Veronica Pelicaric, a Pace e Bene nonviolence trainer and author, who also grew up in the land of Pope Francis, is organizing a nonviolence workshop and retreat with local people in the small mountainous town of La Cumbre, Córdoba Province, in the center of Argentina. She is also inviting any others interested in joining her February 13-26, 2016. Below she writes about why she is organizing this experience and encourages anyone interested to inquire with her by learning more and filling out the form here.
By Veronica Pelicaric
As we come to know the seriousness of the situation – the wars, the racism, the poverty, the nuclear weapons – we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather it’s a question of living one’s life in a drastically different way. -Dorothy Day
We all agree that the Pope’s words to Congress were wonderful. He is extending an invitation to put down our swords of privilege, of separation, of greed and self-interest. To live, as D. Day says, in a drastically different way. To recognize our shared humanity, our common woes and our shared wish to be happy in a peaceful world.
It is with that vision in mind that I decided to organize a “nonviolent experiment” in La Cumbre, Cordoba. Growing up as a child in busy Buenos Aires, this province held magic for me. I spent many vacations in summer camps there; swimming the rivers, riding the horses, climbing the low mountains and communing with nature in a very direct, unobstructed way. Though it is a tourist region, it is not the kind of place where the intrusion is sharply felt. Everything is soft and flowing, like T’ai Chi movements, in harmony with creation.
The purpose of sharing a living situation for fourteen days aims at a heart-based discovery of what it truly means to be nonviolent toward ourselves, nonviolent toward all others and caring for this planet that is so loudly crying out for compassion. Perhaps our deepest wounding these days is our sense of alienation, of communing with our screens, our telephones, our emails. Constantly hurrying to the next destination, never stopping to savour the present moment, to delight in the fact of being alive by the Grace of Love. So this retreat offers the opportunity to stop and say “thank you” for all that we have been given and to share this gratitude with others. It intends to open up dialogue with people who live in a different country but share the same emotions, the same concerns, the same sorrows, worries and joys. And to discover together what we can offer each other in terms of empathy, ideas, skills and tools. To create for fourteen days a mini beloved community experience. The Dalai Lama has said that Dialogue needs to be the prime concern of the XXI Century or we shall not survive it. So reaching across to others, sharing meals with them, walking together, learning together, will all be part of the cross-cultural dialogue. Learning about ourselves, each other and the world in peaceful and luminous surroundings will help dig roots that will sink deeply into our psyches and nourish us for a long time.
People coming from abroad will be staying with me at “La Fonda de Cruz Chica”. It is a small inn run by its owners, one of whom is an excellent chef. He will prepare our breakfast and our dinners. The days will start with gentle Yoga and mindfulness practice, followed by breakfast and a morning activity. In order to cultivate interior nonviolence we need to make friends with ourselves. Meditation helps to stabilize the emotions and strengthen the inner core. I have had a regular practice for over thirty years and I will offer gentle guidelines of how to work with our minds and our emotions. I have also been a yoga teacher and continue weekly classes of Yoga and Pilates so I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my expertise with the participants. After lunch – in different locations – we will have an afternoon activity (please see the inquiry page for day to day activities). On three of the evenings I will be giving talks on nonviolence so that we can begin the journey before the actual workshop starts. I have been very lucky in that this whole event has the support of a local organization whose concern is the environment and sustainable living. They are helping me to coordinate the activities and provide organizational support on that end. I will be arriving in La Cumbre one month before the event to be on the ground making sure everything runs according to programming.
After the first five days, we will have a weekend workshop (February 19, 20 and 21). This will take place in La Cumbre in a space we shall rent for the occasion. It will be bilingual, one day in Spanish with English translation and one day in English with Spanish translation. I have worked for Pace e Bene as Director of International Programs for fifteen years, therefore my experience is vast and varied. I have taught in many States of the USA, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia, Peru Venezuela, England and Australia. I am one of the authors of “Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living”. I have also been Director of the Centre for Nonviolence in Montreal and have worked in a Cree Reserve (Canadian First Nations) in Northern Manitoba. My hope for this workshop is that we will come to a fresh understanding of strategic and principled nonviolence, especially as it relates to our present day challenges and needs. What kind of profound inner and outer revolution is needed in order to create the New Story that we are in such dire need of? How can we pass on to our children a legacy of courage and creativity instead of chaos and ruin? It is for us to answer these questions in such urgent need of response. It is obvious that the Old Story is defunct, but what is the direction now? I believe nonviolence holds the answer. As Gandhi has said, “Devotion to nonviolence is the highest expression of humanity’s conscious state”.
For the last five days I am proposing an open schedule, excepting the meditation and the yoga sessions. We will create the activities together since we will be more familiar with the terrain and the possibilities offered by La Cumbre and its inhabitants. Hopefully, we will have formed friendships and allegiances with the local people who will have attended the workshop and who no doubt will have suggestions and proposals. My main intention for the last five days will be to provide the space and the environment for our insights to blossom and deepen. It so often happens that we attend a workshop and then have to rush back to our “ordinary lives”. This will be a time to reflect, do some journaling, perhaps give birth to new insights and intentions. And definitely a time to deepen dialogue. I am hoping that we will interact with some of the many artists of the area, visit their working places, learn a little of their craft. There are wonderful potters in La Cumbre, many painters, and our host at “La Fonda de Cruz Chica” is a professional dancer. So who knows what wonderful activities we will create together! Let us open space for surprises. One of my many interests for years has been alternative healing modalities so I am hoping to do a little presentation one evening on this subject. And I am sure that among us there will be people with many talents to offer and share. This is a small overview of what will happen during our stay together. People from all over the place have shown interest: Alaska, New Mexico, New Zealand, Quebec, The Philippines.
We have only a few places left. Come and join us.
In peace, Veronica