If schools and universities in America had taught
more about peace, is it possible that the destruction in
Iraq could have been avoided?
If the public had watched fewer films glorifying
warfare and absorbed less violence on TV, would the
United States have been as willing to put its faith in
military forces that seem so unable to win peace?
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced
Pandora's box open, exposing western values to critical
scrutiny from many sides. Transforming our culture from
the violence of the 20th century to a more sustainable
path in the future will require major retraining for
world leaders. But where can individuals go to discuss
their questions? Who can answer them responsibly? And
what does the word "peace" really mean?
A rare opportunity to participate in a series of
discussions and inquiries will soon be provided by three
Peace Education Conferences to be held at McMaster
University in Hamilton between November 15 and 23.
With world opinion so opposed to war, peace education
is beginning to be taken seriously. School boards and
departments of education are recognizing there are many
ways to resolve conflict and that if we do not teach our
children peace, someone else will teach them violence.
Although the word "peace" (like
"love" and "religion") has many
different meanings, it was neatly summed up at a recent
conference of children in New York who called for
"an end to war, poverty, exploitation, abuse and
violence." Such a definition extends the boundaries
of the word well beyond its military connections.
Clearly it denotes the absence of violence in all its
forms and sharpens the UN concept of crimes against
November's three miniconferences have the purpose of
advancing the plans and activities for peace education
in Canada and building the groundwork for avoiding
"Iraq wars" 20 years from now. The conferences
will mark the third year running that Hamilton has been
chosen as the site for major peace deliberations. In
Canada generally it is a sign of growing interest that
three other peace education conferences have already
been held this year, in Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary.
At McMaster a three-day Leadership and Peace workshop
moderated by Dr. Larry Fisk starts Monday, Nov. 15 at
the CIBC banquet hall of the Student Union Centre.
Youth Day is Thursday, Nov. 18, when more than 100
area youth will consider Creating a Culture Of Peace and
building A World Fit For Children. Friday is a one-day
workshop for peace educators.
The main body of the conference will take place on
Saturday and Sunday, November 20 and 21. This will focus
on major issues such as the Human Right to Peace
presented by senator Douglas Roche; and the Role of the
Military in Peace Support led by Captain Steve France
from National Defence. Gandhi's inspiring presence will
grace the conference through Dr. Shall Sinha, who
simulates the Mahatma himself. Dr. Sue McGregor,
professor of peace studies at Mount Saint Vincent
University, Halifax, will introduce transformative
learning; and David Adams (past UNESCO director) will
explain the current status of the UN Culture of Peace
Program. During the final two days he will lead a
symposium on Canada's opportunities for a national
Culture of Peace program.
Full details about registering for the three
conferences can be obtained by visiting www.peace.ca
or by calling toll-free at 1-800-574-7126.
Ray Cunnington writes on peace issues. He is a member
of the Hamilton Culture of Peace Network.