In honor of World Peace Day coming this month, let me begin this column with an excerpt from the UNESCO website: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defense of peace must be constructed.”
Previous World Peace Days have brought a multitude of positive initiatives to the forefront of our attention, as organizations and groups around the world come forward to do their part. Yet they also bring news that remind us of our differences more than bring us together.
Take the news of another teen suicide, for example, caused by bullying and homophobia. How can we, as parents, as educators – as concerned citizens – help our youth meet each other through avenues other than discrimination, self-destruction and violence? What can we do in a world that rather than integrate seems to strengthen our differences? How can we heal the separation and division in society?
These playground behaviors are learned at home, be it from the family or the neighborhood: patterns of discrimination are parroted, roles are adopted that taint our experience of life.
Although we may not be aware of it, we have all adopted these roles in some areas of our lives, be it with our families, in society, at work, or even in the privacy of our own minds. Deep down, we all have inner dialogues of discrimination or criticism towards those we perceive as different.