Peacemakers In Action

Last Tuesday, IPSA, the Asian Pacific American Student Alliance, and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding hosted “Peacemakers In Action”, a presentation by two grassroots activists honored by the Tanenbaum center for their work advancing peace in regions torn by ethnic and religious conflict.

First to present was Dishani Jayaweera of Sri Lanka, who shared her experience growing from a student to an activist during her country’s long period of civil upheaval.She also spoke candidly about notions of guilt and duty, suggesting that people who, like herself, are members of more powerful or influential factions in society should embrace the responsibilities that come with privilege and wield their social capital to moral ends.

The second presenter was Rev. Jacky Manuputty of Indonesia. The reverend described the steps he took to build a cross-faith network of religious leaders for peace in the Moluccas region, stressing the value of forming close personal bonds of friendship when undertaking such daunting and sometimes dangerous campaigns. His was a case of leadership by example, where he and other religious leaders of conflicting groups publicly co-operated on difficult issues, hoping to inspire their communities to do the same. He also spoke to the importance of local knowledge, highlighting how a deep understanding of local society helped his grassroots, indigenous movement to avoid the pitfalls that larger and better-funded groups from overseas had encountered.

During a joint question-and-answer session, Ms. Jayaweera and Rev. Manuputty led a touching conversation on the profoundly personal nature of peace and conflict, ending the presentation on the uplifting note that indeed the best way to secure a true peace is to make friends out of one’s enemies.

We invite you to make comments about this event and the ideas presented at it on this blog post.

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