Dec. 16, 2016: 207th column is the last — but ideal remains the same, by Sarah Jenkins

December 16, 2016 by

Sarah Jenkins

In September 2009, when the first “Year of Peace” column was printed in this space, the idea was to have a weekly article written by different people from throughout Concordia. Sister Carolyn Teter wrote that first column, and the intent was to have the column each Friday throughout the 16-month “Year” — from Sept. 25, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2010.

The committee’s enthusiasm, and the community’s response, didn’t let it end there. From 2011 through this year, there has been a Year of Peace column twice a month — and there has been so much more than that: an early film series at the college, T-shirts and Year of Peace buttons, songs composed by Patrick Sieben, book studies in conjunction with the Frank Carlson Library, supporters’ signs in businesses all over town, six years of the Civility Pledge, Concordia’s National Night Out each August, radio spots on KNCK and a yearlong Speakers Series in 2011.

But the Year of Peace was more than emblems and events.

As Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, who led the committee, wrote in a column at the end of that first Year of Peace, “Our hope is that the Concordia Year of Peace instills in each person the belief that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect. Dignity and respect for children, for women, for men, for the elderly, and for those who are different from us in some way. Dignity and respect for our neighbors, for those we meet on the street and for our own families. That is not always easy to do but we believe it is an ideal worth striving for.”

This column — the 207th, published over seven years and three months — concludes the regular work of the Year of Peace Committee. We’ve decided to take a break, in part to generate new ideas and also to see if the emphasis on peace and civility is still needed. Committee members will get together again in mid-summer to see if there remains work to be done.

In the meantime, we look back to that first column from September 2009.

“Peace is more than the absence of war,” Sister Carolyn wrote. “Peace is a set of values, attitudes and behaviors: It means respect for others regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, class, sexuality, appearance, political or religious belief, physical or mental ability. This respect requires a great empathy for others — a willingness to understand their views from their standpoint.”

That, as Sister Jean noted, is not always easy to do but it is an ideal worth striving for.

Today we thank the Blade-Empire for giving us this space for these Year of Peace columns and for its generous support over the years. And we thank everyone who embraced the Year of Peace as together we all continue to strive toward that ideal.

— Sarah Jenkins is the communications director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

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