Peacebuilding en Las Américas

Viviana Duque: As Violence Became Habitual, Peace Can Also Become Habitual

My name is Viviana Duque. I work in Granada, a municipality here in Antioquia, Colombia. In this municipality, there has been a lot of suffering due to war and a lot of violence. The community in general suffered threats and the deaths of their loved ones. There has also been an out rooting, in a time campesinos (people of rural areas) and the villagers of urban areas had to leave, they were displaced to the cities due to the war and violence.  

Today in the municipality there is a certain level of tranquility, there are no problems or war or problems of public order, there are no armed groups in this area. Nonetheless, the scars of war are still here. The children, boys, girls, teenagers with whom I work in the schools as well as their families in a certain way suffer from a violent culture. The way they solve problems in the school and in their families is still, sometimes unconsciously violent. There is a lack of tools or strategies to solve conflicts in a non-violent way. It has become a costume to insult the other, to complain about the other, to judge the other. Even the physical punishment of families in order to help children understand that their actions are not ok, in many cases this has become normal.

I believe that this behavior has never been eradicated in our families, in our Granadino context. Nonetheless, with the war and the suffering these families went through this has become more normalized. Even in schools it is normal that a child insults another, bullies another and even physical violence has been normalized. 

AVP has been an experience in my life that has allowed me to evaluate other possibilities. I have started to change my lifestyle from expressing myself with anger and judgments. Sometimes in professional life you don’t communicate in the way you want to. Also the work in the school with professors and parents is hard due to this structure. With AVP I have been able to express myself better, with more accuracy. I have been able to show my co-workers and the parents at school that there is another way to solve problems and conflicts. There is a lot of work but it’s worth doing. 

I wish that in the municipality of Granada we could strengthen lots of AVP processes, many basic and many advanced. It would be great to work with grown ups, mothers and dads if they are willing to, also children, students and young people. They could become facilitators and we can create a chain of non-violence. We could generate a non-violence culture led by actions, and solve conflicts by finding alternatives to violence for human relations. I think this is the key to peace, a lasting peace and a day-to-day peace. As violence becomes habitual, peace can also become habitual. I think that finding alternatives to find peace allows us to feel better and to look for the happiness of living and the meaning of living.