Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
In my native language Arabic, peace (Salam) is a positive meaningful word where we use it in our greetings and we say “Al-Salam Alykoum ” which means “peace be upon you”, it also means harmony with self and with others, it means living in safety and in blessing without any worries or problems. Also in Arabic we say Al-Salam Alaykom when we want to say goodbye to somebody and it means “with peace”.
The serious political situation in Palestine and the consequences of occupation and the wide work of many peace organizations have made this word to be understood in many other different negative meanings where peace becomes to mean cooperation or normalization with Israel, which is occupying Palestinian land.
The meaning of peace started to take the opposite direction.
I feel pain for the misuse and misunderstanding of this beautiful word in the Arabic language that we use every day to express love, happiness, and satisfaction of any situation. It is now turning to be negative. Why???!!!
I feel worried and scared every time I want to tell people, friends, and relatives about something related to peace or to mention peace at all, even if it’s not political. This makes me feel sorry and sad and confused. What to do??!!
I feel a duty toward this misunderstanding and misuse that brings many problems with people and individuals who really want to make change and build peace in their communities. We have to face this problem. Peace cannot simply be described as, nor does it mean, normalization with the enemy or with occupying powers. Peace is peace and normalization is normalization. We must not mix these two concepts. Otherwise we change the language and the meaning of the word and this is not acceptable under any conditions. Because the action of peace brings real peace, understanding, acceptance, love, respect, and mutual goals between different parties unlike the action of normalization that does not bring positive results on the same grounds as peace. They are completely different words and meanings.
Peacebuilding is a human passion. Every human being seeks peace in life, and so I do! It’s never a shame to work for peace for yourself and for you surroundings.
Living in peace is our basic right and buildingpeace is our main duty.
Building peace at all levels and aspects of life is very important for progress and development in our work, in society, and in our relations to build our surrounding communities including our personalities and families. People can’t make any progress without peace. Both inner peace and outside peace are necessary. Peace is the core substance of our bodies and spirits. It needs power and braveness to make/create/build peace, and there are many different tools that we can use to build peace like sport, art, and music. We are responsible to create this power and to use any tools we want to achieve peace and reduce all kinds of conflict that destroy our present and our future.
For a better future, better generations, and better achievement, there should be peace.
I want to use the word peace because I mean real peace, not any other meaning. The peace of our life, peace for our children, peace for our country and people, our social peace, our inner peace. Peace be upon you is my prayer for you all – Al-Salam Alaykoum.
Malaka Samara, Palestine
Rotary Peace Fellow
January 2015 Session