HISTORY: HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Assisi 1982. The political situation created by the Cold War, the development of new regional conflicts and the growth of economic inequality between rich and poor countries, compelled all concerned people to look at the issue of war and peace.
I was urged to wonder if peace could be an achievable goal and not just a dream! Is peace possible?
At that time the issue of peace was arousing lively debates in Assisi and this led to my involvement in the founding of the International Centre for Peace among Peoples, which marked a turning point in my life.
I wrote a book, Peace, published in February 1983. It presented my intuition that Assisi should become the crossroads of peace and the place where people could gather and study peace. Assisi would be the ideal place for antagonists to meet and get to know each other better, work out plans for the good of humankind, particularly to combat world’s hunger and find solutions to the problems related to lack of freedom.
The idea was simple, realistic and prophetic. It won the favour among a large group of people, who soon agreed to turn this idea into a project, to disseminate the initiative and put it into action.
Thus ensued an intense period of work for peace, during which many good ideas were developed. My experience, though limited, with leaders from various countries, such as the USA, ex-URSS, and Mozambique, which at that time was at war, encouraged me to go further. It also helped me understand that what seemed a mere utopia could work by relying on the value of dialogue and adopting new approaches.
Undoubtedly, dialogue and new attitudes have proven to be fruitful not only in politics but also wherever tension, fighting and problems exist.
I have experienced reconciliation in different contexts: helping families to resolve differences; conducting difficult negotiations in a serene atmosphere; and recommending a collaborative approach regarding economic competition.
Father GianMaria Polidoro