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Reflections, Jan Logie

It is an honour and a humbling experience for me to stand and speak the Y's vision of peace today. To speak alongside the people here and those around the world who have had the courage, heart, compassion and vision to turn their pain into hope for themselves and all of us.

I would like to start on this day by acknowledging the grief of the families and friends who have lost people through terrorism and war.

Thanks to the September Eleventh Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow today holds the possibility of becoming a catalyst for change rather than just another privileging of western experience.

Today is an opportunity to reflect and connect. Connect ourselves to the experience of others who are and have been mauled by the machine of war and injustice. To feel the loss of the 2800 who were killed in the attacks on America and the 3000 since who have been killed in the name of the war on terrorism.

Connecting ourselves to these experiences, allowing ourselves an insight into the pain of the friends and family left behind in both these countries, as well as the citizens of the 23 other countries currently involved in armed conflict can charge us with the desire for something else. It can charge us with the impetus to work towards creating something else.

For myself though there is a particular challenge in maintaining the same sense of connection with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan as I do with those in New York and Washington. Yet I want us all to have these same feelings for the people of every country.

Afghanistan and Iraq are countries we are less likely to know, their people have been dehumanized in our media, their deaths dismissed as collateral damage, their cultures and religious beliefs minimized and held up for derision.

This affects us in New Zealand. Farti a young Islamic woman who works in our office was today asked by her mother not to wear her headscarf for fear of her being attack.

It is difficulty in today's violent and media saturated world of hold on to compassion for those so distant and dehumanised. But Farti's mother's fear reminds me that visions of peace are not of abstract benefit.

By reaching out to those around us, remaining open to challenge, and using the lessons we learn at a personal level to analyse the global environment. We can make a difference for Farti's family and the world.

I'm bringing my dreams to this room today as I know you are. Together our dreams offer us all the possibility of real security.

My vision of peace is one where we all have a sense of global relatedness. Where the pain of one is the pain of all. Where we can move from fear and distrust to openness, courage and hope. Where the drive for dominance and retaliation shifts to one for justice, and accountability. Where our local national and global systems reflect the best of all of us.

Within the Y we know the difficulties of holding big visions. Our vision is of a fully inclusive world where justice, peace, health, human dignity, freedom and care for the environment are promoted and sustained through women's leadership.

It's an easy vision to rattle off and sounds good I think, but it's been hard. It has meant examining how our actions have caused harm, taking the risk of admitting this, and trying to do things differently as well holding on to our ideals when they haven't been supported by the majority.

In Aotearoa New Zealand we have had to face up to our role in the colonisation of this country, in stripping Maori of land, culture and sense of place. I mention this because I believe that colonisation, the taking of land and undermining of peoples and cultures is key in global conflicts.

I also know that doing things differently isn't easy, there are not a whole lot of cultural supports for addressing wrongs on this level and we often make it more complicated than it actually is.

To try and make it simple I try and translate things to the level of school yard ethics. So in the case of Afghanistan they become the kid with the daggy clothes, no lunch money and few friends, who is being bullied at school. The kid who we, of the same age, on the side line, probably don't defend because they don't hold any threat to us or any possibility for fun either. (Not that we've probably ever talked to them to find out.)

I would ask you now to all imagine yourself as the teacher in this situation.

Is this acceptable? Is attacking a child in the playground because she had some bullies staying at her house the night before ok?

As that teacher what would you do? As that child that had been bullied what would you want to happen? As the scared child acting preemptively what would you want done?

How would you as a teacher deal with all the others involved?

We teach our children right from wrong and offer support when they're at risk. Why is it that we don't even expect these same rules to apply at a global level? Can or should fatalistic political pragmatism supercede concepts of Peace Justice and Accountability?

I believe Peace Justice and Accountability are universal principles. They apply equally to the global environment as to our homes, schools, and workplaces. We have international laws as we have school policies.

Living in a democracy we have been empowered to speak up for these principles. We all have the role of teachers and learners.

So finally in honour of the grief that so many in the world are feeling today and in honour of the dreams we all hold I would remind you, as I remind myself, of your ability and power to act. This agency and action is essential to any vision of peace. We all need to start acting not just for ourselves alone but for ourselves as part of a community. To feel the pain of others and get involved. That is truly a vision of peace.

Kia Kaha.

Jan Logie, Executive Director, YWCA Aotearoa / New Zealand
Reflections on 11 September: Visions of a Peaceful World, 11 September 2002.

11 September 2002 in Aotearoa / New Zealand


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