Contribution by Cora Weiss, Former President of the International Peace Bureau, USA
Disarmament and Peace Education
IIPE Berlin October 1, 2016
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. William Butler Yeats.
Social change cannot happen without education, peace education. Nothing happens unless first a dream, said our poet Stephen Spender, so I am here to promote your dreaming. Not day dreams or nightmares, but what if dreams. What if things were different? What if we all learned to live life without violence? What if girls and boys were equal and became men and women with equal rights? What if you think about what if…what would you want to be different in your home, in your village, in your nation, in your world?
I believe that Peace education is essential to get to peace. It prepares people to be active participants in their communities. And I believe that Peace education incorporates disarmament education, human rights education, climate education, environmental education, gender education, ethical education…there are more kinds of focused educations that seek our support to teach. I am sure.
Peace education is a holistic participatory process that leads to democracy and includes teaching for and about human rights, disarmament, non-violence, social and economic justice, gender equality, environmental sustainability, sustainable development, human security and traditional peace practices.
It requires participation, critical inquiry and reflection.
The goal is the formation of responsible committed and responsible people who integrate these values into everyday life and acquire the skills to advocate for them. I believe those words come directly from Betty Reardon, my mentor, and probably the leading icon in the peace education field. So it is right that I repeat her views, because repetition is the best form of advertising. Those are my words.
Hopefully, people who go through the peace education process will be the diplomats of tomorrow. Will not consider the law of force; but rather the force of law.
Here comes my Nothing happens unless first dream. We should not be advocating for social change unless we know what we want, what we need to be productive creative responsible non violent caring people. So the first thing we need to do is spend some time dreaming. You want to prevent war? You want to stop guns used in your home, your community? You want the glaciers to stop melting? You want to get rid of the Zika mosquito but not kill the bees? You want women to be able to drive cars and inherit land and pass their land and homes down to their children? You want to create jobs? With good wages? And health care? You want to reduce the military budget of your country?
How badly do you want to do any of those things or others? Without passion you won’t get very far. Without knowing a lot about your dream, you won’t be able to persuade others to join you. And without understanding effective ways of teaching people, non-formally in communities, or formally in class rooms, you won’t mobilize public opinion or motivate people to be change agents.
I believe that if we know what is needed to improve our lives, and we learn as much as we can find out about what it takes, we will be great peace educators and this will contribute to building the social change that creates peace.