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Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson is the Program Director at the Transitional Living Center in Spokane. TLC is a temporary housing program for homeless moms and their children. Here, the women can learn life skills and gain self-sufficiency through parenting and transforming trauma classes, and the children can grow through the childcare program.

Interview by Maddie Tappa, May 2014

             At the Transitional Living Center, I have the opportunity to help people who have been through a lot of negative experiences and are trying to find a peace within them. My position does not necessarily allow me to guide them to that peace, but allows me to be a safe place for them to explore. We create a place that is full of love and kindness during a painful transformation.

             In a word, I think that peace is love. Through peace, we can extend the recognition that every human has love to offer. We each have our own experiences to honor, but we can help each other succeed despite the challenges. Life brings countless joys, as well as excruciating pain, but through love and understanding we can live life together. To me, peace means to love and to recognize the beauty of life and individuals. We are all innately beautiful people.

            To make peace more prominent in our society, we need to make it a part of who we are. Our society has been able to put an emphasis on recycling and eating organic, and if we can incorporate those things into our daily lives and our schools, why can’t we take the simplest idea of kindness and peace and embed that into our daily existence? We need to emphasize the importance of peace in our communities, and it can be as simple as a random act of kindness. Those everyday interactions are the things that can change the course of a person’s day or even life. We have to recognize that everybody has a story with different experiences, and we never know what is happening in a stranger’s life. We have the capability to hurt someone worse than they’re already hurting, but we also have the capability to make them feel better. The vibrations we carry are transferred onto those around us. Bringing this concept of love into our classrooms will help children learn the full extent of peaceable interactions. Our schools teach children survival, not how to gauge what’s right and wrong in social situations. The bottom line is that we need to incorporate peace into our everyday lives.

             These little things can change the nature of a space or a community. Even the small inspirational signs we have in our halls change the TLC building from an institution to a personal and safe space. Just simple things. It doesn’t take much, but it can change a lot.

             For students studying peace, I think there should be a basis of meditation. That can mean different things for each person, but finding something that can serve to regulate your mind and body, which can be mastered to achieve inner peace. Finding peace in yourself needs to come before you can spread that peace.

             There is something so much more than what we are as individuals. We are all connected through our common humanity.