HELP US GIVE #POWERTOTHEPEACEFUL
Excerpt from Huffington Post interview with contributing writer Joel Alcaraz
…How can we find peace once again when we can’t even look our neighbors in the eye? Apparently Tyler has some insight into the matter. Tyler spent almost a decade working on his first documentary, A Chance for Peace. During the 27,000 miles traveled throughout his journey, Tyler filmed in post-revolutionary Egypt, was in Turkey at the onset of the crisis in Syria, attended labor party protests in Thailand, and documented the stories of village artisans in India’s vibrant craft sector. But the majority of his time was spent traveling throughout Kenya, 8 months after a contested election launched the previously peaceful country into post-election violence that displaced 600,000 people, killing over 2,000. The lack of media coverage on such a tragic turn of events was Tyler’s impetus for action. While the whole world seemed to turn away from the crisis, Tyler walked right into the epicenter with a cameraman and a question: “Is peace possible?”
What surprised you making this project? One of the most jarring moments for me was when we were walking through Kibera slum, the epicenter of the post-election violence. I was looking down at the ground and saw a grenade of some kind just lying there in the dirt. It said “MADE IN U.S.A.” This war that the media dismissed as just another case of African tribalism was our war. We were there. America was complicit in this violence. Fast forward to today, what really surprises me are the parallels to our society even though this happened over 8 years ago. The protests, the call for an end to the political establishment, and the fact that the Kenyan people were the ones paying the price – I looked at all of this and had to ask myself, How in the U.S. any different? Our country today is divided into tribes with our identity politics. Every human being is capable of violence and peace, good and evil – as human beings, none of us are above these things. So when I saw that grenade, it made my resolve to focus on peace even stronger.
How do we find peace?
What we see in “A Chance for Peace” is that all the men, women, and children we profiled instinctively knew how to engage in peace. As many of them put it, “We are just doing the best we can with what we have.”
The U.S. is experiencing a crisis of culture. There are racial, economic, and xenophobic issues that are coming apart at the seams. What we see in “A Chance for Peace” is that all the men, women, and children we profiled instinctively knew how to engage in peace. As many of them put it, “We are just doing the best we can with what we have.” At the time of Kenya’s post-election violence, the US media, and therefore the American public, didn’t see a chance for peace. The media framed the Kenyan identity in the context of just a bunch of poverty-stricken people that now had to endure the hardships caused by their follies. So it comes as no shock to me that when the US media and the American public is confronted with the same issues on their own soil, the instinct is to respond just the same – spinning out with stories of violence, hate, distrust, and fear. We are stuck in a well-honed, misplaced sense of self-righteousness. Take a look what the peacemakers in this film were able to achieve with so little. There was a man who built an academy from the ground up; a nurse who was able to provide free medical care for thousands of people; and a graffiti artist that with just a paintbrush and some white paint became a “Messenger of Peace.” Peace was a grassroots effort, and it can thrive anywhere. If we insisted on peace that same way many of us insist on war and attacking others, imagine where we’d be. So to find peace I think we need to reject this idea that we can’t create peace ourselves. Peace is a practice that starts with empathizing with each other, but first we have to take a cold hard look in the mirror and reject this idea that we are somehow better. These tribal tendencies aren’t limited to so-called “third-world” countries. We are a tribal species, but these memberships go by different names, be it Democrat or Republican or however you want to divide it. We’ve deluded ourselves into thinking we are above that because we are a “civilized” country. All we need to do it look around to see that we’re not above it. Lynching, for example – is that civilized? Police brutality? No. But people are waking up. The US is seeing it’s own chance for peace right now, and I am not afraid. And I want to show people that they have nothing to be afraid of either. This is all part of an evolutionary process, and if we want to survive it, fear cannot direct our sails. We must actively choose peace, just as the Kenyans did. We must restore trust, view each other as a member of the human tribe, and build empathy. Everyday.
Read the full interview at The Huffington Post: http://huff.to/2jyIEcM
A remarkable story, beautifully captured. A Chance for Peace delves into the most important question facing mankind – what does peace look like? Filmmaker Tyler Batson weaves a narrative that is raw, honest, and emotionally charged. A must watch!
Rising out of a country unfairly stereotyped as violent and riddled with despair, A Chance for Peace is a refreshing beacon of hope. Our fellow human beings in this film can truly teach us so much, especially now.
For people dealing with trauma from a disruptive environment, the concept of peace can be hard to grasp. But ‘A Chance for Peace’ elevates the pursuit of peace to greater heights, where it belongs. The beautiful lesson of the film is that, though we suffer, our deepest desire as humans is not to hate but to heal. The social good that’s emerged as a result of the film demonstrates that, though it may be hard to grasp, our spirits persist once we rise up and choose peace.