In the spirit of spring, as the Equinox is upon us; and the Easter and Passover seasons, the Professors for Peace and Education at the University of Regina wish to open a conversation on peace. These seasons emphasize new beginnings, reconciliation and peace. Yet globally, peace is in short supply.
While major global wars have diminished since World War II, a plethora of regional wars, including but not limited to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Congo, Rwanda, Mali, Syria and others have brought unspeakable anguish to countless families and communities.
The dangerous tensions building up on the Korean Peninsula, in Palestine, Sudan, Mali and Tibet beg for peace-focused diplomacy. Military actions such as in Afghanistan and Iraq are demonstrably ineffective in establishing durable peace.
Closer to home, the absence of peace and reconciliation is evident in the miserable violence-ridden conditions in prisons; in the poverty endemic in Aboriginal communities and in urban cores; and in the astonishing lack of government attention to the perpetual crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Peace is much more than not war. It is relational, requiring a concern for and loving approach to others. It includes concern for our fragile shared world and all its inhabitants. Peace becomes a verb, implying action for peace. Peace workers such as Jane Addams, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus of Nazareth inspire us. Peace makes space for education, for democracy, for cultures and arts, for a healthy environment, and for families and relationships. War and myopic self-interest cannot guarantee those blessings.
Canada's history as a peace-loving nation, exemplified by former Prime Minister Lester Pearson, has been re-written recently to portray us as a warrior nation. Old and problematic events such as the War of 1812 are celebrated; support for diplomatic and legal internationalism through the United Nations has been sabotaged; peace in our communities at home is much ignored by our governments, who will not guarantee the conditions for peace and justice. It is time for those who value peace and the great peace makers to act, and to insist to our governments that, internationally, we prefer the hard work of diplomacy to military solutions; and that, domestically, we prefer processes of domestic reconciliation to criminalization, incarceration, marginalization and impoverishment.
We wish everyone a peaceful and active Spring!
This letter is signed by University of Regina faculty:
Dr. William Arnal, Religious Studies
Dr. Barry Barlow, Emeritus, Political Science
Dr. Jack Boan, Emeritus, Economics
Dr. Meredith Cherland, Emerita, Faculty of Education
Dr. John Conway, Sociology
Dr. Annette Desmarais, International Studies
Dr. Emily Eaton, Geography
Dr. Joyce Green, Political Science
Dr. F. Volker Greifenhagen, Academic Dean and Professor of Religious Studies, Luther College
Dr. Garson Hunter, Faculty of Social Work
Dr. JoAnn Jaffe, Sociology
Dr. Darlene Juschka, Co-ordinator of Gender and Women’s Studies; and Religious Studies
Dr. Andre Magnan, Sociology
Dr. Carol Schick, Faculty of Education
Dr. Deborah Simpson, International Studies
Gerald Sperling, Emeritus, Political Science, and President, 4 Square Entertainment Ltd.
Dr. Marc Spooner, Faculty of Education