What does peace mean for you, your community and your country?
For me, peace means a vital personal commitment. If I don’t make a choice from the heart, if I don’t turn myself into peace, and my words, my steps, my thoughts, my gaze and my embrace don’t convey it to others, then commitment to peace is impossible. At the community level, it’s the capacity that a community should have, to build together, dream as a community and give everyone the possibility to be included in this dream. At the national level, there needs to be a project that is also common, in which the dignity of persons comes first, and respect, tolerance and opportunities for everyone are paramount.
In what special ways do women bring peace to the world?
Women by nature are protectors and carers of life. This makes us always look for paths, strategies and spaces, so that the people we love, who are close to us, can maintain a harmonious relationship. We women are very creative, in order to maintain the possibility of inventing, so that relationships are established, so that relationships between parents, and among children, are really peaceful. And women, in today’s world, have taken a great step forward, which means moving from the sacred and private enclosure of the family to public spaces, in order to build peace. And another essential element here is that states are called on to guarantee this right to peace.
How do you maintain hope when there isn’t always peace around you?
When we’re in situations of violence, death and uncertainty, there are spaces where you can express your opinion and proclaim peace. This means that these spaces turn into a cry from the victims, from the people, who endure violence, in order to demand it and ask for it from those who have the obligation to strive for peace, so that they also seek out paths to build it.
What does your Caritas organisation concretely do to work for peace?
What’s vital at the Caritas here in San Vicente del Caguán in Colombia, is first of all that human beings are at the centre of all its processes and actions. It means believing in the possibilities we all have to build and to contribute. And in this aspect of peace-building, it means accompanying victims, at various times, throughout the process of demanding rights, within the relative legal framework. And also carrying out charitable actions. Victims, on many occasions, need food, healthcare and transport in order to protect themselves, and Caritas has always been there. We also need to say that we’ve put into place a complete process of looking after our common home, working with women, and we’re always on the side of the poorest, in order to give a voice to the voiceless, at the moment when they need it.
If you could ask people to do one gesture to work towards peace today, what would it be?
The most important thing is to believe in human beings, with their dignity and rights. All of us around the world, men and women, are subjects of law, and when this is clear in our minds, then this gives rise to respect, tolerance, promotion of rights, and guaranteed rights. It’s important that a state thinks about what’s needed, especially by the most vulnerable, indigenous peoples, Afro-Latin Americans and ethnic minorities, who sometimes are those who suffer most in the realities we experience. I’d like to invite the whole world to consider and think that if all of us on this planet don’t want instruments of peace, and don’t do it from our hearts and make a radical option to seek it out, it will be impossible to build it. The planet belongs to everyone, and everything on it is for the service and well-being of all human beings who live on this planet.
We are all called today to join together, to join hands and to walk together. It is your responsibility and my responsibility to seek peace. A message from Colombia to the world, and all those who see and hear us: we are all responsible for making the world a better place.