Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"It's Something We Knew Nothing About"

Recently I had a meeting with my friend and colleague Supar regarding our plans for Peace Meetings in the Bihari Camp. And as I attempted to explain some broad categories to conceptualize teaching peace in North America I asked him nearly haphazardly what people's ideas are about peace in Bangladesh. His response caught me quite off guard and although it is not entirely accurate, the ramifications are actually very promising. His response went something like this, "Peace, that was something we knew nothing about. We never thought about it, we never talked about it, nobody knows anything about it".

Although at some level Supar is correct in his interpretation, I would disagree in that people here deal with conflicts and do not wish for civil war, so at some level they do think about peace. But, when I think deeper about what it means to "not think about peace". It implies some level of ignorance about the subject, and when you've never acknowledged how you deal with conflicts, there is the opportunity, when the subject is brough up, to then think about what peace means. Peace here, at least in Supar's view, does not have a concrete meaning because it is not something which is often discussed or even used rhetorically.

This realization of my role in peace education here in Mymensingh is a blessing, but also a great challenge. It is my challenge to bring the definition of peace, along with my colleagues, into the minds and worldviews of the young people in Mymensingh. And to take a holistic and accurate definition of peace and bring it to life. People in Bangladesh are set in their ways, but at the very least, we can bring them a new topic to think about. We can bring to their consciousness a message of hope and empowerment. Through the work of Supar and our team, we hope to make peace something that the youth here "Know Something About".


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