Exploring the meaning of peace

Searing images on the nightly news, appalling stories in the newspaper and
regular appearances in TV dramas have exposed an overwhelming culture of violence on both a local and global level. Domestic abuse, civil war and overall international unrest have amounted to appalling tragedy, much of which goes undocumented and unspoken.

The Nonviolence Festival, hosted annually in Kitchener-Waterloo since 2005, looked to enlighten the community to more peaceful ways of being, as people gathered on July 9 to be educated on the issue. Various charities and organizations were present at the Victoria Park location, as well as musicians, artists and other vendors connected to the cause.

Volunteer Angela Desloges, who is going into her second year at Wilfrid
Laurier University, felt the event was an excellent opportunity to meaningfully
engage with the community.

“I just think it’s something really important for people to know about and it’s great for people to be able to get together and talk about non-violence,” Desloges commented.

The theme of nonviolence appeared to be open to interpretation as
attendees were able to connect on an individual and greater level.

For Janet Smith, a survivor of domestic violence, the day was about communicating a strong message condemning such negative actions.

Suggesting that increased education and outspokenness against violence would be highly beneficial, Smith commented, “I think we need to get it out there more, just telling people it’s not allowed.” She added that the presence of several women’s activist groups at the Festival, such as shelters, would have been a beneficial addition.

For Ben Shanks, only 11-years-old, his concept on Nonviolence was one which extended past local boundaries. “It [peace] means everybody understands and has the same concept over wars and violence and everybody’s just thinking the same, no war, no violence,” he said. And how do we get to this idealistic mindset?

Shanks explained, “I think that we should just understand each other, and not think our ways are better than anybody else’s.”

Different conceptions of peace were being explored in detail at the YMCA
booth, where representatives were capturing video footage of people explaining
their conception of the word. Theo Negoita, who was assisting at the YMCA stand, commented that participation at such events is a regular occurrence in preparation for the organization’s annual peace week.

“We go out in the community and tell people what we are doing, what our programs are, what education we are doing … and how we are involved in the peace movement in general,” he said. This community expression of peaceful means, according to Negoita, is only possible after inner peace has been achieved.

Whether attending for entertainment or educational purposes, the festival provided a myriad of opportunities to discuss, connect and have fun. More local
opportunities to promote nonviolence will be seen again this fall with the assembly of a Human Peace Sign at Victoria Park, as well as a Peace Walk.

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