What does a 'Culture of Peace' mean? by Allan Bleiken

Dear Members:

The importance of this issue cannot be taken lightly.  The definition of "peace" is almost limitless.  If the concept related to the "Culture of Peace" is to have impact and credibility on the Canadian public, it is important to have a definition that will appeal to a broad base of Canadians.  In my opinion, peace begins in the home.  If families are not at peace, there is little opportunity for members of the family to practice it outside the home.  If we are to appeal to Canadians, we must begin where it is meaningful to each person on an individual level.  If we can achieve a significant improvement in "peace in the home" within Canada, it would lead to a substantial reduction in violence and conflict within the community.  Such an achievement would send a powerful message to people and leaders throughout the world.

To address peace within the home, it is necessary to identify those issues which cause grief and conflict within families.  Today, many of these issues are of a materialist or emotional nature.  Children are unhappy because they do not have the same material goods as their friends.  Parents are unhappy because they cannot provide their families with the ideal lifestyle.  Modern society and the media have created an image and expectation of the ideal family environment.  In reality, many families cannot meet this expectation.  Yet, only a few decades ago, families with far less were far happier because they understood and accepted the value of a family and each member within the family.  Even today, many people with enormous wealth are not happy.  It seems that if families, regardless of wealth, have a strong family commitment and respect for one another, the level of violence and conflict within the family is significantly reduced.

If the Canadian Culture of Peace began with a strong commitment to family values and respect for one another, it could then be expanded to the community and beyond.  In the past, there have been very successful national programs such as "Participaction" which created a greater awareness and response to the need to adopt healthier lifestyles.  Perhaps a similar national program that focused on peace within the family through better family relationships could be of benefit as well.  As history has demonstrated, if you send the same message often enough, it will achieve a desired effect.  Such a program could be part of a national education initiative.  It could become a national challenge within service clubs and community organizations.  It could feed on the existing Canadian psyche that we are a kinder and gentler people.

Concurrently with the strengthening of Canadian families as a whole, more attention could be paid to families in need.  There is clear evidence that well adjusted families contribute far more to needy families and the community at large.  As evident by the UN recognition that Canada is the best place to live, we already have a strong basis on which to strengthening peace within the family, and become an even greater example for the world to follow.

Hopefully, these comments will contribute to the overall assessment or definition related to the "Culture of Peace" within Canada.

Allan Bleiken