As we continue on our series on the culture of peace for the month of March, the focus for this week would be on the roles of youths as peace builders.
At our various homes and schools, we were taught to be respectful and obedient. As young people, society has taught us to obey laws and decrees, so that we may follow them and be good citizens-a precursor for peace, growth and development. Messengers of Peace (MOP) Liberia echoes the sentiments of the former Minister of Information, Dr. Laurence Bropleh, in his challenge to young people to show humility and to serve the present age.
In Liberia, we have seen the involvement of young people in various peace building efforts and we have also noticed the use of young people in fomenting violence. A health education specialist once told me that every human behavior is caused and every human action has a behavioral correlate and consequence. The inefficiencies practiced by individuals, particularly young people, create collective pain.
Young people are directly involved in violent conflicts, including child combatants and victims of violence. But young people can also act as community leaders in peacebuilding, reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction, in establishing themselves as the next generation of leaders.
Even though young Liberians were mostly victims of the 14-year civil war in Liberia, it is important to note that since the war, the issues of youth development has been disproportionately addressed and young people have been marginalized in the peace building process.
We also take note that despite the piece meal approach to the involvement of young people in peace building; there is a new generation of peace builders in Liberia raising their voices. Over the past years we have seen groups of young people who are building bridges across communities unnoticed, working together, educating each other, and helping to manage conflict and promote peace in their various schools and communities.
Young people are vital stakeholders in conflict and in peacebuilding and the need for young people to be engaged in peacebuilding––in big ways and in small ways cannot be overemphasized. We are cognizance of the various government programmes through the Peace Building Office and International Organizations such as The Carter Centre, UNICEF, UNFPA to mention a few directed at young people. These are good initiatives but require youth leadership.
As young people, there is an urgent need to unleash the strong potentials we are bestowed with by our parents and through our socialization processes. As a young woman and very early in my education, I have a strong desire to unleash my unlimited potential, to excel, to succeed and to self actualize. These quests for peace come to me naturally, as I am certain they do to all responsible young people. According to the late American President, John Kennedy, ask not what your country would do for you but what you will do for your country.
As young people, we need to show wisdom and understanding to our country. We also need to be careful and watch ourselves closely so that we do not forget the things our eyes have seen during the Liberian conflict; so that we do not become corrupt and make ourselves slaves to the rapidly changing environment that we grow and so that we do not be enticed into compromising our values and tenets for a peaceful society.
We encourage young people to take advantage of the various programmes like the National Youth Volunteer Scheme, the early warning programmes, community based and youth based initiatives and participate. An ideal mind is the devil’s workshop. Get involved, engaged and inspired. At Messengers of Peace-Liberia, our doors are open and we accept walk in application for membership.
We (MOP-Liberia) are convinced that the single model capable of achieving national and even world peace is the meaningfully involvement and engagement of Young people in efforts directed to sustainable peace.
Given the limited involvement and participation of young Liberians and as an organization committed to participation and engagement of young people, MOP-Liberia starting next month is organizing an annual national peace essay contest to tap the contribution youth can make to define their country and respond to present day realities with new ideas and approaches. Attractive prizes and opportunities would be given to first three winners.
More than ever before, Liberia depends on the meaningful engagement of its young people to build peace with liberty and justice for all.
Messengers of Peace-Liberia continues to be opitimistic about Liberia’s future and we look forward to contributing further to efforts to solidify peace in Liberia.
Until next week. Peace, above all. Peace First. Let Peace Prevail. Inadvertently