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Catriona Martin

Catriona Martin (left) is a coordinator for the “100 Days of Peacemaking Campaign,” and a volunteer that serves through Oasis Global currently in London, England.  Born in the United Kingdom, she has traveled widely all over the world serving, teaching, and volunteering for the non-profit organization, Oasis Global. Catriona has volunteered for Oasis for nine years, serving in London, England, Pasadena, California, and Harare, Zimbabwe. From the website: “Our  vision is for a community, a place where everyone is included, making a contribution and reaching their God-given potential” in a way that is “inclusive, integrated, empowering, and comprehensive so all people experience wholeness and fullness of life.”

Interviewed by Kristina Grossman

May 2012

     I believe peace is more than just an absence of war; it is a whole sense of well-being, contentment, and completeness, in other words, the biblical theme of “shalom.”

     This holistic approach is what Oasis Global embodies. Peace is not an implausible idea, that we should only expect our world leaders to enact, but it all starts with individuals working locally and starting small. By enacting peace, we will become peaceful people: we need to show peace to expect peace in return. Learning your neighbors’ background and understanding your community will teach people to become more compassionate and forgiving.

     In the United Kingdom, last summer, there were student riots in major cities that created disturbances, disrupted social order, and created a stigma of disgruntled and violent youth. Whether if it’s promoting peace within a high school, between tribes in Zimbabwe, or peace between police and students, promoting peace within communities is vital. I work with an initiative that teaches fourteen British high schools to be places where students interact with peace, and promote peace within their communities. These students combat a violent stereotype by simply exhibiting that kindness can be enacted anywhere.O O Oo fjsklfjkasldjfksld One idea initiated by students was starting a program where students bag food for customers of grocery stores for free. This program and other small acts such as, a student simply having tea with an elderly person at a retirement home, can create an intergenerational, lasting, and binding peace.

     Working with people to find inner peace is also crucially important because peace starts within us. There is a big world out there, and being involved globally will continue to tie the thread of peace throughout the world. It is important to be aware of local communities as well, in order to understand the best ways to promote peace. Concentrating on the bigger issues out there is important, but understanding the dynamics in your local community will bring peace more effectively and quickly. I am not sure who said it, but I love the saying, “recognizing that an enemy is simply a friend that you don’t yet know.” We need to engage our local neighbors to create sustainable and deep peace. Smiling to a stranger or bagging an elderly man’s groceries can promote respect, compassion, and ultimately a peace that the world needs more of.  It is true that the simplistic acts in the world create the most lastly peace.