ARTICLE: Seeds of Peace
June 2018, Lambeth College, Clapham
It was a glorious sunny afternoon on the 10th June in South London as a special event began to unfold: Seeds of Peace, part of the Peace is Possible campaign.
It had been months in the planning, and was a collaboration between Pastor Lorraine Jones, Lambeth Police Community Partnerships and Celebrate Life Events.
The event was in response to the recent rise in violent crime across London and the UK. Pastor Lorraine Jones, whose own son was stabbed to death 4 years ago, invited international speaker and peace ambassador Prem Rawat to come and address the local community.
Before the main event Prem met with some people from the local community in the college garden.
People introduced themselves, asked questions, cracked jokes, and gathered in a circle around Prem Rawat, under the shade of a large London plane tree, as he told stories and shared anecdotes.
Meanwhile, people gathered in the main venue in preparation for what was going to be an extraordinary event.
Wallee McDonnell from Celebrate Life, welcomed everyone and introduced Pastor Lorraine Jones who requested a minute’s silence for the victims of violence this year.
Pastor Lorraine is director of Dwaynamics, a community boxing club keeping young people off the streets; she is also a Pastor, peace advocate, community leader, mover and shaker and well-respected spokesperson on the topic of youth violence who appears regularly in the media. Her passion and clarity on this topic was instantly obvious as she explained how this event came together, and the urgent need in London right now for peaceful solutions.
Pastor Lorraine met Prem Rawat at last year’s Celebrate Life Event, and told him about the death of her son and the work she is doing in his memory. Since then she has been actively promoting his Peace Education Programme and she invited him personally to London as part of the Peace is Possible Campaign which included a mural in Shoreditch and a radio interview the previous day.
Makeda Nation then introduced ‘Open Curtain Youth Drama Group’. Makeda runs the group for children and teenagers in Brixton, and they created a piece especially for this event.
The 8-minute performance consisted of four children who acted out a scenario of a girl being bullied and considering carrying a knife as protection, ultimately dissuaded by her friend. Sadly this is a reality for many children these days, and shows how serious crime can begin with something as common as school bullying.
The atmosphere was then lightened as multi-talented Tito Gomez took to the stage and enchanted everyone with his lively flute-playing while Kofi wowed us with his dance moves.
Tito and Kofi were followed by a few words from Superintendent Sean Oxley, and then Prem Rawat then addressed the audience. He began with a joke, that had a deeper meaning he went on to explain.
Prem Rawat’s message features in the Peace Education Programme, a 10 session course that has had a great impact across the world, and most recently in London. The hope is to run the programme in many more locations in the coming months and make it available to all youth in London.
Pastor Lorraine joined Prem Rawat on stage and asked him some questions of her own. As a community leader, and someone with first-hand experience of losing a child to knife crime, Lorraine speaks to many newly-bereaved parents and families struggling with trauma and hopelessness. She asked Prem what she can say to these people, how can they continue to live a progressive life with such tragic loss?
During Prem’s answer he spoke about the importance of feeling and acknowledging grief, but at the same time to allow yourself to rise above, with the strength of the one you lost, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Lorraine also asked Prem about the breakdown of trust between youth, especially of ethnic minorities, and the police and government. During his reply, Prem said that every human being needs to walk with their head held high, with pride. This is what the youth need to be taught: walk with pride, regardless of what’s happened to you, because you’re a human being. Command respect, and you will have it. Know who you are.
An audience member then posed a question, asking if there’s a practical tool to find peace.
Prem Rawat stood up and came over to the young lady as he replied: you have peace inside of you - good news! To begin to understand that is the most powerful, practical tool there is. You are not a pauper, you are extremely rich. You carry in you not a few coins, but a goldmine.
PC Damon then asked how communities and organisations can better support the youth. Prem replied that the first thing that needs to be supported is the family structure. Organisations, governments and businesses need to support families. We pay more attention to strangers than to our own family, parents don’t listen to their children. Young people are so desperate, they are joining gangs where they feel more acceptance than at home. This has to change.
Prem Rawat concluded his talk by speaking of the need for us all to come together. Young, old, religious, non-religious, people from all sections of society need to work together to make peace possible.
Singer-songwriter Ennè ended the event on a high with two fantastic songs. Midway, she paused to thank Prem Rawat for the work he is doing which had especially moved her in light of the fact she lost her brother to knife crime, and understands that pain.
As people left, we captured some of their comments on film. Here are a few of them, and you can watch more in the video at the top of this page:
‘The event was amazing, very insightful. It was a really powerful message that I think everyone should hear, that we are all human at the end of the day.
I’m going to start teaching this year and it’s got me thinking about what I can bring to the classroom. I would love to spread this message to the students I’ll be working with.’
‘One thing that I’ll definitely take away is that there is hope, that there are people out there who are rallying for peace, that there are warriors fighting for light, and that peace is possible.’
~Ricky, from Black People giving
‘I enjoyed the event 100%. I found what the gentleman Prem said was mind-blowing really. I’m going to have to take a moment out and just think about some of the things he said. When he talked about having a goldmine in you - that’s deep. I was blown away, to be fair.’
~Sadiki, from Black Thrive
Lots more is being planned in London following this event, if you want to be a part of it, please leave a comment below or join our mailing list: http://www.celebrate-life.co.uk/contact
For more information about the Peace Education Programme, please visit: https://www.tprf.org/programs/peace-education-program/
More info about Dwaynamics: http://dsfcic.co.uk
Thanks to Timeless Today's Nitesh Mistry and Mehau Kulyk for the photos.