“True peace,” the founder of Panasonic wrote in one of his books, “is not a state of non-war. Peace is a state in which people understand each other, help each other, and share wisdom and power with each other;” (Konosuke Matsushita: “Thoughts On Man”, 1981).
Peace. What a concept! So much needed, sought after, longed for, but so little evidence of nations being interested in pursuing it. What we have instead is a state of almost constant war. A number of years ago I heard Miami business man Carlos Marín say that “we get what we focus on.” If we want peace, we have to focus on it. We can’t look to our political leaders to focus on it, because they won’t. There is power and influence in aggression and war, and tons of money to be made from it. When it comes to peace, we seem to lack the images and the imagination for what it is and what it means and what is important about it. In looking for images, I could find thousands of photos of war, and no photos of peace. The photo I chose was one I took of a dance troupe marching down a street in downtown Sapporo during the annual dance festival. This is a peaceful event, but it is not the only kind. We need more images of peace.
What, then can we do? As comedian Milton Berle said many years ago, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
In a recent article in “The Palestine Chronicle”, Patrick Kennelly, the Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, wrote from Kabul Afghanistan the Border Free Center, “a community center in which young people explore their role in improving society” in this violence-ridden nation. “These young adults are engaging in demonstration projects to show how different ethnic groups can work and live together. They are creating alternative economies that do not rely on violence in order to provide livelihoods for all Afghans, especially vulnerable widows and children. They are educating street children and developing plans to decrease weapons in the country. They are working to preserve the environment and to create model organic farms to show how to heal the land. Their work is demonstrating the unspeakable in Afghanistan — that when people engage in the work of peace, real progress can be achieved” (Patrick Kennelly: “The Unspeakable in Afghanistan,” “The Palestine Chronicle,” 18 December, 2014).
That’s the way we begin building peace. More in my next post.