Preparing Peace Teachers and Peace Workers in the Community
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 9 Jan 2012
It is quite obvious that two of the most important groups we have in this world to make a big difference for endless future generations are peace teachers and peace workers. Of course, this would require a special training, since there are so many factors or elements that are involved in the process. We learn from history that those that exert most influence on children, apart from the parents, are the teachers. Hence, we cannot take the teaching profession lightly.
Importance of Individual Preparation
Besides, we are also fully aware of the fact that those that have provided most help for those in dire need especially are the volunteers. Therefore, we should feel obligated to provide both teachers and volunteer groups with the best preparation possible as to achieve the maximum of results. To this end, we need to straighten out certain misconceptions we might have had in the past relative to these two very important elements in our world community.
We surely need to have a good philosophy of life that puts priority on the universal welfare of all people without exception. Moreover, we also need to make sure that in any position we hold in society we try to render the best service possible. In other words, we need to create a new global community where we all work as different parts of the same body with good coordination and harmony. If one part of the body becomes defective, the whole body will soon become uncomfortable and this often may lead to needless problems.
Since children are still in a stage of growth and development, they need to learn about the realities of life that surround them the way they are, that is a parte rei. They need to succeed to see them objectively, the way God sees them, that is, without any deception. This is very important since in a number of instances people in general tend to view things subjectively, which always amount to a mere expression of one’s opinion or of one’s feelings.
This explains why in this world we are faced with so many problems all of which, directly or indirectly, are created by people of one kind or another. Here is where a sharp line is drawn between the virtuous that are characterized by the practice of virtue, and the vicious that are measured by one’s accumulation of vices. It is very important for both teachers and volunteers to be saturated in virtue. After all, the best way to win the hearts of others is by demonstrating that we practice, in the first place, the good things we preach.
Putting Priorities in Order
The way we form the first stages of life of every human will reflect on one’s character and personality till the end of one’s life. When we bring up a group of individuals in an environment of aggression, such individuals will eventually reveal aggressiveness in their dealing with others sooner or later. On the other hand, when we bring up a group of youngsters in an atmosphere of peace, such youngsters will eventually reveal serenity, peace and harmony in their communication with others.
To this end, Jesus of Nazareth illustrated this with small branches which happen to be curved. He said we may deal with such branches as to grow up straight during their initial growth and development. Otherwise, if we were to straighten up such branches after they are fully grown up, we will certainly end up breaking them. This also explains why Vladimir Lenin of Russia said: Give me a child until it is five and it will be bolshevist forever. The ideas we put in people’s minds when young may remain with them for the rest of their lives.
We may mention here the preamble of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It starts as follows: Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. Hence, the only effective way we have at our disposal to avoid future conflicts and wars, is to be sought in education and not in weapons and military equipment. Each time these two elements were used we discovered that violence breeds violence and more violence breeds more violence.
Also, throughout history we experienced with regularity that each time we resorted to the practice of virtue, such as patience, humility, perseverance, love, among others, we always witnessed positive and constructive results. On the other hand, each time we resorted to hatred and revenge we ended up in unbearable conflicts and the never-ending of the promulgation of wars, where everyone ended up to be a loser and no one a winner. Our secret of success in human relations is to develop always a win-win situation, where everyone would benefit in peace and harmony.
One of the problems we have at this stage of history lies here. Not all teachers were prepared in their academic preparation to become peace teachers. If we were to examine the school curriculum of a college or university we are likely to find out a list of subject areas that need to be taken for graduation. These subject areas are more or less the same everywhere, like for example, study of foreign languages, history, geography, science, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, psychology, government and the list may go on and on.
Careful Choice of Teaching Methods
The main goal of the traditional method of teaching has been very simple: the accumulation of knowledge that is presented in the respective subject areas. Once the students reveal they did acquire such knowledge then they simply graduate and become officially certified as teachers. This way teaching becomes practically just another profession, a way of making a livelihood. The acquisition of the knowledge of the subject areas of study was the ultimate goal. In order to produce a higher level of teachers, we need to move a step further.
Every subject area without exception should become a means to a further and indispensable goal. This would consist of the eventual promotion of a permanent world peace where everyone is given the opportunity to live in harmony and to develop one’s potential to the maximum possible. Let us illustrate this by a couple of examples, say, in history and geography. Teachers of these two subject areas will grade highly students who show knowledge of the events of history and who have a clear concept of the locality of nations.
However, those who were trained to become peace teachers would approach these two subject areas differently in a way that would prove to be very beneficial for every human without exception. The teacher of history may ask the students to propose ways how future struggles and wars could be avoided as never to have a World War III. Students may also be given the opportunity to become involved in local and regional conflicts in the sense that they are allowed to propose the prevention of future repetitions.
In the case of geography, the teacher may show, say, a map of Europe that existed before World War II and then another one that appeared after World War II. The peace teacher here may say: Look at this west part of Poland. Before the war this was part of Germany and the people there were viewed as Germans and travelled with a German passport. Today, the same people are viewed as polish and travel with a polish passport. Afterwards, the teacher may raise a question: Does this make any sense to you? The job of the peace teacher is not to hand answers but to stimulate students to come with their own answers.
This way students are trained to become a part of the process of history with the full realization that they can make things happen for the better or the worse, depending on what kind of actions they would choose to follow. Later, the teacher may remark saying that our pride should not be in being a German, French, Russian, Chinese or American but in being a beneficial person to the entire world. In other words, the job of the peace teacher is to raise the human consciousness that we are all members of the same body, the global community.
