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Peace JobsThis book was recently brought to my attention by David J. Smith. I had read and reviewed Smith’s earlier work, “Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource.” I found that to be a valuable resource for those who are even tangentially working in the area of conflict management, conflict resolution and education issues surrounding conflict. Since I was impressed by it, Smith suggested that I have a look at his new work. So I purchased it (a bit pricey for students at $45.99 for the paperback and $92.96 for the hardcover) and can tell you it is money well spent. I am equally impressed by the wealth of information and depth of knowledge shared in his latest effort. This time the target audience is students, but the book is equally beneficial to anyone who interacts with students who are interested in working to promote a more peaceful society. In my work, I get the opportunity to meet many of these students, usually part of the Millennial Generation, and quite often get asked questions about both career and education options that may be available to them. The book answers these questions.

Peace Jobs offers a framework for students and others to consider options available to them by reflecting upon what social justice issues appeal to them by walking through 10 Chapters that walk the reader through various general career options –  law, human rights, diplomacy, activism, the military, teaching, etc. While that is quite useful, the book engages the reader through sharing the experiences of thirty young professionals who now work in the field. Their stories are compelling and allow the reader to consider walking in their shoes for a moment to think about whether what resonates with them, may strike a chord with the reader. It may be, for example:

Rachel who was initially interested in sexual exploitation issues, spent some time in Malawi and returned to the US knowing that a career in the law to pursue protecting the exploited as a human rights attorney.

Shirah is driven by exposure to the disparities in the quality of education systems where big differentces result based upon the socioeconomic makeups of each school.  She decide to teach and bring awarenss to these inequities through the work of The Truth Telling Project which is designed to expose raciosm and unequal treatment to people of color.

Or, Carlos, the grandson of migrant farm workers, who knows well the struggles of those whop labor in the fields. Carlos has not forgotten his roots and is majoring in labor studies with plans, after graduation  to work with undocumented immigrants. He spends time now as an activist to spread awareness about the plight of those he iuntends to serve upon graduation.

There are many other such examples from which the reader can draw inspiration, and can see how a young person’s passion led them to a paid career.


Each chapter has profiles geared to the general topics. Smith suggests skill sets that are important to these various career options, and  then for each of the 30 profiles, Smith poses “Profile Questions” that are prompts to the reader to  self-reflect what is appealing about each. He then goes on to suggest steps that may be available to the reader. For example – “Could you ask a faculty member to help start a Model United Nations Club,” and — “What programs exist in your school system or community that can help you curb youth violence and enhance peacebuilding outcomes?”

Concluding each Chapter are thoughts and prompts for “Further Exploration” with places to go for additional research, websites, books and numerous resources to use.  Each Chapter, as well, has a “Reference” page with additional source material.

The book contains an Appendix that lists 86 different “Peace Jobs.” The list itself is eye-opening and serves as an exclamation point to Smith’s thesis that anyone can be a peacebuilder in almost any field, job or career.

Smith argues well for the proposition that working for a “cause” is more satisfying and regardless of one’s generation and that career satisfaction leads to a more meaningful life and important change, irrespective of salary.

Overall the book successfully speaks to the Millennial Generation, and resonates with their need to want “work-life” integration and to make the world a better place.



Available at: https://www.amazon.com/Peace-Jobs-Students-Starting-Education/dp/1681233304

Lawyers as Healers

Here is an interesting way to look at our profession —
Lawyers As Healers
By Nadia S. Ballas-Ruta, Esq of http://www.HappyLotus.com

When I began my first year at law school, many of the second year students warned me that my way of looking at things would change by the end of the year. I never understood what they were talking about until later that spring. Someone told me that they would talk to me later and I found myself trying to analyze what did later mean. Did it mean in a few hours, a few days or maybe later was another way of saying never again. It was at that moment that I realized the power of a legal education.

Many times in society lawyers are viewed as being dividers or people who nit pick at details for no other reason than to make trouble. Lawyers are viewed as being money hungry, overly ambitious, ruthless, seekers of loop-holes, and people who are trained to bend the truth. No one ever mentions that lawyers are healers. Society reserves the term “healers” for those in the medicine profession and psychologists. To be candid, I never thought lawyers were healers either until my second year of law school.

I was interning at a United States Senator’s office when I got a phone call from a constituent whose son was in deep trouble somewhere overseas. The other people in the office ignored the desperation in the woman’s voice because usually everyone who calls sounds desperate. Eventually, the call found its way to me and I listened to the woman. I basically ignored the panic in her voice and listened to the facts. I asked her some questions so that I could get a clearer picture. I realized that what she was saying really required some action so I did what I could and eventually by the end of the week, we were able to rescue her son. A few days later, I received a thank you letter from the mother and I still have it as a reminder of that experience.

In life, we each carry our perceptions of how things should be. We have our own set of rules by which we operate when facing whatever crosses our path. I have come to see that with my legal education, I have been given the tool to see that there are many angles to a situation. Two people can witness an accident and both will give different accounts of what they saw. Is one version better than the other? No, both are rooted in truth according to the perceiver. That is where we lawyers become healers.

We are trained to see a situation from many different angles and to find a solution that works for all involved. We are peacemakers because we realize that each situation is a matter of perception. People are often angered because they feel their pain or suffering has not been acknowledged. Acknowledging that they do have pain and that we are willing to help them heal their pain is a powerful skill to have.

I have found that with my legal training, I can walk into any situation and immediately see all sides of the problem where before, I only knew the concept intellectually.

People come to lawyers because they have a problem that they want solved. They also contact us because they want to be heard. We give people a voice and we help them to heal their pain. The greatest skill we can offer people is to listen and acknowledge their pain. We do not have to agree with it, we just need to understand and then help them come to terms with it.

Sometimes that means going to court and sometimes it may simply take a phone call. By giving our clients respect and listening to their pain, we can change a situation that has the potential to explode into one that can be managed. That skill is a form of healing.

Nadia Ballas-Ruta is an independent contract attorney. She is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and runs her own blog, Happy Lotus (www.happylotus.com).