Due to generous donations the Atrium Society Youth Peace Literacy Online Resources are Free

Why Are We Always Picking on Each Other?

Why Are We Always Picking on Each Other?

A Special Mini Curriculum To Help Young People Understand Global Conflict

On permanent display at the International Museum of Peace and Solidarity in Samarkind, Uzbekistan, the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Learn More   Download

Lesson 1: Everyone Has A Beginner’s Eye

Welcome students to this new class.

Tell students:
  • Everyone has “a beginner’s eye”!
  • Having a beginner’s eye is important for making new discoveries.
  • In this class, we’re going to act like famous detectives and do our best to figure out why, after centuries of existence, we human beings can grow food, build skyscrapers, find cures for diseases, and even send spaceships to the moon – but we still have a hard time living in harmony with our fellow human beings!
  • Famous detective Sherlock Holmes begins with a fact, or an idea that is already known. He uses that fact to find out something new. So that’s what we’re going to do!
Ask students:
  • Are you ready to become a detective and make new discoveries?
  • You want to start with an example? Here’s what we do. We start with a general concept, and then make a specific conclusion.
  • General Concept: We have had war in our world ever since we’ve had human beings.
  • Specific Conclusion: Human beings must be responsible for all the wars we’ve had.

What do you think? Is that a reasonable conclusion? Would Sherlock Holmes be proud of our deduction?

Tell students:
  • Some things we know for sure. For example, the world is round. We didn’t always know this, but it was proven. And since the astronauts went into outer space and took photos – we are more certain than ever!
  • We cannot declare something to be true when we don’t know for certain that it is. So, we deduce. We research, and we make conclusions. We search for the truth.
  • If it’s true, that human beings create war, perhaps the best way to begin our search for truth is to ask these questions:
    1. What are human beings doing that creates war?
    2. What are humans doing that prevents peace?
  • We can even get more personal and ask:
    1. What am I doing in my life that creates war?
    2. What am I doing in my life that prevents peace?
Ask students:
  • Do you think it’s important to be and feel strong – and have a healthy body?
  • Do you get a lot of exercise to keep your body strong? What kind of exercise do you do? Aerobic? Dance? Sports? Martial arts?
  • Do you think it’s important to have a strong and healthy mind?
  • What kind of exercise do you do to keep your mind healthy and strong? Read? Go to school? Study? Think? Listen? Discuss things with other people?

Activity 1: Mental Strength Comes From Being Aware

Tell students:
  • To be in balance, we need to have a strong mind as well as a strong body.
  • With a strong mind, we can think clearly and be able to sort through information we get every day from friends, family, school and our community.
  • A strong mind listens and learns by being AWARE.
  • Let’s practice our AWARENESS!
Ask students:

To sit in a circle, if possible. Then, one by one, ask each of them one of the following questions. Give them time to enjoy the question and think about responding. Add some questions of your own

  1. How did you feel the first time you saw an airplane take off?
  2. How did you feel the first time you saw a beautiful sunset?
  3. Were you ever surprised by a science experiment that worked?
  4. Did you ever receive a wonderful gift you didn’t expect?
  5. Have you ever been so happy, you cried?
  6. How do you think astronauts felt when they saw Earth from space?
  7. Have you ever used your “beginner’s eye” to look at where you live?
  8. Is there something new where you live you’ve never spent time seeing?
  9. Have you sat outside and enjoyed birds singing or flowers blooming?
  10. What’s the first time something happened that excited you?

Notice how students’ eyes light up when they become AWARE of something they enjoy or are thinking about for the first time.

Ask students:
  • Do you see how it feels to have a “beginner’s eye”?
  • Do you think that being AWARE of your surroundings and new things and ideas gives you a stronger mind?

Being aware comes from paying attention to the world around us, listening to feelings inside of us, and to those feelings of others.

Lesson 2: Seeing In A New and Different Way

Ask students:

If they have been more AWARE since your last class together. If they say, yes, ask them how.

Tell students:
  • Every day, our lives consist of two main activities: We speak words. We take actions.
  • We are all so used to what we say and do that we’re often not aware of the effect our words and actions can have.
  • When we become more AWARE, we start to see the world in new ways.

Write on your blackboard: 1 + 1 = 3
Ask students: Is this correct?
Listen to all student responses.
Then ask: When two parents have a child, doesn’t 1 + 1 = 3 ?

