Happy birthday, Gandhi!

Victorians can gather to celebrate the birth of one of the world’s most famous peace vigilantes, then do a little peacework too

James O'dea will talk peace in Victoria during the event sponsored by the Canadian Peace Initiative.

Peaceful Victorians can gather to celebrate the birth of one of the world’s most famous peace vigilantes, then do a little peacework themselves.

The Victoria chapter of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative will celebrate Mahatma Gandhi and the International Day of Nonviolence with a free event Tues., Oct. 2, 7-9pm at the First Metropolitan United Church (932 Balmoral). Just before that, on Sept. 27 and 29, international peace-builder James O’dea will be hosting two talks on how everyone can contribute to a better society.

“We are relatively peaceful in Victoria, yes, but we’re concerned with peace on the world scale,” says Saul Arbess, who co-organized the events. “There’s still plenty of violence and crime in Victoria. What we’re saying is let us enhance restorative justice, interethnic relations, and concern ourselves with empowering communities and working with them so they can respond to these issues.”

O’dea, author of Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st Century Peace Ambassador and former Washington office director of Amnesty International, has worked with peace efforts in Rwanda, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland. His talk comes on the heels of the United Nations’ announcement that efforts for the UN’s International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001 to 2010) will be renewed.

“It should be abundantly clear that planetary peace requires more than a little nudge. It requires a great turnaround,” says O’dea. “Genuine peace represents a whole new order of being and an evolutionary reframing … We were born for such a time as this.”

Meanwhile, Arbess believes there are still tangible ways everyone can contribute to peace in their own society — signing up to the Victoria chaper of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, for example, or showing a little more kindness to all.

“There are a lot of ways we can think about peace, both outer and inner peace — how one works in situations of conflict or anger,” says Arbess. “Peace to me means ‘right’ relationship with one’s self, one’s community and the wider world.”

See James O’dea talk Thurs., Sept. 27, 7-9pm at First Metropolitan United Church (932 Balmoral), $10, or join in the workshop “Cultivating Peace: From the Inside Out” Sat., Sept. 29, 9am-5pm at New Horizons (234 Menzies), $75. To reserve a spot, contact Penny Joy at pjoy@shaw.ca or 250-383-5878. Visit departmentofpeace.ca for more. M

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