What is peace really?

 

What is peace really? Certainly that depends on your perspective? For everybody the universal wish would be for peace in their life but what that would look like would differ for so many. 

After WW2 my parents came back, from the experience of war in London, England to raise their family in Canada. My dad, although of Scottish heritage, was Canadian as his family had emigrated to Canada when he was very young. There were 7 kids in his family with his parents. His dad was a butcher at the famous Aberdeen Market. The challenges of the depression made life impossible, certainly not peaceful. So they emigrated to Canada hoping for a more peaceful way of life. Life was still a challenge BUT there was a place for everybody.  My Dad had a grade 3 education and became apprenticed to a photographer around the age of 10; he exercised those skills during the war when based in London in the Canadian Army.  He met my Mum there, She had been an orphan adopted by the maiden principal of an orphanage. Although she came to Canada with my dad and my older sister (as a baby) she had participated as a volunteer member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) Sargent who managed a balloon barrage group in London. Having both survived the blitz bombing of the war and my mum having lost her first intended to the war effort – they only wanted the peace from the violence of war so that they could go about being a simple family raising their kids. 

When I was about 4 years old my parents were working around the clock to have enough money to cover our basic family needs. It was the early 50’s and my sister was sent to a relative’s farm and I was a home with an indentured 16-year-old gal from Holland living with us in the hopes of becoming a Canadian citizen. We did not live in a fabulous neighbourhood and most days I was set outside in a playpen except for lunch when the young gal would sit with me while we ate sandwiches. Sadly, one afternoon I was attacked by two young men who wanted to see what it might look like if they tried to slit my throat and try to pull my tongue through. They were successful in slitting my throat… I can tell you that fortunately I have no recall of that day.  What I recall is that my parents found a way to move us to a lower middle income neighbourhood where we moved into a new home. My parents wanted the peace of mind in knowing their children were in what was considered a “safe” family neighbourhood. 

The next time I recognized that scar under my chin was when I was about 12. It was around the age when I started to realize that I wasn’t just a little girl and that changes were starting to happen within me. I was beginning to become more interested in making sure I looked okay when I left the house and was tying a neckerchief around my neck. Lifting my neck, I saw the train track of stitches and was quite surprised! When I asked my mum about it she sat me down and said she would tell me and tell me only once about the scar and then there would be no more talk about it. She told me about being out in my playpen and that unfortunately that she and dad could not protect me and I got hurt. She told me that being safe and feeling safe were important and I would not have to worry about that again. (It was in much later life and from other voices that I came to know the truth to the story.) She wanted me to feel the peace of safety. 

 

It is interesting but in retrospect I feel that I have been “scared for life” in a good way by this incident. It has kept me true to my path. Equity, fairness and peace have always been extremely important to me. Being a young person in the 70’s I loved to join the many protests of the time when I agreed with the causes. In University, after finishing and getting a final grade of B in a drama course I wrote the Prof a letter of disappointment because I felt he did nothing while watching me being bullied(ostracized) in his class do to my social designation as compared to the others in the group, when he allowed me to group projects on my own because others would not invite me into their groups. Maybe he was just afraid to break the peace in his class -? 

As an educator most of my career life, it was easy for me to be drawn to the area of Special Education always working towards equal voicing and understanding inclusion. 

It is my late in life passion that has really moved me full circle. I have finished most of my career life and I volunteer in a neighborhood more closely resembling the one in which my family first lived when they struggled to pay simple bills and put food on our table. I get the privilege of helping women who live in fear of violence and try to convince them to find safe ways to live and protect themselves and their children. I can’t avoid wanting to do this. I have a little invisible reminder under my chin. 

 

So what is peace really? 

Peace is living in a great country like Canada where you can come from another country and start anew and look forward to new and different opportunities. Canada is a place where you can expect to be able to bring up your family in safety and peace. Canada is a place where we should be able to stand up to our bullies and have people stand up with us. Canada is a place where you can find kindred groups and organizations ready to help you. We may still have some work to do in some of our cities and neighbourhoods but we have the national mindset to ensure safety at all times for all of our people. 

We are a peaceable nation. 

I can go out my front door and take a deep breath of great Canadian air, and smile and wave at my neighbours and have no fears for myself of my family. I live in Canada. That is peace. 

 

Deb Wood  debjwood@gmail.com  Kingston, Ontario 

Former Educator, now repurposed to mediator. I live most joyfully with my husband, Sheepadoodle Willow, nephews cat Skyler and most proud of two nephews who would make their deceased grandparents and parents so incredibly proud of the outstanding young men they have become. 

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