Ask students:
  • Did your thinking change once you heard the example of two parents have a child that equals three people?
  • Were you going by what you’ve always believed about 1 + 1?
  • Did you observe all possible clues to make a brilliant deduction?
  • Did this example give you a DIFFERENT WAY of looking at something you’ve always looked at the same way?

We sometimes think of a beginner as someone without information, someone who doesn’t know. But with a beginner’s mind, we can look at the world as if it were new, and see things other people don’t see – sometimes for the first time!

Tell students again:
  • Every day, our lives consist of two main activities: We speak words, and we take actions.
  • We are all so used to what we say and do that we’re often not aware of the effect our words and actions can have.
  • Words and actions can create joy and happiness; and at other times they can create arguments and wars.
  • A beginner’s mind helps us see concepts and solutions many others do not see. This makes our minds more powerful!
Ask students:
  • Do you like the idea of thinking the way Sherlock Holmes did – to inspect, reason, figure out, deduce information by simply being AWARE and observing things we already know?
  • Are you aware of some words you’ve spoken that may have affected people you know in a good way, or a bad way? What did you say?
  • How many times a day do you think people say things out loud that offend other people and they don’t know they’re doing it?
  • Do you think that, if we use our beginner’s mind, we will be more thoughtful – and think before we speak?
  • Do you think that a beginner’s mind is something we want to have all our life – to help make our mind more powerful?
  • Is there a new way of thinking that you thought today? What is it? How does it make you feel to think a new thought?

Activity 2: My New Ways of Thinking!

Create a chart, perhaps with the students’ help – perhaps they would like to help you design it. See next page.

Tell students:

We are creating a new chart to hang on our wall called “My New Ways of Thinking!” Every time you think you have discovered – or understood – a new way of looking at the world around us, you can write it on this chart!


Lesson 3: Why Are We In Conflict?

Ask students if they have “new ways of thinking” to add to the chart. Give them a few minutes to make additions.

Ask students:
  • Do you think it’s good to not simply believe everything you hear?
  • How important do you think it is to be able to think for yourself?
  • Is it also important to be able to handle conflict in a positive way?
  • Do you think it’s important to trust in yourself?
  • Is it difficult to trust in yourself if there’s conflict in your mind?
  • What is conflict? How would you define it?
Tell students:
  • Conflict is a human feeling – a feeling we have inside us. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t help us be our best self.
  • When we are in conflict, it’s hard to focus our attention on who we are and where we are.
  • When we’re in conflict, we may be talking to a friend, but in back of our mind, we are worried about something. So, we are two places at the same time.
  • Inner conflict is a division in our brain – I’m bad but I want to be good. Or I want to please my parents, but I want to do what I want.
  • The problem with inner conflict is not only that it puts us in two places at the same time – but also, inner conflict can lead to outer conflict. In other words, if we get upset, we might speak harshly to another person, and get into an argument or fight.
Ask students:

What are some ways you can think of that create conflict?

  • When we judge ourselves, or anyone else, as bad.
  • When we lie in order to not look guilty.
  • When we blame others and don’t accept responsibility.
  • When we believe some people are better than others.
  • When we believe that some people are worse than others.
  • When we judge people by how they look.
  • When we judge people by what they believe.
  • When we look at people as “different” from us.
  • When we think of other people as “the enemy.”
Ask students:
  • Do you think that we humans all make mistakes from time to time?
  • Do you think that we all have room for improvement?
  • Do you think making a mistake is a great opportunity to learn something new?
  • Can you think of a mistake you made that helped you learn something?
Tell students:
  • There’s more than one side to every conflict. It’s important to become AWARE of what part we play in a conflict situation.
  • What everyone wants, in a conflict situation, is to win! We all want to survive! Stay alive! We want to be right!
  • This desire – to win, to survive and stay alive – is part of our brain – our old, primitive brain that’s been passed down to us from the very beginning of human beings, when people lived in caves!
  • This old brain of ours wants food when we’re hungry, water when we’re thirsty, and safety when we think we’re in trouble.

Activity 3: The Saber-Toothed Tiger’s Revenge

Ask students to sit comfortably and listen as you read, with as much mystery and imagination as you can.

The roar of the Sabertooth tiger rang ferociously in the dead black night. The human-like creatures huddled nervously in the small cave, their eyes alert. They grunted fearful sounds, in voices not loud enough for their predator to hear. The moon shone brightly on the thick undergrowth. The beast was coming closer, its scent in the air.

