10 MINUTE "SOLUTION" - YMCA PEACE AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
[you can download and view the presentation video by clicking here]
Calgary, Alberta and Hamilton, Ontario
Robert Stewart, C.A., C.M.C. November 15, 2000
Thank you for coming today, and thank you to the Directors of the YMCA for honouring me with the Peace Award.
This means a lot to me. Many of you may be aware that just this past weekend the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, which I direct, initiated the First Annual Canadian Peace Awards because it is important to raise awareness and recognize people who are working to build a Culture of Peace.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about what I do, which in a sense is quite unique. My marketing and business analysis skills are very much my forte. And I have high hopes that those skills will help us, together, to provide peacebuilding capacity and direction, overcome the pitfalls that others have experienced, and to pioneer new solutions.
Very simply, my work is to try to distil volumes and volumes of peace information down into brief 'sound bites' that people can use to transform a culture of violence to a Culture of Peace and Non-violence. Sounds easy, but it has never been done before.
Peace is a very complex issue, and hence finding solutions is most challenging. This complexity is because many issues impact upon peace. Many of you may work and specialize in one or more of these specific disciplines. My work studies how all these issues fit together in what I call the 'Peace Pie'. An attempt, in one 'big picture', to capture the image of the various disciplines working together in unison.
I would like you to try and visualize that picture - a pie diagram - what I call the 'Peace Pie'.
At the core is peace education, followed by rings around the core of the pie. The rings are made up of problem solving issues such as problem identification, action planning, action implementation, monitoring, evaluating and adjusting; and resource issues such as information management, network, human and financial resource management. This is a big pie - there are more than 50 slices of the pie: each is one of the functional issues impacting upon peace (poverty, greed, power, environment, justice and corrections, racism, gender, abuse, politics, etc., etc.). On top of this, like 4 layers of meringue is peacebuilding at the individual level, family level, community level and world level. All of these are interrelated. When we cut into this pie, what we learn at one level is often applicable to the others.
Put all together, I call the science of gaining this understanding and knowledge about peace solutions 'Macropeace' ... seeing the 'big picture' of peace and acting upon it.
Why is this important? First, many people do not have this unique perspective, but once we have it we can refocus efforts to build a Culture of Peace. We can appreciate how what we are doing is already contributing and help to identify gaps between what is in place and what needs to be in place to achieve a Culture of Peace. For example, I have developed our Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace web site at http://www.peace.ca to help people gain the overview, see how they fit in to the big picture, and promote peacebuilding activity. It has been referred to as a 'Barefoot University', and 'Peace for Dummies and a resource for the rest of us'. Online for the past two and a half years, a lot of time and effort has been invested in the web site and feedback I get from our many visitors shows that it is fulfilling an important role. It is arguably one of the best peace web sites in Canada and possibly the world today.
As a result of this experience, during this past year I have begun working with the Canadian Peace Researchers and Educators Association to create a Canadian Peace Institute and fund-raising Foundation. Currently, you can not find a University, or school of higher learning in Canada which provides a holistic approach to peace education which, as I have said, is at the core of a Culture of Peace. It is our goal to make such a Canadian Peace Institute a reality. Initially, it is planned to be a virtual Institute providing distance education in partnership with existing Universities, Colleges, Schools and other educational facilities, leading to 'bricks and mortar' centres across Canada.
What makes rather considerable progress possible today is what I call 'E-peace' - that ability to magnify everything one does, and the related communication and information transfer, ten-fold through the use of computer and Internet. E-peace surely will make community and world peace more of a reality within our, and our children's generation. For example, I belong to about 7 email listservers (three of which I have initiated) to facilitate peace communications and action around the world. Much of the moral support and information for our web site comes from this network.
The bottom line is that peace in our families, communities and world is achievable. The Carnegie Institute conducted a study on Preventing Deadly Conflict that concluded, "It is not that we do not know what to do ... it is that we do not act." The reason that it (peace) has not been achieved is one of motivation: world and community leaders have not been motivated to raise their awareness and work together in co-operation to achieve peace. Education, awareness and knowledge of how each can make a difference will motivate people and get them to demand action from our institutions such as government.
Additionally, over the past 2 years, my efforts have been turned towards promoting a National Culture of Peace Program in Canada, based on the United Nations model, which would help to bring about the necessary transformations in values, attitudes and behaviours in institutions and individuals that are indispensable for eliminating the deep roots of violence, exclusion and conflict. If peace is important to our government, why is there no Department of Peace? Why are there no Faculties of Peace in our Universities? These are the types of necessary institutional transformations that I speak of.
Many of us are working in our particular areas of specialty or 'strands'. Unfortunately, the strands can 'break' due to lack of resources, support or for many other reasons. My vision is the unification of all of our various peace efforts or 'strands', binding together like a rope for strength and pulling in one common direction to create a Culture of Peace, at home and abroad. In this way, we can bring peace work into the mainstream and gain the necessary attention and support, from governments, the media, business, educators and the public at large.
My prescription to deal with the disease of violence is inoculating all of the children of the world with peace education, starting right here in Canada. As the Preamble to UNESCO's mandate states: "Since wars (and violence) begin in the minds of men, it is the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." The Hague Appeal for Peace has launched a campaign to train teachers and to influence ministries of education to consider adding peace to the core curriculum. Everywhere in the world children who go to school... learn the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. The 3 R's. We propose a 4th R, reconciliation, which will help children confront their biases, redirect their aggressive behaviour, learn to negotiate, and discover non violent peaceful means to relate to one another. They will study root causes of violent conflict and figure out ways to cure them. Accordingly, I have become a strong supporter of the likes of the Alberta Teachers' Association Safe and Caring Schools Program, the Canadian Red Cross Abuse Prevention Program, the Project Ploughshares Anti-bullying Program etc. which seeks to do exactly this. School Boards will respond that they currently have no or little resources for this. If peace is important, we must find the resources. For example, I can imagine a 'Junior Peace Achievement Program' helping school boards achieve this very important mandate. Businesses and Foundations may be convinced to adopt a school peace program. We must find creative solutions to build peace.
Finally, I seek to bring the message to audiences everywhere that Time is of the Essence. As the World's Scientists have warned us, during our children's lifetime, and I quote "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." This has far-reaching implications. I am sure that the people in this audience are very aware of the urgency of action. It is particularly up to those of us individuals, communities and nations that are relatively prosperous to take responsibility for change - the poor and distressed are not able.
Thank you again for this opportunity, thanks to the YMCA for its many contributions to building a Culture of Peace, and to all the people who have supported me in my work. Finally, a thank you to my wife Marion and family who have provided me with the motivation to do this.
Best wish to you for peace in all you do. And please share this message with others.
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