There are a few things I would like to say especially to Trinity’s Peer Leaders here in Toronto, in Elliot Lake, in Sault Ste Marie, and Thunder Bay, as well as Peer Leaders in Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa as you move on at this time in your education either from grade to grade, secondary to post secondary or into the work place or a year off.
The key workshops of the Peer to Peer mentoring process we used to reach out to younger, more vulnerable students in our school communities were all based on different areas of a person’s social/emotional development. The areas were (i) learning the importance of respect in one’s life (ii) stepping up and naming the issues in whatever community you find yourself (iii) learning how to handle conflict and the benefits of assertiveness in relationships (iv) the importance of our gender identities and the personal and community diminishment we experience in all forms of prejudice, as well as the misuse of addictive substances.
Each of these areas continues to grow and broaden in our lives as we grow so it’s about some of these more mature areas of concern I’d like to talk to you about in this brief writing.
Concerning respect: Strive to develop an insight-based approach to life. Be constantly reflecting on experience and making assessments re how you think about a particular event, relationship etc. This self-initiated respect applies both to yourself and others.
Concerning naming issues: Assume diversity in all things. We don’t need illusions like ‘normal’ or ‘universal’, or any other label that hides a lazy mind full of generalities to be able to observe life and name what you see.
Concerning handling conflict and developing assertiveness: Don’t be imprisoned by our person made reality systems. When you look at a tree and see only a two dimensional object you are imprisoning yourself in a reality system called ‘nature’ and ‘landscape’. But when you “see’ the invisible ie see with insight and imagination the nutrients being absorbed by the roots and rising to the branches and leaves and the act of photosynthesis, you see the whole tree. When we conflict with another person the world encourages a simplistic win-lose mentality and ‘truths’ about human nature like the inevitability of conflict in life. Strive to see the bigger picture of the conflict. You can choose to do other than conflict.
Concerning gender and substance use and abuse: You will have to keep learning all your life. And often to learn you will have to unlearn, or relearn something previously known but no longer applicable or useful. Learning who you are gender-wise and growing creatively in that evolution towards fulfilling relationships can often mean being honest and resisting comfortable mindsets which are very similar to the constant invitation of addictive processes in our personal growth concerning both substances and behaviours.
To all Trinity Peer Leaders past and present, live a creative life animated by open mindedness and the capacity to flourish in diversity.
Take a leadership role in your own life. Don’t let fear or any form of censure curtail or limit your life.
Love is our primary process for engagement with the world around us.
Live in love, and be guided by kindness.