World poetry for Total Peace: Pedagogy for the new life
Por: Ayo Ayoola-Amale
Building an everyday peace culture necessitates creating a greater sense of solidarity and compassion. Peace is often defined as the absence of war, conflicts, or discord.
This description by Johan Galtung is known as a negative conception of peace. Conversely, real peace is defined as positive peace and it emphasizes the promotion of values such as non-violence, human rights, respect, social justice, equity, communication, empathy, compassion and collaboration. Positive peace requires that conflict is avoided at all costs. Nevertheless, there has been questions regarding the reality of actually achieving what is known as positive peace. The idea of an attainable, real peace is called “imperfect peace.” Imperfect peace acknowledges that peace and conflicts coexist. The fact that peace and violence are both present in every facet of our daily lives buttresses the point that peace and conflicts coexist. Furthermore, it should be noted that the imperfect nature of every human being makes it practically impossible to find perfect peace. In reality imperfect peace refers to the imperfect nature of every human being.
Building an everyday peace culture for the new life we all yearn for will entail knowing how to live together in harmony and build ever more harmonious relations. We need to learn the art of living together from the heart and the mind. Building a new life of light that is profitable, healthy, sustainable, peaceful and wholesome necessitates creating a more empathetic, compassionate, restorative and understanding society. A society where adversarial problem solving is lessened to the barest minimum, where mediation and restorative approaches to solving problems are promoted.
The pillar that holds society together is primarily the ability to coexist in harmony and a sense of community. The human species is a social animal that is interconnected and can only survive and thrive in an environment of mutual sharing, altruism, compassion, mutual respect and by living in peace with one another and nature. Achieving peace and living a new life that is indeed sustainable and healthy requires knowing how to live together peacefully.
The art of non-violence promotes harmonious existence between individuals and nations. Essentially, a culture of peace requires rejecting all forms of violence by committing to non-violence in all its ramifications. Nonviolence is not only avoidance of physical aggression, it includes: knowing how to talk to one another with respect, and without resorting to aggressive forms of communication, being capable of accepting differences without discrimination, not stereotyping, no exploitation or domination, no bias or prejudice and respecting the dignity of everyone. The pathway to the new life of compassion, empathy, community and solidarity is learning to coexist in harmony by appreciating one another and accepting the fact that other people, are like us of same species, are humankind with their own opinions, culture, traditions, heritage, values, and needs. We are one humanity and created equal even though we may differ in color, religion, and creed etc.
The very urgent need of the total destruction of structural violence and imperialism, neo-colonialism and the putting aside of our differences, self-centeredness, and personal interests is essential to moving forward together in the genuine pursuit of global peace.
We need to care for our planet, the Earth which is our home, and protect nature and its many ecosystems. We must learn to live fully and in harmony with nature by taking care of the home that shelters us.
The importance of promoting peace culture such as peace education and non-violence, social equality, non-discrimination in all its forms necessitates the serious need for a culture of peace and education for peace.
Education for peace can be defined as a complete, all-embracing, holistic education on life skills. These life skills include: social justice, human rights, democracy, understanding of global issues, tolerance, interfaith, religious tolerance, inclusivity, diversity, non-violence, multiculturalism, gender equality, critical thinking, restorative practices, and coalition building. These skills also include other values and knowledge like character education, a sense of community that will potentially develop the behavior, attitudes and skills of learners to live in harmony with themselves, other people and the environment.
The great peace theorist, Johan Galtung explains that peace is the absence of violence, not only personal or direct but may also the structural or indirect.
According to the Norwegian mathematician and sociologist Johan Galtung “By peace we mean the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively- a never-ending process.”
It is important to recognize the fact that peace means different things to different people.
The Yorùbá́ people of Southwestern Nigeria, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa conceive of peace as all-inclusive. the Yorùbá́ word for peace is àlàáfíà, which incorporates the idea that all is well in all aspects of life. This means all is well within, in the body, soul, spirit, with nature, in relationship with others, and with the community. The Yorùbá́ phenomenon of peace, at both the individual and social levels, incorporates the notions of ìrẹ́pọ̀ (harmony) and ìsọ̀kan (unity) among humans in society and also between humans and other supernatural entities.
eace for Yorùbá́s is certainly not just the absence of violence or war.
It is obvious that peace and harmony springs from within, and generates good deeds to promote peace in the communities.
Humanity faces challenges of unprecedented proportions: the continued development of weapons of mass destruction, the degradation of the environment, climate change, conflicts between states, racism, community violence, the huge and widening gap between the rich and the poor, massive violations of human rights. In order to be prepared to tackle these numerous problems, the coming generation deserves a radically different education. Students need the skills and knowledge to create and maintain peace.
The peace education they deserve includes human rights and democracy, development and environmental education. social, moral, and civic education, human security and disarmament issues, reconciliation, conflict prevention/ resolution training, communication skills, critical media awareness, gender studies, non-violence and international relations education for international understanding and are all part of peace education. The methodology of peace education encourages critical thinking and prepares students to act on their convictions. Respect for human rights and justice is what can bring peace.
Tied to all these is the fact that all human beings possess equal and inherent dignity and consequently ought to be given the highest respect and care, irrespective of their race, sex, socioeconomic status, health condition, ethnic origin, age, political philosophies, or religious conviction. There is a real concern about the need to promote respect for the intrinsic worth of human beings,’ peace, social equality, non-discrimination and the urgency to preserve the integrity of human kind, the inherent worth and identity of humanity against all forms of oppression, discrimination, violence and destruction. The respect for humanity includes not undermining of human dignity, shunning violence in all its forms, avoidance of Impunity, embracing of human rights. Human dignity can play a unifying role by constantly reminding us all that all human beings are entitled to their fundamental human rights, basic goods and an establishment of an effective rule of law and end to impunity.
Peace is an indispensable condition for all aspects of our being as humanity, society and in our environment. Peace education aimed at cultivating a culture of peace from everyday relations should be a concern for everyone- for governments, countries and for individuals in their relationships with others and with the planet.
Real and durable peace is connected to the recognition and promotion of peace education and culture in everyday life, it is connected to the harmonious coexistence of individuals with nature and their environment based on the principles of mutual respect, social justice, human rights, tolerance, and democracy. A culture of peace can be nurtured in the recognition of the other, in the fostering of equal rights and freedom in the commitment to outlawing war in due course -ultimately through the criminalization of war, and the ability to transform conflicts creatively with empathy and without violence.