One of the human creatures started to move in panic. The others tried to stop this one from revealing their hiding place. Suddenly, the frightened one ran out of the shallow cave into the night, shrieking in terror. As this human creature tried to gain higher ground and reach the tall trees to climb for safety, out of the dense blackness a sudden leaping, fanged beast grabbed the human creature by the neck. The scream sent terror into the rest of the human creatures huddled in their temporary hiding place. Again, another of their group had been taken to its brutal and violent death.

Dawn came and there was no beast in sight. The air was damp with primeval mist. Large birds flew overhead, crying out their primitive calls, causing smaller prey on the ground to scurry into hiding for fear of attack. The human creatures moved slowly and carefully out of hiding, sniffing the air for danger. These dark, stooped, hairy, creatures half-walked, half-crawled out into the new day.

Grunting noises of anticipation and alarm, the creatures cautiously crept toward the large water hole beyond the dense forest. Coming upon the water, the creatures suddenly charged down the small hill, shrieking as they descended. Smaller animals looked up quickly from their drinking and ran for the cover of the trees and the safety of their shelters. The human creatures stood almost totally erect and made threats with their arms, waving them at the retreating animals. After some cautious scouting of the water hole, the small group sat down on their haunches to drink from the cool water, all the time carefully watching the edge of the forest for any intruders.

For a long while, these human creatures dominated this survival area, guarding it against any surprises. Sitting by the bank of the watering hole, they picked up small bits of grass and leaves, smelling and tasting each sample of wild growing plant.

Later in the morning, the group moved slowly off into the thick underbrush in search of more edibles. Coming upon a clearing, they found huge buzzards eating the flesh of a great elephant-like creature recently killed by an even larger animal. This half-eaten beast had attracted hungry scavengers who were fighting over the remains. The human animals ran toward the scavenging animals, screaming and driving them away from their food. They waved their arms, threw rocks, and challenged the others with sticks.

A saber-toothed cat and her two cubs were temporarily driven off. Meanwhile, a small pack of hyenas tried to close in to regain their prey. Even though the human creatures were smaller and no match for the saber-toothed cat and hyenas, they managed by working together as a tribe, to keep the larger and more fierce animals from their dinner. Perhaps this would be the last full meal for the human creatures for a long time.

They ate greedily while anxiously watching the other hungry animals — all of whom, given the chance, would kill them to get at the food. While they ate, they hunched down in a protective circle, cautiously remaining alert to any movement on allsides around them. They ate as fast as they could because the sun was falling, and at night there was always the chance that a powerful beast of prey — like the sabertoothed tiger — would return and make dinner out of them.

Ask students:
  • Trying to survive was a lot more difficult for cave creatures than we experience in life today, don’t you think?
  • They had to continually hunt for food and water, and to find places where they could feel safe and sheltered. So they fought for biological reasons: they were hungry, thirsty and cold, right?.
  • Today, we continue to fight to survive! We have machines and fields that produce huge quantities of food; millions of people live in homes, apartments and shelters. Why are we still fighting?
Tell students:
  • Today, instead of fighting over food and shelter, we fight over who can buy the most food, or who owns the best house.
  • Rather than learn about others’ beliefs, many of us insist that OUR beliefs are “right” and those of others are “wrong.”
  • We are still fighting to survive –for biological reasons, and for psychological reasons.
  • While cave creatures HAD TO fight to survive, today, our future depends on NOT FIGHTING. We are a single planet of people whirling around in space – together. We are ONE GLOBAL TRIBE.

Lesson 4: Can We Win Without Fighting?

Ask students:

If they have “new ways of thinking” to add to the chart. Give them a few minutes to make additions.

Ask students:
  • Are we still like our early human ancestors? In what ways?
  • Do we fight to protect our families and our land?
  • Do we compete with other human beings just like they did?
  • Can you think of something you did today to compete with someone, or to survive?
  • Did you judge someone, or some group, “different” from you today in some way? Who was it? What group?
  • Can you see how judging and fighting with one person, or one group, can lead to one country judging and fighting with another country?
Tell students:
  • Many people believe that we won’t survive if we don’t fight, or if our country does not go to war.
  • We often fight when we get into conflict, but fighting does not help our survival – in fact, fighting threatens it!
  • Global conflicts – between nations – are started by people who fight individual conflicts – between people.
  • Every day we make decisions. The decisions we make are based on information we have in our brain.
  • Our brain, which is like a computer, is always taking in information, and putting information out.

Our Brain Is Like A Computer

Our brain has three sections – our Input Center, our Command Center, and our Output Center.

