The Strength of Peace

Par Douglas Roche

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The best films last far beyond their initial showing and, in capturing enduring values, acquire a timeless quality. The NFB Playlist on War and Peace that I have chosen contains films produced over the past few decades, but all of them speak to the issues underneath today’s headlines. Whether a graphic depiction of the horrors of nuclear war, a journey around the world to find “the other way,” or a heartfelt examination of the reasons to oppose war, these films are graceful and lucid in their depiction of what a culture of peace is all about.

It is a great paradox that, while most people now reject war as a means to resolve conflict, they are reluctant, perhaps even afraid, to embrace wholeheartedly the means to peace. Every year, the public pays tribute to fallen warriors of past conflicts. From time to time, some march against the idea of a new war. But we do not inculcate into our daily lives the very essence of peace so that it is constantly reflected in all the pageantry and policies of society. Although we honour the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, we shun the idea of making peace education compulsory for all children.

Advocates of a culture of peace hope to change this so that the operational norms of modern life become a respect for all life, rejection of violence, sharing with others, preservation of the planet, and acceptance of the common ground we all live on. The best, if not the only, way to bring this about is through education. Films are, of course, a blend of entertainment and education, and the films here vibrantly project the culture of peace.

You will meet many fascinating individuals who have faced up to the demands of peace: Helen Caldicott, the indefatigable physician who campaigns against the horrors of nuclear war; Velcrow Ripper, armed with only a camera, who peers into the heart and soul of cultures around the world; Ted and John Friesen, two Mennonite brothers from Winkler, Manitoba, who agonize over conscientious objection to participating in war. The towering figure of Jo Rotblat, the Polish nuclear scientist who turned his back on nuclear weapons, founded the Pugwash movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize, looms over this collection. The new NFB film on his life, The Strangest Dream, graphically captures his joyful strength and essential message: If you want peace, prepare for peace. With a probing boldness and artistic flair, that is exactly what these films do.

À propos de l'auteur

Douglas Roche

Au cours de ses 35 ans de carrière, l’honorable Douglas Roche, O.C., auteur, parlementaire et diplomate, s’est spécialisé dans les questions entourant la paix et la sécurité humaine. Il prononce en divers points du globe des conférences sur le thème de la paix et du désarmement nucléaire. Monsieur Roche a été sénateur, membre du parlement, ambassadeur du Canada au désarmement et professeur invité à l’Université de l’Alberta. On l’a élu président du Comité du désarmement des Nations Unies dans le cadre de la 43e Assemblée générale en 1988. Il est l’auteur de dix-neuf ouvrages. Le plus récent, Creative Dissent: A Politician’s Struggle for Peace, renferme ses mémoires et a été publié chez Novalis en 2008. Titulaire de sept doctorats honorifiques que lui ont décernés des universités canadiennes et américaines, Monsieur Roche s’est vu attribuer de nombreuses distinctions pour ses travaux sur la paix et la non-violence, notamment le prix de la Mahatma Gandhi Foundation pour la paix mondiale.