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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 7, May/June 2006

On being well: May is Peace Month

by Julia Johnson

The April issue of Teacher had a number of articles related to peace in support of May being peace month. Achieving world peace seems a distant dream when global disparity in national economies, health, governance, food and water security, social justice, and the gap between the rich and the poor become grist for the mill of unrest, discontent, frustration, and aggression.

The World Peace Forum, with the help of the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the BCTF, have organized The International Peace Conference in June 2006 to explore these disparities. Discussion opportunities through panels, workshops, public forums, arts, and entertainment are available.

Stephen Lewis, during his keynote address at the 2006 BCTF Annual General Meeting, praised the BCTF for its efforts to raise awareness of global issues and urged BCTF members to "take the issues, no matter how complex, into their classrooms." He stated, "By allowing young minds to grope with them, you are allowing the global citizens to emerge." To this end the BCTF provides a variety of resources. There are lesson plans for elementary and secondary students on diversity, human rights, conflict resolution, peace and justice, democracy, good governance, and international development to name a few.

It goes without saying that the quality "peace" is a social principle desired by individuals in all societies throughout the world. The big picture vision of achieving peace is to live in a world without war. Closer to home the vision is to eliminate the injustices and inequalities that exist in communities and workplaces in which we live and work. How to achieve this is the big question.

When I think about the value of peace wearing my wellness hat, I acknowledge that classroom instruction on injustices and inequities that exist in the world is essential, but where does one begin? Implementing a social responsibility curriculum using resources provided by the BCTF is perhaps a good place to start. However, I believe we can only teach what we know and the place to begin is beautifully expressed in the song, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." Our hope that our children will emerge as global citizens can only happen when they see us living, breathing, and walking the talk of peace.

If we apply the teaching principle, "teach with the end in mind" then the place to start is with our own personal wellness. When each of us is well in all of the domains that make up our being, and we live a life of wellness choices, we become role models of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. When more people of the world live a healthy lifestyle then we collectively evolve into beings with a passion for ensuring that economic and environmental choices are made that will enable each of us to live a sustainable co-existence protecting the earth’s resources.

We live in a world that is sick on many levels because its inhabitants make decisions and choices that are unhealthy in many areas. We can’t expect our children to emerge as world citizens only by teaching lessons on peace if we do not live by example, the social responsibility tenet of looking after and caring for each other. When we begin to make healthy choices for ourselves and others, this will have an impact upon the economic decisions we make in a global economy. When we change our unhealthy life style we will be able to work together to end war, and build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Julia Johnson, a retired learning resource teacher in Quesnel, is a BCTF PD wellness associate and a member of the Teacher Newsmagazine Advisory board. livingjewels@shaw.ca.

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