PEACE WORK AND YOUTH ACTIVISM
IN THE WESTERN BALKANS
Transforming a culture of violence into a culture of peace
Many young people of the Balkan today endure extreme poverty, suffer violations of their human rights, and live in violence-riddled environments. For some, there appears to be no decent future in sight; they often feel that no one listens to them and that society has abdicated its responsibility to care for them. I believe that youth has a substantial amount to offer regarding their own situation and the condition of the world, by presenting their beliefs, opinions, influences, and motivations. Young people are the agents of social change and development of a socially responsible citizenry. Youth activism all over the Western Balkans should be a driving force in transforming the culture of violence among us into a culture of peace.
Violence, Culture of violence, Peace, Culture of Peace, Values of Peace Education, Peace Work, Youth Activism
The Western Balkans for many years has been a region of conflict and war. Wars based on religion, ethnicity and acquiring independence have caused the loss of many lives, destruction of many cities and have left behind separated communities. The traumatization from the war and the scares that it carved in many people’s lives, make the post-war reconciliation process look unreachable. But holding on to past anger has never brought any good. Our society still has not overcome the consequences of the past, as there are young people being raised on prejudice and hate. The young generations should represent hope and change. They should be educated for peace and not grown up in a violence struck environment. As the young people of this region often we find ourselves captured in the wrong mentality we have inherited from the previous generations of our society. In many situations we are used to letting ourselves make decisions based on prejudice against the others. It is very sad to know that we are being raised in a culture of violence, meaning we are growing up in an environment that regards confrontation as the ultimate solution of conflicts, instead of being taught how to work things out through cooperation and mutual understanding. Today many of us consider heroic the act of being able to damage someone and the idea of being dominant by suppressing the opponent. Instead in a peaceful environment it would be emphasized that the best solution comes through negotiation. Sometimes you believe in something that is actually wrong and you and up fighting to protect something wrong just because you lacked information. Everything in life can be seen from many points of view and only after having taken all of them in consideration you can allow yourself to proclaim whether it is right or wrong. The human nature tends to be self-centered but the society needs us to be humane. However, the phenomenon of a violent environment is not occurring only within the Western Balkan society. It is actually a phenomenon that even the most developed countries of the world face today. The only difference is that to us it is essential to do something about it. The future of our country depends on the young generation, they are our only hope of moving forward. If we wish to undertake political reforms that require us to move on and let bygones be bygones, we should not have our youth holding on to them. It is essential to educate young people who will be willing to contribute for a better future, a generation opposing the mentality of “it is not my business” or “I cannot do anything about it” . Yes it is our business to make thing happen through mutual initiative and yes we can do anything if we want to. At this point, the implementing of the idea of youth activism becomes a key factor. We cannot expect that international help will solve our problems and international institutions will be there to guide us through every step. We...
References: “Violence, Peace and Peace Research”. Journal of Peace Research, Publication #6, Johan Galtung
“Peace, A History Of Movements and Ideas”, David Cortright, Cambridge University Press, 2008
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