Our Input Center

This is the part of our brain that takes information in. How do we take information in?

  • Our five senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching
  • We get direct experience from our five senses.
  • We have immediate contact with a person, place or thing.
  • Direct experience causes us to take information in.

Example: We are in an auto accident and our five senses tell us what we saw, what we heard, how we felt.

Our Command Center

Through our five senses, we send messages to our brain, our Command Center, where information is stored. Is it important to store and sort all the information we take in?

  • How we take in information depends on our point of view.
  • It also depends on our level of fear and anxiety.
  • We also store information based on a desire to be right!

Example: The point of view of people in your car is likely to be different from the point of view of people who might be in another car that was in the accident with your car.

Our Output Center

Everything we say and do is based on information stored and sorted in our minds. Do we need to be careful how we report information we’ve taken in?

  • After the accident you may say, “The accident was your fault!”
  • The other person may say, “No, you are wrong!”
  • There is a conflict situation here that needs resolution.

Example: Is it possible that nobody is “right” and nobody is “wrong” and that you both share responsibility and have to be willing to look at each of your roles in this accident?


Explore this situation with students. Then go to the activity below.

Activity 4: My Secret Self!

Ask students:
  • Have you ever sat quietly in a chair, or lay down in your bed and just enjoyed the silence?
  • Have you noticed that when it’s completely silent, you can hear your inner thoughts?
Tell students:
  • Every day there’s usually a lot of other people and other noises happening that keep us from hearing our own voice.
  • Listening to your own voice, your own inner thoughts – your intuition and insight – can help strengthen your mind.
  • Your insight can help you see which words and actions make peace, and which make war.

Ask students to sit quietly in their seats. Tell them you are setting a timer for five minutes during which time they will get to know their “Secret Self”! Tell them: This is the self we all have in common.

After five minutes, ask students:
  1. What was racing through you mind while we were sitting silently?
  2. Did you find the silence comforting? Disturbing? Scary? Why?
  3. How many of you enjoyed the silence?
  4. Did you learn anything new during this five-minute silence?
  5. Did you use any of your senses? Which ones? In what way?
  6. Do you think some people would rather not hear their inner voices?
  7. Do you think listening to inner voices can reduce conflict? Why?
  8. What can you do when your inner voice disagrees with what your outer person is saying or doing?
Thought for the Day: 

You cannot hear your inner thoughts unless you are silent. This inner “Secret Self” is our intelligent, intuitive, insightful self! It’s the self we all have in common.

Lesson 5: Survival Begins in My Mind

Ask students:
  • What are some examples you see every day of people fighting – whether they are at home, at school, in their community? Do you see this on television, in the supermarket, city streets?
  • Do you sometimes struggle between doing what’s expected of you and doing what you’d rather do?
  • What happens inside you when you hear words that are offensive – like, “Don’t be stupid!” or “Get out of here!” or “Don’t do that!”?
  • Do certain words or phrases make you want to fight? Go to war? How can words make us want to do that?
  • Do you think we get CONDITIONED to react to words and phrases in this way?
Tell students:
  • To be conditioned means to have been taught or trained to speak, think and act in certain ways.
  • Some conditioning is good – like getting conditioned to stop for a red light, or learning to brush your teeth after eating.
  • All our conditioning is meant to help us survive!

There are three kinds of conditioning – ways we’re trained to think and act:

  1. Biological Conditioning. From the day we are born, we crave food, water and sleep. We are also born to protect ourselves and our group. We need these to survive.
  2. Physical Conditioning. This is training our body – via exercise and sports. We don’t need this to survive, but it helps us stay healthy.
  3. Psychological Conditioning. This is training of the mind. It has to do with how we interact with each other – and how we interact with each other determines whether there’s going to be war or peace.

Sometimes we’re conditioned to think and act in ways that help us, and sometimes in ways that do not. What’s important is that we learn to tell the difference.

Tell students:
  • Conditioning creates beliefs.
  • An individual belief might be that you want to buy a new video game and your parents don’t want you to have it.
  • A global belief is that a country’s people perform a ritual that’s been passed down over centuries. When they move to a new country, they’re told by locals that this ritual is unnecessary.
  • When people’s beliefs get challenged, this is how fights, battles and wars begin.
  • When we can point to words we say, and actions we take, that reflect our conditioning – and SEE how this conditioning may create conflict in our individual lives – then we can UNDERSTAND how wars get started.
Ask students:
  • People sometimes get conditioned by being rewarded or punished for their behavior. When you are “good” at home, do your parents reward you in some way? Did the reward work?
  • Have you been punished for saying or doing something? Did the punishment CONDITION you to not act that way again?
  • When you get into an argument or a fight with another person, have you noticed that if the 2nd person had not reacted to the 1st person in a fighting way, there would be no fight?
  • Have you noticed that running away from an argument or fight may keep you safe for a while, but that it doesn’t resolve the fight?

