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KLO Im Matki Bożej Miłosierdzia

Our presentation will be divided into four parts: • •

general understanding of peace, culture brought to the poor in order to establish peace,

John Paul’s II lectures and works on the culture of peace

examples of works promoting peace

Wars, terrorism, conflicts on the racial, religious or ethnic background have always been present in the history of humanity. There is no place in the world with no economic, ethnic, cultural or social tensions. At the same time the level of aggression in the society and an unemployment rate is growing, which, on one hand, leads to a rapid growth of the civilization of science and technology, but on the other, it causes moral decline. Such a situation stems from conflicts in the family between children and parents, which in turn cause so-called escalation of "the spirit of combativeness". A socioeconomic situation of a society and low standards of education may increase conflicts as well. However, an aspiration to wars is not in the nature of man. He is born naturally good, wanting to build the world in peace, the world, ruled by harmony, justice and love Peace describes a society or a relationship that is operating harmoniously and without violent conflicts. Peace is commonly understood as the absence of hostility, or the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, safety in matters of social or economic welfare, the acknowledgment of equality and fairness in political relationships. In international relations, peacetime is the absence of any war or conflict. The study of peace also involves the causes for its absence or loss. These potential causes include: insecurity, social injustice, economic inequality, political and religious radicalism, and acute racism and nationalism (Internet 1). Peace is also one of the most important values in today's world. What is more, it is one of rights being included in the first generation of human rights. It facilitates free development of societies and single individuals. Everywhere where conflicts are present, the society is not able to concentrate on its progress and development; instead, it is struggling for its own existence. Due to political conflicts innocent people always suffer. Thus, one or two irresponsible decisions of authorities may result in numerous deaths of civilians. The society living in terror cannot develop properly, just the opposite, usually economic slump is observed there. African countries, where armed and political conflicts are on a daily basis, illustrate this claim. People living there often starve, they do not have own houses. Living in

constant tension, facing fear and hunger is destructive to an individual, to a family unit and a whole society. Lack of stability increases hostility and triggers conflicts. If wars are so destructive, why do they begin? Mankind has always been trying to find an answer to that question. Kenneth N. Waltz (Waltz, 1959) says that a war results from internal deficiencies in the organization of states. In other words, democracies are “peace-loving”; however, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes are not. Michael Doyle (Doyle, 1997) also approves of this idea. He analyzed wars fought in the years 1816 - 1980 and noticed that liberal countries did not fight a war with one another. He drew a conclusion that democratic countries had learnt to solve conflicts without appealing to violence. Another explanation of war origins points at the international system. According to this view, wars break out because we deal with anarchy in the international system. Individual governments guard the order and safety of individual nations. Unfortunately, in the international system there is no superior authority above sovereign powers which would be able to lead to and to maintain law. In fact, the power being able to prevent an outbreak of war does not exist. Nowadays people start to realize that wars or conflicts are often caused by weak system of education. In poor African countries with high percentage of the illiterate, people fight for land and women. They do not understand that “ethnic cleansing” can only result in deterioration of those countries. In Poland there are several organizations which seem to notice the problem of illiteracy and consequences connected with it in the form of different conflicts. The Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) is the biggest one. It helps people in need immediately, reaching the once who wait for it without unnecessary bureaucracy. They help those in need to become self-reliant and to accept responsibility for their own future. There are several actions led by PAH. One of their aims is to raise awareness of the public about the situation of poor countries threatened by wars and hunger. By means of photographs they try to appeal to people and to show poor living conditions in some nooks of the world. This action is called “Africa in photographer’s eyes”. A professional photographer travels to politically unstable countries like Somalia, Congo etc. and tries to immortalize the situation of those countries through their photographs. Thanks to them, we, people living in peaceful environments, can realize how big gift we receive every day. The sad truth is that we are not often grateful to God and politicians who are trying to maintain peace at every cost. That action raises people’s awareness and encourages them to adopt a good attitude towards those in need. This also shows how an ordinary person can contribute to saving poor people. Have you known that 72 million children of primary school age do not attend schools, and over 759 million adults have not even finished primary school? That is the second problem which Polish Humanitarian Action tries to solve. PAH is collecting donations for poor people who want to bring culture and peace to their countries. Than, they can build schools and other cultural institutions, thus those steps reduce the problem of illiteracy.

PAH also takes part in the project called Global Education Network. GLEN is independent politically and this initiative does not bring any profit to twelve organizations of old and new member states of the European Union. The program creates opportunities for young people to do three-month work experience working for local communities in one of the countries of the global Noon. Each of the projects is being carried out by two or three partners from various countries. Thanks to this project young people gain experience and knowledge which they can share with others on their return home.

The aims of GLEN are: 1. 2.

Preparing young Europeans to work in favor of the global development and humane education. Increase the awareness of Europeans in relation to the issues of global development and interrelationships between living conditions of Europeans and people in developing countries


Establishing the cooperation among European non-governmental organizations acting in the field of the humane education and creating space to spread and share those ideas.


Contributing to the European integration, in particular between the old and new member states of the European Union.

