News What does peace mean to you?

Peace = money + the family

This is the equation that Soraia set up as an answer to this question at the sight of former guerilla fighters dancing. She has marked the words money and family with a tick. Check. Check. And there you have peace.

If only it were that simple Soraia…

But first, let me say shalom.

I’m glad you found your way here. My name is Boris and I’ve been doing my civilian service in the Museum for the past five months. Under unusual circumstances due to the pandemic, I was able to see how the exhibition Imagine. Reflections on peace against all odds was set up. This exhibition deals with conflicts in different regions of the world and the reconstruction of a society after a peace agreement has been signed. Questions are asked which all have to do with peace and its representation and construction. At the end of the exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to share their thoughts and answers to questions such as “What does peace mean to you?”, “How do you get on after a peace treaty?” or “What does peace look like?” with the museum and the world, in other words with you.

Soraia is one of those visitors. When I read her answer for the first time, it seemed to me rather clumsy, too simple, and not necessarily suitable to share it here with you. But after some back and forth I came to the conclusion that this is exactly what it’s all about: getting involved with every voice. Especially those that you try to ignore too quickly. After all, there are no right or wrong answers to the above questions. The aim of these questions is to enable visitors to actively participate in the exhibition, regardless of their level of knowledge, so that they can then critically reflect on the different points of view together in a conversation.

Perhaps Soraia knows nothing about the historical context to these pictures, about the wars, conflicts and genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, or Colombia. But hasn’t she nevertheless found a poignant answer with her horizon of experience? Material security and social cohesion as basic components of peace? I would like to think so.

But let me bring other voices to the table, other answers, and thoughts from our visitors, from you, which I have been able to gather in the past weeks:

Q: Where do you find peace?

A: Within me. Peace is an attitude that has to be developed and cultivated.

A: In a free country, without dictatorship, where people have the right to a voice, where gender equality exists and where empathy and compassion prevails.

A: Deep down. In breathing and meditation. In my dreams and in art. In the vision of an ideal world where everyone has a sense of community, of the whole, of the importance of every living being on earth and their right to respect and tranquillity. An empathic world.

A: I find peace in a calm, undisturbed life with the loved ones.

Q: What does peace look like?

A: Peace means respecting each other, being fair and building trust again – even after a war.

A: Free from fear. Possibility to plan the future. Prosperity. Security. Living and being with your loved ones.

A: Peace means being able to express your authentic self.

Q: How can we build peace?

A: Understanding we are all in this together therefore we should keep our hearts open and remain empathizing and compassionate.

A: To maintain peace, we need to see a human in everyone on the planet. We need to learn to disagree and make different choices without labelling these choices as right or wrong. Having different faiths, different cultural traditions is a treasure of human beings and it should not be used to divide people.

Q: How do we come together after a peace agreement?

A: Remember the terrors of war. Acknowledge the losses on both sides. Treat each other with respect and do everything in your power to prevent a similar catastrophe from ever happening again. Learn from your mistakes.

Q: What does peace mean pour you?

A: To me peace means that the opponents can see each other, and their first thought is not to get a weapon and murder the other. It means that the children can play in the streets and the parents do not have to fer that they could get killed.

So, what do you think? Join the discussion. Surely you have already formed an opinion when reading the title. Perhaps you were irritated by it or curious, bored or inspired by reading it? Maybe you had to think twice about Soraia?

Let me know! Why don’t you come to the museum and share your story and thoughts with us? Or if the circumstances do not allow for a personal visit, write a comment and let your voice be part of the conversation. I look forward to it.

All the best and take care of yourself

Boris

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