The Loretto UN office recently had the opportunity to Co-Sponsor an event that explored “The Things that Make for Peace”. For this event, we welcomed South African Anglican priest Fr. Michael Lapsley, former ambassador to the UN from Bangladesh, Ambassador Chowdury, peace activist and founder of the Hague Appeal for Peace, Cora Weiss, and volunteers from the US-2 global ministries program of the Methodist Church. This article was written by our fellow Co-Sponsors, Rev. Kathleen Stone and Janessa Chastain of the office of the chaplain of our building.
Around the Bible stand on the altar in the Tillman Chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations, a building owned by United Methodist Women, read the words of Jesus from Luke 19: “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace.” With this in mind, along with a display of 10,000 ribbons of hope from the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the chapel hosted a panel event, “The Things That Make for Peace.” It featured:
- The original music of Dana Hanchard
- Young adults in the General Board of Global Ministries’ US-2 program
- Father Michael Lapsley, founder of Institute for the Healing of Memories in South Africa
- Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former Undersecretary General and U.N. High Representative, and
- Cora Weiss, longtime peace activist and founder of Hague Appeal for Peace
The panel explored questions about war and peacemaking despite current world realities. In a culture of violence, what has to happen within the political, economic, social, educational and development agendas to engage and enable the reconciliation of communities and individuals? What are the things that make for peace?
In this spirit and purpose, the young adults from the US-2 program shared their experiences in mission placements around the United States and reflected on what makes for peace. They said education, storytelling, solidarity, love of self, knowing how to have hard conversations and diversity are all essential to–and pieces of–peacemaking. Three elders also shared their long experience in the arena of peacemaking.
Father Michael Lapsley, founder of the Institute for Healing of Memory, offered insights he’s gained from the many years he spent healing trauma. We need to find the root causes of war, he said, and stop those causes first: when we exclude, when we fail to offer a space for all voices, and when we fail to connect financial concerns with the spiritual concerns, violence and war erupts.From the most intimate relationships to the relationship between nations, it is imperative to acknowledge that this violence has been a part of our experience as people and nations, he said. If the pain is not acknowledged and efforts made to recognize the pain of victims, victims often become victimizers. Yet seen, believed and acknowledged, the healing begins. Mr. Lapsley himself was the victim of a letter bomb that exploded in his hands as he sought to end apartheid in South Africa, losing both hands and an eye.
H.E. Chowdury, a leading voice for peace at the United Nations, challenged us to remember “peace (and violence) touches every aspect of our lives.” He spoke of the United Nation’s historical and continuing mandate to build peace.
He also knows of which he speaks-he led the political struggle for the creation of the two most important global documents on peace: the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
Ms. Weiss, a peace activist with Hague Appeal for Peace, discussed implementing comprehensive peace education at all levels of society. She said, “We have to teach about prevention of war and the ways of peace and constantly employ critical thinking.”She recommends that alongside the Declaration of Independence U.S. students study documents such as the Declaration and Platform for Action on the Culture of Peace. Her closing thought was, If we can abolish institutionalized slavery, why can’t we put peacemaking on the table? Isn’t it possible to institute peace? How might we do it?
- Download a toolkit on Resolution 1325.
- Read the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace.
Janessa Chastain is a seminarian at Drew University who is currently serving as an assistant in the Office of the Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations.
The Rev. Kathleen Stone is the Chaplain at the Church Center for the United Nations.