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'War is not inevitable,' says new, local peace advocacy group

The group is planning an International Peace Day celebration at Collingwood Legion on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.
Helen Peacock is one of the founding members of Pivot2Peace, the group is organizing a celebration of International Peace Day on Sept. 21 at the Collingwood Legion. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A new group in Collingwood is hoping you’ll give peace a chance and join in on an evening of live music and dancing.

The group, Pivot2Peace, is hosting a party celebrating International Peace Day on Sept. 21. The evening includes live music, dancing, a presentation by the group to let people know who they are and what they do, and an invitation to sign a peace pledge.

Pivot2Peace formed in the area this Spring as the South Georgian Bay Chapter of World Beyond War.

The group meets once a month for an educational forum that includes a speaker or film and discussion to follow. It began with 20 founding members including Helen Peacock, who said she’s spent her life “dipping in and out of” the peace movement.

She dipped back in after watching a documentary that asked one question: is there such a thing as a just war?

“I thought, ‘of course there’s such a thing,’ but in the end, I really questioned it,” she said. “We don’t think about the question. We have assumptions, but those assumptions might not be valid.”

As Peacock began to research war, she learned of the tens of millions killed by war since the Second World War.

“I thought, ‘could that be true?’” she said. “My sense was, how has this been allowed to happen? I was out of my seat.”

She said her research has galvanized her belief that war cannot be just and peace is possible.

The group was formed, the name came from the idea of using education to “pivot” people’s minds and actions toward peace instead of war.

“War is not inevitable,” said Peacock. “When you put a bunch of people together, conflict is inevitable … and we do have to take a stand against evil. But war is the greatest evil, and we don’t take a stand against evil with a greater evil.”

In her mind, war is a choice, and the world has come a long way in conflict resolution tools and philosophies since the Second World War.

She is inspired by the group of abolitionists who put an end to the slave trade, and eventually slavery in England in the early 1800s.

“People thought they were crazy. They said the whole economy of Great Britain would collapse,” she said. “Can war be ended? I have come to believe it can be ended. Not everyone in Pivot2Peace believes the same. I think it’s doable. I think we can make a difference. But we have to want to.”

Nationally, Peacock would like to see a Ministry for Peace in Canada. Locally, she said there are small, consistent efforts the average citizen can make to instigate change.

“We can be educated about what’s really going on,” she said. “We can find specific ways to show we do not consent to war.”

Part of that includes divesting personal investments (mutual funds, stocks, pensions) in companies that profit from war or war preparations - including oil and weapons manufacturers.

She said it’s also important for voters to put pressure on elected officials to make more effort toward sustainable peace.

“It’s about trying to get us to turn around to look at the thinking and the culture that has allowed $2 trillion in taxes (worldwide) to be used for war and the preparation of war,” she said.

The Sept. 21 event, however, is meant to be a fun event in celebration of International Peace Day. The group will be telling the story of how Peace Day was established in 1981.

The event is currently funded personally by members of Pivot2Peace, but they will be collecting donations to be used for the World Beyond War effort.

The event will be taking place at the Collingwood Legion at 7 p.m.

The group said it is respectful of Canada’s veterans, and the event won’t be about “trying to hammer facts about war.”

“It’s hard to find a vet who isn’t pro-peace,” said Peacock, adding she’s pleased to be working with the Legion for the Peace Day celebration.

The event will be free and you can contact Pivot2Peace by email here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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