Most of my peacebuilding work deals with the youth who live within conflict zones. Even when I work with government officials I have the youth at the forefront of my mind. Each question or issue is put through the filter of how the youth will comprehend and deal with decisions being made.
Due to this filtering process I have been avidly reading the stories compiled by an organization on this website, www.insightonconflict.org
The reality of all conflicts is that the impact will always be generational. The longer the conflict the deeper the roots of violence will go as children are taught to hate. For a peacebuilder, this cycle has to be stopped and it must start with the youth.
We all know that history has a way of distorting reality. Part of the cause for that is the biased information children receive which turns into false truths. By working to alter the false truths through projects that focus on community building, the larger context or causes of conflict can be brought down to the reality of a single persons existence. The stories which are featured provide great insight on how important the small projects are to the larger peace efforts.
As we can all see, the larger international macro level of politics can drag a conflict on for decades. The most efficient and effective method is the smaller peace efforts. Just look at how the politicians have resolved the Palestine/Israel conflict,
Cyprus, Kashmir region, and the list goes on. Korea
At some point the people have to take full responsibility for the resolution of a conflict. This is why youth lead projects have a great impact on the long term sustainability of peace. The youth see the unending violence and they also can see the reason why peace starts with them. Within this reality is the hard fact of how difficult peace can be to some who have built up a great deal of anger against others and the system they live within.
Allowing the youth to feel apart of the future is very important to the overall success of any society. Providing youth with the support to feel they can have a peaceful society and allow them to build communities brings their energy and minds into a realm of positive influence. As youth become involved in peacebuilding, they begin to realize the need for programs that can properly channel hatred, violence and other destructive forces.
Working with youth in peacebuilding projects, we often see more adults being pressured to act in similar ways. Just as an example, look at those that are currently looked to for leadership in all the conflict areas around the world. Often you will see adults who have rigid thoughts about how peace is to be obtained. All the while the average person faces increasing violence, destruction and more reasons to hate.
What this all comes down to is that the instruction for a peaceful society are easily stated and understood but have proven to be difficult to implement. With youth programming the difficulty is to get the adults to listen.