16-month course to teach techniques of a peaceful life

September 29, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

To Max Ochs, the techniques of living a peaceful life must be taught, much as English and history are taught.

It is one of the reasons the Anne Arundel Conflict Resolution Center, which he helps direct, is offering a 16-month course in peace, starting Thursday at the Brooklyn Park Library

"We're taught English, but no one is taught peace," said Ochs. "We learn about wars in school, but not peace."

The center, which is based in Annapolis, chose the Brooklyn Park site as part of an attempt to reach more people, he said.

"We're the Anne Arundel County Conflict Resolution Center," Ochs explained. "Not just the Annapolis center. And north county often gets neglected."

The course was developed by Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy and is based on essays by writers who preached non-violence, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Gerard Vanderhaar, Leo Tolstoy and Joan Baez.

The size of the class is limited to 16 participants, and there are a few openings, said Ochs.

Charlotte Lindsley, a 49-year-old social worker who lives in Annapolis, has been a volunteer at the center for nearly a year. The experience led her to enroll in a peace class that began last June at the center.

"It's very compelling, and the discussions I've had with people have been very high caliber," she said. "It seems like everybody has a deep-seated interest."

Betty Lou Riley, one of Lindsley's classmates, was among demonstrators who denounced the Vietnam War. But the 67-year-old retired English teacher said she is not so naive to believe that peace one day will rule the world or that violence is never warranted.

"My hope for the class is that more people would realize that peace is something you have to work for," she said.

Jennifer Wheeler, 28, a union organizer for the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, is among those who have signed up for the class in Brooklyn Park, despite the 16-month time commitment.

The length of the course shows that the instructors and students understand the complexity of the topic and are willing to spend more time studying the essays and learning from them, she said.

"It's not just about reading some nice things and singing 'Kumbaya.' We're talking about a change of being," said Wheeler.

Classes will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the Brooklyn Park Library, 1 E. 11th Avenue. Cost is $15 to cover class materials. Information: 266-9033.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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