Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Peace is an elusive commodity these days. The absence of war or conflict does not necessarily augur for peace to exist in a place or locality. On the contrary, the absence of peace can be manifested in many ways, including poverty, gender inequality, disparity of opportunities, lack of education or ignorance, and even vehicular accidents. These are factors by which development can be gauged, especially that these affect the way people conduct themselves and deal with others.
Thus, the new offering of the Master in Peace Studies under the Religious Studies Program of the Divinity School of Silliman University comes like a whiff of fresh air at a time when peace is somehow taken for granted, jaded people included. Negros Oriental, despite having the lowest crime rate among provinces in the region, is still not devoid of crime and violence, thus, it cannot be categorically classified as peaceful. The capital city, Dumaguete, despite being dubbed as a City of Gentle People, cannot exclude herself from situations that threaten the existence of her residents.
Peace, therefore, is relative. It can be determined by the structure of the society we are in as well as the activities that either perpetuate peace or negate it. If peace is positive, it means the absence of conflict; but, conflict is ever present in our midst. The day-to-day struggle to make both ends meet provides conflict in our lives. Taking advantage of fellow human beings is likewise a source of conflict. Even grappling with our own angst and emotional baggage is conflict from within.
The objective of the program is to allow the students to be more than just spectators of conflict. It teaches them to be empowered to do something about it, thus, becoming “spec-actors.” It promotes the so-called theater of the oppressed theory where the students, through immersion and introspection, are able to holler for help and offer the solutions to the conflict.
It is not conflict management nor conflict resolution that we need; rather, it is the transformation of the person to become a blessing to others that we need to contend with. And, this is something that cannot happen overnight.*