Yesterday, the students and teachers of Our Lady of Joy Learning Center joined the celebration of International Day of Peace. The day before, the students prepared paper flowers with peace wishes for distribution among the participants. These messages included: “God’s peace is not rest but a driving force.” “Peace is like a tree that needs to grow.” “Worldwide peace begins in our homes.” “The one who is at peace with heaven brings balance to the world and lives in peace with men and women.” “ To have peace and keep peace, we must want peace.” “True peace is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of justice.” “Peace emanates from the one who sows love and transforms this love into actions.” “Of all the things that may contribute to our happiness universal peace is the most important.” “Enduring peace cannot be prepared for by threats but only by the earnest attempt to build trust.” “Violence will never bring about lasting peace.” “Peace is a treasure that needs to be paid for long in advance.” “In war even the victor loses.” “We will be measured by how we serve the cause of peace.” “Blessed are the peace makers; they will be called children of God.”
In OLJLC, we take living values seriously. A month is devoted for each of the Alive values. Peace was the value which we concentrated on for June. Every class had a peace poster. The students discussed its meaning and its implications in their lives.
Then, students enumerated actions expressing commitment to peace. They further enliven these activities with peace songs and chants.
We also celebrate United Nations Day with classrooms adopting a country to have a display on. Dances from the various countries are also presented with information on the country and the dance. Food from these countries are also cooked, and there are giveaways supposedly from the various countries. The students are issued passports which they have to present for entry for the country-booth. All these are, of course, meant to bring the various countries closer to the students. All are meant to make them realize belonging to a family of nations.
Other efforts oriented towards serenity include reducing competition to the minimum and introducing the concept of quiet applause.
The Social Studies area is actually meant to lead in peace education. In Asian History and World History, effort needs to be exerted to inform students regarding the features of the different cultures so that these features will be understood in their contexts so that they will not become the basis of rejection as “barbaric” or “uncivilized.” It is important for pupils to realize that there are differences in the lifestyle of various groups. These variations need not be the cause of rejection but of exploration. Starting with acceptance, these could be very exciting journeys.
In these subjects, a deeper look at war needs to be taken. The question on what leads to war has to be raised. The horrible effects of war have to realized. But peace-building efforts have to be studied too. In these subjects as well as in others such as literature and Christian Living Education, students need to have an encounter with peace lovers and peace builders such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assissi and Mary Queen of Peace.
Samples of how the presence of peace can make communities flourish can also be presented. In the case of Cebu, for instance, during Martial Law, a period of economic instability less than 10 companies were established in the Mactan Export Processing Zone. But when a degree of stability was restored after Edsa, very many companies opened their establishments there.
Since the home is actually where peace education actually begins, perhaps PTA meetings can also be times of discussions on positive discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment. We cannot promote nonviolence if we practice corporal punishment because we can no longer say “we do not do that here” to even slight acts of violence if we exercise it ourselves. On the other hand, with positive discipline, we gently give instructions at the same time that we clearly explain the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
Warmth and affection in the home nurture peace in our communities because these give rise to children with a sense of self-worth. The atmosphere of honesty will also reduce fear and promote straightforwardness. At home as well as in schools, the young can also nurture the habit of daily spending moments of quiet reflection, times of complete surrender to the spirit of peace.
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