TOWARD PEACE IN THE PEACE PARK
On Tuesday, June 26, the Charlestown Coalition led an event rededicating the renovated Peace Park in Charlestown, followed by a community walk and celebration. I would like to highlight such a positive movement for not only Charlestown youth, but all in this community.
When I was thirteen, my brother was crushed to death in a horrifying, gruesome accident. I’ve been searching for peace ever since. His death, and tragic life before it, haunts me still. We’ve all lost someone we love. Sometimes to violence, sometimes illness; if we’re lucky, simply because none of us live forever. Some of us search for peace and struggle to cope for other reasons, too: A loved one in prison, mistakes that have had dire consequences, too little money, too little love, too little time. We may have been victimized by violence, prejudice, abuse, betrayal. It may have happened face-to-face, through the grapevine, in texts or on social media.
We may try ways of coping that backfire, like using substances, stealing, hiding, or using people. We may have to manage fury toward someone who cheated, lied to, or treated us carelessly. There are myriad ways people disrespect us. Maybe they think they are better than us just because of the home they have, or the shoes they have, or where they’re from, or where their family is from. Maybe they stir up drama about us out of boredom, jealousy, fear or insecurity. We may all be guilty at some point.
It is just so easy to get “into it” with others. But it doesn’t end well when we do. Sometimes it ends in violence. Sometimes we get in trouble, or fired; lose friends, go to jail. Sometimes family members write us off. Often, it simply ends in bad feelings, mean or humiliating words. It never brings us toward peace.
Good parents, mentors, and people who are looking out for kids in Charlestown have been taught and teach kids not to start conflict with others unnecessarily. It’s the next part that gets tricky: “If someone starts with you, you’d better finish it, and you’d better finish on top.” But fairness doesn’t always enter into the equation in life. So rather than expect justice, why not refuse to be an agent of injustice? And when someone invites us into the gutter, why not refuse to go? No one deserves the power to pull us off course from where each of us is aiming: toward becoming the best person we can be. Isn’t that, deep down, all any of us want?
There’s way more hate, violence and tragedy than any of us deserves. Many of us think we cannot survive it all, but we can keep trying, together. Challenge yourself to connect with someone. Make a difference. Find a better way. Go for something hard. But do it one step at a time. Realize, or remember, that it’s really bigger than you. Move your body. Breathe slowly and deeply. Stop and think. Talk it out. Write it down. Ask for help. Give help. Honor those we love and those we have lost by being the kind of person who inspires us. The serenity prayer applies to us all: “Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference (Niebuhr).” Go toward the light. And away from the dark. Stand up and stand tall, but also know how and when to walk away.
Feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just are. We have them for a reason. Thoughts, as long as we don’t act on them, don’t hurt anyone. We need to allow ourselves our thoughts and feelings, but remember than when our thoughts are negative and dark, often for good reason, that’s not the whole of us. We may feel angry, terrified, indignant, lost, or racked with guilt. However, while we feel rage, for instance, we still hold the capacity for compassion. Every day as a psychologist, I am humbled by my patients’ struggles. And also awed by their great courage, fortitude, resilience, forgiveness, and love. There are terrible storms. But there are also glorious, warm and sunny days. As long as we remember our entire spectrum of experiences, there is potential for peace.
A wonderful Charlestown teen and I were recently reflecting that a peace movement is a local effort in the service of promoting world peace. It struck me as extremely simple. And extremely perfect. What if Charlestown became a community of peace leaders? Started a peace movement? The Peace Park is a symbol, and a place, that can serve as a spark. A place of reflection, of remembrance, of hope. Community members forwarded the movement in walking together on Tuesday.
I wish I could have been with you for the celebration. But right now, I’m in California, getting to know my first grandchild, one of the greatest joys of my life. So, even though like most of us, I have survived great loss, abuse, assault, injury, and injustice, I also have an infinite number of blessings, both to reflect on from the past and to dream about for my future. I wish the same for all of you.
Lisa B. Solomon, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Child and Family Services
Counseling and Behavioral Unit
MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center
HOOD PARK DESIGN CHARRETTE RECAP
On Saturday, June 23, we hosted a design charrette to get input from the community about the proposed kids lab, park, retail space and overall master plan at Hood Park. While we have an already-approved plan for Hood Park, we are seeking to update the current plan without adding any additional density or traffic to ensure that Hood Park is integrated into the neighborhood and can be a resource for all of Charlestown.
We got some great feedback about what people are hoping to see at Hood Park, ranging from music classes and an indoor play space for kids, to a covered picnic area, to community gardens, to more restaurants. This input will be incredibly helpful in helping us shape the future of Hood Park.
We are still at the input-gathering stage in this process, and will continue to have informal discussions with the community throughout the summer to learn more about what you would like to see in Charlestown.
For more information, or to sign up for our mailing list to learn about future events, please visit HoodPark.com.
Partner, Trademark Partners