“As a teacher, who supports peaceful options to issues and problems, I want to say thank you to those who supported me to host this peace-full project! Especially those who attended and made a statement of peace or a peace-dove. After all, why spread discord when you can sow accord. It is life-changing to realise, that the person who keeps one eye on the past is wise, but the person who keeps both eyes on the past is blind!”
Our global justice scholars have enjoyed taking part in a global arts project where they helped to create a peace platform that included peace statements and origami peace doves. The peace project was organised by Yukina Mori, Nao Noguchi and Misa Nakagawa, young students from Tokyo, Japan who visited St. Bede’s and St. Joseph’s Catholic College. They are currently attending the University of Bradford where they are Peace and International Development Scholars. The workshop began with brief introductions, before pop and pizza created a relaxed atmosphere which helped our international guests to relax as they chatted to our global justice scholars in an informal setting where everyone could get to know each other.
Yukina, Nao and Misa began their workshop by explaining to those present that after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour during World War 2 all the citizens of Japan were affected by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over 210,000 people were killed directly or indirectly by the deployment of retaliatory atomic bombs that led to the mass destruction of property, uncontrolled fires as well as the spread of toxic radiation and disease. The surviving population was decimated by fall-out from the bombs and the inevitable contamination of all food and water sources.
Our global justice scholars were then shown a video that told the story of the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the perspective of a little girl who was just going to set off to walk to school on the morning that the bombs were deployed. First came the blinding flash of detonation, then shock-waves, before the loud explosion and iconic plume of mushroom cloud, visible for hundreds of miles above the centre of population. The horrors of war were evident to everyone watching the video documentary which was more impactive being made in the form of a cartoon that young people could readily relate to. The workshop then explored the meaning of peace from the perspective of all the young people present. This was especially poignant as the participating global justice scholars had a diverse range of individual personal experience that they used to develop a better understanding of the concept of peace. A broad debate then opened up and a wide range of aspects relating to peace were discussed including human rights, trust, honesty and integrity. The debate also explored the perception of peace in the local context of Bradford and the United Kingdom before finally assessing the global context of peace in a world that could seem at times to be at constant war with itself. The issue of fake-news in newspapers and other media that only wanted to sell stories was discussed, in terms of how such action actually raised societal panic as it was generally economic with the truth and proven factual evidence, relying instead upon rumours and wild conjecture. Everyone attending then worked together to write out their own personal statement of peace which clearly and concisely explained their understanding of this complex and often contested concept. Finally, all the participants created colourful origami peace-doves which together with their peace-statements were the frontispiece for a group photo.
It was at times a harrowing workshop, but overall it was an informative and educational experience. To hear from three of today’s young university students whose families were affected by the cataclysmic atomic bomb event was humbling. Everyone present, agreed that they preferred peace and not war and were glad that Japan and the United Kingdom were now friends in the global village of peace, that we call planet Earth! It was agreed, that the message of global peace should be supported, so that every leader in a position of power to make an impact on the world stage, would understand that people, given the option, would always opt for a peace-filled solution to conflict whether of a local or a global nature!
Our global justice scholars said:
“I didn’t really understand about peace before I came to this workshop, I’m glad I took part.”
“I was glad that I met other students who think the same as me about peace. Making peace-doves was brilliant. Yukina, Nao and Misa were fantastic.”
“I wanted to know more about why America and England agreed to drop the atomic bomb. This workshop helped me understand the waste and destruction of war.”
“I’m really happy that our peace doves will be sent to the Hiroshima Peace Museum.”
“This workshop experience has made me want to have a pen-pal and write to a young person in Japan and perhaps visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki one day.”
“I don’t think anyone has a right to take even one life. I struggle to understand how we could have taken so many innocent lives. Now I know, working for peace is a positive non-violent way to make governments listen to ordinary citizens.”
Mr T Walker