Kamloops community gathers to learn how to bring back the peace

Toronto-based author shares his knowledge of what the world needs

Matthew Legge receiving a warm round of applause at the end of his presentation.
(Brianna Schellenberg/The Omega)

Last Wednesday, Toronto based author Matthew Legge came to The Smorgasbord in Downtown Kamloops to discuss his book Are We Done Fighting?

Legge has been working for the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), a peace and social justice agency of Quakers in Canada as a Peace Program Coordinator. He also blogs for Psychology Today about issues he talks about in his book, rising hatred and polarization.

“At CFSC we’re prompted by the belief that a more just and peaceful world is possible,” Legge explained, “I got curious about what scientific evidence was out there to support this belief. I wanted to know: what’s the best evidence out there about what everyday people can actually do.”

Hate crimes were up in Canada in 2017 and 2018, and there are many signs that Canadians are increasingly divided on major issues like immigration and multiculturalism. Are We Done Fighting? collects research, stories and practical exercises to identify what’s going wrong in many societal conflicts, factors in the rise of hatred and what everyday people can do to break the cycle.

“I learned a ton from writing this,” Legge said, “but the main takeaway for me was that a lot of my common sense was factually inaccurate. I was wrong. We each have a lot more power to influence other people in peaceful directions than we might imagine.”

The book explores the question: what’s going wrong when conflicts become bitter and entrenched, and how can we help to transform them?

Legge has worked in the nonprofit sector for the last 13 years. He has supported locally-led peace initiatives in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He’s served as a volunteer, consultant, board member and full-time staff member.

“The book is full of practical tips to help us understand ourselves better and to take realistic positive actions. We can do this with ourselves, in our families and in our broader communities, wherever we want to.”

Legge’s book shares lots of stories from the interpersonal, to people successfully leaving hate groups, to a near-civil war being averted.

The night ended with a book signing, and many guests thanked Legge for his work and wished him the best as he continues the last bit of his book tour.