Letter from the Editor

By Wim Laven

This issue of the Peace Chronicle explores the theme of Healing.  The Editorial team had intended to follow up on a divisive election with thoughts and strategies for healing; little did we know that a global pandemic would also emerge to make the topic all the more appropriate. The subjects raised by the pandemic opened up the issue to elements of individual and societal healing that both go beyond, and are undeniably linked to, the turbulent politics and polarization we expected to address.  

We endeavor to continue in the practice of healing and recognizing the past through land acknowledgement. In appreciation to those who have lived, worked, and honored our geographies before us, we recognize the stewardship and resilient spirit that precedes us.

I write to you from my residence on the traditional homeland of the Lenape (Delaware), Shawnee, Wyandot Miami, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and other Great Lakes tribes (Chippewa, Wea, Piankishaw, and Kaskaskia). I acknowledge the thousands of Native Americans who call Northeast Ohio home. I reside on land officially ceded by 1100 chiefs and warriors signing the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.

Ethical acknowledgements of the past and the recognition of its influence on our present are some of many healing efforts that PJSA is committed to. This issue presents a diverse collection of expertise and voices to, again, survey the terrain of a theme by taking the context, locations, and needs for healing as matters of serious concern. Following our last issue, on decolonization, we continue to look for ways to condemn the exploitation, inhumane treatment, victimization, and violence in our local and global contexts and histories.

This issue serves as an opportunity to think about dynamic problem solving through myriad challenges. Imagining new ways of thinking about both the past and the present in pursuit of safety and security in the personhood of all individuals, is central to work we do as an organization. We connect to each other with our hopes and our stories, but many of us felt the disconnect during a conference guarded by social distance and policies preventing our travel. The magazine strives to connect to experiences, which place our lives firmly at the crossroads of personal and political.

One of the first of many cancelations I had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic was for the use of my PJSA auction prize of a week in a Martha’s Vineyard. To replace the in-person time with my niece, who would have been on the vacation, we would paint together online. The cover art is her response to, “paint a picture of healing, and I’ll use it for my first issue as Editor in chief.” I don’t think she knew the profound healing that took place for me during our time together, and maybe the explanation is less important than the time we share together.  Her painting of a dolphin with a prosthetic tail captures something I find incredible, what a wonderful image of healing.

This is a very personal issue in many ways. Alyssa Keene writes about her experiences with the novel coronavirus in “The Scars that Remain.” Residing near one of the American epicenters of  the outbreak, her family was hit early, and their experiences were painful. I have great appreciation for her efforts to educate others about the pandemic, and the resistance she encountered. She connects these details to her broader lived experience, including adolescence in our hometown (I have known her since 4th grade).

From my introduction for Sol Neely as a keynote speaker to our conference you may recall my fond appreciation for our time together as undergraduates. “The Trail Where They Cried,” was originally slated to run in the issue on decolonization, after all it is the story of taking his father and daughter on the northern route of the Trail of Tears for his sabbatical. Ultimately, however, this piece is more about them, and their healing, than it is about the trail, so we feature their moving experience here. 

My friend Jared Bell writes “Payback” on the relationship between reparations for slavery and healing. He does so from a position where he’ll “never forget the stories [his] grandparents told [him] of growing up under Jim Crowism or the plight their great grandparents faced as slaves.” He wrestles with the challenging questions and dilemmas embedded into such steps for justice and argues, “frequently the haves miscalculate the suffering of the have-nots.” Ultimately, he says, racial strife will persist until reparative justice makes it possible to heal from the injustice.

Renee Gilbert writes “Post Traumatic Growth” provides a positive spin on trauma: sometimes people emerge stronger. I’ve never been good with figuring out if it is “too soon?” but I asked her to write about her expertise in this area partly out of curiosity and partly pragmatism. The scholarship presents “changed perceptions of strength, interpersonal relationships, appreciation of life, new possibilities, and spiritual change” as five areas where post traumatic growth might take place. Growth is the kind of healing I hope we visualize as an aspirational goal.

Anya Finley writes “Healing a City” as an assessment of the many communities, like hers, beginning to recognize needs for healing and steps to produce it. She connects the trend to remove confederate memorialization in many cities with her hometown—Plantation, Florida. She asks questions, “what does plantation mean in slavery?” and looks for historical relevance and deeper implications. Anya’s writing also adds to our goal of adding diversity and perspective to the Peace Chronicle as a youth voice; look forward to more of her contributions in coming issues.

I asked Larry Bove to write about the healing dimensions of philosophy following an exchange through the Concerned Philosophers for Peace. While philosophy offers great wisdom on peace and justice, most people do not think of the role that philosophical thinking plays in healing. “Beyond the Cave—Four Pathways to the Healing Dimensions of Philosophy” presents ways that stories, methods, reflection, and action helped him to heal in his own personal journey. For each of these lessons he also offers suggested readings.

Agnieszka Paczynska’s piece “Teaching About Conflict and Resilience During COVID-19 Pandemic” navigates challenges and strategies for adaptation she (and co-teachers) employed for courses in peace and conflict studies. She incorporated self-care plans as a mechanism for students’ needs and identifies successes and limitations. This created new avenues for connection with students. She also shares about ways the pandemic created new windows for teaching about topics where some students have limited first hand experience with things like structural violence. She presents the pandemic as both a challenge and an opportunity. 

In my piece, “Healing from Trump’s Presidency?” I try to connect lessons from the conference to a post-Trump world. We will not forget the horrors of this administration; many are ongoing, but we are confronted by the challenge of staying divided and polarized presents. While Trump’s administration put some children in cages other children are trying to figure out how to forgive parents who voted for Trump—again. The last four years have been painful, but I hope we can find positive ways to move forward. I believe it is possible.

This issue features two interviews. Arleana Waller, founder and ShEO of ShePower Leadership Academy, and the founder of Circle of Life Development Foundation/MLK CommUNITY Initiative, talked about ShePower’s mission to prepare girls, renewing their hope, and being prepared to bounce back from tragedy. She also addresses issues of healing distrust between cities and communities to create collaborative partnerships. Kirk Johnson, author, doctor, and minister, talks about healing a wide range of health disparities and inequalities. He provides rich insights into the social determinants of health and also for taking care of the caregivers. 

We hope you enjoy the continued evolution of our magazine and our efforts to make more personal connections through these pieces. Future issues will feature guest editors adding new perspectives while helping to shape the product as we endeavor to move to a seasonal (4 issue per year) schedule. Our upcoming spring issue will be on the theme “Climate” with Matt  Thierry as a guest editor. As always, please consider submitting a piece for one of our future issues. Lastly, thank you to the membership for the opportunity to serve all of you in this role. I have a profound gratitude for the rich meaning that has come from the Peace Chronicle team’s work on every issue, but I will not forget my first in this new capacity.


Wim Laven, Ph.D, instructor of peace studies, political science, and conflict resolution, focuses his research on forgiveness and reconciliation, which he relates to his wide range of work and research experiences. His experience in the field spans 4 continents and includes many processes from mediating disputes in small claims court, to interventions during complex humanitarian disasters. He is on the executive boards of the International Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and is the Editor in Chief of the Peace Chronicle.