War is a terrible experience, those who do not lived through it knows nothing.Imagine growing in a community that had about 800 people but because of war or conflict, one group killed the other and only 50 people left.Such community has now become a ghost settlement. Also Imagine when the bread of a dog is seen as better than a usual meal as it was in the concentration camp.
Any person or community that has experience any form of violent conflict do experience trauma every single time they remember the incident or if they have been away when they go back to that Area.
The video Petty Village about the killings in Bosnia during the session on Contextualzing the problem by Elizabeth Cole was not only emotional but posed a bigger challenge when we begin to contemplate discussing reconciliation and forgiveness .What kind of dialogue will you have in this situation where victims have suffer cruelty from those I know as brothers or neighbors.
How can one forgive or reconcile when the perpetrators do not acknowledges the crime and continually live in denials?How can a victim in this situation forgive and forget as many Reliigious peace actors will preach .
The process of building trust can be very complicated here .Even children who did not know how it happened but realized that trust was not there when this carnage happened to their parents or relations will continue to have anger whenever the story is told.
When Peace builders have the opportunity to work amongst these people ,elements of reconciliation to be use should includes truth telling ,Justice which can be retributive or restorative .There should also be acknowledgement,apologies,confessions,repentance and forgiveness so that the reconciliation will produce a secured settlement.
Trauma is a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems.It is also a state of shock in the body or spirit.People inrespective of faith or any form of identity do experience trauma .Either as victims of conflicts,accidents or when something terrible happens..
Since people can be traumatized during and after every conflict,there is the need for trauma experts or counselors to help victims to overcome their shock.It is a known fact that human being by nature have a share of spirituality and many trauma victim yearn for spiritual healing after their experience but social workers concentrate more on providing food,clothing,medical and educational needs without doing something about their spiritual needs.
One reasons that do scare many of these groups from making efforts to provide spiritual trauma healing is the fear of abused of religion which could be misinterpreted as a deliberate planed to convert the victims especially where the trauma victims are not of the same faith with the trauma counselors .And there has been allegations that some social workers do turn their roles into doing evangelism by proselytization.
Participating in today’s session on The Positive Role of Religion in Peace Building led by Joseph G Bock and listening to the various arguments for and against the need to have spiritual trauma healing programs for victims of conflict that are traumatized, I strongly subscribe that development workers should not be afraid to carry out spiritual trauma counseling to victims as long as they do it in an interfaith manner and with counselors from both faiths.This will douse any form of suspicion associated with Spiritual trauma healing.Organisations that are working in conflicts areas should have as part of their team interfaith trauma counselors to help the victims overcome their spiritual trauma because spiritual trauma healing helps stabilize the victims faster than many other provisions or assistance that they may get.Therefore Peace Builders must not be afraid to give this practice a trial for the benefit of the victims they are out to help.
I recalled in May 2012.Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed of Jordan ,Chairman Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought and Rev Dr Olav Fyke Tveit,the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches made a joint visit to kaduna Nigeria to meet with victims of Nigeria 2011 post elections violence.Their key message was the need for collaborations between different faiths when they want to visit and Support victims of religious conflict.This kind of collaboration will challenge victims to appreciate religious collaboration.Similarly trauma healing programs for victims should be an interfaith approach.When victims of different faith coming out of conflict see that the peace organizations that came to help address their trauma challenges have interfaith composition, this will help and encourage them to appreciate and begin to work with people of other faiths .It is always clear that if Muslim come to a conflict zone and attend to only to Muslim,while Christians come to attend to only to christians ,the victims will not see and learn the beauty of living together.Trauma victims too will not overcome their trauma since they will still have fears and doubt about care givers that are not of their identity Group.
Since all victim of conflict suffer some forms of trauma,let us work together to remove anything that will constitute biased practice and help them overcome their trauma problems.
Meeting people who think and hold different opinion from us is an everyday experience in human relationship.Therefore Peace Builders and especially practitioners in the field must learn to relate with everybody including those who hold different opinion from them.
These opinions may be about content or procedural,it may also be from individuals or group who operate differently and think differently .Your ability to relate with them will always help you and increase your confidence when you go to any community that is in conflict.
Some conflicts that we go to Communities to mediate started as a result of minor disagreements by individuals or institutional opinions that were different and they could not be reconciled.Therefore learning to relate peacefully with people who hold different opinion from us practitioners is a great asset.
During the session on Who are the Peacebuilders? and Challenges to Peacebuilding by Prof Pushpa who was supported by Sujata Moorti and Joseph Book,participants where led to discussed what they have learned from the different teachers in this summer peacebuilding program and their styles of presentations.One strong message that resonates and got me thinking is how peace builders can learn from disagreements ,because out there you will meet with many peace workers who have different views and approaches to the issues and conflict.
One thing we most make honest efforts to do to be successful and effective in our practice is to listen to others opinion that are different from ours and learn how to manage the disagreements .We can not be peace builders who are helping communities in conflicts to build peace but do not manage our disagreements.
Here’s a link to “Peace Festivals – Mando and Maraban Rido.mp4” in my Dropbox:
Values are the important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable.Values also have major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.
