Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Peace advocates give talks on resolving conflict, establishing unity

By LINDSAY GLADU, Special to the Bulletin | Published October 16, 2014

CARROLLTON—These days we hear a lot about peace.

But how do we implement peace each day, in each interaction with other people?

The National Association for Peace/Anti-Violence Education, NAPE, aims to change how people think about civility and unity through education.

On Sept. 19, 20 and 21, NAPE held its 17th annual conference at the University of West Georgia, in Carrollton, to discuss strategies and solutions for peacemaking within schools, families, communities and the world.

For NAPE founder, Rose Duhon-Sells, Ph.D., demonstrating peace starts within. She advocates simple strategies such as saying hello and practicing kindness to strangers to cultivate a change within oneself first.

Duhon-Sells, a parishioner of St. Martin de Porres Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana, believes that violence has its roots in fear and insecurity.

“I think when you meet an individual who is mean and rude for no reason, that person is suffering,” she said. “That person is begging for help, but how many of us have the grounding where we are strong and courageous enough to think in a peaceful mentality when we meet those folks?”

Her second thoughts on peace are turned outward: “What can I do to change this person’s attitude? What may I do to soften the blows of the past?”

Duhon-Sells recommends infusing peace wherever it’s possible, especially in the classroom, by making references to examples of respectful and cooperative behavior. For instance, she encourages kindergarten teachers to have children close their eyes and imagine how they feel when they are teased so that they will better understand how someone else feels in the same situation.

If these lessons are taught and reinforced throughout a child’s educational career, Duhon-Sells believes children will experience empathy and attitudes about bullying and violence will be altered.

NAPE president, Rosalind Duplechain, Ph.D., who is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, in Carrollton, said that each person is responsible for perpetuating peace within him or herself and through relationships.

“As a Catholic, I believe in the golden rule and turning the other cheek,” said Duplechain, who organized the conference and is an associate professor of education at the University of West Georgia.

“We tend to do peace as either some kind of school event, where only kids come, or something that only adults do,” she said. “For me this was a chance to bring both of those together, because kids will do what I do, and it’s because of kids that I want to do better.”

For this reason, Duplechain invited children’s groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs to attend the conference and held special programming on how to control anger and resolve conflict.

Zavier Stallings, 16, took those messages to heart.

He learned how to channel his anger and slowly proceed rather than blowing up, he said.

He plans to take all he learned to his new job with 12 for Life, a cooperative education program.

Colby Wilson, 12, also learned some new strategies to control anger “by writing your emotions, listening to music or playing sports.”

Colby said he has plans to play basketball instead of getting angry the next time he’s faced with a conflict.

So what are the benefits of peaceful behavior and cooperation?

“I don’t waste time stewing over negativity,” Duhon-Sells said of a lifetime of peace practicing.

“We have to go around violence or be the object to stop it. This has always been my philosophy in life,” she said.

After hearing the day’s speakers and programs, Leslye Colvin, program specialist for Atlanta archdiocesan Justice and Peace Ministries, reflected on why striving for peace is important within the Catholic community.

“Peace is an ideal that we strive for and hope for while we follow the Prince of Peace,” Colvin said.

“It’s often challenging to apply the lessons to life for us in 2014,” she added. “If we are to make progress in moving toward peace, it’s imperative that we take advantage of opportunities to learn more and continue our growth. Pope Francis consistently calls us to a culture of encounter and inclusion. I believe that being a part of this conference is one way in which we can bring that to fruition.”


To find out more about the National Association for Peace/Anti-Violence Education, visit their Facebook page.