Dr Gill Hicks’ response to so much terrorist violence is one of defiance. Rather than feel helpless, she says we should use destructive messages to propel us into “doing peace.”
Peace is possible. Peace can start right now. You may think I’m completely mad believing that Peace can happen ‘just like that’, especially given the level of horrific conflict currently going on in so many countries throughout the world.
Everyday, it seems, our news is filled with reports of escalating violence, particularly in the Middle East and the Ukraine, grabbing the world’s attention and in cases like Malaysian Flight MH17 being shot down, killing all on board. It directly connects us all, especially those of us who travel, to the plight and suffering of many who are living through war and violent conflict.
So what do ‘we’ do? How do ‘we’ feel when we see images and read reports of brutal killings of foreign hostages. We’ may not be able to stop all the conflict and war today, but we can use the destructive message to propel us into ‘doing’ Peace. A collective, en mass movement all ‘doing’ Peace will impact our collective tomorrow.
We are each one of 7.2 Billion people – a far greater number than any militia group, or any one nation. We can collectively make a difference; we can collectively influence Peace.
At this point, I guess I should attempt to explain my definition, my understanding of Peace. For me, it’s more than the absence of war or conflict, it’s more than something ‘we’ hold as an ideal or something to aspire to. Although these things are all wonderful and should not be discounted as the attributes and effects of something that has stemmed from an action, an action of Peace.
I believe that Peace is a choice, a conscious decision about how we want to live, how we want to react and act, how we conduct ourselves. Every action we take, every word we speak or write has the potential to affect someone, and this is our enormous responsibility and the incredible power we all have to enable change – both good and bad. Harnessing this power, consciously ‘doing’ Peace is what I believe can make a dramatic and immediate difference. We, as individuals may not be able to stop the conflicts in the Middle East or in parts of Africa or the Ukraine, but we can immediately change our own personal world.
My theory is that if we each influenced just one person to take our lead and also ‘Do’ Peace, then within a short space of time, the effect of the ‘movement’ would be considerable – one person’s actions of peace – influencing another and another and another.
Imagine if Conflict Resolution techniques were taught as part of the national school curriculum. Imagine if we were shown the skills at an early age to be more empathetic, to pause and consider before speaking or taking action.
My journey of understanding and my new found relationship with Peace came nine years ago when I was the unfortunate recipient of a 19 year old suicide bomber’s successful plan to kill and maim as many people that he could.
It was a July morning in London, a cloudy start to a summer’s day, nothing unusual or extraordinary, just the daily commute into work. In the time it takes to click a finger, my life and the lives of those around me – all squeezed into the same train carriage – changed forever.
My life changed beyond the physical injuries, although the severity of losing both legs is a change that I am still constantly adapting to. In facing my own death I’ve gained tremendous and valuable insights into life.
Overwhelmingly, I have learnt that there is so very little that actually matters. It’s only the people we leave behind, those we love and who love us that really matter. It’s these people and it’s also what we do with our lives, the legacy we create and the contribution we make, how we leave our mark on the world that also matters.
Time is our most precious commodity. In waiting an hour for rescue to be able to reach me that day, I have come to appreciate just how precious every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, actually is.
The discipline needed to ‘let go’, to not harbour bitterness or hatred and to make choices from an empathetic point of view is not always easy. In fact it’s often the most challenging position to take, but given the short period of time that we have here on earth, it’s crucial if we want to live a life that has positive meaning.
I have been fortunate to have been able to share the story of my experience with so many people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. And, with every new face I gain a better understanding of how much we all have in common. Indeed, what unites us is more prevalent than what divides us. Our dreams and ambitions for our children and ourselves are all very similar.
My wish for my child is that she grows up to find her place in a world where its people are confident – confident enough in our differences to enable the similarities that unite us. After all, we are all the one humanity, all interdependent and interconnected.
About Dr Gill Hicks
Gill Hicks, is the founder of not for profit organisation, M.A.D. For Peace and consultancy, M.A.D. MINDS. She was severely and permanently injured in the London bombings of 2005, losing both of her legs just below the knee.
She is determined to do all she can to deter anyone from following a path of violent action and believes everyone can make a personal difference to create a confident global community and a sustainable peace.
Gill lived in London from 1992 and has recently returned to her hometown of Adelaide, where she lives with her partner Karl and daughter, Amelie. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Trustee of the Women’s Playhouse Trust and the Architectural Foundation, and an Advisor to Psychology Beyond Borders. Formally she was Publisher of Blueprint magazine, Director of multi-disciplinary design group, Dangerous Minds and, at the time of the bombings, Head of Curation at the Design Council.
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