Student Responses

At the end of the semester, my students write a critical assessment of the literary works we read in class, connecting the works to the human condition. These are a few of the unedited passages that include the work of Paul K. Chappell and Peace Literacy:

Student #1:

“But instead of dehumanizing these people—or worse, not acknowledging them at all— simply makes it harder to understand other like them. These shooters were not mentally ill, but as Paul K. Chappell puts it in his book Soldiers of Peace, were suffering from aggression. Chappell states, “The fires that cause aggression are invisible to our eyes, but they can be seen with the metaphorical eye of empathy” (100). The key to understanding their motives can stem from stripping back society’s own disgust and looking at the person’s feelings. Some of the feelings that can cause aggression can include things like alienation, frustration, loneliness, and despair (Chappell 100). If society were to look past people’s labels and their actions and stop judging them, then it could see and actually understand why people are driven to such extremes as murder, rape, and assault. Often times, it is because of what they are feeling and because no one recognized those feelings in order to help.”


Student #2

“However, he experiences many varying types of trauma causing his aggression such as loneliness, alienation, and abandonment as mentioned in the works of author, Paul K. Chappell. Chappell explores different types of stressors which cause human aggression. These stressors lead to violence as depicted in the actions of characters in Criminal Minds. In the television drama, a group of behavioral profilers examine why serial killers begin taking lives by addressing and identifying their stressor. These stressors that make serial killers of typical people are the same stressors that make Dr. Frankenstein’s innocent creature into a violent monster. Innocence is broken down as the events of one’s life alters their mind and behaviors. The monster’s innocence is severely damaged moments after his creation and beginning of his life. Paul K. Chappell identifies loneliness, alienation, and rejection as contributing factors that cause aggression (Chappell).”


Student #3

“Paul Chappell quotes the phrase “An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard.” When looking at people today, it is obvious that there are those who commit awful crimes against humanity. Terrorism attacks and genocides are common throughout the world which makes it easy for us to label the offenders as subhuman. Nevertheless, every person who is born is not set on a predetermined path to kill. Instead, it is their life, their choices, and their tragedies that bring them to the point at which they are today. The line of thinking truly presents itself as a way to find empathy with someone who has drastically different opinions than myself. Instead of thinking of others as a preset form of good or evil, I can view them as a series of choices, stories, and tragedies that lead them to where they currently are.”

Student #4

“It is only through having classes like these taught in schools that the next generation will learn how to cope with the inevitable tragedies that will arise. Furthermore, it is up to people like you and Paul Chappell to expand this style of teaching; but it is more important for the students to enact what they have learned in hopes of maybe showing one other person the utter relevance of understanding ourselves on a deeper level.”