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Are we educating for peace?


Published in

Montañés Newspaper

Gerardo Castillo

School of Education and Psychology. University of Navarra

In recent decades, interethnic and intercultural conflicts, racism, xenophobia, environmental destruction, human rights violations and terrorism have increased. This poses a challenge to society challenge to equip itself with new values. It is not a question of a new technical resource , but a human one.

 Unesco's founding preamble stated that "if wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed". The world was challenged to build peace with our ability to transform conflicts into opportunities for exchange and meeting. This new approach was called "culture for peace". Subsequently, the UN declared the decade 2001-2010 as a time for "a culture of peace and nonviolence for the children of the world".

Pacifist is not the same as pacifist. The pacifist is a lover of peace, but, unlike the pacifist, he fights to defend what is just. The culture for peace should not be understood as a utopian and abstract pacifism or as a passive tolerance. On the contrary, it supposes the construction of a framework of life in accordance with the dignity of the person, with attitudes that make it possible for individuals and peoples to live together peacefully.

Today it is a priority to reinvent peace by means of a Education for democracy, justice, tolerance and respect for cultural diversity, which allows conflict prevention. Everyone wants peace, but few people are aware that it is a value that must be cultivated in the family and at school from an early age. The Education for peace is currently an educational gap that urgently needs to be filled. Peace is not an option, but a necessity. Nor is it merely the absence of violence and conflict; it is essentially the harmony of human beings with themselves, with others and with nature.

This is an aspect of Education in values. It includes questioning behaviors that are contrary to peace, such as, for example, discrimination, intolerance and violence. It is not an occasional Education , but a permanent one.

Educating for peace is a joint task of parents and teachers. It starts in the family and then the school joins in. The latter should include it in curriculum as a transversal value. Parents are the first to promote it, because children's attitudes are shaped as they develop emotionally in the interaction with their main attachment figures.

The family nucleus is the first socializing agent of the child. It is here that children learn values and ways of reacting to their surroundings. This is how Mother Teresa of Calcutta saw it: "Peace and war begin in the home. If we really want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families.

The family is a natural institution in which one is born, grows and dies as a person. It is the atmosphere that a person needs to breathe. This atmosphere is characterized by love: the family is a community of persons united by bonds of unconditional love, who grow together. The family community finds its deepest foundation in a typical capacity of the person: to love as a family.

The family is an environment of values. It is in the family that not only theoretical values are transmitted and discovered, but also lived values. In the family there is a way of learning that does not take place outside the family: it is a learning by impregnation of the adult way of life. From the earliest ages, children learn, as if by osmosis, what they see and hear at home: criteria, customs, manners. Behind all these are values, including the value of peace.

Parents are the mirror in which their children look at themselves. They cannot ask them to solve their problems through dialogue if they do not set an example. "It is not enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it and work for it" (Eleanor Roosevelt).