1 October, Part II The site of the training is a short tuk-tuk ride from the pension house. It becomes clear as we begin that there is a diversity of languages in the room. We spend some time trying to figure out which – Tagalog, Ilonggo, Cebuano or Subanon – is common to all. Even the young Subanon women can get by with Cebuano, so that’s what we go with. Faustino, a veteran of our 2009 training and a Subanon pastor, is pressed into translating. Entire days are spent in economic literacy training, interrogating all of the proffered justifications for violence or conflict – tribe, religion, history, culture, politics; though all are factors and drive violence, it is economics we discover at the root of all the stories.
Entries in Peacemaking (3)
The rain is pouring down, obscuring the passing landscape. Our minibus roars its way first along the coastal road, where sunshine earlier displayed the waters of the Sulu Sea and the modest Nipa leaf-thatch-and-bamboo-slat huts of fisher families. I think of their Sri Lankan neighbours whose homes, of undoubtedly similar construction, and livelihoods and, for tens of thousands, their lives, were washed away with the tsunami of Christmas 2004. Now we are climbing, wending our way through a wet green landscape of palms, bamboo forests and rice paddies in various stages on the way to harvest, punctuated occasionally by the large brown-black hulk of a carabao, the bovine workhorse of this part of the world. The driver reduces speed but ramps up the horn-honking as we pass through village after village of colourful houses, shops, tuk-tuks, flapping clotheslines and uniformed school-children caught in the downpour.
YMCA Volunteers’ Recognition Conference Keynote Address
Saturday 26 November 2011
North York Civic Centre
Lee McKenna, 2010 Peace Medallist
Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this important event. In preparation, I asked myself the following questions: Who were my influencers? What were the ‘hinge’ or ‘crossroads’ moments that took me off in directions I had not imagined? What are the characteristics in me, inherent to my make-up, that made me more likely, rather than less likely, to take the road less travelled? What are the characteristics I desired and cultivated that took me in the direction of the agent of change I wanted to be? What were the obstacles I needed to shift or transform?
Here are some of the answers that emerged:
1. Colour outside the lines.
I think I always have. I would also say that my parents likely would have called it something less benign, something like, ‘She breaks the rules.’
So before you think that I am counselling lawlessness, let me give you an example. There’s a piece of training that I do in war zones called transformative initiatives. It is one of the most provocative and effective things we do – it includes some stories and role plays in which the result is an overturning of the typical power dynamic, with the powerful and the powerless, the oppressed and the oppressor, in effect, changing places; the powerful is discombobulated and the powerless discovers a power they didn’t know they had, a force more powerful: non-violence.