Go to the activity on the next page that helps students realize how a fight begins. You’ll need to put students in pairs.

Activity 5: It Takes Two!

Put students into pairs. One is Person #1, and the other is Person #2.

Tell students:
  • It takes one person to start a war. It takes two to keep it going.
  • Ask each Person #1 to say one of the following phrases to Person #2. Add some phrases of your own. Ask each Person #2 to respond in a warlike way.
  • After you go through all teams of two, ask Person #1 and Person #2 to switch. Now the new Person #1 says exactly the same phrase, but Person #2 needs to respond in a peaceful way.

“Hey, Dumbell!" — Get out of here!”
“Give me your money!” — “Don’t walk on my street!”
“You are the stupidest person!” — “I’ll punch you next time!”
“You are always wrong!” — “You don’t belong here!”
“You wear ugly clothes! I hate them!" — “Stay away from me!”
“You and I can never be friends!” —“Go back where you came from!”

Ask students:
  • How did you feel inside you when you said something mean?
  • What happened inside you when you responded to something mean with something else that was not mean and warlike?
  • How did you feel when you responded to something mean with something peaceful?
Tell students:
  • Responding nonviolently when people say or do mean things to us takes practice.
  • But it’s good to know that you CAN stop a fight simply by not responding violently when someone is mean to you.

For all of us to survive on this planet, which is our home, it’s important to NOT fight.

Lesson 6: Ways For Everyone To WinYour mind is the greatest protection you have!

Ask students:
  • Do you belong to a group? What kind? Family, school, social club, religious organization, a gang?
  • Why do you belong to a group?
  • Do you think that when we feel attacked or in trouble, we tend to convince ourselves that we can’t survive on our own, so we look for people to help us? Is that why we belong to groups?
  • We all have habits – like brushing our teeth. We all live by traditions – such as spending time with your family on holidays. We all abide by certain customs, values and beliefs. What are some customs and beliefs you live with your family?
Tell students:
  • We join groups because of our basic instinct to survive! When we are in a group, we feel protected!
  • In a group we can share ideas with others who think and act like we do.
  • When group members get along, and when one group gets along with other groups, there are no problems.
  • Problems happen, however, when conflict arises between groups, or between group members.
  • We human beings are creatures of habit. We are brought up to think, say and do things in a certain way.
  • Habits, traditions, customs, values and beliefs make up our psychological conditioning.
  • There’s nothing wrong with living by these habits and beliefs, as long as they don’t make us SEE other people as DIFFERENT from us. Focusing on differences creates conflict.
Thoughts for the Day:

When I meet a person different from me, and I see a difference between myself and this other person, I create a separation that divides us.
This creates CONFLICT.

When I meet a person different from me, and I see a way this person and I can communicate, I have the opportunity to learn something new.

Ask students:
  • Whenever you feel angry, or you see someone who is angry, do you think it’s pretty easy to understand that you, or this person, has hurt feelings?
  • If you can SEE this feeling of “hurt” that underlies someone who’s angry, do you think this helps you UNDERSTAND that person’s conflict?
  • Do think it’s possible for two sides of a disagreement or fight to both win? Does somebody have to win and somebody have to lose? Why can’t they both win?
Tell students:
  • It’s important to SEE this underlying cause of someone’s anger.
  • You can SEE it if you take a “Stop! Think!” moment so that your insight can kick in!
  • Learning to understand the causes of people’s behavior can help us survive any situation.
  • How we handle conflict determines the outcome of that conflict.

Below is an activity to help students deal with real conflict situations. Take the time to do it with them.

Activity 6: Creating a Win/Win!

