Thursday, June 21, 2012
Youth violence has moved to a different level here in Grenada as news from last week still confuses and angers many of us; news involving youth gangs, cutlasses, and innocent people wounded. Cutlasses used in reaction to conflict are common in Grenada however innocent people getting chopped because they are from the same community as the youths involved in the violence is not common. News from the ground says amongst those caught in the middle of the violence were a 13 year old girl and a 70 year old woman. There were no deaths however there were injured and hospitalized victims.
Theo’s initial reaction to the news ‘I glad I don’t have a boy child!” And my reaction to his reaction was if Theo had a son he most likely would not fall prey to the violence all around him because first and foremost he would have Theo as his father, a gentle, present, affirming, accepting, peaceful and emotionally conscious man and role-modal. Theo’s son would have certain privileges bestowed on him from birth such as an economically secure family; Canadian citizenship giving him the privilege of travel, of free health care, of educational opportunities and resources that many of his Village friends do not have; parents that share similar parenting styles which does not include emotional, physical, or psychological abuse; more attention at school due to his lighter skin colour and/or because of the limitless access of books and other learning materials he would be exposed to; and finally if he was born with a physical, behavioural, emotional or learning disability he would have access to opportunities to help him deal with this. Chances are Theo’s imaginary son would make healthy and positive choices as a result of being born into a safe, healthy, and positive environment.
What is my point? Context. When violence occurs many of us don’t have time for context. We want to label, judge, stereotype, blame, create easy answers to very complicated issues. This is understandable in the wake of death, injury, and trauma. Fear and anger are common reactions to violence which further perpetuates a cycle of blame and judgement. How do we, as a global society, as individuals, communities, families, and organizations move to a deeper analyses of conflict, violence, and youth; an analysis that will break this cycle of blame and judgement and help us find non-violent solutions and strategies to address the root causes of violence filling up many of our youths lives and communities?
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I want to share a blessed ‘Big Up’ and a warm ‘Shout Out’ to the Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding Crew! Powerful, humble, inspiring friends representing Sierra Leone, Grenada, Egypt, Cameroon, US, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Canada, and Indonesia. Our small global community spent two weeks together building, cultivating, and nurturing a culture of peace while diving deep into principles and practices of non-violence; meanings, concepts indicators of peace and peacelessness; conflict theories and analysis tools; personal and group reflections; and individual and collective action plans that embodied the teachings and major learnings during our short time together.
I was honoured and privileged to be invited once again to co facilitate the Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding spring certificate course at the Coady International Institute with friend and mentor Thomas Turay (aka Dr. Peace), world renowned Peace Educator hailing us from Sierra Leone. I continue to find strength and wisdom from reflecting and writing and therefore I share with you my perspective of our two week global peace community through a series of blogs beginning with an aha moment related to the transformative power of building cross cultural, class, religious, gender, race and so much more …. relationships!
At the start of our second week Dr. Peace asked everyone to take a photo, one photo that represented everything learnt over the past week. With imaginary and real cameras everyone took their photos. Some snapped images of flip charted tools and strategies, others took photos of the classroom set up, some took photos of people and others snapped themselves. The main goal was to reveal the diverse lenses we all operate from; to explore and identify the various frames in which we see the world and how this differs from person to person depending on various contexts. In my mind I gathered our group together and took a collective photo. The aha for me was confirming once again how my world and personal view is influenced by people, by relationships, by building community wherever I find myself; community that is as diverse as the colours of a sun drenched rainbow. I look out onto the world through a people centred frame and I confirmed once again how deeply I learn from these relationships! Creating and sustaining a culture of peace within our small global community over the past two weeks through sharing and learning from one another’s perspectives, opinions, contexts, stories, histories/herstories, our differences and similarities, our cultural assumptions, our families and communities; our states of peace and peacelessness; and our work both home and abroad stretched and transformed me once again!
With this aha I extend deep rivers of gratitude to Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Cameroon, USA, Afghanistan, Grenada, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Canada in the presence and richness of Mabel, Joice, Alice, Hamdan, Osee, Popal, Maureen, Mary, Thomas, Ghada, and Catherine !
Stay tuned for further reflections from community conflict and peacebuilding course!