When the righteous multiply, the people rejoice

Context

We are experiencing significant upheavals that affect all aspects of life in society because, as they say, social facts are total and global; for example, an economic crisis can destabilise the educational and security structure and compromise integral development, the foundation of peace. We, therefore, need to understand that talking about education and the culture of peace is analysing the education system hic et nunc and effectively integrating it into the formation of consciences concerning human rights, the promotion of values that guarantee justice for all peoples, and the creation of a stable economic environment for all. In short, to ensure integral development and prevent crises that could undermine peace initiatives.

We want to mention a few educational programmes such as Human Rights and Citizenship Education (EDHC) implemented in Ivory Coast to facilitate the transition towards a culture of peace; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 1996 by Nelson Mandela to promote National Unity and Reconciliation in South Africa; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), set up to promote peace and reconciliation during the inter-Congolese dialogue in April 2002; El Centro de Justicia para la Paz y el Desarrollo (CEPAD), set up in 2006 in Mexico (Jalisco) to ensure access to truth, justice and support for victims of torture and families of missing persons. These educational programmes have, without doubt, contributed significantly to the promotion of peace and social integration. However, their scope has often been limited by political and economic constraints.

The culture of peace at risk

The rise of tensions in the world is worrying and raises questions. Is education equipped to meet the challenges of promoting a culture of peace? Education is, first and foremost, a process of laying the foundations for coexistence, justice for all, opportunities for all, and conflict resolution to guarantee harmony in societies. Education, along with truth, enables openness to the realities of the world and an authentic social praxis. Unfortunately, education is akin to a culture of information without constructive criticism. In other words, it is reduced to training professionals for the job market to the detriment of different values of social integration. We are confronted with an education focusing on production, which becomes the yardstick of success. Such an education, whose main objective is to make money, has yet to contribute to the integral development and protection of the culture of peace.

Another factor that undermines the culture of peace is the economic crisis. The lack of resources and financial independence puts many communities at risk of destabilisation and implosion, as in the case of networks of kidnappers. The media bring us daily news of families whose members are in the hands of kidnappers. This is a growing problem in the context of our mission and many other parts of the world. The proliferation of kidnappers is a consequence of the economic crisis, social frustration and friction. In short, structures of injustice are often at the root of this breakdown, making it challenging to promote a culture of peace.

There is also the migration crisis. Mexico is a corridor that many migrants use to enter the United States. Thousands of refugees from Latin America and Haiti travel on foot and by train, pushing the limits of human effort to the very limit to reach the border between Mexico and the United States. It’s a dangerous crossing, sometimes without success. These refugees, crushed by misery, are often victims of drug cartels and other criminal organisations for economic gain or mass recruitment.

Building a culture of peace

Having described the context, followed by an analysis of some of the facts that undermine efforts to promote a culture of peace, we will now look at some of the actions undertaken by the local Church through committed religious and lay people. Our two communities in Mexico have small cells where we welcome people who want to talk, offering them a place to listen. Many people want to speak to us. We direct our candidates to help in this area, along with some religious and lay people involved in refugee reception structures. The involvement of our candidates is part of the academic curriculum for the formation of human values such as voluntary service, helping people in difficult situations, respect for human life and so on. Once a year, the Justice and Peace Commission organises a march in which confreres participate as a form of solidarity for true peace and justice for all.

We launch missionary calendars in several parishes in the diocese from October to January, with a message that incarnates a missionary approach centred on interculturality as an expression of the desire to live together. It should be emphasised that peace is a universal culture that needs people to pass it on from one generation to the next through a selfless education based on the deep-rooted values of truth, freedom, justice for all, and so on. “When the righteous multiply, the people rejoice; but when the wicked prevail, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2). Despite the complexity of the structures that give rise to refugee movements, inter-community conflicts and social upheavals, we must remain hopeful, because the action of people of goodwill through holistic training is like a tiny seed of hope. The main challenges of the future are respect for human rights and peace.

By: Raphaël Muteba, M.Afr.