#inclusion #peacebasedonjustice #onehumanityundergod
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Young Filipino leaders here are articulating deeply what peace means in the community, in the midst of the worrisome violence happening mostly in schools and churches across the county.
At a gathering organized by the JCI New York State at a midtown Marriott Hotel, notions of peace to these young Filipinos include a culture of inclusion, one which is founded on justice, and one which springs from a consciousness that we are a human race under one God.
JCI New York President Stevenson Van Derodar said the indoor peace rally “Peace begins with Me” was in response to the global call for peace, which articulated that it starts as a personal decision. “We must make our voices heard and we should act to preserve peace. Peace starts with each one of us,” he said as he welcomed the leaders.
An inclusive culture and voice
Precious Sahagun, JCI Manhattan executive secretary, said that peace must be a priority for everyone in the US.
She said: “In the US today, we are dangerously divided in increasingly damaging and dysfunctional ways. In regards to racism and prejudice, our nation has progressed dramatically since the 1960s, however, it seems that we have entered a state of regression. Feelings of hate and oppression have intensified since public figures in our country have stated their opinions against minorities, women, and immigrants.”
Sahagun said that these discriminatory remarks from public officials have fueled the subconscious thought that has in effect been transformed into more dangerous situations for people.
“Racial injustice, inequality, and prejudice are the greatest problems in the world. It is up to us to educate ourselves to create an environment of understanding. We as people need to be committed to inclusion, honesty, and continuous improvement. People are capable of change. Peace starts with us.”
I had the honor to speak on behalf of the FilAm Press Club of New York and OSM! online magazine on my notion of a justice-based peace from the vantage point of a journalist, citing that justice-based peace is the way to human harmony and development.
For me, peace is not expressed in silence or the absence of chaos, because silence could mean fear or death. Meaningful peace means the prevalence of justice or fairness, a state wherein people get what they deserve, and are able to do the things that they ought to do for self- and community development.
We are humanity
Setting the tone for the evening rally was the deeply religious message of the president of the Filipino International Community of America, Rev. Emiljun Rapada. He said that peace is attainable if the consciousness of people was that we are a human race with God as the parent of humankind.
“If God is our parent, then we must view all of humanity as children and therefore, we are brothers and sisters. We can be one family under God,” Rapada presented his philosophy before an audience of about 50 people on September 21, 2018.
“I would like to start with the idea that God is the source of everlasting peace. Without God, we can never have true peace that would last for generations. Religious founders have taught us that the greatest relationship we can experience in a lifetime is to regard God as our parent. As brothers and sisters, can we truly hurt and destroy each other? If we immerse ourselves in God, then it can only result in love. Someone once said, love begets joy and joy begets peace,” Rapada said.
Peace based on justice
Alex Esteban, president of the Handang Tumulong Foundation, shared his non-profit’s experiences at providing relief and rehabilitation services to victims of natural disasters in the Philippines and in the US.
“The short-term accomplishments are the direct alleviation of material needs that provided comforting relief to troubled spirits. In the long run, we hope to carry on, improve our methods to determine how stakeholders can be a significant contributor to the total economy, to achieve justice and peace. There is no peace when there is no justice,” he quipped.
Vince Gesmundo, president of the Kids Philippines Inc. New York chapter, said that his young organization has been doing a little help for rural children in the Philippines in their education. “These are little help. What we actually need is for children in live in a peaceful environment, so that they grow up without fear and are able to study and enjoy life as they deserve it. I hope that together with the founder of KPI, Cherry Smyth, we could provide support to children live in a peaceful environment, so that they could grow into happy, productive adults,” he said. (With photos from Carolyn Joyce Pena)
For more of the JCI Peace campaign, visit https://www.peaceispossible.cc/?fbclid=IwAR0VWWgMgTtI7lveeK9RHzO5_QwLV5m5_h_cW6MS7J6zr8BLo_KOx3HDGd0