  • Break the students into groups of 4. Ask each group to choose a conflict that they need to work on to resolve. Give them 5 minutes to choose a topic.
  • Call time and ask one Volunteer from each group to announce their topic of discussion.
  • Write the topic on the blackboard.
  • Give students 15 minutes to work out an agreement that allows BOTH sides to “win”! Tell them: Go. Offer suggestions only if they ask.
  • Call time and ask for a Volunteer to represent his or her group and to explain what the group came up with. The other members of the group are invited to add any information they wish.
After all presentations are made, ask students:
  1. What did you learn about conflict resolution?
  2. Did you see benefits to the plan you worked out?
  3. Was this approach different from how you usually act?
  4. Were there any disadvantages to a win/win?
  5. What’s the best thing that happened?
  6. Can this be applied to other disagreements you’ve had?
  7. Do you think you’ll apply this kind of thinking to future situations?
  8. What are the most important aspects of working this way?

Congratulate students on their excellent work!

Lesson 7: How the Feeling of Difference Begins

Ask students:
  • What is an enemy? Do you have one? Who (best not to use personal names)?
  • If you have an enemy, how did that person become an enemy?
  • People in battle think of “the other side” as “the enemy.” Do you think this helps them see the “other side” as evil, or easier to kill?
  • Do we sometimes think of people as “the enemy” who are different from us in some way? And, as a result, do we start a war sometime before we ever even meet that person?
Tell students:
  • When our brain creates an “enemy,” it goes through certain types of thought that separates us from another person.
  • This kind of thought can be based on skin color, the way we talk and languages we speak, the way we move our bodies, where we live, where our family comes from, the clothes we wear – and probably lots of other factors.
  • When we think of another person as “a stranger,” the feeling of difference begins.
  • The fact is: Differences do NOT have to produce conflict!
Thought for the Day

When we see differences between ourselves and others as reasons to separate, we create conflict.

When we see differences between ourselves and others as interesting, we are more likely to get together and learn something new.

Tell students:
  • Look around this classroom and use your beginner’s mind to think of five ways that everyone in the room is the same. Then ask: Who can name one way? (Encourage all responses.)
  • Ask students to think of one way each of them would like to feel respected. Ask for Volunteers to stand and offer their way. “I would like to be respected for…..” Encourage all students to choose a way.
  • Each time a student stands and offers her/his way to feel respected, ask another Volunteer to stand and say: “I respect you for feeing that. You deserve it!”
Ask students:
  • How did it feel to request respect for something important to you?
  • How did it feel to GIVE respect to someone?
  • Do you think this week you might GIVE someone respect – and see how good it makes you feel?
  • Do you think you can respect YOURSELF in this same way?
Tell students:
  • By giving respect to another person, you are respecting yourself, because you are ACTING out of respect, as opposed to REACTING to someone else’s lack of respect.
  • Respecting yourself conquers fears. Acknowledge that you are neither “good” or “bad.” You are who you are.
  • We all have moments when we either feel or act like an enemy or a hero, but none of us, in reality, IS an enemy or a hero. We are imply human beings, all living together on Planet Earth.
Thought for the Day:

We ALL are human beings, and human beings are not perfect.

Activity 7: Nobody’s Perfect!

For a fun exercise, ask student, one by one:
  • What was a time you acted in a really NON-PERFECT way and got embarrassed about how you acted?
  • When did you do something really silly and foolish and had a hard time recovering from it?
  • Can you think of a time you said something you wish you’d never said and knew that there was no way to take it back? How did you respond?
  • Was there a time when you treated somebody meanly – and although you enjoyed doing it at the time, you really regretted it? Did you apologize?
  • What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever had? What happened? How did you handle it – or did you?
  • Was there ever a time you did something in front of a lot of people who made fun of you? What did you do? How did you handle it?
  • Did you ever see someone else do something really embarrassing and feel bad for that person? Did you think that maybe you could help that person?
  • Did you ever make a terrible, horrible mistake and were you too scared to tell the truth about it? What did you do?
  • So, do you think all of us human beings are miserable human beings? Are we just going to have to live with that?

Lesson 8: Turning Negatives Into Positives

Tell students:

All bullies have a lot in common:

  • They want and need attention.
  • They crave recognition and power.
  • They use other people to get what they want.
  • They have a need for revenge (part of our “old” brain)
  • They create war – and are the result of war.

