Prem Rawat's "Peace is possible" statement like a utopia to many of us. Yet around the world, thousands of people including Prem Rawat himself are fighting for peace, even in the most unlikely places. The prison is perhaps the last place in the world where peace exists.
However, it is easy to teach prisoners through the walls of a prison. Between reintegration or group cohesion activities, peace can be easily acquired in prison.
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Promoting peace through leisure
Leisure, which has become a central element of current social life, has also entered the prison. Applied to the prison system, it takes on the meaning of recreational and cultural activities in order to contribute to the physical and moral well-being of prisoners. These activities can be individual or collective. In the latter case, they are generally directed (conferences, cinematographic projections, theatrical performances, musical auditions, and sports).
The leisure activity joins the educational activity, the foundation of the contemporary prison system. All this tends to gradually change the physiognomy of the prison. Its architecture is now less severe. The individual cell tends to replace the dormitory without hygiene, the classroom has replaced the disciplinary room, the library invites reading and the sports fields allow body exercises.
Through his activities, the prisoner develops his team spirit, his empathy for others as well as his personal esteem. There he learns the basics of peace.
Negotiating to live together in prison
In prison, warders and detainees have divergent interests; but all must live together, in a confined space. Inequalities of power structure their relationships; but everyone knows that the mere use of force or, in return, the exercise of violence, will lead them to an impasse.
To resort, for the supervisors, to the only constraint, can indeed become for them, in the daily life of their work, unlivable; granting all detainees what they demand poses an obvious risk of slippage and non-control; and strict application of prison rules is impossible; negotiation in prison is therefore a balancing act: it makes it possible to control what is granted to prisoners and to build relative prison well-being for the two populations who live in prison.
Special workshops to promote peace can be organized by foundations or other associations in prison. For example, once a week, prisoners can meet with a facilitator to discuss, share and exchange around the themes of peace. This type of program can not only influence prisoners' opinions on peace, but most importantly teach them another path that they may never have explored. The key is to establish a relationship of trust between the animator and the prisoners, but above all remain open to dialogue to learn understanding, empathy and living together.
The workshops should be a unique moment when the prisoner is not afraid to express what he feels, to speak of his emotions and not to be afraid of what he says throughout the duration of the workshop. In this way if only one prisoner is affected by the workshop, word-of-mouth will do its job very quickly and the inmates will come more and more to each meeting.