Pictured above, L-R: my father, myself, and my mother
LIVING PROOF AND PEACE LEADERSHIP
Only 4 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage in 1958, but by 2013 the approval rating had increased to 87 percent. That is a remarkable change during one human lifetime. Growing up in Alabama as a child of a Black father and Korean mother, my existence has become living proof that attitudes can change. However, positive change does not happen by itself. We must make it happen.
As a descendant of slaves, I have civil rights today because of those who waged peace before me.
Two hundred years ago American women could not vote, own property, or graduate from college, and every woman who has those rights today is also living proof of progress. In school most students are not taught that men, women, and people from all ethnic backgrounds have benefited enormously from waging peace.
Although humanity has a long way to journey to fully achieve peace and justice, if we have made progress, why can’t we make more progress? Just as soldiers are trained to wage war, how much further could humanity progress if citizens were trained to wage peace?
To create more living proof of progress throughout the world, we must recognize our shared humanity and learn the peace leadership skills that empower us to wage peace.
LITERACY IN OUR SHARED HUMANITY
Because I have a racially mixed ancestry, I felt like a racial outcast while growing up in Alabama. I felt alienated from the white, Korean, and black communities. However, the pain of feeling like a racial outcast fueled my journey to understand how our shared humanity transcends race, nationality, and religion. During an era when humanity has the technological capacity to destroy itself, human survival depends on more people becoming literate in our shared humanity. To survive and create a more peaceful future, we must also become literate in the art of living and the art of waging peace. Much of my writing focuses on these new forms of literacy, which create a foundation for peace leadership and empower us to solve our personal, national, and global problems. Whether we recognize it or not, the truth is that we are a global human family. Human survival, peace, justice, the health of our democracy, and the wellbeing of our planet depend on more and more people recognizing this truth. The following pictures and captions convey some of the ways my blood family sparked my commitment to wage peace.
Picture taken in 1933 in Japan of my Korean grandparents on my mother’s side, along with two children they adopted. In this picture, my grandfather (Kim Jae Yung) is 33 years old and my grandmother (Kim Ho Nam) is 19 years old. When Korea was occupied by Japan, my grandparents arrived in Japan as children as part of a mass migration of Koreans looking for work in Japan. Because my grandparents endured the racism that Japanese people felt toward Koreans, both sides of my family have been affected by racism, which motivates me to combat the racist attitudes that conceal our shared humanity. My grandparents and mother lived in Japan during World War II, and then moved to Korea where they lived during the Korean War. War’s wrath on civilians furthers my commitment to waging peace.
Picture taken in 1943 in Abingdon, Virginia of my grandparents on my father’s side, along with their four children. My grandfather (Paul E. Chappell) and grandmother (Mary Lou Chappell), both of whom were bi-racial, are 43 years old in this picture. My father (Paul B. Chappell) on the bottom left, whose experiences with racism caused him to worry about my future as a racial outcast, pressured me to join the military because he did not think any other place in America would accept me. I was born in 1980, when my father was fifty four years old. I was his only child. My father, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, prepared me in unique ways to wage peace by giving me the grueling gift of extreme trauma.
Picture of my grandfather (Paul E. Chappell) taken during the early 1920s. Because his parents were absent, he was raised by his grandparents, two former slaves named Wyatt and Francis Chappell who were born in 1835 and 1842 respectively. Working for decades as a barber during the pre-civil rights era (he died in 1957), my grandfather struggled so that his descendants could have more opportunities in life, and I feel obligated to repay this debt by working for peace and justice.
THE ROAD TO PEACE BOOK SERIES
To learn how waging peace can improve our personal lives, communities, and the world, a useful place to start is books. To build a foundation for waging peace, which is vital to peace leadership, I am writing the Road to Peace book series. This is a seven-book series about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human. This book series is a resource for anyone who wants to understand how positive change happens on both the global and personal levels. The books can be read in any order, and each book journeys deeper to reveal the solutions to our human problems and unlock the secrets of our humanity.
In addition to learning about the power of waging peace through books, you can also attend the workshops we offer through the Peace Literacy Institute, which teach the powerful form of leadership that is needed to promote peace and justice in communities, countries, and the world. I offer this training in communities around the country and internationally.
Most leadership books and courses focus on business management, but peace leadership focuses on the form of leadership that Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony practiced. It is also the form of leadership that our world will require if humanity is going to solve its most serious problems and survive during our fragile future.
Peace leadership skills are life skills, and the ability to resolve conflict and wage peace not only allows us to make a positive difference in the world, but in our communities, families, and personal lives.
Paul speaking in Germany.