And the Truth Will Set You All Free
By Lou Tenaglia

When I am doing the routine things in my life, I can forget how powerful the presence of Peace can be in guiding, supporting and directing my life. Because my "job" in the world involves quick decision-making and relating with many people at one time, I can go on "automatic pilot" and forget the presence of Peace. Then something happens to remind me that my life is under a perfect direction and my real "job" is to learn how to cooperate and allow myself to be led and protected.

I work as the principal of a large elementary school, and was working with a tenured teacher who had difficulty aligning with her job. She had frequently received feedback about ways to strengthen her work, which she resisted.

It became clear that I needed to inform her that her work was unsatisfactory. After a difficult meeting, she knew she would have to make substantial changes in her work. I was prepared and willing to help her. The tension of confronting this issue was difficult for us both. I trusted in a higher direction to help me, but I also knew I had to walk through this issue and hold steady in my integrity as a supervisor.

Two weeks later, she decided to take a temporary (three month) leave of absence. I needed to replace her almost overnight. Luckily, I had an experienced teacher in the wings to step in.

This teacher and a few key parents started the rumor mill going, however, and the main villain in this story was me-the Principal, forcing a creative teacher to leave the classroom! I am bound, ethically and legally, not to discuss personnel; she was able to talk with parents and create public pressure sympathetic to her point of view. It was a powerful and upsetting lesson of looking the "God of Opinion" right in the eye!

After a couple of weeks of fielding angry phone calls and calming upset parents, I agreed to a meeting of the classes' parents to explain the situation and help the new teacher get off to a good start. I could feel myself reacting, feeling misrepresented and persecuted. I was beginning to set up a mental and emotional position that this teacher was "wrong" and I was "right." I felt trapped and unsure of what to do and how to make things better. What to do?

First, I went to a group of supportive friends. I asked for help and the ability to heal this situation to bring forward the "highest good" of all those who were concerned with it. I realized that I didn't want to be "right," I really wanted peace. The answer came as my sharing ended! I realized how important it is to ask and then to listen. I got the message inwardly that I would be able to bring peace into the situation if I paid less attention to the attack and more attention to the peace I wanted to create. So simple a message, and yet so profound in the midst of my issues!

Next, I wrote to John Morton, one of the founders of IIWP. When I opened the e-mail message from John, I saw his simple, profound reply: "Pay attention to the truth. Don't get caught up in the negativity. The truth will set you all free."

So now I had to shift my attention. Stop worrying, stop protecting myself, stop planning, stop wanting to attack. Instead, start to focus on peace, start to ask others for advice, start to listen more inwardly. My inner and outer experience began to change. I was being given the opportunity bringing peace to a real situation. I was being called upon to demonstrate the consciousness of peace in the face of my fears.

My wife, Linnie, knew that I was trying to find peace in the midst of "againstness" and she came to the parent meeting with one purpose- to sit in the back of the room and silently send me loving support. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Prior to the meeting, I reminded myself that my first job was to bring peace into the room and hold a focus of listening and loving for everyone who was there.

As the meeting began, one parent held up a paper and said, "The parents want these questions answered by you. These are the questions that are important to the parents tonight." I was blessed with the presence of mind to say to all the parents in the room, "These questions are being given to me as important to 'the parents', so I assume you have all met and agreed that these questions represent all of your thinking."

The other people in the room immediately took exception. The energy shifted and comments began to surface:

"I haven't even seen that paper before."

"No one asked me what I wanted to say tonight."

"I object to you trying to speak for me."

"I find the tone of these questions to Lou to be insulting."

I watched in awe as I was being cared for in the process. The negative approach was having the rug pulled out from under itself. I was witnessing the power of trusting in loving and being vulnerable to the truthThe outcome of the meeting was that the overwhelming majority of the parents lined up in support of me and the new teacher. The negative attack evaporated in front of my eyes.

Sometimes I get lulled into thinking that the power of peace has to look really big: a sure sign of a needed ego vacation! The real power of peace comes in these kinds of events that look so ordinary.

The meeting ended cordially. The new teacher had the support of the parents and the few people who had a negative agenda probably still had it, but I was paying more attention to building bridges than defending walls.

I learned some great lessons.

My intention for peace was a major key in creating it.

Peace focused groups are a powerful way to send and receive support.

After I ask for assistance, remember to listen even more carefully.

Be prepared to act in accordance with the message I hear inwardly.

In the face of negativity, stay focused on Peace.

There is perfect protection in vulnerability.

 

Lou Tenaglia

 



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