Without doubt, The Polish Humanitarian Action is an example of an organization that spreads the culture of peace. Two examples of their activity are only a glimpse of their extensive work in all those places where there are the needy. Making efforts to ease the poverty, creating opportunities for education are steps leading to stability and harmony in Africa and other places that are burdened with conflicts and wars. While talking about the culture of peace we must not forget about the former pope John Paul II. He was considered to have the biggest influence on people around the world. Everyone appreciated his words even non-catholics. Lots of people used to call him a “pilgrim of peace”. We want to present his several ideas for establishing the culture of peace (John Paul II, 1985). He said that the only way leading to peace is suitable education. Its role is to shape the sensitivity of a person and an ability to understand and respect culture, both one’s own as well as of other nations. What is more, pope’s confidence in “spontaneous constructive forces” of the human nature, his faith in the meaning of cooperation have established the foundations for promoting the culture of peace (John Paul II, 1981). The contemporary education to peace should shape the attitude of tolerance for all kinds of otherness. Progressing processes of globalization and integration of European states will cause deepening phenomena of permeating cultures. The attitude leading to the world of tolerance should establish principles to create the possibly of harmonious co-existing with others. One must not be an aggressor or a spiritual, psychological, political and social destroyer in somebody's life. The tolerance comprehended in this way should lead to active forms of pluralistic co-existing of people of various cultures, customs, religions, lifestyles

and attitudes. An attitude stemming form the principles of humanism and kindliness towards others is the only source of appropriate tolerance. Accepting these values and proceeding in accordance with them might become a guarantee of peace in the world (John Paul II, 1987). According to John Paul II, peace is not only a lack of wars, but also harmonious coexisting with other people. Here we arrive at the second aspect of proper upbringing and teaching about peace. The man wants to integrate with other cultures retaining their own regional or national identity. In other words, a person harmoniously functioning in other communities (e.g. in the European structures), is the one who is able to be faithful to the hierarchy of values and religious traditions of the region they come from. As a result, they do not destroy their roots in their walk through life and preserve their national identity.

The third part of our presentation will consider how art can contribute to peace promotion. As we all know, peace is a very common issue in culture. It can be propagated by simple things from everyday life, such as music, literature, movies or books. Also, even the ancient philosophers knew that war is not good for people. As Plato said: “Only the dead have seen the end of the war”. Movies Everyone of us watches movies. They entertain us, teach us, change us. Watching a specific movie can affect our worldview or the way we think. This is one of the reasons why anti-war movies have been created. “Lord of War” by Andrew Niccol is a movie about a man, who makes a living from selling guns, as well as from wars and conflicts. Eventually, after several tragic events, such as death of his uncle and brother, separation from his wife, his parents disowning him, he decides to stop his business and ends up as a man who has lost everything. The movie is based on real events from the life of Wiktor But. By showing terror, cruelty and blood film producers make us realize what consequences a war may inflict on an ordinary man, as it was shown in the film ‘Katyń’ by Andrzej Wajda. Through the entire movie we could observe the daily life of families of Polish officers murdered in Katyń under nazi and soviet occupation. The most striking scene in the movie is last scene, when the prisoners are killed and buried in mass graves. The other motion picture called ‘Deer Hunter’ is about soldiers that took part in the war in Vietnam, and what they do after the war has ended. It shows how a massive amount of fear, cruelty and violence can change a man. The Quotation from ‘Jarhead’ depicts it perfectly: ’A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle.’ Music The second scope I will discuss is music. It is the most general and common. There is also a huge variety of examples of anti-war activities. I would hazard a hypothesis that every well-known musician or band had at least one anti-war song. For example, ‘One’ by Metallica is about the horror of the soldier who lost power in his limbs due to landmine and is a soul

trapped in a body. The lyrics are so true that you can almost feel the suffering, e.g. ‘Fed through the tube that sticks in me, just like the words of novelty. Tied to machines that makes me be, cut this life off from me’. The other song – ‘Sunday, bloody Sunday’ by U2 tells the real historical event, The Bloody Sunday, which was a massacre in the Polish town Bydgoszcz, and happened after the aggression of 3rd Reich against Poland. In this song the singer appeals to people to stop violence.

Painting The last but not least important field of culture is painting. Yes, even paintings can be a protest against aggression. Just like ‘Guernica’, a painting by Pablo Picasso, which is loud ‘no’ to a civil war raging on in Spain between 1936 and 1939. The fractions in the war were the Spanish government and opposition, supported by fascists from 3rd Reich and Italy. The painting describes chaos, terror that we can see from the face grimace of depicted characters. Between the years 1810 and 1820 Francisco Goya released a series of graphics, ‘The Disasters of War’, which are very realistic and drastic description of what happens at war and how much people suffer. To sum up, both institutions and individuals are capable of creating the culture of peace. It can be done in various ways, some of which have been presented above. Needless to say, peace is the biggest value, and everyone should do everything to maintain it in everyday life.

Bibliography: 1. Internet 1: Definition of peace 2. Kenneth N. Waltz, 1959, Man, the State, and War. 3. Michel Doyle, 1997, “Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism”. 4. John Paul II, 1985, Slavorum apostoli. 5. John Paul II, 1981, Laborem exercens. 6. John Paul II, 1987, Sollicitudo rei socialis

KLO Im Matki Bozej MIlosierdzia  

Project for International Forum "Searching for a Culture of Peace", A general understanding of peace and John Paul’s II lectures and works o...

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