Asia West Pacific 

An Epistle: 7th International Peace Training for Creating Cultures of Peace (CCP)

Kins Aparece – Philippines
Rhaka Katresna – Indonesia
Tom Martin – USA
Judith Nandikove – Kenya
Emily Wang – Taiwan, living in Korea

To all those who seek peace to prevail everywhere,

The 7th International Peace Training for Creating Cultures of Peace (CCP) was held in Pati, Central Java Province, Indonesia from Saturday, January 11 through Tuesday, January 21, 2020. There were 46 participants from many diverse backgrounds, cultures and communities in Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Korea, Taiwan, Aotearoa/NZ, UK, and USA. The ages of participants ranged from the youngest, 12 years old to the oldest, 80.

Peace Place Pati welcomed us and became our home as we worked hard to engage with new tools for our ongoing peace work and absorb many new lessons. There was eager anticipation to begin the workshops since most of us had traveled long distances. Each day the work was intense, the material presented was precise, and even the games and play as breaks in the action taught us new ideas. At the start of each session there was an invitation from the facilitating team, “Stop; take three deep breaths; sit comfortably and relaxed; notice your heartbeat and the unconditional gift of life; open to the transforming power of life…”

The vivid stories in the circle described intense peace work amidst common, nasty violence in its many forms both physical and institutional. We expressed gratitude and affirmations for such dedication to personal local peace work, as many were heroes in communities who set a good model for others whose lives we touched.

Attention to good discipline assured effective learning for all, such as the facilitating team’s careful coordination and the participants’ cooperative sharing as we all worked in harmony. It was nurturing to engage life’s transforming power again, envisioning new opportunities to move forward upon arrival back home, and at the same time planning for new challenges knowing we had renewed inner strength to guide us. Each participant kept a personal journal for notes, reflections, commitments and reminders.

YES. PEACE IS POSSIBLE. We now know how to create new cultures of peace, and we invite you to join us in this work.

REFLECTIONS

  • This year the FPT International Peace Training had a new home, a brand new separate building designed specifically for workshops and training. Now there was no need for the school at Peace Place to go on holiday during the international training. Those enthusiastic children arrived each weekday morning and rushed to the school building to greet the teachers— wonderful to watch. We were thankful for the financial and spiritual support of Friends Peace Teams Asia West Pacific and its donors for new buildings now devoted to this work for peace: school, transition center for children with special needs, training center, library resource room with a kitchen and office partially complete, and parking port.
  • The seven facilitators on the team represented diverse cultural backgrounds from six countries. Three on the team had just finished the new, online training for CCP facilitators. The teamwork was careful, sensitive and balanced, encouraging us literally and loudly to applaud our own mistakes that we made as simply learning opportunities. That was ever so refreshing.
  • There were ongoing translations in several languages, so we slowed the pace to respect that. Curiously that slower pace became a benefit for all that allowed information and sharing to sink-in more deeply.
  • Each of us created a multicolored drawing of our positive core self as a reminder of the power of life that empowers peace—after all life is dynamic and makes peace possible. As we unpacked the tools of peace work during the workshop, we examined our struggles and challenges experienced over the years back home. Practicing peace extended our joy, made us relax, and assured us that the transforming power of life is normal and lives within us at the ready.
  • Life is very dynamic, and this makes peace very possible! We need to remind ourselves that it is the power of life that makes this happen. It is the very life that planted the colors of our core.
  • Practicing peace daily, noticing the transforming power of life should be normal. Seeing this happening made us feel relaxed and notice that the power of life is already here.
  • One challenge to bring home to our communities will be to tell the stories of these experiences at Peace Place to the many who yearn for more information about this journey to Indonesia and the peace training. A second is to integrate these tools and lessons learned in all our service work with Friends Peace Teams and other organizations, seeking the new opportunities that await us.
  • When friends get together it becomes natural to share stories. It was very powerful to listen to one another’s stories. There is so much substance and texture to hear a friend talking about the challenges to practice peace in their own situations both at the personal and social level.
  • Near the end of the workshop the team offered another curious invitation, “Enjoy the dance with Spirit and embrace the leadings that are waiting there for you…”
DESCRIPTION OF THE CCP WORKSHOPS

Cultures of peace are the living wealth of people with the wisdom and insight to recognize, invest in, and build on simple personal and social foundations, and the foresight and courage to recognize, resist and speak out against greed, oppression, and injustice. On this foundation we quickly discover meaning through dynamic and constructive play. Peace also relies on human beings developing our resiliency to trauma, so that we can recover from and face natural and human tragedy without allowing it to take us down. Empowerment, resiliency, and play transform our lives as peaceful, joyful beings. These in turn form the foundation for communities of conscience and liberation based on discernment. Inhumane and unjust treatment, control, exploitation or invalidation of others form distress patterns of oppression in us as individuals and groups. To interrupt oppression, we challenge prejudice with radical equality of dignity and worth of all life forms, and we challenge privilege with radical simplicity of direct, loving, conscientious relationship with all people and the natural world. We practice resisting discouragement, defeat, any aspirations to unfair or unnecessary power over others, or distractions of trying to rescue others from themselves. This clears the way for discerning the inner nature of relationships that lead to keen insight and judgment. We include everyone in discerning a consensus of love and conscience, based on what we affirm to ring true.

On this foundation of personal and social transformation, we are empowered to meet life’s challenges that require creative responses which in turn form culture. We are inspired by, learn from, and enjoy each other’s cultures, as each local group decides how to greet one another, show respect, cook food, speak our languages, articulate our faith, and meet the multitude of human needs and demands. When we share our universal personal and social foundations, we find ourselves much more open, curious and delighted by our differences. Cultures of peace are possible. We know how to encourage them, if we choose to invest in creating them.

In the Spirit of Transforming Power,
The Epistle Team

Kins Aparece – Philippines
Rhaka Katresna – Indonesia
Tom Martin – USA
Judith Nandikove – Kenya
Emily Wang – Taiwan, living in Korea