Though the human family can be seen as divided by Race,Gender and Culture but have many common values that connect us with one another.Some values may be personal but many values are universal and are for the common good of all.
After Listening to the presentation on Creative Power of Kingian Nonviolence by Sarah Durant and Drew Glover and participated in the group exercise on Values,I could see that though we come from different cultures,different countries and continents those universal values where common in all the groups choices of the first five that are dear to us.
Every human being inrespective of race or gender wish to see that everybody including those he has no shared infinity with should have equal opportunity .We also all wish to have a meaningful love relationship with our spouses,fiancee ,friends etc.And we do learn and gain knowledge when we associate with members of other cultures and every culture wants her people to desire to be a better persons or having a safe community where everyone is happy and feel protected.
If everybody will take time to reflect on these common and important values that we all shared and desire and then use the golden rule which says “love for others what you love for yourself” .Then our world will be a peaceful,joyful and crisis free world.Where we can have unlimited travels,be attractive to one another,own our own business,enjoying success in our career and will all live long and have a healthy life.
Therefore ,I totally agree that no society is free from conflict but we can always use nonviolence approaches to address all misunderstandings,misconceptions and suspicion so that our conflicts which is due to differences of opinion will not lead to any crisis.
Many people always feel comfortable when they seat to talk or discuss with those that share the same vision or ideology with them.This position is also applicable with persons that have Ethics tribal,religious,Racial ,political and Gender biased. Such persons can freely say their views and make positive contributions but only where he or she feels safe.Though there are many more places where people can also meet with others such as the stadium ,movie theater ,shopping malls ,other recreational centers etc but such places of meetings sometimes do not give enough room for details discussion, and may not be appropriate for resolving contentious matters ,therefore the need to have other avenues where people can meet and interact on issues that affects their community or on how to build a better understanding for a peaceful community is important.This is why I feel the Living Room Conversation is a good idea.
Our discussion this afternoon on Citizens Working Together to Build Peace by Joan Blades using the Living Room conversations make me appreciate that people do need a forum where they will hear others opinion and they be listen to. People want to have a place where they can express their views without been judgmental even when they hold different opinion from others and may be in the minority.Everybody in this Conversation Room will will learn from others and be made to feel respected and appreciated.The Conversation will be towards looking for a common ground from an authentic ,considerate and personal heartfelt experience.
when the facilitator asked participants to go into groups so that they can experiment this concept , I was privileged to join a fantastic group where we did the the excercise by been opened and frank when answering all the questions .Though some of us have not had any close contact with each other since the beginning of this Summer Peace Building program and today’s exercise was our first time of talking with some at that close proximity,everyone willingly gave honest answer to all the questions with wrap attention listening to each other .It was clear that we all have similar experiences and challenges though we are not from the same country or the same continent.The one hour we stayed together listening to each other’s increase our bond of friendship and make us appreciate one another more despite’s some of our differences.
The exercise make me appreciate the concept and I am convinced that it will be useful and applicable in Southern Kaduna community of kaduna State Nigeria where I and my colleague are presently working with stakeholders on the need to sustain the dialogue.
I therefore intend to go home and experiment the Living Room Conversation concept by bringing all the different key stakeholders from the community to meet either monthly or fortnightly to have conversations that can help break barriers and also find ways that they can collectively resolve any existing conflict or addressed earlier warnings signals.
The desire and passion by all human being to be what they wish to become has no gender or racial barriers.It is only the level of commitment and dedication by these individuals towards pursuing this goal that varies
A visit to Salinas Police Department on Wednesday to meet with the new Police chief who is a woman but do not see herself as occupying that office as a Gender tittle or for a Gender success ,she see herself making impact as a Police officer not a woman star.
.Gender discrimination and biased is very common in our world today especially in the society where I come from.Women are either not allow or discrimited when they seek to serve in some Profession and disciplines that culturally are considered to be for Men.
The Salinas Police Chief Adele Frese did not only help me to correct those wrong assumptions but she further explain how she went into the Police with a 100% commitment and a strong desire to serve and treat people with fairness and respect.
Her testimony has given me more courage and hope to go home and inspire my Five wonderful daughters that I love so dearly and have listened to them sharing with each other’s their many and different dreams ,that they should dream big and work hard to accomplish those dreams.They should never be afraid to venture into any area of human services that they feel strongly about it.They should see themselves as human beings with great potentials and can perform even better in areas the society sees and think culturally are not for women.
The meeting reminded me that Gender is not a barrier but an asset .I will therefore Work and pray to see my daughters and other young African females grow to achieve their dreams and make meaningful impact in the society and the world at large not as a woman star but as committed and resilience human being who have worked hard ,overcome difficult situations without playing the Gender card.
I wish to conclude with the words of Norman Vincent Peale the author of book ‘The power of Positive Thinking’ where he said ,
” Deep within the individual is a vast reservoir of untapped power awaiting to be used.No person can have the use of all this potential until he learns to know his or her own self. The trouble with many people is that they got through life thinking and writing themselves off as ordinary common place persons,having no proper belief in themselves.They live aimless and erratic lives largely because they never realize what their lives really can be or what they can become”.