Building peace into our lives by Elsamarie DSilva

Women As Peace Makers by grd.net

Today more so than ever, we find the world to be turbulent and chaotic. The recent riots in Bengaluru over the Cauveri water crisis indicates that life as we know it is very fragile and any issue can be a trigger for violence. If we look at India alone, we have Kashmir in turmoil, the largest labour strike ever in the history of the world, the continuing horrific reports of violence against women and children and many other depressing stories and incidents. [Picture Credit Grd]

So is it possible to have Peace in our lives?

Last week I was fortunate to attend a conference in Zurich called Build Peace which brings together individuals and organisations who are interested in the use of technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation. The two day conference was highly energised with discussions, perspectives, possibilities, ideas and solutions to enhance our peace building skills. The main theme was transformation and it was interesting to see how diverse people from different parts of the world interpreted it.

There were several themes that ran across sessions which can easily be integrated into our daily lives and make peace builders out of all of us. As the reflection at the conference said, “Transformation starts at home, preferably in the bathroom mirror!”

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  1. Keep it simple and humble – We don’t have to make our lives complicated. Keep it simple, treat people with dignity, accept them as they are, respect their rights and be humble enough to know that we don’t have all the answers. It was refreshing when Ismal Muntaha from Jatiwangi Art Factory said, “We don’t know why we do what we do. We just do it”.
  2. Have empathy and let your work come from the heart – Whatever we create should come from the heart or else it might not be the right solution. Peace is not something we can brand, or trademark. Bandura Games uses empathy and cooperative gameplay to bring people together and reduce violence.
  3. Be present and mindful – From the food we eat to the cities we live in, we can be truly immersed in the moment. We walked through different parts of Zurich observing streets, spaces, community, architecture and their influence on our lives. Often we cruise through life without any reflection and observation of our surroundings. Being mindful can make us more grounded in reality.
  4. Integrate arts and culture into our lives – Art and culture has the ability to convene, create and transform communities. We saw several examples of it during the sessions and talks where music, dance, film, photography, performing arts, visual arts can be used to create more linkages, understanding and impact around governance and security. Sometimes they are intentional and sometimes not. But they create space for dialogue, debate, discussion, participation and help build trust. Through its mobile app Streets of Belfast, Kabosh lets a city talk to you through the eyes of its residents and their personal stories.
  5. Collaboration and synchronisation – By bringing together diverse people, it was possible to widen perspectives and create magic. Similarly look for collaborative partnerships that can help take you further in your work or mission. Interaction scientist Michal Rinott presented some ideas to synchronise for peace. Without collaboration and synchronisation in our lives, we cannot proceed in harmony.

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As I returned from Build Peace and in anticipation of International Day of Peace on 21 September, I was buzzing with ideas and possibilities which I can integrate into my life. If all of us integrate some of the above in our lives, we truly can be peace builders