Self-Care for Peacebuilders Is Important!

October 15th, 2009

Nancy Good. Photo by Jon Styer.

The vast majority of those who walk through the doors of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding – actually, probably the vast majority of the faculty and staff of CJP itself – feel overwhelmed at times by the difficulties of building peace in a world that is “fallen” (to use a Christian expression). Burn out threatens.

Eastern Mennonite University professor Nancy Good has embraced the mission of teaching peacebuilders how to take care of themselves so that they can persist in their work over the long haul, despite the inevitable setbacks they will encounter. Here is the description for a course she teaches, “Disciplines for Transforming the Peacebuilder”:

This course explores the personal sustenance and transformation of the peacebuilder as a fundamental dimension of building peace. To work transformatively in conflict requires that peacebuilders pursue the journey of our own transformation. To an unusual degree, those involved in peacebuilding operate in environments that impose high stress, sometimes referred to as compassion fatigue and secondary traumatization. These environments provide little support in meeting these stresses, and require peacebuilders to prepare in advance with strategies for personal growth and coping with stress. A substantial element of the course requires the development of a repertoire of routines for personal disciplines (emotional, physical, spiritual) in maintaining a prolonged peacemaking presence in settings of highly charged and protracted conflict.

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