Peace and youth

September 17, 2017

Young people hold the key to peace, tolerance and co-existence

Peace and youth

Living in the age of globalisation has its own nuances. On one hand, the modern communication system and technology has brought people of different cultures close together, while on the other hand, it has exposed the cultural crevices more than before. In the present era, when the clash of fundamentals is making this world a precarious place to live in, it is all the more important to bridge the chasm among cultures to create peace, harmony, and tolerance.

Appreciating cultural diversity requires a consistent approach and none plays a more significant role than education. Intercultural rifts must be resolved and intercultural competency must be inculcated among youth through focused education.

Nowadays, the world is facing problems like intolerance, inequality, terrorism etc. The present era is an era of genocide, mass killings, civil wars, terrorism and violence .Without peace, the destructive tendencies would bring catastrophe. Wars destroy, bring tears and sorrows, whereas peace heals, strengthens and reforms. A glance at the past tells us that how war has brought destruction, slaughter, starvation, and frustration in the human beings. Hence, there is a need to form a sense of urgency to address these problems.

Hence, we all and particularly the nation-builders youth must put all their efforts to create a peaceful society. "The youth of a nation are the trustees of prosperity," -Benjamin Disraeli.

The youth should not be alienated rather they should be given a prime importance and should be perceived as key agents of social change, innovation and development.

There are certain factors that fuel conflict, chaos, and intolerance in the society. Poor academic and intellectual responses, absence of dialogue, presence of extremist groups, socioeconomic injustices, disharmony, radicalisation, and marginalisation are some of these factors. The grievances that fuel all these factors are often exacerbated by an absence of social, peer and family support, as well as  lack of skills or ability to identify and develop non-violent, practical solutions to these problems. Empowerment, engagement and education of youth are necessary to cope with such problems.

Peace is always a difficult term to define and is particularly hard to separate from the terms such as tolerance and harmony. It is an umbrella term that covers a wide range and shade of meanings. In a narrow sense, peace is mostly defined as "Absence of war, violence, and conflict." Tolerance forms the basis of peace. It forms the sustainable foundation of peace.

Peace and harmony are the inborn rights of every individual. They help the individual to explore his/her potentials. Youth can bring a positive change in a society. They are the ones who can make a difference in a society by forming a sustainable foundation of peace and harmony in a society.

Youth must play an active role in creating and promoting peace, tolerance, co-existence, and non-extremist environment. They must address all types of conflicts and issues in a constructive way that encourages reconciliation and conflict resolution. The youth can be the agent of a change by changing their attitude and perspective towards the world. At the national level, the youth can be the community leaders of their respective communities and can initiate various projects to educate the people of rural areas. They can join various non-government organisations working for peace, tolerance, and harmony. In this way, youth ambassadors of all the communities may form link with one another and this will enhance the acceptability and adaptability level among them.

Youth need to educate the western world about Islam and Muslim world about western world. In this way, rigidity, extremism, fanaticism, sectarianism and all such factors, differences and misconceptions hampering the way of peace will be removed.

Students are not being given peace education, therefore teachers should pay a heed to make them aware of the peace education, and they should develop the sensitivity of cultural/religious differences. Regarding, the intercultural knowledge which should be taught in class, it is essential for teachers to recommend some culture-focused books or magazines to students for further reading out of class. Teachers should also avoid imparting cultural stereotypes. The peace education lessens the ethnocentric attitude. Thus, curriculum designers need to incorporate the peace concepts, values, and approaches in the curriculum.

At the national level, youth must understand their socio-economic problems and they must know how to tackle them peacefully. Likewise, on the international level, our youth must be trained to cope with evils like racism, terrorism, prejudice and ethnocentrism.

As the gun culture is already a threat to the global peace, therefore the youth must use peaceful ways of promoting peace. There are various examples at national and international level of contributions that youth is making for the establishment of peace, tolerance, and interfaith harmony. YDF (Youth Development Foundation), a nonprofit organization, has been working on interfaith harmony, social inclusion, and cultural pluralism since 2010. The Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO), the Youth Parliament, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, International Peace Commission etc, FACES Pakistan-Formation, Awareness, And Community Empowerment Society are engaged in a number of projects for the promotion of peace, tolerance and interfaith harmony.

Disharmony arises from societal attitudes and false impressions about one another. We can undo these misconceptions by encouraging dialogue, which serves as the first step in understanding one another. Dialogue is one of the pre-requisites to address conflicts across cultures.

Interfaith dialogue and harmony can be achieved in the presence of equality, acceptance and respect.

The youth should not be alienated rather they should be given a prime importance and should be perceived as key agents of social change, innovation and development. A forum should be established for youth in order to give a voice to young people. The formation of such kind of forums would offer a platform to young people to execute their ideas. There should be ministries or departments for youth, where they must be involved in shaping, designing and forming policies and programmes.

Moreover, the general mentality of the people needs to be changed. Institutions such as educational institutions, Islamic councils, media etc should change the collective/general mentality of the people. The solution is in our hands. We need to change ourselves and learn to live together in peace and harmony.

Peace and youth