Disconnected in a Connected World

Disconnected in a Connected World

By Siegrid Raible

We live today in a very connected world.  While I live in Greenwich Village, New York, within seconds my tech doctor in some far off place, like Mumbai, India or Manila in the Philippines can connect with my computer, perform diagnostic tests and restore all hitherto fore malfunctioning software to their prior operating condition.   Yet when it comes to life and death situations involving humans we have disconnected from each other.

We have disconnected from one another and have decided that the only way to resolve our differences is through the deadly duel of combat.  I say we because we are all complicit in the wars that are being staged in so many places on the world map.  If we are not holding the gun, we are sitting in our living rooms or before our newest tech gadget watching whatever war story of the moment is captured by a reporter working for the 24-hour news gathering service of our choice.  What is more precious than human life that we resolve to kill the person we see as the other, the alien?  What is so important to us that we strip this other person of all that makes us human and consent to take a life?

On April 19, 2015 eight to nine hundred or more refugees having fled North Africa, (the news media calls them migrants) lost their lives in an attempt to escape the on-going conflicts in their native countries.  The real number will never be known as ferrying these refugee/migrants is an illegal business and there is no detailed list of who was on this or any of the other ill equipped ghost ships making these journeys.  It is ironic that these desperate souls in search of peace, having mortgaged their life’s savings to traffickers in a vain attempt to escape death, should lose their lives to the deep blue sea.  The tentacles of war are long.

The powers that be sit around and endlessly wring their hands and discuss what should or can be done.  What should and can be done is that the fighting in North Africa, the Horn of Africa and the landlocked nations in the Middle East must come to an end.  The people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, the Ukraine, Yemen and all the other unsung conflict regions must find a way to resolve their long-suffering differences through a process other than war.  We are schooled in war.  We, those of us who live in so-called advanced nations, have colleges specifically designed to study the tactics of war – they are called war colleges.  Why aren’t we schooled in peace?  Where are the universities which could educate its citizens in the art of peacemaking?  Why is it only after a war that a peace conference is called?

I have no answers.  I am no diplomat.  I have no negotiating skills.  But I can be taught these skills.  And if I can be taught, so can all of you.  If we want to build a more peaceful world, we must begin training our youngsters in the art of peacebuilding.  Our schools should begin incorporating classes in mediation and conflict resolution in all classrooms.

In the musical South Pacific there is a song entitled “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” The last lines are: “You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.” (Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is set during World War II and deals with the issues of war, hatred and racism.)   I would offer to our leaders a new refrain, one which could be taught just as carefully, “you’ve got to be taught at six or seven or eight to find a new way to relate,” a way where non-violent alternatives to armed conflict are explored and implemented.

On a global level we as citizens of the diverse nations on this planet must press our leaders to find ways to end the conflicts which have destroyed and continue to destroy so many lives.

On a local level we must press our communities to incorporate peacebuilding into all levels of education – from early childhood through high school and on into graduate studies – so that war does not become the answer to the problems of our time.

Please share with Pasos your ideas on how education and the arts can be an instrument of peacebuilding.


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