|The publication of Harry Potter, the book about and for young people, was the only news that could knock Iraq from the front pages of our newspapers. That showed us that the pen can be mightier than the sword, as we see in your poster, and that young people are a powerful market. Their teachers, who are you educators, are a pretty powerful group, too. In fact, if we ever get to fully implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which Article 26 calls for education for every child, we can say that you will help to shape the minds and the direction of every future inhabitant on earth...the prime ministers, the farmers, generals, and poets, bus drivers and grass roots leaders. They will also be the innovators, the negotiators, the truth tellers or the liars. You are unique, no one else can say that the future will always pass through their hands. And so, as Leon Blum said at the opening UNESCO congress in 1946, "Education, resolutely geared to peace, must be at the heart of what we do." That is precisely why you are here and on behalf of the Hague Appeal for Peace and our Global Campaign for Peace Education, we salute you. We thank you for caring and for being peace educators. It can not be an easy job in a dramatically changing time. Where is Bertha von Suttner now that we need her? Where is the daughter and grand daughter of military men who took risks to oppose militarism? The woman who believed in negotiation, in arbitration, in disarmament for educational and economic reasons as well as to prevent war. Where is "Die Waffen Neider" today, where we read that, " In the age of scientific and intellectual enlightenment, war is an anachronism." What if some of your German students studying languages were to edit and translate Bertha's book as a class project? And your computer students were to post it in a variety of languages on web sites? In our country's history we also have a remarkable woman, Emma Goldman who, like Bertha also had a vision, a dream. She said, "When...educated...you'll need no bombs, and no dynamite or militia will hold you." ( Boston Daily Globe, Sept. 6, 1897) "In dreams begins responsibility", said the poet, Wm. Butler Yeats. Perhaps it should become our responsibility to promote the dreams and visions of the Bertha's and Emma's to our young people today who are asked to memorize dates of battles and names of generals and have few women, if any, to study as role models. Bertha von Suttner and Emma Goldman were born in the same month, in different years, and their lives ran parallel with each other on different continents. Perhaps reading assignments, discussions, research into their lives and ideas would help inspire a new generation of risk taking, peace making young people. I am totally sympathetic with the challenge that teachers and parents and grandparents face . Do we teach our children and students to make money or to make a difference? Does teaching for testing allow any space to encourage young people to ask, why? Why are British and American soldiers in Iraq? Why did the US and UK invade Iraq if the Security Council didn't say it was ok? Was this war legal? What is international law? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that posed an "imminent threat" to warrant war? Citing one quote after another from President Bush and his administration, promising a basis for war, none of which have thus far proven true, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia said on June 25th, "The people have to know why we went to war against Iraq." "The road to cover up is the road to ruin", he intoned on the Senate floor. We are challenged to confront the new weapons of mass persuasion, the media, to learn how to separate fact from fiction. Ariel Dorfman, Chile's brilliant playwright and a survivor of Pinochet, speaks of the "secret education" children get from cartoons and movies. But, you ask, we have a set assigned curriculum to get through, how do we find the time that it takes to create a safe space so young people can learn to ask, why? So they can examine the press and tv for bias? Our people are told that terrorists are Muslims and Arabs. How will they learn about the culture of Islam, the 20% of the world's people embracing the Muslim faith most of whom are not Arab? And what do Muslim children learn about Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others? Many of our schools teach conflict resolution, and promote non violence for the classroom and the home, but do we talk about it for the world? Young people are no longer born just into their family, their home or village. They are born into a world where children their age are child soldiers, where countries invade other countries and become occupying powers. The unraveling of decency in the world, the rejection of a long standing body of international laws, is invading the classrooms and neighborhoods of all our children. We ask young people to obey laws, not to walk against a red light, not to smoke in school, not to steal, yet they see law breaking by the very governments they are taught to respect. September 11th is no longer a day in a year, people can't remember the year, it is a symbol marking the moment when everything changed. It is a symbol for fear, for when fear became the driving force, and we know that fear breeds hate. Thus we see the resurgence of racism, of profiling, of heightened security at heightened costs. When