Written by Edward Lai (Senior Communications Officer)
He is a professor, wearing various hats of administrative management in university. Although he is a busy bee, he always spends time listening to youngsters’ desires and struggles. Regarding the recent unprecedented socio-political changes in Hong Kong, he believes that there are still many things to do for the common good, and more companions are needed for collaborations.
When we asked about his goal in the next ten years, he responded without a second thought that it must be cultivating the value of peacebuilding in communities. It is ‘cultivating’ because peace cannot be built in one day but years. It is ‘building’ because peace is not given but built by people, which, in his view, is the church mandate and Christians’ duty.
While some teased him of being unrealistic and idealistic, he gathered experts of various fields to set the peacebuilding project frame and learnt by doing. He shared the ideas of the project with CEDAR last year, and we found both of us to be of the same mind. With our frontline experience in overseas, CEDAR decided to join hands with Wai Luen to plant the seed of peace among Hong Kong citizens in such a turbulent era.
He is Dr. Kwok, who prefers others even his students, to call him by his first name, Wai Luen. In the following, Wai Luen will discuss the objectives and key elements of the peacebuilding project in Hong Kong.
CEDAR: What is the ‘Cultivating Peace’ project about?
Wai Luen: It is about discovering novel possibilities in the present Hong Kong society. It emphasises peace as a substantial concept covering at least four aspects: inner peace, interpersonal peace, communal peace and finally, social peace. Hence, the cultivation of peace is not distant. It starts by asking every Hongkong citizen: is their condition of the inner-self filled with anger that needs treating? Do they yearn to be listened to? Then for interpersonal conflicts in churches and other places, how should we reconcile with each other so that the church communities practise the Bible’s teaching and become the lamps on the earth? These are what we can do now. Therefore, this project is practical, challenging all participants to become peacebuilders and do small things in their groups or communities, such as creating a space for genuine conversation among people and cultivating their groups to be communities with truth, mercy, justice and peace.
CEDAR: Who are the targets of this project? And how does this project challenge participants to practise the above aspects of peace?
Wai Luen: We organise a series of activities in churches and schools to improve the participants’ understanding and experience in building peace. We welcome pastors, teachers and social workers to experience this peacebuilding journey and brainstorm how to spot the opportunities and find the direction for cultivating peace in their sectors. By involving leaders of various sectors in the project, we hope that they will act as catalysts to promote peace in their communities.
We started running this project last September in churches and later organised classes and activities for university students and secondary school students. The current team of instructors includes Dr. Kwok Wai Luen, CEDAR’s staff and experts in various fields, such as psychology, counselling, conflict mediation and social work. Through workshops on emotion management, spiritual practices, listening-oriented dialogue, conflict mediation skills, and reflection on CEDAR’s overseas peace and reconciliation projects, we hope to empower participants to be peacebuilders and light a candle of hope in this hopeless world.
We are going to hold the ‘Peacebuilding: A Way Out for Societies in Conflict’ Symposium on 6 Nov 2021 at Hong Kong Baptist University, which will gather various local and overseas peacebuilders in one place to share their thoughts and experiences on making social impacts, and most importantly, make a collective effort in ways that could help build peace in Hong Kong.
Remark: Cultivating Peace is a project organised by the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies of Hong Kong Baptist University and CEDAR Fund, with the aim to promote the idea of peacebuilding in the society for reconciliation and transformation.