Educational Philosophy

Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.

~ John Dewey

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Peace Essays


The girls each wrote an essay on how we can create a Culture of Peace. They tried to enter it in a local essay contest but it turned out it was only for seniors in high school. Anyway, the essays were good enough that I thought I would publish them here:

T:

A few years ago, I read We Are All the Same by Jim Wooten. It is a story about Nkosi Johnson, a boy living with AIDS in South Africa. Speaking to an international AIDS conference shortly before his death, Nkosi said, “We are all the same.” He was right. If we want to create a culture of peace, we must learn to embrace this idea of sameness while celebrating the diversity of cultures, nations, and religions. First, we must learn to care about other cultures and religions in the far corners of the world. In understanding others, we will realize that we are all the same. Second, we must learn how to resolve conflicts by looking for common interests rather than finding differences. Finally, we must ensure equality of opportunity around the world because until there are opportunities for all people to live, learn and prosper, we will be burdened with the consequences of inequality such as starvation, illness, and environmental decline.

In 2006, National Geographic found that only 37% of young Americans could find Iraq on a map; 6 in 10 young Americans couldn’t speak a foreign language fluently; 20% of young Americans thought Sudan was in Asia; and, 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India was Muslim. I am a young American. How can I help promote peace in Iraq if I don’t understand the culture and needs of the people who live there? How can I help find resolutions to religious disagreements if I don’t understand the religions involved? How can I find solutions to environmental problems in undeveloped countries if I don’t understand the environment and people of those countries? We are all human. We all have basic human rights. If we want to advance those rights around the world, we must understand each other’s differences and then we can celebrate that, in the end, we are all the same.

According to a report by the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, a 2001 national survey of high school students found that 33% of the students had been in a physical fight and 4% of the students had been hurt badly enough to need medical treatment. How can we expect these same students to grow up and negotiate international peace treaties or international business transactions? We must teach conflict resolution from toddlerhood so that Americans are better prepared for conflicts that arise in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and country. With a better understanding of how to find common goals rather than highlight differences, students can learn to build a peaceful world free of violence and misunderstanding.

Jimmy Carter noted in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 2002, “Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them. The results of this disparity are root causes of most of the world's unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict, and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/AIDS.” We must look beyond our shores to help solve world hunger. In doing so, we are taking a long step toward reducing the problems that are at the root of world conflict.

If we want to create a culture of peace, we must accept that the human condition is shared among all. For the sake of peace, we must learn more about all cultures and religions and conflict resolution and we must work hard to ensure equality of opportunity. The first step is to eliminate world poverty.

H:

Martin Luther King Jr. wisely said, “True peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of Justice.” In order to build a culture of peace, we must not only eliminate injustices such as poverty and violence, but we must make peace present in our everyday lives by teaching it in our schools and our faith groups.

The US Census Bureau counted 35.9 million people below the poverty line in America, including 12.9 million children. That means 12.9 million children not getting enough food to eat. That means 12.9 million children in America hungry when they open their eyes. The FBI reported 1.41 million violent crimes in 2006, an increase of 1.9 % since 2005. And, the Department of Justice says about 35% of American households own 192 million firearms, and about 67.2 million of those are handguns. These statistics are alarming. Imagine a world where we eliminated poverty and crime. Imagine a world where no one felt the need for guns. Imagine a world where there were not guns in the home. Imagine a world where children had food on the table and adults trusted each other. That would be a world full of peace.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 13% of American students reported being threatened or hurt with a weapon at school. We must make peace present in our schools. We must make our schools and streets safe. According to the US Census Bureau, there are approximately 55 million students in grades K-12 in the United States. Imagine a world where all of those students learned about mediation, negotiation and other forms of conflict resolution. Imagine the presence that peace would have then. Imagine adults who have been taught conflict resolution since childhood, becoming military generals or international diplomats. What would our world look like then? That world would be full of peace.

According to the Hartford Institute there are roughly 335,000 religious congregations in the United States and about 56 million worshippers. That means about 20% of the U.S. population is connected to a religious group. Imagine a culture where everyone embraced peace as part of their religion. Imagine a culture where no religion believed it was superior to another. Imagine a culture where all religions were respected. Imagine a culture where all religions stood together to eliminate injustices such as poverty and crime. That would it be a world full of peace.

Make peace present in your life. Help the poor. Become active in community service. Reduce crime. Learn about conflict resolution. Work for justice. Vote. Respect others. Challenge yourself. Empower others. If you do, in time we will finally, have a culture of peace.

Note: Image taken from http://blog.syracuse.com/shelflife/2008/04/peace2.JPG.

2 comments:

  1. Found your blog via Toast Floats. Thank you for sharing the thoughtful essays!
    Here is a 3 year old perspective on peace.
    http://zachaboard.blogspot.com/2007/11/pumpkin-patch-oct-2007.html
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  2. exploreacademy9/12/08, 6:07 AM

    "Namaste, the good in me sees the good in you" C

    ReplyDelete

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