will we take some time in class to ask who were these men who used planes as a bomb? What would lead them to such destruction and self destruction? And why would people become suicide bombers? Why would others drive tanks through family homes? What are the root causes of violence? How do we reign in the spiral of violence gripping the world today? What happened to the Culture of Peace we said would have to replace the culture of violence that defined the last century? How do we create a caring, thoughtful generation of people who will remember that once upon a time humanity supported slavery. Slaves threw off their chains and that institution was abolished. Humanity supported colonialism, and again, the colonized abolished colonialism, at great cost to human life. After too many years and too many lives lost, the people of South Africa rose up and rejected apartheid. It took organized support from world public opinion, from civil society, to persuade governments to support the abolition of those once legitimate institutions. Remember, it was the demonstrations by civil society that kept six nations in the Security Council from voting for war. Now we must educate people to put the institution of war on the table for de legitimation, for abolition, because the lethality of today's weapons, of nuclear weapons, is such that this precious little planet and its mostly wonderful people can not afford war any more. Because you have taught us that violence does not solve problems. We have seen how wars create war-like societies, ( Barbara Erenreich), how fighting abroad camouflages social and economic ills at home. If the world could abolish apartheid, why can't we abolish war? " The only way to abolish war is to make peace heroic", said the famous educator, John Dewey. The Nobel Peace Prize helps to make heroes, and Bertha von Suttner, who persuaded Alfred Nobel to put the profits from his dynamite into the Peace Prize, is certainly a hero to be studied and followed. The mother of tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams, says that, she's "not an advocate of war under any circumstances." There are many heroes. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King who said, "Through violence you can murder a murderer but you can not murder murder; Through violence you may murder a hater but you can not murder hate; Darkness can not put out darkness, only light can do that. So too, we can not respond to terrorism with terror. We need to study and remove the conditions that give rise to fundamentalist behaviour and to terrorism. The Hague Appeal for Peace and our Global Campaign for Peace Education believe that we need to help our young people learn to dream, to imagine a world without war. "Nothing happens unless first a dream", said our great poet, Carl Sandburg. While we teach science, or geography, whatever the course, we can help to nurture compassion, imagination, insight. We believe that the safety of our children's future will depend on how much we, as educators in the family, classroom and community can infuse into our courses the values of democracy, of cooperation, of disarmament and human rights, of gender equality, and understanding of and respect for international law. We can teach our youth to cherish and sustain our fragile environment, and to study alternatives to violence. We need to teach the importance of a strengthened United Nations. We know that integrating the values and skills of peace, justice and negotiation also has a remarkable impact on academic achievement. We need human security, not national security. Finally, we see the emergence of new institutions, the post war peace process leading to political accords and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Young people will start comparing which ones worked and which didn't. We not only need to be sure that women, youth, victims, community leaders and not just "the sides", the opposing war makers, are at all tables where the fate of humanity is at stake, at all negotiating tables, but we also need to make a new demand. Peace Education must now be included in any political accord. We can not expect post war reconciliation without education for peace. Peace educators should also now be integrated into the decision making processes. Peace Education, a holistic participatory approach to a non violent law abiding and democratic future, can be implemented in every family, school, for every teacher and student, in every community for parents, and in government and military sectors as well. Another world is possible, said Arundhati Roy, and " She is on her way. If you listen quietly, you can hear her coming." You peace educators are in the forefront of making that happen. Thank you for being, thank you for doing, and don't give up. *********************************************************************** I would like to thank the German government, and especially you German tax payers. The Hague Appeal for Peace has a partnership with the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs to sustain the removal of small arms, change the mind sets of young people and reduce violence, by introducing peace and disarmament education. Germany has contributed the funds to make our pilot program possible in Albania. We will let you know the results in two years. So far it is looking very good. Thank you.|
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