I met her at our weekly Tuesday night, Summer of Peace Calgary 2012 meeting. When I heard her speak, I was captivated, in awe, intrigued. How can one woman do so much? How can one woman make such a difference and stay so committed throughout her lifetime to ensuring the difference she is making leaves the world a better place?
I prompty asked her if she’d be a guest blogger and she graciously replied, ‘of course’.
Karen Huggins is the Executive Director of Project Ploughshares Calgary. In my brief encounter with her, I felt peaceful! She is gentle-spirited, kind. She radiates peaceful energy all around.
I’ve included her bio at the bottom — imagine, a Masters in Peace Education!
I am grateful as well that Karen sent me her blog entry last night as I didn’t bring my own computer with me for the weekend, and the blog I had originally scheduled for today is there, waiting. Thank you Judy Atkinson — stay tuned everyone for next Sunday’s guest blogger as Judy is a wise woman drumming up peace and joy and wonder and next Sunday she shares her brilliance here.
Making a Difference with Peace Work
by Karen Huggins
Making a difference in the world is part of my work, part of my psyche, part of who I have been since childhood. I am indeed fortunate and blessed to have a job that allows me to put my personal beliefs into action! I have long been an activist – writing letters, marching, drumming, protesting the injustices that seemingly permeate our world. These injustices have included the Vietnam War, nuclear proliferation, women’s rights, the Iraq War, racism and discrimination, the rights of immigrants and refugees…you get the picture! I am passionate about peace, and believe that when we achieve true peace – these injustices will simply melt away into the background. To me, peace is not just about the absence of physical violence, but also the absence of structural violence. (Examples of structural violence: institutionalized discrimination; homelessness; inadequate funding for women’s shelters; policies that favour corporations over people…).
True peacemaking addresses structural violence at its very core through advocating for human rights, justice and compassion towards all beings, environmental care, intercultural solidarity, inner peace, and finally for the abolition of a culture of war. When all these issues are dealt with in a meaningful way, we will be on the path to true peace in the world.
So – how do we achieve peace? How do we change the political and economic systems that tend to promote various forms of structural violence? The answers to these questions lie within each and every one of us, when we open our hearts and minds and listen carefully to our inner, wiser selves! When we find that sense of inner peace within ourselves, nurture it, learn from it, and take care that we are kind and loving to ourselves, we naturally radiate an outward sense of peace and are able to spread that to others around us, beginning with our families and then on to our friends, communities, and the larger world.
My own sense of personal peace is derived from the simple things in life: quiet time for reflection and meditation, time spent with my family and friends, and time spent in activities that somehow contribute to making a better world for future generations. Thich Nhat Hanh says it best when he says that, “happiness does not come from possessing something or someone, it comes from kindness and compassion, from helping to ease suffering.”
I have studied many religious traditions during my life. I have explored Indigenous spirituality with traditional medicine men and women, studied Buddhism with Tibetan lamas, and embraced Sufism with its message of love and beauty. The lessons I have learned have been invaluable in gaining self-awareness and in developing my own sense of reverence for the natural world and compassion for all living beings, as well as an informed and engaged approach to social activism.
I have long envisioned a world where all people are treated fairly and have access to education, health care, food, water, security, and freedom of movement. I have actively imagined a world where resources are equitably shared and used wisely so that future generations will not be adversely affected by our actions today.
My 2½ year old granddaughter is the light of my life – when I look at her, play with her, and watch her relate to this whole new world around her, I know very well that my personal goal is to leave a beautiful, just and humane world for my children and grandchildren and their children to enjoy and revel in. Really, there’s no other option!
Karen Huggins – Bio
Karen and her husband are proud parents to eight wonderful adult children, as well as grandparents to a delightfully busy 2-year-old. Her family is very supportive of the work that she does in terms of peacebuilding, which is a large part of her current job as the Program Director of Project Ploughshares Calgary and as a member of the Executive of the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary.
Karen holds a B.A. in English from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Calgary; and an M.A. in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Her research interests have included autonomy and transnational advocacy, sustainable development, participatory democracy, and consumerism and peace, making her a natural fit for the principles of the EverGreen Party.
Karen believes that we need to foster a society based on human need, not on rampant extraction of our natural resources, consumerism, and war. As a practitioner of peace who is firmly grounded in peace education theory and practice, she is an avid supporter of peaceful solutions to our seemingly intractable problems and believes that a culture of peace is possible
She is very enthusiastic about building a better world for ALL people