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Are you ready for the peace train?


From Monday to Saturday this week, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) is conducting in the City its 1st Summer Peacebuilding Course for some 30 participants who belong to its partners Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) and Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA), who both co-sponsor the training.  The participants include community development workers of Nagdilaab Foundation working in Basilan province, Katilingban Para Sa Kalambuan, Inc., Reach Out to Others Foundation-WMSU, and selected high school teachers from local public and private schools.

The training aims to enhance the participants’ personal and organizational peace-building and conflict transformation capacities.  Discussions include topics like Roots of Violence, Contextualizing Violence in the Philippine Context, Peace: Christian Perspective, Peace: Islam Perspective, Understanding Inter-Religious Dialogue, and Dimensions of Peace.

In today’s world and living, peace is complicated and peace-building is tough love, said PAZ president Fr. Angel Calvo in his message at the opening of the seminar-workshop. Yet, it is everybody’s responsibility and so each person must be equipped with the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge to succeed, especially so for community workers and teachers.  Conflict is ever-present, and goodwill is not enough, he said.

Peace means different things to different people and communities, he elaborated.  The community worker who fails to diagnose correctly the social disease of his or her target community would more likely than not create more harm than good there.  Personal/communal/sectoral victims of war, religious extremism, material deprivation, wanton lack of basic social services, environmental destruction, gender abuse, and so forth each has need for a special and lasting solution and resolution of their plight and the preservation of their newfound, fragile peace.

Like material wealth, peace can be achieved personally, without translating into social harmony.  Like the eradication of widespread poverty, achieving communal peace requires cooperation and collaboration amongst the people or citizens, imbued by mutual respect, compassion, justice, wisdom and the like in their personal, structural and institutional relationships and transactions.

At its most basic, peace cannot be achieved and experienced without belief in the afterlife, a highly-respected writer in the previous century observed.  As such, peace-making is the same as building the Christian belief in the Kingdom of God.  An analogy of the Kingdom is like waiting for a train ride.  At the train station, while waiting for the train (i.e, the afterlife) to arrive, the faithful does all that is required to be able to catch that coming train, which he or she cannot yet see physically coming but whose whistle from afar can already be heard (or known by faith and hope). The waiting and preparation is made real by investing in a riding ticket, readying the luggage, helping other passengers get ready, too – all expressions and works of charity and love (today’s common word of Christians and Muslims in their common journey towards peace).  When all the preparations are made, the trainmasters will make sure that this Train To Heaven when it inevitably arrives will stop to pick up the passengers. 

And the news so far is that this train comes around only once in one’s lifetime.  (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)


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