Earlier this month, The Peace Talks arrived in London, with a whole host of hard-core peace-building speakers in tow, ready to share their stories!
In just eight minutes, each of the speakers took turns to talk about their lived experiences of making peace possible. Be it civilian rescue efforts in Syria, community building in the UK, or people working to empower the next generation of young leaders, we listened to all kinds of stories about the amazing efforts being made in the name of peace the world over.
Here's just a snippet of what we learned about how we can all make our world a little sweeter...
Peace Belongs to Everyone
When you think about peace, what springs to mind? Somewhere distant and troubled? The London Peace Talks proved to us that whilst there are areas of the globe where the situation is desperate and peace is sorely needed, there are also corners of our own country where there's a real need for peace-building too.
Ruth Ibegbuna, from Manchester-based charity, RECLAIM, spoke about how here in the UK power and influence is often concentrated in the capital, which can leave working class young people in other parts of the country feeling frozen out. "19 prime ministers have come from one UK school" said Ruth. "That is a disgrace."
We also listened to a talk from Rehana Faisal, chair of LANTern, and Peter Adams, community mediator in Luton, who spoke about how their two faiths, Muslim and Christian, work together to make peace, rather than division, the story of their town.
Our communities need us to work towards peace here in the UK. It's our responsibility to notice when tensions arise, and do what we can to make peace a reality in all its forms. The stories on the night showed that peace isn't only freedom from conflict, it's a world where our differences don't overshadow what we have in common, and that anyone can succeed, without compromising who they are.
Talk the Talk, Then Walk the Walk
As Sarah Noble, head of The Peace Talks, said: "The Peace Talks aren't just about talking... they're about people doing something." You may be forgiven for thinking that what we need right now is a little less conversation, a little more... you get the picture. But these talks only went to show just how important it is for everyone to do their bit. Sure, no one can do everything, but everyone can certainly do something! And by listening to ideas, solutions and stories, we can create an atmosphere where everyone is inspired to make peace happen!
You Don't Need Permission...
Our host for the night, radio DJ Lliana Bird, told of how she went from watching news stories about Syrian refugees, to setting up an organisation that became the biggest provider of aid to Calais in a matter of months. Helping others in need is something we can all do. It's easy to think you don't have the power to make a change, or that someone else is already working on it. But in reality, there's nothing stopping you being part of the solution to the problems you see! As, as Lliana showed us, if there isn't a movement in place, create one!
Now is the Time
At home and across the world, pockets of tension may make peace feel far away, but that doesn't mean it's unachievable. The theme of London's Peace Talks was building bridges, and it's these kind of connections that are needed right now. At the talks, speakers from all walks of life united in one place, to focus on the positives, show solutions do exist, and that there are more people than we think committed to change!
You can watch the talks and read about the speakers here.
"We may never know, and we may never see absolute peace. But does that mean we shouldn't try?" - Rehana Faisal.