When Chamberlain bravely declared ‘Peace for our time.’ in September 1938, little did he know that the world stood on the brink of the horrors of the Second World War. Countless politicians have claimed to have brokered peace: in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the world. Yet the challenge of sustained peace is as much to do with understanding the complexity of the human condition as it is convincing warring factions to lay down arms.
So, is peace within one’s self as important as peace in our world? I would argue, yes. Unless you have a sense of what a peaceful existence means, there can be little hope of building this into society. The early Quakers understood the importance of the individual within a spiritual life. When they were instructed to ‘walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone’ it was predicated by that of God, or good, in all of us. If we accept God’s peace as written in the Book of Common Prayer, ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord’ then there is an inherent need to actively and unremittingly engage in the pursuit of peace, whether on a religious or secular level. It would, therefore, follow that peace is both an internal condition and external pursuit.
At Sidcot, we are proud to be the only school in the UK with a Centre for Peace and Global Studies, the mission of which is to promote an ongoing dialogue on conflict resolution across countries, religious orthodoxies and racial boundaries. In doing so within a school community, we really believe that the key to a better, more peaceful world lies with our young people. Given the right tools for the trade and confidence to use them, they will move mountains and are our best, arguably only, hope for the future.
Taking place on Saturday 15 June from 12 noon, we are staging our third Festival of Peace. With the theme ‘Conflict Resolution: Me, You and the World’, there will be a selection of guest speakers, music, drama as well as a range of stalls, all taking place in our James O’Connell Peace Field on the School campus. The last festival attracted over one thousand visitors and we hope to do even better this year! With a varied programme of events, there really is something for everyone and I would like to extend a very warm invitation to all those interested in joining us for what promises to be an uplifting, thought-provoking and entertaining afternoon in the beautiful Somerset countryside.
IWK – 4 June 2019