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COMMENTARY · 21st September 2012
Walter McFarlane
Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe violence is an effective tool for problem solving. I abhor bullies; people who prey on people’s weaknesses, yet I do try to see the good in everyone.

And I know people will disagree with what I’m about to write.

Today is the International Day of Peace and, as I write this, the Rotary Club of Kitimat will be holding their annual celebration at the high school later tonight.

It will be a night of chanting slogans, sharing stories which brag about how a select few can become world travelers by embracing a solitary view of peace. There will be songs from the 60s and it will end with a huge peace symbol.

Then everyone will go home, happy to be part of a picture which will be in the newspaper the following week. A few will even be quoted in the news. Then the idea of peace will be put into the attic along with the Christmas Decorations until September 21st, 2013.

How is peace forgotten? Well, there is this project coming called Enbridge which people cannot seem to agree on one way or the other. There is all this talk of a boom in Kitimat which is not really apparent and people have told me they could see the tension in the air at the City Council meetings.

How can we be a peaceful community when we can’t even agree to disagree?

Peace to me is more then outdated music and catchy slogans. Peace to me means four different things:

Forgiveness: There is a famous line which comes from a famous prayer known the world over: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Put into context, it means the speaker is asking their God to forgive them for doing wrong, as the speaker is willing to forgive the wrongs done to them by others.

Forgiveness means dropping a grudge, which is hard to do because most people will find some way of kickstarting the grudge a second time, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Understanding: Understanding goes beyond seeing the good in everyone. Understanding means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to figure out why they do what they do. Everyone has a good reason for doing the things they do, but having good intentions does not always guarantee success, or that everyone will see them as being good.

Charity: If I used the word sacrifice, it carries the baggage of a ritual usually involving death. Charity/sacrifice means given of yourself to make the world a better place. It could mean giving your time as a role model to youth; your money to a worthy cause or your life and dignity to a community, region or country. In this case, charity/sacrifice mean giving of yourself to make someone else’s life better.

Kindness: This is about how I treat others. I greet people on the street and try to maintain a smile; being cheerful, cracking jokes even if I'm grumpy. It does not matter to me if we do not get along; I will still say hello when I pass you on the sidewalk.

I don’t entirely recognize September 21st as a day of peace. Rather, I recognize December 25th and the three weeks leading towards it as a time of peace. People are friendlier, more willing to give, more willing to respect the people around them than they are any other time of the year. It is a time for friends, family and harmony.

So if I ever greet you with a “Merry Christmas” or smile and say “Merry Christmas” as you leave the room, now you know why.