The year 2016 was a busy year. Perhaps because of this, my first thought for the theme of my blogpost was time. The recent change of the year added yet another layer of reflection to both the achievements of the past year as well as the expectations for the coming one.
The year 2016 was a challenging one, perhaps even overwhelming. When looking at the year from the perspective of peace work, the year finished too quickly, with too many setbacks in peace processes, too many people involuntarily on the move, and too many hostile comments. 2016 made me feel, that we were continuously running out of days. I was losing time, all the time.
At the turn of the year, I had an opportunity to pause. Now thinking about time, the past, present and future, it is easy for me to find empowerment in it. Perhaps time is not essentially something to be measured in terms of years, weeks and busy schedules. Perhaps time is not always progressing forward. Perhaps time is more about moments and being in the moment.
Pausing within time and being present has something powerful to it. A pause in pursuing new achievements, high profile meetings, and strategic momentums, has the power to halt the linear flow of time. A pause creates space for being true to ourselves and true to those, who we share the moment with. It also gives the possibility to sharpen our senses to feel what actually surrounds, pressures or drives us. It gives us a possibility to think differently and to move forward.
Working to achieve sustainable peace is all about time. Working for peace is not necessarily about momentum, but perhaps more about presence. The moments when I witnessed success within my team and with my colleagues, were the moments when they were enthusiastically present in time. During these moments time paused, created a space for a change, and a new direction, understanding or solution emerged.
When reflecting on my own experiences from the previous year, I came to realize the power of religious and traditional peacemakers in relation to time. By being present in their communities, religious and traditional peacemakers have the power to bring the present, past and future together and tie them into moments. The power and legitimacy of traditional peacemakers in ingrained in their ability of being present within a community. It is too often that we forget to value this ability when we push for time-pressured peace talks, or we cease to support the work of the peacemakers as a project comes to an end.
The power of time can be experienced and seen in the concrete steps made and taken towards peace – when the conflicting sides are ready to be present. In the end, the question is not about how long it takes to reach a certain goal; it is about the quality of time spent to reach it. It is up to us, people working for peace, to create the frameworks in which we allow this time to be taken, and these moments to happen and to continue to happen.
So it is about time to act and it is about time to finally create space for change. Even though it is time, we are not in a rush – we never were in a rush. It is time to realize how much more time we can create by being present.
Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers