By Mark Dreger
Kelowna residents gathered at Stuart Park Sunday to participate in the 4th annual Peace Walk.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Season for Nonviolence, locals took part in one of hundreds of walks across the world to create an awareness of nonviolent principles, and practice as a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower local lives and communities.
“It’s about celebrating peace and the practises and principles of nonviolent living,” said Nadene Rogers, the chair for the 2018 Season for Nonviolence. “It happens in I think about 500 cities around the world during a specific 64 day period.”
The 64 days mark the commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s death on January 30, 1948 and Martin Luther King Jr.’s death on April 4, 1968. This year marks the 70th and 50th anniversaries of the deaths of Gandhi and King respectively.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come together and be for something that’s a lot greater than who they are as individuals in their own lives,” Rogers said. “It brings us out of ourselves as individuals and it brings us into this collective mindset or consciousness: A feeling of unity and spiritual community with people you’ve never met before, standing for a cause that everyone—despite the differences in faith or cultural backgrounds—believes in and wants and desires.”
The Give Peace a Voice event prides itself that they are inter-faith, inter-generational, and multi-cultural with their slogan, “being for something and against nothing.”
“It’s really a deep statement,” Rogers said. “Metaphysically speaking when you’re for something you can’t be against anything. If you’re really for everything then you can’t be divided and be against something. If we’re for peace does that mean we’re for war? Well, we’re for the possibility and the solution that war can bring. Would we choose to use war as a way to bring peace? No. But if war is existing, what within it is solution-based and how can we move forward in a peaceful manner from there?”
As the walk began to move away from the park and to Bernard Avenue, participants led the walk with a sign from the Centre for Spiritual Living commemorating Gandhi, King, and the Dalai Lama with the quote, “Turning the Global Tides.” The marchers also sang the lyrics to John Lennon’s 1971 song Imagine.
“I have invited a lot of different spiritual leaders to attend this year,” Rogers said. “It’s the first time we’ve really reached out to really start understanding and listening to them, (learning) what inclusivity really means, and what their traditions and observances might ask of us to do differently in order for them to feel comfortable being who they are.”
While on the walk, locals placed Peace Rocks where they felt the city could use more peace, and handed the rocks out to individuals that might not have a smile on their face.
“The route is a lot bigger and we are trying to have a presence more in the downtown core where a lot of business happens, a lot of decisions are made for the City of Kelowna, and where there’s a lot of people gathered who are temporarily without a roof over their head and food in their tummies.”
Rogers concludes with a quote from Denis Waitley: There are two primary choices in life: To accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
“Today we take responsibility.”
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