As I sit watching the news, with my children in the same room, it is hard to know how we can pick out any hope or positivity from what we are watching. The very real likelihood that our troops will now be sent to Syria is news that I and many in our country don't support and it is certainly hard to explain the validity of the inevitable high number of innocent casualties to my children.
I have always seen myself as an optimist, a glass half full type of a person but at times like these it is hard to keep that alive, to find others that can walk that path with me.
I just came back from four days in The Netherlands. There my hope and optimism was rekindled. I met people from Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya. Young people who have kept their hope. Young people who have struggled but made sure that light comes from the rubble, that hope comes from the wars they have witnessed. I met one young woman from Syria who had her spark lit at the beginning of the revolution in 2011. Her and her friends became active, wanting to change their country for the better. She was filled with hope, with optimism...then things went badly wrong for her and for so many. Three years ago this week her husband was killed. She has had to flee Syria. He was a young man full of promise, leaving behind a widow who should never have had to deal with such things in her young life. She told me she feels depressed, she has given up - every now and again her eyes lit up as she remembered the energy she had at the start of the revolution.
I met others who have had to leave their homes but have been able to continue work with young people, educating children, inspiring other youth, keeping the flame alive that there still can be hope, that the war can and will come to an end. I listened to people who have re-claimed their city, turned things around, brought different groups together, not allowed extremists to take over their neighbourhoods.
For people like me, optimists looking on the bright side of life, are we naïve? How can we possibly talk about hope and peace in such dark times? Do we not understand the gravity of what is happening? Have we forgotten the millions who have been killed or the refugees fleeing in their millions? Have we missed the extremism that has reared its ugly head in our European cities?
Lately I've been watching clips and reading things from the Peace Movement in the 60's and 70's, maybe the secret hippie in me is finally coming out! I have watched videos of John and Yoko's 'sleep ins' and with tears in my eyes listened to their cry to the world to "Give Peace A Chance". I sit and reflect and ask myself, where is the call to give peace a chance now? Is it possible? Can it happen?
At the end of the Netherlands workshop we had to go round and say what had motivated us, a take away point from being together. One young man from Syria who has been made to flee his home, imprisoned by Daesh, released and now doing work with young people, education, anything to help their prospects in the future said, 'I came here feeling hopeless, I now feel hope".
If he can say that, who am I to not even try? However naïve people might say I am I'm willing to give it a go. Let's find the Peace Heroes. Let's share the positive stories from here and around the world of people coming together to fight hatred, to make sure the hope is stronger. Millions of pounds and dollars are spent by our Governments strategising about war, where are the strategies for 'waging peace'?
I'm willing to Give Peace A Chance, are you?