Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote: Captain Jean-Luc Picard, USS-Enterprise NC1710-D
Photo: Street Art in Bangkok, #PeaceinBangkok
Since arriving in Bangkok, along with the other Peace Fellows of Class 27, I have been undoubtedly involved in a variety of different activities. We have been adjusting to our new accommodations at Chulalongkorn University, tasting delicious new foods, attending orientation, and overall getting a better grasp of the city and all that Bangkok has to offer.
While incredibly embarrassing to admit, one thing I have been also doing in my spare time, unbeknownst to some of my colleagues, is streaming and re-watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which chronicles the voyages of the starship, USS-Enterprise, NCC-1701D as it navigates through the galaxy, but also through personal and moral conflicts.
I have my apprehension about admitting this, given that I did not travel nearly 14,000 kilometers to watch an imperfect science fiction television show from the late 1980s, that is nearly as old as I am. Yet, in the last week, I realize that this rekindled desire is indeed significant, and it is not merely a coincidence, but rather connected to some of our study around peace-building.
As a full disclaimer, ever since I was a child, I have always been fond of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Given what we have been studying as Rotary Peace Fellows, I have realized it not only because of the fantastical elements of this now antiquated space show, but rather its strong messages around peace-building, conflict, and an overall hope for the future.
The show is set in the 24th century, the first half century being one of relative peace amongst different races and across different planets. In this 24th century universe, major peace treaties are signed, hunger and the need for possessions becomes eliminated, space travel is primarily for exploration versus colonization and conflict. In class, as we discussed conflict resolution and peace-building with Dr. Tom Woodhouse and spoke about Lederach’s “Moral Imagination,” I found myself thinking about the 24th century and the possibilities of peace.
In briefly investigating more around the “Moral Imagination” originally discussed in class, I have learned more about the concept of “transcending violence” and the “commitment to the creative act.” (Summary available here). As an artist and arts educator who runs a creative non-profit organization, I was very excited to read about this and discover how a part of peace-building is as “the capacity to recognize turning points and possibilities to venture down unknown paths and create what does not yet exist,” as Michelle Maiese summarizes here. Imagining peace requires a creativity, which actually lies at the heart of conflict resolution and peace-making. When we use the arts and imagination, we can actually envision new roads to peace that do not yet exist.
Lastly, with these connections, perhaps it is not that odd that I would be reflecting on what we have been learning so far through this television show. One of favorite quotes from one of the main characters, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who leads the crew with steady leadership and great integrity is, “Every choice we make allows us to manipulate the future.” I believe that this is directly applicable to peace-building. As we have learned, conflict is inevitable, nor should we be afraid of it, yet we can choose to have peace. The choices that we make now can change the future. Peace is only impossible, until it is not.
Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario – New York City, United States of America
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27