To the editor:
September 21 is UN International Day of Peace. We all have a role to play in achieving peace in our community, and in our world.
Our culture seems inclined towards vengeance and war, instead of forgiveness and peace. Even as we observe the 10th anniversary of the horrific bombings in New York this month, we think little of the cost of war. Did you know that since 2001 successive governments have pumped an additional $92 billion into security and military spending, over and above pre-9/11 spending in Canada? And we don’t question it, as a culture. We are taught to accept it because we have been convinced that there is no other way. American author, Robert Fulghum, said: “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
Even as a community, locally, we are quick to show that we “support our troops” with gestures as small as a bumper sticker, or as grand as the unveiling of a monument. And because of our political culture, many of us dare not question the value, cost, or meaning of these gestures lest we speak out of turn and get accused of being unpatriotic.
How much time or resources do we pour into communal, peace-filled ventures? Couldn’t our municipality, province, or country support spaces for peace in our communities where we might gather and celebrate people and movements that have worked for non-violence and peace? Locally we could use more reminders of peace, even some small encouragement to work for peace in our daily life to make our communities and the world better places for everyone.
If we are intentional about working for peace, we might give our children alternatives to violent conflict when disagreement arises. If we encourage that kind of attitude in our young people, we might give them hope for the future. It seems to me that our military and the government behind our military preys upon youth who feel hopeless and at a loss for options—especially when recruiting posters are seen posted in our public schools.
We in Kelowna can call for alternatives to war, and then have reminders of peace around us. We can invite the creative members of our community to share art that is inspired by peace; we can create spaces set aside for peace so that we might gather at those places at different times to celebrate or work for peace; we can encourage peace locally and call for an end to war and empire-building globally.
These may seem like lofty goals. Why not start by observing the United Nations’ International Day of Peace by committing ourselves and our households to taking steps toward greater peace in our own living?
Tyler Gingrich & Roy Lechner,
Kelowna Peace Group
Peace Seekers campus club,