Just a couple weeks ago I was sitting in the courtyard in the Batha Museum in Fez, Morocco. Because The panel discussion was in French, I was wearing ear phones. I was surrounded by mostly French speaking attendees from Europe and Morocco. The sun was shining and I was again grateful to be in this sweet former palace, and gifted by the presence of a very, very old and giant and full tree, which held and mothered, not only the birds who loved it, but also the participants of the Fez Sacred World Music Festival and it’s morning forums.
Amidst the translation and the big waving arms of the mother tree, I heard a voice inside me saying, this is “why I’m here.” The speaker was Phinith Chanthalangsy, representing UNESCO. He emphasized, that we must help our youth “negotiate a passage from one world to another”. Chanthalangsy emphasized that we must acknowledge both the crisis in the world, and that violence, including mental psychological violence, starts “in the spirit of man”.
My interpretation, in a nugget, is that, on a spiritual level, violence comes in times of feeling separate from the universal love within and without. On a global level, it can come trauma passed on, and from loss of freedom, human rights and human recognition.
He went on to stress the importance of: educating youth in social emotional skills, including negotiation skills; partnering with youth; and giving all youth opportunities to be engaged in both their local and global communities.
The October 2013 8th UNESCO Youth Forum (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002243/224390e.pdf)
concluded with three recommendations:
- Participation of youth in national and global citizenship, with equal opportunities for participation from all groups.
- Expansion of both informal and formal education systems to include education for sustainable development and peace, media literacy, technical, vocational, and entrepreneurial skills.
- Engagement in civic activities, AND social innovation. “It is imperative to promote intercultural dialogue and this dialogue should include discussions on the environment, the economy, health, and education which will help prevent conflicts.”
This is big. On a world-wide level the message is beginning to get out.
How do we, how do I, scale this down to something I can do today?
- I can immediately share with those who asked me the websites and blogs that support building social emotional skills with kids.
- I can get the word out, and include awarenesses when I write and talk.
- I can continue to incubate seeds which will one day connect to others carrying similar messages locally.
- When I do errands today, I can be with those in the bank and grocery store holding in my heart what I am experiencing now: a deeper understanding both both the creation of violence and the hope for our youth and the future.