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MaureenSo, my friends, this is what I believe in, what I try to hand over to my students, what I hope to instill and inspire in them.  How did the idea of Peace Through Humor come to be?  I was teaching a graduate course on Peace Education at Bank Street College of Education in NYC.  I mentioned to my students that in order to have peace you need a sense of humor. As John Dewey, the great American educator, once said, "To be serious and funny at the same time is the ideal mental condition."  They asked me to further elaborate on that idea, and the rest is history.  This is what I believe:

To teach vision to children, to teach imaginations to leap, to soar, to reach that place where dreams are born; to teach of the infinite possibilities of a good and beautiful and better world; to teach it in a way which motivates and inspires and exhilarates; to teach children to listen to the inside of the inside of their hearts; to combine their heart with their mind; to believe in the power of love, of kindness, of compassion; to believe in the best part of themselves; to believe that they can do it, that they can help make it happen, that it is through them that Peace will come to be.

PEACE THROUGH HUMOR is about evolving, growing, transforming.  Just like we will transform "Swords into Plowshares," so we transform selfishness into kindness, enemies into friends, tears into laughter, despair into hope, ‘chutzpah' into respect, hate into tolerance and understanding.

All of these ideas are integrated with humor.  Humor motivates, develops insight, expands creative and critical thinking and writing, provides balance, encourages sharing, relieves boredom and stimulates discussion.  It helps children to lighten up, diffuse conflict situations and reduce fear and stress.  It allows the children to take a step backward and to look at every situation from another perspective. It enables children to play with ideas and words, to stretch their imagination and to see the many meanings and levels of things.  It expands creative, critical, logical and sequential thinking. Humor creates a risk-free environment where children can laugh and learn in joy, in trust, in never-ending discovery and wonder.  There's no time of place for hate or put-downs because when the kids are laughing and creating, they've already reached a new plateau, a higher calling.  They've gone beyond their fears.  They've established a bond, a friendship, a camaraderie, a ‘raison d'etre,' a pleasurable place for themselves where they are comfortable, safe and free.

All of these concepts are developed together with the children through brainstorming, discussion, role-playing, storytelling, creative and comedy writing and art.  We create large murals and paintings and sculptures which are exhibited in schools, children's hospitals, neighborhood community centers and outdoor public spaces.  We beautify Israel with laughter and hope.  Each individual project culminates in celebrations and educational happenings.