The Experience from MPJ training 2011
How to live in peace with myself? How to bring peace to the world and make it a better place with love? Never had I stop searching for the answers for these questions and thanks to Mekong Peace Journey, now I see much more, with friends from 6 countries in the 18-day learning process.
What does War mean to me? How does it connect to my daily life? Before joining this journey, the word ‘war’ was far away from me. When I saw or heard this word, I would choose to ignore it. Because I took it as something happen in a distant place and something inevitable in human history. Even if I had strong empathy on the people suffered from the violence caused by the war, I thought it too big and far away issue for me.
And during the Mekong Peace Journey, I adopt a new perspective to see the connection between war and me. I can see it is rooted in the value of everyone even since we were born. It’s the value how we look at Gender, how we look at and deal with Difference that leads to all kind of violence including war and all the social injustice. Then I realize I am one that can choose to reduce violence or reinforce violence in this world. And if we can let more people aware of this, there is hope that we can have less violence/war and more peace.
Community visit in both Thai side and Cambodian side added on my understanding of war. When I saw the bag of mum (the owner of our host family in Thai side) containing all the important thing including ID card, which she prepared for escape in any next minute; when my hand touched the remains of the bomb, which was ice-cold and so heavy that I even could not lift it up; when I heard from many villagers that they now get so scared when it rains because they should identify whether it is raindrop on the roof or the bullet as it came last time; when I recall the remains of the house directly suffered from a bomb, leaving a family losing everything and worst a member still in hospital; when I heard the voice from the translator telling that we should leave the temple on the Thai and Cambodian border in no time, or we may be in danger due to the conflict right on the border land…I feel it no more possible for me to ignore the human living and life suffer in the conflicts. War means depriving the basic human right of living and being safe. And the people and soldiers suffer most and directly have no way to say NO. I also learned from the analysis process that everything is controlled by the systems of politics, economy, education and justice, which reinforce each other, and caused by the culture. Thus I bear a stronger critical view on all the current systems, knowing that all the social problems are brought by the social structure we are living in. I am not willing to say yes to any institutional violence now.
Value and learn from differences through mindful communication In the Mekong Peace Journey learning process, there was an exercise for us to practice deep-listening by putting down all the understanding, assumption and prejudice of our partner. It was a special experience for me which I can be more aware of how I stereotype others and where it was from. It was a good way to observe and learn from myself. And by putting down all the labels, I can be more open and attentive to understand and support my partner.
Fortunately, I can practice this deep-listening in the following days of the journey. I realize that there were two reasons that made me try to do so. First, I didn’t know much about the background and culture of other Mekong countries. I was curious and bearing a respect attitude to everything our friends shared because I wanted to observe very carefully to LEARN as much as I can. Second, I realized that it could be very easy for us to misunderstand each other and make conflict because the history and the current social context among the countries we are from. So we should pay double or even more efforts on trust-building and mutual understanding, taking each other as human being here and now.
By practicing deep-listening, I harvest two important things. One is to see differences as usual and beautiful things. I find it interesting thing to see the differences among us and the reasons behind. The other is that I can be more relaxed because by putting down the labels of others, I also take off the labels and some expectations of myself. I can release the pressure during the communication and just to explore in the dialogue. In this way, I enjoyed observing the characters, expertise and energy of everyone and learned from all my lovely friends. And what’s more important is that I can sense the sincerity, love and power of all of my friends, which add on my power to love and learn for peace in the process.
The POWER happening every minute that we can choose to change The knowledge struck and inspired me most is from the discussion on POWER. In the workshop, we had the chances to experience, reflect and learn about Source of Power, 3 Type of Power and the comparison of Dominant Culture and Partnership Culture. Brain storming a large number of sources of power greatly helped me to recognize the power taking effect in personal, organizational and national level, especially those power which we didn’t aware them to make a significant difference every minute in our daily life. And by knowing the concept of Power Over, Power Sharing and Power Within, we can be easier to figure out how we are using power, whether towards the way more democratic and peace as we want, or a direction reinforce the autocracy that we don’t want to see.
The introduction of Dominant Culture and Partnership Culture helped me to see the challenges, struggle and crucial point for me on the way pursuing a world more justice and peace. Before, I didn’t know how dominant culture was deeply built inside my value, my body and everything around me. So whenever I am going for a better world as I want (can be called as ‘partnership culture’), the most difficult is that I should fight against everything deep inside me. It’s always the case that I have to fight against what I believe and who I am. It is a process needs clear awareness, persistent courage and powerful belief. It’s also the meaning I was trying to share in the Art Performance that Apu helped me to present for ‘What do you find the most CHANGE in yourself’.
Changing the world, especially changing ourselves is never easy job. Fortunately, we are the most important ones in the world we want to see because we can change ourselves. Knowing how dominant culture starts from value of personal level to violence of national level, I can be the change with more patience and care to myself and the people around me, as part of partnership culture.
Believe in the power, and be patient because it takes long After coming back to my country, it took a long time for me to adjust to face the situation of my homeland. Every day we see how people on this vast land suffer from injustice. And the pain and sorrow is even deeper and stronger if I know how deep the cause rooted in people’s mind and social structure. Every now and then I experienced strong and sometimes overwhelming feeling of powerless. However, I realized that I fell into the value of dominant culture again, which asks for efficiency without caring for efforts needed. Looking at the world today, it takes hundreds of thousands of years to be like this. And do we want to see it change into the one we want just in years or decades?
Mekong Peace Journey brings me changes. But what never change is my belief and dream to a world where human beings own peace in mind and peace relationship with everything in the world. It’s a process with love, peace and power towards love, peace and power. And thinking of you all my dear friends, I feel energy and hope inside myself. I know we will never be alone all the way, to peace.
by Fang, China