by Janine Liao
What is real peace?
Is it sitting comfortably in your chair? Waking up everyday with your routine schedule ahead? Eating three times a day? A life revolving around work, house and night-outs? A life unaffected by the gun shots, the hunger, the discrimination and the suffering? For some people, all is peaceful and just because they’re living comfortably everyday, untouched, untroubled. But is this really peace?
What some people may not know, or may not care to know, is that there are thousands who have been fighting the government for decades because of injustice. And there are thousands who have been leading insecure lives as they fear being caught in the crossfire between warring parties in their community. These realities do not only happen in the Philippines but also in other countries suffering from armed conflict.
You can say that I was one of those people who thought there was peace, at least there was in my own little world where I moved in. I thought that conflict happened elsewhere, far from me, and therefore I should not be troubled. As far as I was concerned, my life was peaceful and those conflicts were someone else’s problem. I believed that only the military could resolve armed conflicts because they were the only ones who could fight the insurgents. I thought if those rebels would be killed or captured, there would be peace. But this never solved the problem.
It took a one three-hour class to show me that violence was not all about guns and wars and fighting, and that peace was not all about the absence of such either. Rather, violence could be physical, cultural and structural. Violence could mean deprivation of services that you are entitled to or being discriminated upon because of your religious or cultural identity. Peace could mean not just having a ceasefire or killing your opponents, but also solving the deep-rooted causes of why there was conflict in the first place.
In that class I learned that peace was not all about winning; it was about compromise. Peace was not all about actions but also about listening to what other people had to say. As my professor showed us videos of the people in Mindanao, of the women in Bangladesh and the kids in Israel, I suddenly understood, even if just a tiny bit, of why they fight, what they believe in. And I remember thinking right then and there, how much I wanted to go to Israel, to see for myself what happens there and what I can do to help.
I’ve always heard people say about the issue in Mindanao: “Just bomb the whole place. With them gone, who would be there to fight the government?”Or “It’s far away. It doesn’t affect us here.” But pause and imagine, what comes after you bomb them? What comes after you kill the person who killed another? What comes after you turn a blind eye and look away? Will it solve the problem? Will that really give lasting peace? Peace is not just defined by the lack of violence but the freedom from fear of violence. If your people continue to live in fear, then peace is far from being achieved.
So instead of giving comments without thinking, why don’t we pause and listen to the real situation. Instead of criticizing the actions that have been done towards attaining peace, why not do something in our own little ways to contribute, like tweeting or posting on Facebook about peace. Though little steps, these, I think, would be a much better use of our time. And maybe, just maybe, the ‘world peace’ cliché that everybody speaks of would come true. Peace that lasts. For me, this is real peace. #