Expectation of Peace Teachers
Moreover, the peace teacher may try to instill in students a great sense of responsibility and encourage them to make sure that the career they pursue in life is geared toward the universal welfare of all people without exception. Also, since everything that takes place for the better or the worse, amounts to the consequences of people’s actions, the teacher may show that every job we choose to undertake may be viewed as our mission to help make the world better.
This would apply especially to positions of governmental responsibility since governmental jobs are not inherited but sought by those who may wish to render services where many human lives would be affected for the better or the worse. Also, the teacher here may point out that all people from every walk of life and profession may have the vocation to serve their nation and the world at large by becoming involved in the political sphere of life. Students may here be given the opportunity to learn about the four hierarchical laws.
Such laws affect all people and cannot be taken lightly. Our responsibility is to safeguard them to the best we can. They are viewed as hierarchical because in case we have a clash the laws that are higher should be observed while those that are lower should be ignored. These four hierarchical laws may be outlined as follows: divine law, natural law, ecclesiastical law, and civic law.
1. Divine Law – This law is also known as the divine positive law, which consists of the Ten Commandments which God gave to Moses and which are found in every religion by different names. Among other things we find that we should not kill, destroy others’ property, say lies, and abuse people. They also speak of the obligation we have to show love and respect for our parents.
2. Natural Law – This consists of all those laws that God put in the order of nature since the very beginning of times. For example we have the law of gravity where everything heavier than air will tend to fall down, the law of plant growth where the roots of the trees will always grown below the surface while the trees themselves will always grow above the surface.
3. Ecclesiastical Law – This consists of rules and regulations enacted by religious leaders that usually serve as a guide to help people lead a better and more beneficial life. Such rules and regulations should demonstrate respect toward the other two laws just mentioned. If for some reason, rules are enacted that go against the divine and natural law, then they should be disregarded.
4. Civic Law – This is man-made law which could change from time to time. No government, no court, no authoritative source of any kind may enact laws that go against the three previously mentioned laws, especially the divine law and natural law. If such would be the case, then we have the moral obligation to disregard such laws openly and courageously by all means.
Importance of Political Involvement
Besides, the peace teacher should select some influential jobs that people may perform in life and show them about the unique opportunities they offer to enable students become more positively and constructively influential in the community. For example, students must learn that political jobs and all kind of positions in the nation and the world that carry high responsibilities are not reserved to a certain group or elite. Students, if they wish, may consider such positions as well if they do feel enough ambitious.
If we really want to change the world for the better, it would be much easier for us if we were to do that from a position of power where every decision-making is involved and carried out. While the peace teacher vocation deals mostly with students, the peace worker vocation deals with people from every walk of life and procession. Since their work is all done on a volunteer basis, such peace workers are generally working on a part time basis or on a full time basis if they are retired with a salary coming in to pay for their bills.
Peace workers represent a vast range of dedicated persons who are fully prepared to perform a variety of work that is fully beneficial to the universal welfare of all people without exception. We may have peace workers of the type of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose vocation in life was to help the poorer of the poor, as she put it. Others may be of the caliber of Mahatma Gandhi who worked fearlessly to end up the foreign occupation of his native India.
We may also find some who prefer to follow the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi leading by example the simplicity of life and the joy it produces when we renounce the material things of this world. Besides, we may have some who, like St. John Bosco, want to spend their lives with children to create good citizens.
Over the centuries, experience has shown that when we prepare ourselves to do a good job, we are more likely to succeed than if we were to pursue the same work with no preparation at all. Also, it is much easier to mold the minds of the young than of the elderly because of the mind-set phenomenon. Once we become set in our ways it would not be that easy to really change afterwards.
Bringing Constructive Changes
While tolerating and struggling with the present generation of adults in general, we should move with full determination and energy we can have to bring about in the world a radical change for the better in the future. This could be done best through the solid build-up of a generation of peace teachers and peace workers. Both of these peace groups need to build their work on the peace philosophy as presented to us in the early part of the first century by Seneca.
This man was a Roman philosopher who was very much concerned with peace that comes with the preservation of the welfare of all people. Around the year 42 A.D. Seneca said clearly that world peace would come even permanently if we were to educate all of our children and make them glance at the whole world and say: Omins orbs terrarum patria mea est – the whole world is my native land. Unfortunately, this philosophy was never implemented.
As a result, we have witnessed wars continuously for the past 2,000 years. All other philosophies that came during this period did not produce permanent results as far as real peace is concerned. As the familiar saying goes, it is better late than never. We need to take seriously the content of this presentation by convincing ourselves that preparing peace teachers and peace workers in our communities is a gigantic step in the right direction that cannot be taken lightly.
The good news is that the momentum has already started even though it may not be fully visible on a global scale. We need always to take over where others leave off. The positive and constructive steps that we may take to become directly involved in this world-wide peace process may be outlined as follows:
1. Conviction that the manifold problems of the world would be better solved when we are in peace than when we are at war.
2. Initiative in doing constructive work in the best interest of all people.
3. Determination in never giving up when confronted with problems.
4. Ability to do everything positive with determination and perseverance.
In view of what has been stated, it is quite obvious that the creation of peace teachers and peace workers everywhere is all we need to help bring the entire world several steps closer to a permanent peace in our community.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
-Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
-Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich.
-Member, TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Jan 2012.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Preparing Peace Teachers and Peace Workers in the Community, is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.