Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Sogniamo un mondo senza più violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace, di fraternità
(the Prayer, Celline Dion ft Andrea Bocceli)
“We envision the world free from violence. The world with justice and hope. Everyone should reach out to one another, a sign of peace and brotherhood”
The sentence is a fragment of a song lyric sung by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli that has become a hit. The popularity of this song can represent hope or longing for the presence of peace amid challenging realities: issues of war and violence, the threat of disasters, chronic poverty, hunger, environmental destruction, crime, corruption, fragmentation of society, the development of the culture of drug related death and violence, AIDS epidemic, the commercialization of sex, and growing permissiveness in the society. All of these are signs or descriptions the absence of peace.
In the study of peace, peace is understood in two senses. First, peace is the absence or reduction of any kind of violence. Second, peace is creative conflict transformation through nonviolence. From these two definitions it can be concluded that peace is what we have when creative conflict transformation takes place without violence. Peace is a state apart. It is also a creative process without violence experienced in the transformation (development phase) of a conflict. A general understanding of violence only refers to actions taken physically that have a direct result. This definition is too narrow as it focuses only on physical violence and destruction.
Today our understanding of violence includes violations of the human rights and dignity of the human person, with the struggle for the right to life as the most fundamental right seen as a reaction or protest over the suffering in the human experience. The experience of suffering in many places is generally caused by poverty, oppression, and violent treatment of unjust structures. On the other hand, violence is often also used to protect or develop the interests and values of powerful groups. These forms of violence are often instituted against many victims in material and spiritual forms. In spite of this, the sense of peace does not stop there. Peace is not just about the absence of violence or nonviolence situations. Furthermore, it should contain a sense of justice of peace and progress. World peace will not be achieved if the rate of spread of the disease, injustice, poverty, and hopelessness is not minimized. Peace is not only about the use of creative methods of nonviolence against any form of violence, but should also be able to create a situation of balance and harmony where the bias is not for the powerful but equally balanced for all parties.
In the face of of such realities, creating peace is an urgent task. Establishing peace is not a utopia or ideals that can not be achieved or a dream that can not be realized. Peace is possible. Therefore it is our duty to build peace, our primary responsibility. Peace is not only desirable but can be created. Peace is not only a symbolic action, but can be written into the law. John F. Kennedy said, “But peace does not rest in charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. And if it is cast out there, then no act, no pact, no treaty, no organization can hope to preserve it without the support and the wholehearted commitment of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper; let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace, in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings”
Bayu Maulana, Indonesia
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2014 Session