Believing in peace is like believing in princesses and enchanted frogs. Believing in peace is not understanding the world we are living in. But who does? Who understands the current mass killings in several places around the world? Who understands the people who are suppressing others for a piece of land? Who understands racism? Who understands whether we have to bomb Iraq or not? But more importantly, who wants to make us believe that peace is nothing more than a dream?
The world we are living in teaches us about war, fighting, honour and revenge. In history class I was taught about world wars, their reasons, the way they developed and the (political) actors involved. I am taught about the collapse of world powers, rebels, cruel tsars and so on, but when did I learn something about how people made peace? How many people actually know what Ghandi did, exactly? Who knows more about Nelson Mandela then only his face and a quote on a picture on Facebook? What do we know about nonviolent possibilities to change the world?
After world war II in Europe they said: ‘Never again’. But in the meantime we are still investing in weapons, supporting repressive regimes, and often think about military interference as the only option in international conflict. This, and the current austerity in international development cooperations, causes only more troubles and wars around the world. Instead of investing in peace, we merely appear as firefighters whenever there is a crisis. Peace is not only something that brings relief in unstable countries, it is beneficial for us all. It will bring less poverty, less refugees, less traumatised people who have fought in Syria, Iraq, Israel or any bloody conflict, less worries about all the misery going on in the world.
I believe we can help the world population, including ourselves, more effectively by investing in peace, peace education, dialogue and mutual understanding. Our governments and investment banks should support peace programs instead of investing in weapons. Parents should teach their children solidarity. Teachers should teach our students about nonviolent actions. Religious leaders should preach to their followers that it would be much better to spend time looking for ways to enter heaven instead of wasting time proving that someone else is going to hell.
I’m 26 years old and I do not understand much of this world, but what I do understand is that many of the current (world) leaders have an interest in dividing people, are benefitted by groups fighting each other, thereby maintaining the existent power systems. In short: making us believe that peace isn’t possible.
In the last few weeks there were many mass demonstrations around the world, people standing up for the oppressed people of Palestine. People around the world spoke out for peace and justice. This reinforces my belief that peace is possible. This was my motivation to organize a demonstration myself in Utrecht. I stood up for human rights and the lives of the Palestinians, but I also wanted to show that I don’t want to live in a world where people are leading our world with dollar signs in their eyes. I wanted to show that I and all the other protestors believe in peace, and that we want peace. ‘Never again’ means peace for everyone, everywhere.