By: Jasmine Elnadeem
I was warmly invited to participate and lecture at the Second Global forum (Power of Peace), which was organized by UNESCO and held in Bangkok, Thailand. For me peace is the most valuable thing in the life of every living creature. So, I promptly accepted to attend to this forum and enthusiastically made the necessary arrangements to reach Bangkok.
At the forum, I asked the youths present what was their understanding of peace, and the following are the answers I got:
– Peace is a magical word utilized by powerful nations soon after they induce war between other nations.
– Peace is not just absence of war. Unless we give up the weapons of our mind, violence will always continue in this world.
– Saying what you think, without being afraid of the consequences.
– Peace means tolerance.
– Peace is having the total freedom of doing what you want by being able to exercise your rights and responsibilities.
– Admiration for the richness of cultures and values that makes us as humans, tolerance towards our neighbours, respect for one’s opinions and beliefs, acceptance of diversity, and love for our race.
– Peace is not only External (collective) but also Internal (individualistic).
– Peace is a lifestyle in any country, it’s important because people will respect people.
– Peace is having a well-informed mind, well-nourished body, emotionally stable heart and spiritually-fed soul.
– Peace refers to one’s happiness at any point in time. Peace lies within us.
– Peace is living together to agree and disagree without fighting.
– Peace can be established only when there is mutual respect and acceptance. We must learn to value and celebrate diversity and be more tolerant towards people whom we cannot like otherwise.
– Peace is the harmony among good people, no wars, and stability.
This variety of answers came from different nationalities to define peace from their perspective.
These answers show that youths can have a better chance to express all these feelings and more if they use the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The media, information and communication technology is a curious instrument. It can be a weapon of war or it can uphold prospects of peace.
Peace builders everywhere are convinced that a better world is possible. They are devoted to that dream and can imagine peace, unlike so many others around them. There is no single epiphany that shows them the way to peace, or what to do to strengthen and sustain it. Many peace builders are killed or, through fear for their own lives, are forced to leave their country. ICTs help address and transcend some of these limitations by generating, recording and amplifying ideas and actions regardless of their geographical location.
Young people are the citizens of the new digital realities. They are learning and creating within the formal halls of learning, as well as through the media and on social networks, and other up-and-coming outlets.
All these circumstances can give youths a chance to be peace builders through the new digital media.
Given this new environment, how can youths be more integrated into the plans and operations of organisations involved in social change, including on matters of sustainable development, mutual understanding and peace and conflict related movements?
How can imagination, innovation, experimentation and leadership be more effectively released and employed in the use of media and ICTs for social change and positive mutual understanding?
What support is there for youth involvement in the uses of media and ICTs for self expression on matters like mutual understanding and peace, and how can it be improved?
I think the organisations have to give youths a voice in the international decision making process because young people will experience the consequences of global decisions. This is because if youths are empowered they can work on issues that are currently important, such as equality and solidarity.
When issues are represented by youths they would be more accepted by other youths. This is because young people are more creative, passionate energetic, and have new ideas to create positive social change, which makes them have the unique ability to reach and communicate more with their peers through social networks and media technology.
If there is only a chance to make the youths’ voice heard it will be a chance of speaking on behalf of those without voice – silenced by violence and discrimination.
Peace is a concept not just a word, which will be achieved by giving people more freedom to express what they feel and to have more space for their imagination so that they have the ability to create and motivate others.
By using the new tools of social media, tweeter, facebook, blogs, youtube etc., we are releasing our ideas in a creative way, allowing our minds to imagine more. For example I wrote on virginity which is a very sensitive topic in Arab countries because it is related to honor. But I could only publish it on my blog because no newspaper would publish it.
When using the tools of social media there are no limits to freedom of speech, there are no censorships of thoughts. Social media and technology gives youth and young leaders the ability to make change happen.
Leadership is not about a position, title or status but it is about influencing other people.
The online social environment we share today that’s accessible through digital platforms provides us with great amount of contents and through these platforms we cultivate creativity, which allows us to open the door for fresh ideas and to have the power to bring to life things that are new. It gives our imagination a work out every day to express in a positive way and influence for the mutual understanding of the old and new generations.
As a precious goal of humanity, peace has to be achieved and sustained by all possible means. ICTs, even if they are not a direct tool for stopping armed and civil conflicts, are a useful and rich resource for raising awareness and suggesting appropriate action.
New technologies have created innovative opportunities for young people to connect locally, nationally and internationally for social action.
I think that part of what sustains people is being able to connect and take action. Getting feedback is also important, as is working with others and brainstorming, so all of this will spin around and around.
What can improve youth involvement in the uses of media and ICTs for self expression is to further explore the power of Youth Exchange.
It could be an online social network for youth interested in using digital media tools to share information on major global issues.
This would also give them the tools to shape public opinion in cutting-edge media while strengthening their intercultural and leadership skills.
Furthermore, the biggest asset of this Youth Exchange project is that organisations would be able to reach those groups and individuals that to date have not been reached.