Asia West Pacific

Three Days to Stop and Listen: AWP Discernment 2021

by Kins Aparece

The team discerning with Melanie

We practice organizing based on discerning a consensus of conscience, which we propose is a compelling administrative alternative for non-profit organizations. We described what that looks like in directing program decisions in the article Discernment: An Experiential and Reflective Note, by Subhash Chandra. 

Another aspect of this work is the annual discernment meetings. All eleven AWP team members met online on February 4-6, 2021, for our third year of annual discernment meetings, to exchange attention and feedback. Some AWP Working Group members attended as they were able. 

Each person received full attention for about 1.5-2 hours from the others while they listened for the voice of inner promptings. We participate voluntarily in peace work; half receive basic stipends from Friends Peace Teams, but most of us need other sources of income as well, while we do the work, fundraise, and take care for ourselves and our families. The queries focused on how our lives are changing from last year to next year:

  •     Are you taking care of yourself? How is your health?
  •     Are you taking care of your relationships and your family?
  •     Are you taking care of your livelihood?
  •     How do you need to put your life in order so that you can volunteer for peace and justice?

The focus person speaks to clarify their own thoughts, not to explain themselves to others. Once they are clear, it’s simple to state it to others. Sometimes, the focus person speaks in their native language, while the rest hold them in the Light, staying grounded in our core selves and remembering the core self of the person. Each person comes up with their Work Focus 2021.  

AWP Working Group Meeting

From listening to each of us individually, joint directions emerge:

Insights. We can acknowledge our limitations, because sometimes our limitations are as liberating as our strengths. The quality of attention to the people and the natural surroundings we work with makes a huge difference! Scheduling regular times to exchange attention and support changes us, which is an important thing we can offer to each other.

Social Justice. We share concerns for the following, which often get lost in the day-to-day demands:

  • Conscientious Objection to war and militarism. Several of us could meet regularly to collaborate and present to the Asia West Pacific Working Group, but we would need a convenor.
  • Permaculture. We call on Permaculture specialists for reference, and to advise us how to integrate permaculture in ways that support us. We integrate peace with nature as well as other people in our daily lives, but leave permaculture training to the ecologists.
  • Priority reading list. We would like to make our annotated, recommended, priority reading list for adult peace and justice workers. 

Collaboration. Alternatives to Violence Project is our home; we need to remember to connect with AVP as our global network. We are collaborating in the Friendly Book Collaborative and need to invite this global ministry to present to the AWP WG so we all are aware of this work and opportunity. FPT is developing a multilingual interactive website. We should each think about whether we want to use the FPT website with the public in our language. 

Training. Most of us are doing peace work with parents and youth. We should be aware of the book: From Conflict to Peacebuilding: the power of early childhood initiatives. We would like to invite Rustam to offer the stereotype training developed by the Chechens. We are not writers, but are all expected to write. Should we organize a writing workshop to offer editing, coaching, and instruction in how to write?

Administration & Resources. We need to clarify and delegate administration and shift to administering through activities and news rather than through administrative meetings alone. We need to decide if it is time for us to develop a management and funding approach for our local AVP/CCP/PoG programs. 

The annual discernment meetings help each of us celebrate changes over time and focus our efforts in the coming year, but also to notice the obvious yet easily missed opportunities for collaboration and new development. 

We thank the Friends Peace Teams Council for sharing the Zoom account with us.  We can optimize the technology available for the organization. Most of all, we appreciate the presence and good attention of some of the AWP Working Group Members who joined us for this activity.  We felt cared for and supported.

The team discerning with Chris