At a free public lecture on Saturday in Santa Monica, Burkle Center Deputy Director Anna Spain, a lawyer and mediator specializing in cross-cultural conflict resolution, will discuss how citizens can contribute to the spread of peace around the world.
Peace "can spread, just like conflicts can spread."
UCLA Burkle Center Deputy Director Anna Spain, a lawyer and mediator specializing in international conflict resolution, will give a public lecture in Santa Monica on Saturday, Jan. 31, on actions that ordinary citizens can take to promote world peace. The talk is part of the Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series sponsored by Soka Gakkai International-USA.
As a board member for Mediators Beyond Borders, Spain currently leads an initiative in Zimbabwe, a country in the grip of poverty, disease, and the long struggle between President Robert Mugabe and his opponents.
In 2003, Spain had the opportunity to travel to the country and to assist in the establishment of a community center in one AIDS-affected village, which she says has begun to allocate resources for sick people and orphans more systematically
"The act of having an outsider stay in touch with them over the years –sending care packages, materials, letters, pictures— mobilized them to seek ways to resolve their own crisis," says Spain.
At the lecture, however, Spain will argue that working for 14 years as a mediator on several continents has not been her only, or even her primary, connection to world events. Rather, she says, individuals all over the globe are bound together by choices—which goods we purchase and news we consume, how we vote and the way we interact with each other—and by our perceptions of faraway events.
How we respond to reports of conflict, she says, "shapes our vision of whether we see the world as a place that's safe or a place that should be feared, whether we are open to outsiders or want to close our borders off and protect what we have."
"If enough people in the world foster inner peace and build peaceful communities," she adds, "then that can spread, just like conflicts can spread. Beyond donating money, this is one way ordinary citizens can assist in resolving existing conflicts and building a culture of peace."
Spain will speak at 4:00 on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Culture of Peace Resource Center, 606 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, Calif. See the flyer (pdf) for additional information.