All victims have a lot in common:

  • They think of their own needs last.
  • They want and need attention, but don’t ask for it.
  • They do not like to be recognized.
  • They are used by other people.
  • They are the subjects of war, the greatest sufferers of war.
  • Many of them become bullies.
Ask students:
  • Why do you think there are bullies in this world?
  • Have you ever been a bully? If so, why do you think you were?
  • Did you like being a bully? Why?
  • Do you think bullies have good reasons for being bullies? Maybe they’ve been treated badly? Maybe they were victims?
Tell students:
  • At times, we are all bullies in disguise! We have a bully inside us from the moment we are born – but we learn how to develop that inner bully from others we see as we get older. Then we grow up and become adult bullies.
  • Bullying is a lose/lose situation. But bullies can become winners. How? By using our power to change negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
  • The conflict a bully feels comes from being in two places at once. The bully is re-living a past experience causing his or her pain, while living in his or her day-to-day existence.

Turning Negative to Positive

  • Whether you’ve been a bully or a victim, become aware of when you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself and how you feel when you think this way.
  • Allow the “negative” or “bad” thoughts and feelings to be there. Don’t judge them or try to do anything about them. Just SEE them.
  • Notice that these thoughts and feelings have to do with something that happened in the past, therefore, they don’t have to interfere with who you are now.
  • Focus on things in your life that are good now, instead of on past hurts. Start with one good thought. Focus on one thing in your life that makes you feel good and happy to be yourself.
  • Think truthful, positive thoughts and feelings about yourself and any special talents. Think about what your special something is. Everyone has something to offer.
  • Rather than deny that you have something to offer, focus on some possible talent you have to offer, even if you believe it’s minor, or insignificant. Focus on it for a whole minute — starting now.
  • Decide to talk to someone about your negative thoughts and feelings — someone you trust. Pick someone in your mind, even if you feel scared about trusting anyone.
Thought for the Day:

Life doesn’t judge you. YOU judge you.


Use the activity on the following page so that students can think about what bullies and victims can do to help themselves.

Activity 8: Bullies and Victims: Take Note!

Tell students:

If they’ve been bullied, or have been a bully, there are some steps they can take:

  • Talk with someone about how you feel (parents/friends). Ask students how they feel about doing this?
  • Request family time to talk together. Can you do this?
  • Talk about ways you can get what you want without hurting others. Do you think a bully can do this?
  • Practice these ways on your own, or with friends and/or family. Do you want to offer to help a bully do this?
  • Appreciate yourself for doing things you feel proud of. It’s not bragging – it simply feeling good about doing good things.
  • Help family and friends instead of teasing them. Do you think helping instead of teasing creates a whole new feeling inside you?
  • Communicate in ways that make you feel good. What’s one way you can think of talking with people that makes you feel good?
  • Acknowledge that you’re not perfect. You’re not, are you? Is anyone you know perfect?
  • Find friends who support your positive feelings. Is that going to be possible for you? Does anyone support you when you’re positive?
  • See the world as fresh and new. Live in this time period called NOW. Let go of the past and hurts from the past. It’s time to start over.
Congratulate students on their stronger mental attitudes!

Lesson 9: Fear Is The Only Thing To Fear

Ask students:
  • When we feel fear, what are our choices? Do we fight? Do we run away?
  • Can we face our fear, do our best to overcome it and take an action that isn’t fighting or running away?
  • What about nonviolent alternatives – like using humor, making friends, standing up for yourself?
  • Do you think that learning how to overcome your fear could prevent a fight between you and someone else? In what ways?
Tell students:
  • If you face your fear, there’s a chance you’ll be able to prevent a fight between yourself and another person.
  • If you allow your fear to keep you under the spell of negative conditioned thinking, you’ll feel inner conflict.
  • As we have learned, inner conflict most often leads to outer conflict. We will take out our inner conflict on someone else.

From Fear To War, In One Easy Lesson


Negative Conditioned Thinking

Inner Conflict

Outer Conflict

Global Conflict

Fear creates conflict, and conflict creates war. It’s that simple!

Fear is a conditioned reaction that leads to conflict. Conflict is a conditioned reaction that leads to war. War is a conditioned reaction.

Tell students:
  • There’s no such thing as fear unless our minds create it!
  • There’s no such thing as an enemy unless our minds create one!
  • By strengthening our minds, we fear less, and the less we’re inclined to create enemies.
  • The less we create enemies, the less we have war!

Thought for the Day: We all have a place in us that has no fear.

Ask students:
  • Do you think that sometimes our greatest enemy is our self?
  • Do you think that when we can resolve conflicts inside us, we’re more likely to get better at resolving conflicts outside us?
  • Do you think now that we have more than two choices when we feel afraid? Do we have to just either fight or run away?
  • Is it easy to SEE how fear creates conflict and conflict then creates war?
  • What does this tell you about our conditioning?
  • Do you find yourself noticing differences between yourself and other people less, and noticing similarities instead?
  • Where is that place inside you that has no fear? Can you find it?

