Vote Peace – Part 2
By Gwendolyn Myers
A lot has happened over the past three weeks, we have new winners for May and June, Youth Peace Dialogue Writing competition on sustainable peace, Last week Thursday 27 July 2017 Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia launched its second peace summer camp offering nearly 70 youth from Montserrado and neighboring counties the opportunity to increase their understanding of conflict management, electoral processes, languages and cultures.
As most young people are now aware, the electoral campaigns for the 2017 Presidential and representative elections commenced last Monday 31 July 2017 and this continues till 8 October 2017. Against all expectations, the country conceded its first electoral violence on Monday, 31 July 2017. Thankfully, it did not involve youth but a member of the police and members of a political party.
Over the past two weeks and long before the commencement of the official election campaign, we have noticed, in the daily newspapers and the digital media, un-usual and unfavorable comments that leave us cynical and unkindly severe in our judgment of others. These comments are triggers to conflicts and violence.
Liberians, especially Politicians need to desist from hate speech particularly during the elections campaigns. We need to promote dialogue between people irrespective of our political lineage or affiliation.
In the words of Oswald Chambers, “Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions, we are not true to one another as facts; we are true only to our ideas of one another. Everything is either delightful and fine, or mean and dastardly, according to our idea.”
The golden rule to understanding peace is not logic but obedience. Understanding peace unearths the spirit of self-vindication and makes us to be sensitive to things we never thought of before. Youth people should learn first and foremost to vote peace by understanding the messages contained in the manifestoes of our aspiring future Presidents and Parliamentarians.
As a nation, we need to establish mechanism to track and tackle hate speech particularly in the media. Young people, especially the first time voters, must not only be seen to promote a free, fair, credible and transparent election, they must be heard promoting peaceful dialogue among all stakeholders.
As part of efforts in place to promote peace especially during this period, Messengers of Peace-Liberia is organizing a radio programme for young people, outreach street theatre to the counties and reinforce ‘The Wheel-Cohort of Youth Mediators”, peace programme on mediating conflicts. The month long Peace Summer Camp in Monrovia would give young people the opportunity to address pressing national issues in the context of the elections and provide them with knowledge and skills necessary to empowering them to more effectively involve in peaceful conduct of the elections.
A multiplier/rippling effect outcome is envisaged as young people who are exposed to promote peaceful conduct during the elections would encourage their other peers, friends and family members to peaceful electoral outcomes.
Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers-Vote Peace –Part 3, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth! #Peace my democratic choice. #Vote Peace!