Peace Week Celebrated
Every September, the University sets apart a week-long celebration of the United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace. This year, the Peace Week spearheaded by the Religion and Peace Studies and Psychology Department, was held from September 21 to 27.
Themed “Right of Peoples to Peace,” Peace Week opened with two concurrent forums on September 22. These are the “Peace Forum on the Rights of People to Peace” and the “Forum on Women, Psychology and Peace.”
The Peace Forum featured two keynote speakers namely, Mr. Romualdo Siñeres of the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. and Negros Oriental Provincial Prosecutor Juditho Agan.
Mr. Siñeres discussed the environmental aspect to people’s rights to peace. He said the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory severely diminishes the peaceful enjoyment of the inhabitants of that territory. Striking close to home, Mr. Siñeres nuanced this by engaging the importance of preserving animal and plant life in Mt. Talinis because of its role in biodiversity.
On the other hand, Prosecutor Agan, talked about the concepts of positive and negative peace. This distinction, he said, can be traced back to the father of peace studies Johan Galtung, who first noted the difference between the two.
Negative peace refers to the absence of violence. It is negative because something undesirable stopped happening. When, for example, a ceasefire is enacted, a negative peace will ensue. On the other hand, positive peace is characterized by positive content such as restoration of relationships, the creation of social systems that serve the needs of the whole population and the constructive resolution of conflict.
Prosecutor Agan also pointed out that true peace does not mean the total absence of any conflict. It means the absence of violence in all forms and the unfolding of conflict in a constructive way. Peace therefore exists where people are interacting non-violently and are managing their conflict positively with respectful attention to the legitimate needs and interest of all concerned.
Meanwhile, the Forum on Women, Psychology and Peace featured Jenny Lind Elmaco-Cardenas, the Executive Director at SPARK, Inc. and Kate Alyzon Ramil, the Country Representative of Erasmus Mundus Association Philippines.
Ms. Cardenas’ lecture titled “What Happens When a Woman Flaps Her Wings,” touched on the many forms of discrimination that women faced in the past and how it has changed over time. She shared how the “breadwinner bias” for males has deprived many girls their right to proper education. She also talked about how women can contribute to the economy, alleviating whole families and even communities from poverty. “Educate a girl, and you educate the whole community,” she opined.
Following this discussion, Ms. Ramil, tackled the topic on Women and Psychology by analyzing the archetypes of women in Philippine Art and Literature. She explained Jung’s theory of the subconscious and how it affects and represents the Filipino people and their perception of women.
In the afternoon of that same day, University President Dr. Ben S. Malayang III delivered a message during the Peace Convocation held at the Silliman University Church. Working from the scripture text Mark 16:15, Dr. Ben urged the Silliman community to go beyond talks to actual practice of peace, justice and mercy in our daily lives.
On September 26, Dr. David Padilla, a Fulbright visiting professor to Silliman served as discussion leader at the Byblos Library on the issue of ISIS, the Jihadist militant group that’s causing much terror in Iraq and Syria. Dr. Padilla is former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has served the Organization of American States as legal counsel.
International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21st. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.