Our guest writer is Daniel Buttry, author of Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Here is Dan’s fourth report…
I can’t do anything!
Problems are just too complex.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m not strong enough.
Those are all self-limiting beliefs. They are hammered into our brains until they define our lives—and limit our possibilities. If anybody should have held self-limiting beliefs it was Mayerly Sanchez. She was 12 years old. She lived in Colombia, one of the most violent countries in the world. She was poor—so poor she was a sponsored child through a religious relief agency. One of her best friends, a 15-year-old boy, was murdered.
How could Mayerly Sanchez hope to survive—let alone make a difference in the world?
But Mayerly, who I profile in Blessed Are the Peacemakers, wasn’t limited by such beliefs. Instead she looked at how she could counter the violence around her. She began in a local park playing peace games with children such as “conversation contests” in which players were disqualified for speaking insults. She garnered support from the agency that sponsored her in forming a peace club. Her activities prompted an invitation by UNICEF to a special children’s workshop. As she met other children from around Colombia she launched the Children’s Movement for Peace.
“A child shall lead them,” is a wonderful vision from the prophets, but shouldn’t realism tone down our expectations? Not for Mayerly!
Under her leadership the Children’s Movement for Peace launched a national vote of Colombia’s children on whether they wanted the government and guerilla forces to commit to peace. The Children’s Peace and Rights Mandate was endorsed by 2.7 million children! Adults were so inspired by the children that they put the mandate before the Colombian public, which overwhelmingly spoke for peace. This groundswell from the children up through the adults pressured the president to begin negotiations.
Mayerly is now an adult and continues to work for peace.
Do you know children with big visions for helping our world?
How are self-limiting beliefs playing a role in dimming those hopes?
How are you encouraging them?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.