We live in a diverse society and that makes humanity special. We forget to appreciate the differences that are inherent to us – culture, language, beliefs, ideologies and even sexuality. The moment humanity unconsciously denies the importance and value of these differences, conflict arises. It is not about who or what is more superior; it is about understanding the worth of every individual’s perspectives and unique characteristics. Denial of what society should be, where equality and compromise should be given significance. It creates our own community – a community where we think we are accepted, and the sense of belongingness that we clamor for. The time we create our own world is also the moment where we set barriers from others and even further strengthen boundaries.
And with these differences, sometimes we push for what we think is right and settle no less but ours. There is nothing wrong in believing on certain ideologies and social norms that we think best address for the common good; however, this is not absolute. We often engage in a battle equipped with the conviction on what we believe in but strive to win a battle with lack of understanding.
Initiative for Peace is an organization in Hong Kong at Li Po Chun United World Colleges composed of international baccalaureate students and young professionals who believe that peace is not the absence of conflict but the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. We set this belief that conflict is inevitable but can be managed before escalating into more serious forms. Through reflecting on different ways and managing differences, violence can be avoided on personal, regional or international level.
The United World College South-East Asia (UWCSEA) was created in 2001, inspired Initiative for Peace at LPCUWC and also formed a similar group in 2006. The organization works in three main different scopes, organizing conflict management and resolution activities internally within the school, day camps for Hong Kong schools and annual conferences around the world, that includes Kashmir and lately in the Philippines.
Our main objective as part of the initiative is to educate and train young adults to identify the root causes of conflicts and manage conflicts to improve, maintain and promote peace in different communities.
Recently, Initiative for Peace conducted its annual conference at Li Po Chun United World College with the aim to gather young individuals and professional from the Philippines to discuss about the Mindanao Conflict. As they gathered in a 7-day-conference; participants underwent a series of workshops, lectures, simulation and activities in relation to conflict management and resolution on promoting peace.
During the conclusion of the conference, the participants then created their own peace initiatives to be piloted in their respective provinces and communities especially in the southern part of the Philippines. During the planning stage, we guided the participants on their projects and even critiqued their proposed plan in order to improve their respective peace initiatives.
You see, peace is only present once we accept it. And acceptance should always come with understanding and knowing how to compromise for the common good and true interests of all. They say, peace is elusive, or even the battle for societal harmony is driven to eternity. Yes, it is a battle between us and eternity and we should know about it.