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Mark Kadel

Mark Kadel is the director of World Relief Spokane
Interview by Yegyu Lee, May 8, 2015 

Some attributes of peace can be defined as tranquility—the lack of unrest. Peace, as far as its relationship to conflict, would be an end to conflicts. I think that peace in its general role has a very close relationship to justice—when justice reigns, it brings peace to society as well. People are not peaceful when there is a conflict, hatred, or sudden change. But when everything is settled, and justice reigns, people feel a sense of peace.

However, there are people around the world who suffer from severe persecutions perhaps due to their race, religion, nationality, social groups or even political opinions. They suffer great oppression and injustices either from their government or even other people. In many cases they feel like they have no other ways to survive but to flee their own country. People are in vulnerable situations at mostly no fault of their own. Turmoil and conflict take away people’s sense of peace.

When the refugees come to America, they find peace in their lives; they don’t have to worry about their daughter or mother getting raped while they are outside getting firewood. In America, there is no caste system or type of gender discrimination they used to face in their own country. People can find their rights here. I am not to make a claim that America is perfect in any way; there are still injustices happening here. However, in comparison to where they come from, there is a huge difference in terms of peace and justice they find in this country. As they settle in America, they come to understand true justice.

World relief works around the world to empower local churches to serve the most vulnerable, such as refugees and human trafficking victims. We provide services to them so that they can become self-sufficient and independent; we greet them at the airport when they arrive, provide hot meals, get them to their apartment, get their kids to school, get them to medical appointments, teach them English, and help them find jobs. We walk alongside them until they learn to walk on their own.

In order to promote peace, we must educate ourselves about those who are suffering in the midst of conflict. Some people are ignorant and form negative assumptions and stereotypes about refugees. Prejudices and stereotypes inhibit peace. Thus, we must educate people in order to eliminate these negative assumptions and stereotypes. I believe that as people become more educated, they become more empathetic and compassionate of suffering of others.

The western world has the capability to resist the evil in order to defend those who are defenseless. We need to ask ourselves; why don’t we do more to help those around us? Sometimes war is done in a defensive manner in order to protect those who face great injustices in their lives. Sometimes realistic solutions may be using military defense in order to defend those who cannot defend themselves against those who destroy peace. We cannot be ignorant in what is going on all around us. We need to do what we can do to bring peace and justice to the world.

I encourage peace studies students to see the whole picture of a situation. Talk to those who are actively involved in conflict resolution overseas. Be open that there is a lot of different ways to bring peace; look at all different ways to bring peace. Educate yourself. When you try to promote peace for the world, you cannot put blinders on and be one-dimensional. You have to be able to be open-minded to look at realistic solutions. Be aware that every situation in every country looks different; different approaches may work differently in certain situations. But we need to be realistic in looking at solutions to restore peace to people’s lives.