The Price of Peace Recap

AWiB’s April monthly event titled ‘The Price of Peace’ offered an illuminating exploration of an alternative perspective. Peace entails a dynamic process and transformative journey that defies linearity. The Hilton Hotel hall buzzed with inquisitive minds creating a calming atmosphere filled with curiosity and engagement.

The event commenced with the night’s host providing an overview of AWiB’s ‘Journey To Enlightenment’ – a journey that takes members through a variety of weekend sessions focused on self-reflection and unleashing potential.  She then cheerfully introduced AWiB’s membership officer to introduce the benefits of membership card stressing on members taking their cards. Next came the introduction of the evening’s sponsors: Lead sponsors- Yetem Trading and Connect sponsors- SETS General Trading, Barsebe Industries, and First Consult.

Samrawit Tassew, Founder and head of Lulawi Connections Consult and the moderator for the evening took on the spotlight addressing the immense importance of deliberately questioning ourselves about peace. She moved on and introduced the speakers renowned in their respective fields: Nebil Kellow, founder and managing director of First Consult- an economic development organization, and Dalaya Ashenafi, a researcher on development, peacebuilding, and public policy as well as the chair of the women’s track in Ethiopians for Inclusive Dialogue(EID).

Nebil commenced his presentation with a calming voice by reflecting on the significance of how we navigate through conflicts in our daily lives-be it within the confines of our homes, communities, or workplaces. He then delved into the contemplation of Peace from an economist’s perspective, eventually arriving at the realization that it hinges upon the price we pay. He put numbers to give perspective and clarity on the topic. He said “For every dollar we spend on Peace, we save sixteen dollars from war” and the silence in the hall came close to being tangible. Historically, nations have invested a considerable percentage of their GDP in police forces, weaponry, and control apparatuses- statistically, we spend 2% on peacebuilding and 98% on defense. Nebil further contemplated our collective inclination to value peace only after it has been lost.

Moving forward to practical solutions Nebil emphasized the imperative of individual awareness in embodying peace through empathy, active listening, positive outlook, open-mindedness, and collaboration. If we fail to cultivate Peace within ourselves, we inevitably externalize our internal turbulence, manifesting as injustice.

Nebil drew attention to the ongoing war in Palestine to illustrate how the loss of peace anywhere in the world affects us and vice versa. The economic and psychological ramifications extend far beyond borders and walls. He urged each individual to reflect upon the question “What can we do to contribute to Peace?” ending his speech with a poem by Mahmoud Darwish…

The war will end

The leaders will shake hands

The old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son

The girl will wait for her beloved husband

And those children will wait for their hero father

I don’t know who sold our homeland

But I saw who paid the price

It was now time for Dalaya to captivate the audience. Dalaya dived into her speech by reassessing the perception of peace only as the absence of war. She coined the term ‘Positive Peace’ – a term that emphasizes the attainment of social equilibrium through the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. At the core of positive Peace lies justice, equality, cooperation, and peaceful conflict resolution.  

Dalaya moved on to another thought-provoking concept regarding how we can go about it – pursuing justice at the cost of Peace or pursuing peace at the cost of justice. She stressed that we shall confront this concept and try to find balance individually as well as a collective. She stresses that self-reflection and acknowledging our biases and prejudices are steps necessary to take in our journey towards finding peace. It is also consequential to be involved in community dialogues that would initiate grassroots movements. Dalaya further emphasized the necessity of holding leaders accountable and recognizing the consequences of inaction in order for us to work towards creating and sustaining peaceful communities.

It was time for the audience to voice their questions and several questions were raised. Three questions that were captivating among were “How do we hold leaders accountable?”, “Are we desensitized to conflict as a nation?” and “How do we raise the next generation by instilling the wisdom of peace within them?”. The speakers’ responses were as captivating as the questions. The response to the first question emphasized that the optimal approach we can take is to exemplify the essence of accountability by holding ourselves and others accountable and to embed this practice in our daily lives.

The second question was addressed as “While we are not completely desensitized to conflict, we have lost the art of listening and usually leave no room for compromise and compassion”. Finally, the question regarding how we raise our children was addressed by stressing on the importance of teaching them critical skills such as emotional intelligence and leadership, also embedding it into our curriculum and culture.

The event concluded with the attendees feeling content with the value everyone shared. Samrawit concluded the evening by highlighting that the society we belong to significantly shapes our perception. She noted that by fostering a culture of communication and empathy, we can cultivate long-lasting Peace. Finally she asserted that Peace is an attitude. 

The speakers and moderator graciously accepted the gifts presented to them by AWiB ending the night leaving a sense of calmness and taste of contemplation about peace within every attendant.

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