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Cultivating peace by listening

Written by Ness Ma (Communications Officer)

We had all wished for peace in the world when we were young, but as we grew up, we let go of this thought, and it began to fade out. We all experience how brutal reality is and realise how powerless we are. As a result, we could only watch relationships break when people cannot mutually understand each other. Tony, our colleague, encountered these issues as he participated in the Cultivating Peace scheme collaborated by CEDAR Fund and the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

‘Cultivating peace’ is an act of exploring the best way to make peace in Hong Kong through active listening, emotional caring, and non-violent methods. Tony is the Project Assistant of the scheme.  With two years of involvement, he summarises his insights that practising peace can start on individual and the society’s level.

The rift and misunderstanding between people often come from a communication gap across different generations. Tony gave us an example that he would be hesitant when faced with things as small as asking about the working-from-home arrangement, simply because the one he approaches is a senior or someone he works for (a boss). Participating in the scheme has pushed him to stay true to himself just when he needs to. Even amongst his peers, he is also faced with the same pressure when he wants to reach out to friends dealing with emotional issues. The reason is that he worries what the other person shares with him is rather heavy, which easily causes anxiety for him to tend to run away. Tony finds that he gets closer in relationship bonding when he can be open to his friends, enhancing communication. His friend was also at ease with his emotional problems for having open, genuine communication and company from Tony.

Tony believes that social events make many people feel powerless and furious, and building relationships can help ease emotion.

As we turn to the community, Tony sees that the society has been through some drastic changes, where people of different ages all experience pain, anger and powerlessness to alter the current situation. Hence, a large part of the external workshop in the Cultivating Peace scheme was devoted to building an interpersonal support network, which included gardening and DYI workshops that were open for all. These activities pulled people together for opportunities to bond with and listen to each other while helping other people. While everyone’s resentment cannot be eliminated overnight, people can still build authentic relationships, get to know each other, and learn to listen through participating in our activities.

Listening may seem like an insignificant thing, but by listening to others, we can differentiate our values from the mainstream thinking that others have to listen to us. ‘Pursue sincerity and be willing to listen’, for Tony has always affirmed the value of active listening in building peace. He also has his part to play – to compile his experience and insights from the scheme into a comprehensive booklet, making a guide for everyone to contribute to peacebuilding peace in Hong Kong today.

CEDAR has held a series of classes and workshops in universities, secondary schools and churches since the launch of the Cultivating Peace Scheme in 2020, spreading the value and vision of peacebuilding. CEDAR takes this opportunity to thank Dr Kwok Wai Luen, Associate Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University Department of Religion & Philosophy, for leading a team of mentors, including CEDAR, to promote peace in a socially divided environment. To know the latest status of our scheme, follow our official Facebook page and Instagram for Cultivating Peace. You are also welcome to listen to our sharing by checking out the YouTube channel.