Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 2, 2003
Peace chain links committed people
Equality and justice ideals cross all borders
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
The familiar chant, "We want peace! We want it now!" echoed in Edmonton again, as 250 people joined a peace chain on Victoria Day, May 19.
People from differing faith denominations, ethnic origins and ages gathered at the Peace Dove west of the Muttart Conservatory and linked hands to express their collective vision of peace and justice throughout the world.
"I think the real significance of this is to show a follow up protest to the fact that we had an immoral war. We had tens of thousands of people killed," John Lynch, director of the Edmonton Archdiocese social justice commission, told the WCR.
The war in Iraq created a group banding together across religious and racial lines for human compassion and to protest social injustice around the globe.
From Lynch's point of view, the peace chain was organized to see if people could maintain the idea that "we don't look at any kind of barriers between each other, but that we are brothers and sisters.
"We're talking about stewardship in the Church today. This is stewardship across different religions and different communities . . . recognizing each other as human beings."
Although the spirit at the peace chain was up, the attendance was low compared to the two big rallies before the war broke in Iraq last month.
"It's getting harder and harder to pull people together, because unfortunately the war that significantly brought us together is over as the different newspapers say. The war is not over.
But people have lost that edge and compassion. It's still ongoing. We've got a long way to go," Lynch insisted.
Event organizer Doug Meggison said, "We're reaching out and holding on for peace. What we're doing symbolizes a different way of bringing cultures together and contradicting the war makers." He too is convinced the war is not over.
"The occupation continues and the American occupation of Iraq like the war is illegal, immoral and unjust."
The peace chain tried to cover the river valley Louise McKinney Park to Whyte Avenue. They needed 5,000 people to make it across to the north side of the Saskatchewan River.
Although attendance was low, Meggison was still thrilled.
Vanessa Ali said, "For me as a pacifist, I think it's really important to employ whatever means we can find to try and join together and promote dialogue instead of waging war."
This mother is convinced people around the world need to try to "find the similarities among us and to move forward instead of trying to break everything down."
She has been working in social justice groups in the city for many years.
"I see all the destruction going on in the Middle East and it is so unnecessary in my mind."
She believes that many strategies have been tried to resolve the conflict, but most did not work.
"After all these years, we've never gotten anywhere. It's time to try something new. I have small children and I hope that we can introduce to them a world that is peaceful for them to grow up and live.
"We've sent people to the moon and we've done all wonderful things but we've not done enough to secure a peaceful world. We could use the same energy and intelligence to learn how to live together and share the world, instead of letting it be manipulated by the hands of a few."