Promoting Peace Through Writing and Art

Promoting Peace Through Writing and Art
People light candles at a vigil outside the French consulate in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered "all of Canada's support" to France on Friday night in the wake of "deeply worrying" terrorist attacks in Paris. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

In a world desperately longing to eradicate despotism and violence, the power of the written word is prominent and palpable in the 2016 IFLAC anthology “Anti-Terror and Peace.”

Responding to increasing turmoil in the world, Professor Ada Aharoni founded IFLAC, the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, in 1999 as a way to bridge the gap between cultures and promote peace and understanding through writing and art.

Through IFLAC she publishes a daily digest online and an anthology every second year.

The 2016 anthology is a compendium of essays, art, short stories, poetry, and haiku—which Aharoni calls “peace works”—by 23 authors living in various countries around the globe.

Through eloquent, authentic, and personal writings, the anthology aims to promote peace among peoples and nations by shining a light on suffering and the extraordinary people who managed to surmount the fear and hardship they have encountered. The publication is interlaced with “peace art,” and Aharoni, as chief editor, chose all of the articles and art included in it.

With reports of pain, suffering, abuse of power, and inhumanity increasing year after year, and with terrorists causing a lot of these problems, Aharoni decided to focus the 2016 anthology on anti-terrorism, a secondary message to the usual one of promoting peace for all.

In the introduction she calls terrorism “this new cancer obnoxiously spreading all over our world.”

Topics of the pieces range from the Rwandan genocide, conflict in Israel, Palestine, and Africa, and terrorism and the terrorist experience, to the Holocaust. Some contain graphic images of mistreatment, death, and genocide, making them heartfelt but difficult to read dispassionately.

One of the essays is Canadian psychotherapist Khalid Sohail’s “The Psychology of Suicide Bombers.” He also contributed “A Peaceful World.”

In the former he cites seven factors that precipitate a rational, law-abiding person turning into a suicide bomber. Sohail then explains the tragedy of indoctrinated people being used to further the cause of a cultish leader by participating in a suicide mission, believing that their “sacred martyrdom” will be rewarded after death.

In “The End of Terrorism,” Apostolos John Paschos of Greece describes why man was created: “He was created for the purpose of assessing the values of life, of free people, justice, dignity, respect, virtue, ethics, peace, harmony, to create all together a blissful and harmonious society globally.”

The 2016 IFLAC anthology "Anti-Terror and Peace." (Courtesy of IFLAC)
The 2016 IFLAC anthology "Anti-Terror and Peace." (Courtesy of IFLAC)

Aharoni, born in Egypt and now living in Israel, has been writing poems since she was 10 years old. In an interview included in the anthology, she talks about the significance of poetry: “By being a platform that expresses what the majority of the people of the world crave for—peace and freedom from terror, violence, destruction, and wars—we can influence the politicians that wars cannot resolve conflicts.”

So it is no wonder that one of the most relevant, and the largest, section of the anthology presents 54 poems that decry the realities of terrorism, feed the world’s need for hope, and express the desire we all feel to eradicate conflict.

Poems about terrorists and violent horrors are balanced with poems about humanity, peace, and the need for people to work toward peace in the many troubled countries of the world.

The anthology informs about the nightmare that is terrorism and also highlights the cry for an end to war and terrorism echoed around our world by the majority of humankind.

“Anti-Terror and Peace” is available from Amazon. For information about IFLAC, visit:

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