Week 2 of Peacebuilders Camp 2016 blew in like a cyclone this morning! Twenty 12- and 13-year olds arrived at Koinonia and took about 90 seconds to bond into a solid group of laughing, shouting, smiling campers. They are eager to jump into issues and express their opinions on most everything, and it promises to be a delightful week of learning and having fun.
Many of our discussions this week will be based around strategies for peacebuilding. We began this evening by considering five heroes from the U.S. civil rights movement and categorizing the actions they took in the struggle for equal rights. Using masking tape and sticky notes, we created a chart to help us visualize how these peacemakers made a difference. We’ll continue to add to our chart daily and at the end of the week use the same categories to formulate goals for making change in our own communities.
So, how do you build peace? We’re thinking of four different strategies. We can change our own habits or behavior, that is, we can “be the change we wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi instructs. Choosing to eat less meat to conserve resources for hungry people or deciding to buy only fair trade chocolate are actions that fit in this category. Our campers identified that Muhammad Ali took action in this way when he converted to Islam. Second, we can offer direct action to aid a marginalized group, or support others who do so. Collecting and donating food to the hungry, or befriending a newly arrived immigrant neighbor are examples of this kind of peacemaking. In the story of Rosa Parks, campers learned that her foundation continues her peacemaking work in this way. Third, we can educate or inspire others. Writing or speaking about an issue, or challenging others to take action fall into this category. Jackie Robinson provides a great example of this kind of impact. And finally, we can work to change the “system,” whether it be through writing letters to Congress, petitioning school authorities, challenging the way businesses are run, or questioning societal norms. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives us a multitude of examples of this more complicated but far-reaching way of building peace.
We invite you to think along with our campers about the best ways for YOU to build peace in your community. What will you do to create change? What strategies, skills, and talents will you employ? If you need ideas, just stay tuned. We have twenty new campers who will soon be providing plenty of inspiration!