Dialogue amongst peace messengers took place on several fronts and addressing several issues. During the four hours layover in Brussels enroute Monrovia-Liberia, we addressed issues of relationships between men and women, in Minnesota we addressed the contributions of
Liberians in diaspora to peace and development and on Christmas day, it was time to address innovative ideas for peace as well as deal directly with a latent conflict at a dinner in Mamba point.
Opportunity for peace is everywhere and this realization grows daily. We are reminded every time of those opportunities for peace exists where organizations, institutions and corporate sectors share information on peace and security among Non-Governmental Organizations and between Governments.
We learnt from the discourse at Brussels airport that opportunities for peace exist when the process for engagement organization and /or individuals is not selectively breed or donor engineered.
When organizations are selected because they contour the lines of donors, they are beneficial to the mandate of the donors and not necessarily beneficial to the conflict transformation process of the country.
Peace advocacy should be morally opposed to selective breeding as this would be detrimental to sustainable peace. Rather, all organizations should be provided the opportunity to engage in peace and security matters.
The opportunity for peace exists when there is a sense of purpose and when there is passion for peace. We need at least 15-30 young leaders with passion for peace. Young people must be seen as Peacebuilders not perpetuators of violence. In recent times, especially during the Christmas season, we have seen an increase in the number of young people engaging in violent extremism. From gambling in the hood, drug use and to crowd strike for cellphones in public places, the problem is growing in our rapidly changing social Liberia.
While we reflect and cope with all the griefs of 2016, we should be reminded of the work ahead as the New Year rolls around. We are also reminded that there is no single new year resolution that is going to make things better and the griefs of 2016 has given us a platform for growth and change as according to Anna Akbari-the author of “Start up your life”, greatness does not come from perfection but from adversity and certainly the year 2016 has given us enough of conflicts and extreme violence. The sociologist went on to say if we reflect on what has happened this year, we could see the opportunity of it nudging us out of our complacency and giving us a call to action from which we can spring forward and grow in ways we have perhaps previously thought were unimaginable.
Our voice should be our number one advocate and in the coming year, we should begin to explore making a commitment for peace. With the recent adoption of UNSCR 2333 on the extension of UNMIL’s mandate by another year, we must not undermine our peace and security.
2017 should be the year in which young people would roll up their sleeves for peace and harness the latent energy of youths for peaceful elections.
And until next year (week) when we come to you with an article on ‘Harnessing the strengths of youths in peaceful election, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time. Happy New Year in Advance and May all of our expectations be met far beyond our imaginations.