Lessons of Peace from Normandie – Constancio Paranal III

“We will have peace on earth when we have peace with the earth.”

by Constancio Paranal III on September 25

Peace is a huge word. It is encompassing and limitless. To define peace requires context as it can be overwhelmingly vague and nebulous. But peace is also effervescent for without it how can we even expect to grow and contribute positively to society? I believe we could all agree that it is through peace that we find solace, meaning, purpose, freedom, kindness, and above all, love.

Love, which is the basic unit of human relationship. And relationships, in various forms, ways, and means, are the essence of life.

Thus, it is imperative that we find, seek, and live in peace.

But how does one know what peace is? What is it like to experience peace? And finally, is peace truly attainable, or is it a fleeting concept in the mind of a blissful dreamer and a hopeful aspirer?

In September 2022, together with a number of international delegates, I embarked on a journey in search of peace. I was honored to be selected as one of the laureates for the Normandie Pour La Paix Universite Ete.

Under the leadership of Prof. Emilie Gaillard, the Normandy Chair for Peace (NCP) made sure that our journey is one that is real and never fleeting. For an entire week, they provided us with knowledge from an army of scholars and crusaders that challenged us to contribute and inspired us to act.

But above all, NCP afforded us a community of people who are passionate about creating a better world, a promising future, and an engendering peace.

Forever, I was changed by the overall experience. And each day, lessons of peace added more meaning and a desire to act braver and kinder.

I had the opportunity to share those lessons with my team at the City and County of Honolulu, Office of Economic Revitalization and Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency. I believe that it is my responsibility to ensure that the wealth of knowledge and experience I gained are shared to evoke a new thought or inspire consciousness.

And below are my lessons learned and shared.

Lesson 1: Peace is a shared moral responsibility.

It is impossible to attain peace on your own. Everyone has to participate in the process. To exist on this earth requires for each of us to establish a functional relationship with each other. That means to coexist with fairness, nonviolence, and civility. Our responsibility is not limited for the time that we are here, but it extends in order to provide for the future generations. However the conditions of what we inherited from the past generations should not determine what and how we should provide for the future. Furthermore, the scope of our responsibility should not be measured by what others do but what we are capable of doing. In order to experience peace, one must desire it; to desire, one has to imagine. And to imagine, one must create his or her own story. The narrative of that story will serve as a guide and engender the kindness from which peace abounds.

Lesson 2: Peace is an intergenerational endeavor.

We all desire peace, solemness, and tranquility. Everyone has the right to live in and enjoy peace. It is a right that we can enjoy, and thus we must preserve and protect for present and future generations. And while the establishment of ethical and moral practices are ways to preserve and protect the right, having a legal basis is critical. As a civil society, we have the power to enforce our rights, to voice our opinions, and advocate for the causes that would ensure every member is accountable to the common law and contributes to our shared responsibility and goals. Human rights are key to the preservation and promotion of peace; it is not only intergenerational but transgenerational.

Lesson 3: Peace requires reconciliation with the earth and its people.

To attain peace on earth, one must make peace with the earth and all of its inhabitants. Respect is a fundamental characteristic of humanity. Understanding our role and responsibilities as stewards and caretakers of the earth afford an opportunity to respect and value all things, and realize that our interactions with nature can impact and define future ways of living. To value human rights means to value indigenous peoples’ rights. To respect nature means to respect indigenous knowledge, traditions, representation, and self-determination.

Lesson 4: Peace needs to scale

Like anything on earth, for our desired outcome to make an impact, it has to scale. For peace to matter, it must be felt in every corner of the world, it must be understood by every citizen of the world, and it must be practiced in all of its essence. Grassroots initiatives are necessary for the purposes of advocacy, activism, and education. In the age of social media, power is redistributed; we don’t have to wait for critical mass before we take action. In fact, each of us possess the power to make critical mass happen but we must be brave enough to take the first step.

I am grateful to NCP for the opportunity afforded to me and my peers to learn from each other and be agents of peace. Having volunteered for the NCP in the past made my participation in the program even more special. It was heartwarming to finally meet the people behind the NCP and be a part of an ultimate good story — celebrating a confluence of young minds and hearts passionate about our shared future.

Peace is the ultimate goal.

If we bake that thought into what we do, life would be more meaningful, purposeful, and intentional. Our lives would be tales of good and powerful stories, each endeavoring its own narrative of peace.

I believe that Peace is a worthwhile, on-going journey. This is mine; What is yours?

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