IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

I certainly agree with this

IGbarb says:  “This is so true..and what she describes is part–only part, I hasten to add–of what has given “peace” a bad name in some circles.”

“Peace movement needs peace education

After attending a recent peace rally in San Diego to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I left with one strong impression: we in the peace movement need to better align ourselves with the principles of peace if we are going to be effective in our intentions to end all wars and create a peaceful and just society. As a peace educator who considers herself to be part of this movement, I believe that peace education could help us to achieve this alignment, promote greater integrity and offer improved results for societal transformation.

The peace movement needs to express our messages in a peaceful way, which includes both the language and format of delivery. While the majority of speeches at this event did not have this problem, the language used in several speeches was at times violent, ranging from prolific swearing, which was particularly disrespectful as there were children in the audience, to jeering at police officers stationed at the event. The way the peace movement communicates its messages must be aligned with the essence of the movement – peace, nonviolence and compassion. This does not mean that there is no room for anger. Anger has its place, and serves as a wake-up call, raises awareness and helps to motivate action. However, angry, violent speech alienates and turns off listeners, preventing true dialogue and understanding from occurring. Using nonviolent, compassionate communication rather than vitriolic ranting would align our speech with our message, and we would be more effective at reaching a wider audience and fostering understanding.

Another aspect that stood out to me as a peace educator was the format – speech after speech, lecture after lecture, which went on for hours beyond the schedule. Yes, this is the traditional format of protests or rallies, but isn’t the peace movement supposed to be intrinsically non-traditional? From a peace education perspective, any peace event should be an opportunity for dialogue and interaction, not just passive listening, lecture and speech, which is akin to what Paulo Freire referred to in education as the banking system. The repetitive nature of the speeches and the dissemination of knowledge without opportunity for dialogue is a form of oppression in itself, which the rally was intending to raise awareness about and eradicate. Through peace education, a more open, dialogic and interactive event could promote greater awareness-raising and transformation for all.

Both the violent language and the format resulted in exclusion, both of the mainstream community and even within the movement itself. The anti-corporate and anti-government speech was heavily steeped in an “us versus them” mentality, which is exactly the root cause of violence and oppression today. If we perpetuate that way of thinking, we will never create a peaceful world. This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with the policies of our government, corporations, or those who use violence, but it means we need to remain open to dialogue, and to accepting that the people in these institutions are humans too, and that together we must find solutions to the problems of injustice and violence that we face today. Excluding and alienating part of the population will not serve this. At its very essence, the movement must seek to promote inclusivity, a fundamental principle of peace education. If we are to truly live peaceful lives, this means being open and accepting of all human beings.

This leads us to self-reflection, another key component of peace education. Members of the movement need to take a step back and examine our methods to see if we are truly living our message. We cannot preach peace, for example, while holding a sign that states “Bomb the Pentagon.” Peace means an eradication of all forms of violence, including eradicating violence against those who are currently committing it. Otherwise, we wind up in the cycle of perpetual violence and oppression that humanity has been stuck in for millennia.

As diverse members of this movement, we can unite by choosing to live the principles of peace, including nonviolence, inclusivity, dialogue, self-reflection and the rejection of all violence. Through peace education, these principles can be promoted and our efforts can be strengthened. If we don’t integrate these principles ourselves, how can we ever hope to transform the wider world? A movement grounded in peace principles, and which examines these principles through peace education, can end this cycle, end wars, and lead us to constructing a peaceful world.”


March 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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