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I thought about some violence we experience in the world. The last few days it is that theme that has drawn me in my writing.

The word compassion comes from sharing a love of something and the suffering that comes from sharing. The word companion comes from sharing a meal, usually on a journey with others.

We have more in common than makes us different. It is differences that make us unique. The ancient concept of common sense (sensus communis) was what a community shared and held in common, to be passed on to the next generation.

With violence, what do we think we are passing on to the next generation? I would like to think we pass on the good we have in common, the sharing of things we love and suffer with, and we will stop for a meal with each other in times we feel strife.

New emerges and we replace what is outdated and unnecessary, but more remains than we replace when we are mindful and attentive to the world we share.

We are dreamers,

Imagining what might be,

Wondering what could be,

Wondering, “who do we share with?”

In suffering and loving,

Experiencing (com)passion.

In moments of passion,

We share with one another,

Delighting us in one moment,

In the next, suffering together

(Com)panions sharing our daily bread.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

14 responses »

  1. Lovely idea unless the right wing illegal protesters are trying run over you or beating you with metal signs while you’re standing in front of a police station where no one will stop them. Ideas of peace and sharing do not work with people who are filled with hate. People who want to kill you. People who are filled with rage will not sit down and chat. We can stand there and let them scream at us and spit at us but there’s no talking. None at all. I don’t know how to use the things you write about in the real world. At least not in my world. I don’t even understand what you’re saying, when it comes to facing people who are violent and trying to take away the freedom of others and actually kill people. I try to understand how your words and ideas can be put into action but I can’t think of a single instance where I could do it. They hate. They want us dead, or jailed, or crushed. No one wants to talk and share. Compassion does not exist. They are dangerous and we stand up to them so they don’t grow and spread their hatred. So, yeah…I don’t understand what you’re saying. Peaceful people can talk, hateful, violent ones cannot. We are trying to stop the violence for future generations by putting ourselves out there because word do not work…they can’t hear you over their own screaming. It’s not only protesters. Try talking to a mean who is beating his wife, kicking her, punching her with his fists. See if he wants to talk about compassion when this is her thousandth trip to the ER. Tell the rapist father that he should stop. Words only work when people are rational and want to listen. Violent people, especially in groups couldn’t care less. They want to HURT others and have their own way. You sound like a gentle person. I don’t know how that works. I don’t see how that can bring about big changes. I’ve never seen the things you write about work unless both groups or parties want it to work and I’ve never seen that either. There is a war out there. It’s been going on forever. We can’t even get equal pay for women after talking for YEARS. No ERA. Nothing. So no. Compassion is a work in the dictionary unless individuals are helping people/animals they are not working against. It doesn’t work on the street between people who are willing to kill you for their beliefs. Seriously, I just don’t know how the things you believe can stop the terrible things that are happening. Nothing is stopping the violence against women and children, not the laws, not the committees, NOTHING! Can you understand what it’s like to be a female in a culture that hates you and can do anything thing it wants to you because you don’t have any rights or power? There’s a REASON for that. Compassion is a joke. There is none. Not when it comes to us. Not when it comes to trying to survive in a violent world. Nothing stops men. Nothing stops the right wing and nothing stops the men in power…all we can do is stand there and say, “No more.”

    • There are violent people in the world. That is my point. We have to begin somewhere. I realize my situation may be different. I have lived in the same community for 40 years and, when I walk, people say hi and chat with me. There is compassion, but it is lost in the heated rhetoric of the day. We have lost the meaning of rhetoric. Aristotle proposed rhetoric reflected the quality of the words a person spoke and his/her character. The character of a person is measured in their actions. I think it begins with those closest to us: our family, neighbours, colleagues, etc. and radiates outwards into the world. I don’t understand what it means to be a woman. I am male. I am over 6 foot and weight 250 lb. What I can say is I treat my wife and other women with respect and dignity. That is how I was raised.

    • What a sad commentary on human relationships. It is beyond the point that I agree with a lot of what you observe. This stuff has been going on since the dawn of time. Example: the perpetual evil of man’s mind was what resulted in the flood of Noah’s day. The only reason Noah survived is that he was different, meaning he did not subscribe to the evil everyone else participated in. Exactly where would we be if he had?

      My point is there is always an attitude and a demonstration through the life we lead of who we are. WE don’t change people, but when others see God in us they can choose to change.You don’t even have to preach Him…but you do have to live Him.

      Quit feeling so angry and furious with everything and see if there isn’t something within you that can both feel and demonstrate compassion, empathy, kindness, even understanding. Don’t yell, try to love. It is what we all have to do or another end will come. It won’t be a flood, but it will be just as bad or worse.

      There is a rather quaint saying that says “It ain’t over till it’s over!” Get in there with what you have to offer besides hate.

  2. I’ve often said that common sense is not common at all, meaning ordinary. However, within the context of communal…makes perfect sense. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Ivon!

    My observation has been that our current preoccupation with passion, and finding it, seems to have dimmed our ability to connect through compassion…and, perhaps, tolerance and forgiveness.

    Thanks Ivon! 😉 xoM

    • Kathy says uncommon common sense to describe what you are speaking to.

      I agree with your point about passion and compassion. I read Thomas Merton who reminds me that passion has suffering that goes with the love. It is a shared love and suffering, allowing us to lean on one another.

  3. Ivon, thanks for the reminder that we are our brother’s keeper. My main message went to the person who wrote as Hit and Run.

    • We are. The challenge can be that our experiences with certain people and groups can lead to other ways of understanding the world. We are human and, as mother used to say, we have flaws.

  4. Well portrayed form of poetry. ✌ good read.


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