Sunday, December 03, 2006

Something I wrote about "Peace" some time ago

from w
I am not posting much this week, and when I do, I delete it again! I'm not thinking clearly because of the Fiji situation (okay, I don't think clearly at the best of times.) Anyway I found something I wrote a while back - the opening of a book our Fiji group published here in Geelong. This is part of the opening chapter.

The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace was announced from Paris on September 12, 1999. The Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly defined the culture of peace as

– a set of values, attitudes, traditions,
– modes of behaviour and ways of life based on respect for life,
– ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through education,
– dialogue and cooperation,
– full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms,
– commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts,
– respect for and promotion of the right to development, respect for and promotion of equal rights of and opportunities for women and men,
– respect for and promotion of the rights of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information,
– and, adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy,
– tolerance, solidarity, cooperation,
– pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations.

The Dalai Lama wrote, ‘I support your project World Peace 2000 firstly because peace is essential if we are to hope for a happier world in the future and secondly because every effort to achieve peace must be made by as many individuals as possible.’

Many people have made up slogans using the word ‘peace’ in an abstract way. Peter Yarrow said, ‘Peace and the struggle to achieve it are a life’s work – global, national and person to person. Truth and beauty and peace, that is the beginning of the vision.’ However abstract notions of peace or of conflict are acted out within a context, a milieu, a cultural setting, to become the details of life.

In an article entitled ‘All the Rage’ Mike Safe (Australian Magazine Jan 29, 2000) described an incident of road rage. ‘Two vehicles, a station wagon and hatchback, had a minor collision, something that would normally be sorted out with apologies and an exchange of particulars. But these motorists had other ideas. The driver of the hatchback, a thickly set man apparently in his forties, was visibly angered as the station wagon veered around his vehicle and attempted to drive off.

‘Screaming abuse, he pursued it down the road and rammed it to a stop with a broadside swipe…

‘The pair traded blows before the older man picked up his adversary and spear-tackled him into the bitumen. They wrestled on the ground, the older and heavier man, forcing his adversary’s head back …’

Peace is not identical with passivity, a quietness that does not act, a position we describe as ‘sitting on the fence’. I wrote these words:

Transfixed by the movement of water,
she decides that ‘peace’
is not a still, silent place at all
but involves activity.


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