"Dance for Peace," by Mary Gow

“Dance for Peace,” by Mary Gow

Halfway through college I stopped and worked at a busy general contractor’s office in downtown Dallas with the goal of earning enough money to get back to college and complete my bachelor’s degree.

Mr. Hayman was the owner of this thriving company that built office buildings, hospitals, parking structures, hotels, etc.

He used to talk to me in a fatherly way, encouraging me to finish college and then get a Master’s in Fine Arts rather than pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art. He’d plop the Wall Street Journal on my typewriter every day after he’d read it, in hopes I’d adopt his reading habit.

Just before my last day at the office, Mr. Hayman gave me a card with a poem that he said he had sent to his grandchildren. I still cherish it. Here’s the poem:

Bag of Tools

Isn’t it strange that
princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make –
Ere life is flown –
A stumbling block
Or a stepping stone.

– RL Sharpe

Recently, the leaders of countries that are at war with each other were photographed walking arm-in-arm for a day millions demonstrated against violence.

This made me think about all the soldiers out there fighting in the fields.

Could battles around the world be resolved at the conference table by the leaders of the fighting countries? Does peace come down to negotiating skills?

Where can we learn these negotiating skills?

What’s in our bag of tools?

I think it would improve conditions in the world if negotiation skills were part of what we learn in school.

Can we learn how to negotiate the purchase of a house, how to negotiate to reach agreement? Can we learn how to negotiate anything?

Including world peace?