices–healthy or unhealthy, kind or cruel, creative or destructive–while the cosmic totality of life enfolds everything into its regenerative nature. I experience the duality of human joys and tragedies and the unity of existence.
Trauma sets in when the needs feel greater than our resources. So staying in touch with the great, cosmic power of life serves as a great antidote to trauma. Life is an endless abundant resource, greatly outstripping human need. Even the destructiveness of the atomic bomb could not stop life from coming back. The grass, trees, birds, flowers, people, cities are back. Stand up and greet those near you. Share your name and a power for good I have is…
This power for good is always present, even where we fail or are inadequate. Rumi says, “The wound is the place that the Light enters you.” Many traditions believe that mistakes are the cracks that the Divine comes through. When we are perfectly ourselves, our weaknesses become opportunities to call on other’s strengthens. We fit together as a community. Through our flaws and failings we are able to see the power of life beyond our own ego. This is the source of conviction. In English, it comes from the root, “to be convicted,” to be guilty. Our shortcomings allow us to experience true humility and conviction.
Trauma sets in when the needs feel greater than our resources. So learn to speak about as well as listen to other’s experiences of violence, suffering and pain. We practice doing this in a way that releases, not just relives, these harmful experiences. But speaking about them demystifies them, and reduces their edge of surprise. We express and offer time to release emotions, then call ourselves back to this time and place with fresh, clear minds to form insightful stories of our lives. From this position we can make better decisions and take more effective action. We experience ourselves as capable and resourceful.
Trauma sets in when the needs feel greater than our resources. So ask for good attention. We are often overwhelmed when we do not get good attention when we need it. Trying to manage our emotions on our own, alone, reenacts the isolation that created the trauma in the first place. Asking for good attention when you feel emotional contradicts the distress. Who can I ask for attention from and offer them attention?
In John, Jesus says I will no longer call you servants, I will call you friends, when you do as I direct and that is to love–love one another he says three times. When we commit to taking good care of ourselves and each other, we can be truly available and prepared to assist others. We must vigilantly take inventory of where our service comes from–love or fear.
Help often does not help–it can be very condescending, disrespectful and disempowering. Beware of the pitfalls of service that arise from fear and a crisis of faith: trying to earn a sense of value, trying to rescue others from their own lives, appeasing our sense of guilt or shame for the way we live, escaping or numbing ourselves through busy-ness, masking control over others or playing God ourselves. Check that service arises from love and a sense of faith in the power of life: expressing the joy of life, connecting to the Divine through relationships, being available when our house and relationships are in good order, sharing life’s abundant gifts, liberating ourselves from exploitative or oppressive relationships, and testing our integrity by love and conscience.
Love exists in relationship. For love, we need one another. Together we learn to love life, ourselves and each other in this messy, hard work of being human.
Trauma and Resiliency Workshop (3 hours)
Life Lines volunteer counselors joined Pullip, Nadine and Jungjoo for a mini workshop on trauma in Busan, Korea. We opened by stopping, letting go of all extra effort or tension in our bodies and minds, and noticing the preciousness of the transforming power of life given to us in each moment, heartbeat and breath. We went around the circle to name a power for good I have is. We introduced the AVP Roadmap of friendship, affirmation, communication, cooperation, and how the trauma recovery parallels it with agreements, safety with ourselves and others, remembering (when memory is stored in a part of the brain that has no language), and reconnection, how to cooperate when the relationships have been wounded. Then we worked on positive words, affirmation, listening and speaking. We drew our core selves, what it felt like when we felt totally alive and our authentic selves, and we did a short companion exercise staying in our core selves and remembering the core self of others. Just recognizing that people who volunteer to share their compassion for others often have suffered ourselves. Taking care of ourselves is critical to prevent burn out while supporting others. Being good companions to one another as well as others goes a long way towards healing.