BY FAITH, WE SEE AT LEAST ONE PAR COMMUNITY IN EACH PROVINCE BY 2030
Imagine. By December 31st, 2030, each of our provinces will have a circle of leaders called Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Communities! They would serve as the catalysts to organize PAR Teams in their municipalities or cities. These PAR Teams, in turn, would serve as radical transformation volunteers in their respective families, churches, neighbourhoods, barangays, cities or municipalities. The PAR Teams would also get involved in PAR Programs that are relevant to their specific context.
We have introduced Peace and Reconciliation Principles and Practices in 33 out of 81 provinces in the Philippines as of August 2020.
20 in Mindanao. 4 in Visayas. 09 in Luzon. But we still have to nurture these PAR Communities so that they would be firmly rooted in the respective soils of their socio-historical contexts.
These PAR Communities and the PAR Teams they have organized would be the backbone of a national PAR Movement. Then we can see, and we can count on, a well-equipped, efficiently-organized, and effectively-mobilized Peace and Reconciliation constituency.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
For now, let’s work on how we can establish at least one PAR Community in each of the 81 provinces in our country.
So, how do we get there from here?
1. Let’s discern a PAR Leader in every province who practice a set of ethical leadership behavior. PAR Leaders are respected women- and men-of-peace. This principle is derived from Jesus’ instruction to the seventy people he sent out: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” (Luke 10:5-7 NIV)
A person of peace must be discerned and would have the following characteristics:
- Prioritizes salaam-oriented values in her or his life. Righteousness, justice, peace, and mercy are very important to this person.
- Earns the respect of people. This person’s family and community regard him or her as trustworthy.
- Accepts and welcomes strangers. This person is hospitable.
- Cares about your safety and security. This person becomes your protector.
- Expands your connections to a network of key leaders. This person serves as your ‘public relations officer’.
This person of peace must also be discerned communally. The discernment process will be done in consultation with the leaders of each province’s civil society organizations, religious groups, political fronts, business organizations, and government agencies. PAR Leaders are respected women- and men-of-peace who are actively modelling a person who demonstrates
- a heart of a servant;
- a soul of a teacher;
- a mind of a manager; and,
- the strength of a leader.
2. Let’s facilitate the organization of PAR Communities in every province under the leadership of the PAR Leader. These PAR Communities are groups of community leaders—church leaders, local government leaders, civil society organization leaders, academic leaders, business leaders, or any mix of these—
- who have expressed interest to have a working relationship with us as a consulting and training team focused on Peace and Reconciliation;
- who have made a commitment to embrace Peace Theology;
- who have invited us to teach them our PAR Seminar Series;
- who have a vision to work with us in developing a PAR Program needed in their area; and,
- who have organized themselves as a catalyst group to organize PAR Teams in their particular province.
3. Let’s help organize PAR Teams. PAR Teams are composed of local volunteers from various communities who are trained for 8 months to be on-going, rapidly-mobilized teams who will implement their PAR Communities’ programs. The general objectives of PAR Teams are:
- to promote peace and reconciliation in our land by giving skilled, courageous support to communities experiencing various conflicts
- to inspire various parties-in-conflict to discard violence in favor of nonviolent action as a means of settling differences
- to provide various communities with first-hand information and resources for responding to situations of conflict, and to urge their active involvement
- to interpret a nonviolent perspective to the media and to our nation as a whole
4. Let’s facilitate the development of PAR Programs. PAR Programs are peace-building action plans that are discerned by the PAR Communities as they get immersed in the challenges and opportunities in their local contexts. These programs include:
- Inclusive Development Training
- Social Entrepreneurial Initiatives
- Community Organization
- Peace Education
- Armed Conflict Area Survival Training
- Fact-Finding Missions
- Conflict Transformation
- Disaster Preparedness
- Trauma Healing
- Inter-Faith Dialogue
- Cross-Cultural Communications
By December 31st, 2030, each of our 81 provinces will have a circle of God-fearing, justice-and-peace-oriented leaders whom we refer to as PAR Communities — who will organize, nurture, and oversee various PAR Teams, who will, in turn, implement just-peace oriented PAR Programs in their local contexts.