This past August I had the privilege of attending the “The Prophetic Calling for Peace: Ecumenical Students and Youth for Sustainable Peace in the Korean Peninsula” peace conference put on by WSCF. Gathered with students and young adults from across the Asia Pacific, including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Taiwan, we discussed the future of peacebuilding not just on the Korean Peninsula but in our home countries as well.
Peacebuilding is counterintuitive to our neoliberal nation-states, which use intimidation and coercion to ensure “negative peace,” meaning peace without forms of direct violence such as a literal end to the war. However, “negative peace” is not true peace. Looking at South Korea, we saw how the legacy of war, colonialism, and the military-industrial complex has plagued Korean society. We saw how women and other marginalized groups are effected first and the most, both directly and indirectly, by these forms of violence. We spoke with new friends whose families have literally been divided by the division of the Peninsula, whose family histories carry large blanks. We spoke of the misogyny propagated by Korean society, looking at the Comfort Women’s struggle as forced sexual slaves by the Japanese military, how it contributed to the #MeToo movement prominent right now in the country, and how the mandatory conscription of young men feeds the patriarchal powers.
“Positive peace” is a world free from all forms of violence. It is anti-oppressive, feminist, and grassroots. We truly believe, by rejecting the destructive powers of anxiety, fear, control, and greed, that true peace can be achieved on the Peninsula. But, why stop there? How can what our Korean siblings have to teach us to be applied to our relationships with the Indigenous communities of North America? How can we work towards a new relationship between People of colour and “white” people?
True peace is intersectional and unwavering; it is not satisfied with partial justice. It is also built over a long time, with the intention of lasting. It requires challenging conversations with allies and enemies. It requires not just the oppressor to be changed, but the oppressed as well. The scariest thing about true peace is that no one is left unmoved by it.
I encourage you to read the communiqué by the delegation. It speaks to our learnings and dreams in a much fuller way than I ever could alone. It is also my hope that it may inspire you, to learn more about the issues on the Korean Peninsula, to connect with WSCF doing amazing work worldwide, and to begin to see the opportunities for conversation and relationship in your own community. Peace worker requires passionate, determined dreamers who can look ahead to the future we can build together. Hopefully, you’re one of them.