On the following page is an exercise called “Break The Pattern”! It’s a way to practice working through our conditioning so students can start to have new thoughts.

Activity 9: Break The Pattern!

Present students with some brain patterns. Talk about how our minds can break the patterns we’ve been conditioned to follow! Create some patterns of your own for your students, and ask them to Break The Pattern in their own ways!

Brain Pattern #1:

Situation: There is a stranger.
Fear: This stranger is bad and will harm me.
Conditioned reaction: I better run away.

Brain Pattern #2:

Situation: There is a stranger.
Fear: This stranger is bad and will harm me.
Conditioned reaction: I better get ready to fight.

If these brain patterns are part of a physical threat to our life, our decision may be to run away or fight. If we’re mentally threatened, there’s no immediate danger, but we’re experiencing fear. Opportunity: Break the enemy image!


Brain Pattern #3:

Situation: There is a stranger.
Fear: This stranger is bad and will harm me.

Notice the fear! I’m scared. I feel threatened.
Stop! Think! Should I run away? Should I fight?
Break the enemy image: Maybe we can talk.


Pattern #3:

Situation: Our country is threatened by another.
Fear: That country is bad, and wrong.

Notice the fear! Our country is frightened by that country.
Stop! Think! Will we have to defend and protect?
Break the enemy image: Let’s discuss our differences!

Lesson 10: Creating Similarities Instead of Differences

Read to students the story “Through The Eyes of Peace” in the book Tug Of War.

Then ask students:
  • Who were the terrorists? Who were the freedom fighters?
  • Were both sides creating enemies of the others?
  • Did the so-called “experts” resolve anything?
  • What did the young girl SEE that no one else saw?
  • Have you seen situations like this one in the world today? Where? How have you responded?
Tell students:
  • When our focus is on winning, then someone has to lose. To resolve conflict, everyone must win something.
  • Resolving hurt feelings is different from surviving them.
  • When we’re afraid, our main concern is to survive. We join a group, a gang, a nation.
  • We adopt the “ideals” of our group. Anyone outside our group is considered “different.”
  • It’s important to train our conditioned brains to be able to SEE the difference between a FACT and a BELIEF.
Ask students:
  • What’s the difference between a fact and a belief?
  • Is this a fact? “The world is round.” How do we know? People used to believe that the world was flat.
  • Is this a belief? “For every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.” How do we know? Can we prove it?
Tell students:
  • A Sherlock Holmes true detective mind looks at ALL sides of a story before it reaches a conclusion.
  • It strengthens our minds to look at and SEE how we humans are the same. A strong mind is the most powerful defense we have.
  • We live in a world of “experts” but it’s best to not leave all the thinking to them, but rather to learn to think for ourselves.
  • A lot of power is physical, but real power begins in our minds.
  • In today’s world, nations have the ability to destroy every man, woman and child alive on the planet. This is why it’s so important for us to learn how to deal with violent thoughts and feelings.
Awareness Is a Sixth Sense!

We all have the ability to BE AWARE, but we don’t always pay attention to our awareness.
When we are aware, we can focus on similarities instead of differences.

Thought for the Day:

Respect is the act that conquers fear.
When we can genuinely respect one another, we have nothing to fear.

Ask students:
  • What’s the advantage in working toward mastering yourself rather than trying to master others?
  • Do you think that war must always be with us?
  • Where do you see yourself playing a major role in helping to develop a global understanding of what prevents peace? Talking with friends and family? With kids at school? People in your community?

Take a look at the final activity on the following page.

Activity 10: Peace Can Happen In An Instant!

Congratulate students on their good work! Leave enough time to celebrate the progress you’ve made together and the new way of thinking that you’ve all achieved.

When we take that “Stop! Think! moment that prevents a fight or a battle, peace happens in an instant!

Ways to Celebrate
  • Have a party to celebrate your new ways of thinking.
  • Pass out certificates of completion.
  • Give awards for outstanding contributions.
  • Discuss what you would want a follow-up curriculum to be.
  • Write to publications to tell them what you think of this curriculum.
  • Raise money for peace foundations.
  • Read peace success stories out loud.
  • Have a community celebration in the name of peace.
  • Find as many people from different foreign countries as you can, and invite them to your celebration.
  • Write poems and stories to be read today, illustrating how peace can happen in an instant!
  • Live a peaceful life!