I offer a seminar on “conflict resolution,” a gift from my good friend John Scherer, called Face the Tiger. It is comprised of two parts: Pinch Theory which describes how conflict arises, and The Three Worlds, which provides a pathway out of the conflict, a way to turn conflict into reward, a way to have conversation about conflict in a voice that others can hear.
The premise of Pinch Theory is that we each perceive each and every interaction through the lens of our own experience. When I see you say X, in my world, I experience it this way or that way based upon my own unique experiences. Below, I describe a beautiful and profound example of this phenomenon. I hope you enjoy it.
One of my favorite podcasts is Krista Tippett’s On Being. This morning, I listened to her interview with Padraig O Tuama and Marilyn Nelson. To close, Tippett had them both do a reading. Marilyn Nelson read from her book The Children’s Moon. Nelson’s mother was an African American teacher in Salina, KS in the 1950s. Nelson has a photograph of her mother’s 2nd grade class from 1954 – her mother, an African American woman and her 20 white, seven year old students. Truly history making to have a black woman teach white children in that era.
Nelson, who is a poet laureate, asked 20 of her poet friends to adopt one of these children, create a back story, and write a poem about each which, together with her own poem about her mother, became the book The Children’s Moon. Nelson read her poem, The Children’s Moon. She explains that “the children’s moon is the moon that you see sometimes in the morning; you see a faint moon in the sky.” This is the poem as I have transcribed it. The lines and stanzas are my own; I could not find the poem itself on the Internet.
In my navy shirt waist dress and three inch heels,
my pearl clip-ons and newly red rinsed curls
I smoothed on lipstick,
lipstick marked my girls,
saluted and held thumbs up to my darling Mel
and drove myself to school for the first day.
Over the school yard a silver lozenge
dissolved into the morning’s blue cauldron
Enter 20 seven year old white children
“Look children” I said as they found their desks
“The children’s moon, a special good luck sign”
We pledged allegiance and silently prayed
George Washington watched sternly from his frame.
I turned to the black board and wrote my name.
I thought I heard…
“She’s the real teacher’s maid,”
I thought I heard…
Echoes of history.
But when I turned,
Every child in the room had one hand up
Asking “What is the children’s moon?”