Today, May 6, 2015, we the Activists for Peace, academic and judicial authorities, professors, students and journalists are gathered in Bogotá, Colombia to reflect about the characteristics required of an education in values, aimed to the construction of a culture of peace. And we are gathered on the occasion of the Second International Seminar “Values in Professional Competence Development,” sponsored by the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace through the International Alliance of Universities for Peace (ALIUP).
The importance and usefulness of an education in values as a tool for the construction of a culture of peace has been highlighted by the UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION (UNESCO).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states the objective of education in Article 26.2:
“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
In accordance with Article 2 of the American Convention on Human Rights (known as the Pact of San José), the States have the obligation of creating public laws, plans, programs or projects directed to protecting human rights and avoid all forms of discrimination.
It is similarly enshrined in the Vienna Declaration adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights of the United Nations, June 25, 1993, in paragraph 3, clause 1:
“Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments.”
We must join efforts to implement an education in values that promotes respect for human dignity, equality, freedom and mutual respect among all members of the human family. An education that teaches, not only to tolerate others, to accept others, but also to respect others with all of the differences that characterize them. An education that in addition to tolerate and respect each other, teaches the younger generations to show solidarity towards others, to be moved by the situations of others.
The importance of education in the learning process of human beings is undeniable and, therefore, in the formation of their ideas and thoughts that are later reflected in their actions, which impact the way of life of society, and consequently, the way of being of the world.
Currently, the human race is facing a crisis of values that has triggered extreme manifestations of violence, the loss of respect for life, human dignity and the lack of sensitivity and solidarity with others. So much insensitivity and intolerance leads us to think of the process of formation to which our children and youth are exposed to, who in many countries spend over seven hours a day in school receiving a wealth of information about different disciplines and skills. Education, public or private, plays a determining role in the formation of capacities and abilities of the human being, but also in the formation of individual and collective conscience.
History shows that education as a simple transfer of knowledge is, besides deficient, is ineffective in achieving a culture of peace and respect for human rights. We have seen many crime cases against Humanity and genocides perpetrated by leaders that are academically well prepared. History shows outstanding professionals carrying out acts of discrimination, intolerance and violence against different minority groups made up of people considered “different.”
It is important to understand that the integral human being is body, spirit and heart (also called the soul), and that each one of those parts has a food that, even if it is intellectual, it must be based on ethical and moral principles and human values that the integral human needs; information and a message or word that forms it. And universities have an inescapable responsibility to provide that food that, even if it is intellectual, it must be based on ethical and moral principles and human values that the integral human being needs; thus contributing to the construction of a culture of peace; because there is no happiness without peace. And we want intellectually well-prepared students and professionals but at the same time happy, so they can say: “I am happy. I am happy because I studied in ‘such’ university where they supplied food for my inner self, which is of great benefit for me and my home, my family and the community where I live.”
Fundamental premise of the educational process based on values for peace is that the student enters college, not only to graduate of a profession and earn a lot of money, which is fine, but it is not the ultimate goal; the objective of an education in values for peace is to form more humane beings, prepared and concerned that they are of help to their family, community and nation; so that they servants of the people, their neighbor, with the sensitivity that must characterize every human being.
Because the individual has come to be sensitive in this life and to work for others. Just as what one wishes for oneself -the good things that the human being desires- should also be desired for others; and work for them in favor of others.
Therefore, this project of the International Alliance of Universities for Peace has success beforehand. What we must do is carry it in the right way. Because what is always successful, is that action destined to meet any need the human being has. There is no future success for something that is not necessary for others. Every project that supplies a need is destined for success.
We know there is a need for peace. Therefore, working for peace the correct way, using an education in values as a tool, guarantees success and guarantees peace, and consequently the happiness of those the work reaches.
Therefore, we are in the correct path working for peace, not only for our peace, but of all humanity. It is in our hands to achieve this noble objective through an integral education, which not only forms trained professionals, but human beings that from their profession contribute to the formation of a culture of peace.
The seed that needs to be sown is in our hands. Universities have the opportunity and responsibility to train people of peace. Just as for centuries they have formed excellent professionals, with all of the knowledge and skills for a qualified professional exercise; universities and schools in general have the responsibility and the opportunity to form people of peace; more sensitive people, more humane beings.
That is what we need: that the human being recognizes they are human; not to act like animals, but act like what it is: a human being respectful of their peers, show solidarity towards them and endeavored to live in peace; that it may be guardian of their neighbor, seeking the wellbeing of all.
Our wellbeing is always in the wellbeing of others. If one fights, works for others, the benefit will automatically come for those who work.
That is the law of sowing and reaping. He who sows the good seed, then collect the good fruit, according to the seed he sowed. That is why it is important to plant the seed of peace the correct way, and be attentive to the care that it must be given for it to thrive and be born in the hearts of the people; because peace is not a matter of the head, it is not a matter of the mind, it is a matter of the soul, the heart. And it is there where the seed of peace must be planted, so that it leaves the soul through the different senses of the spirit and body, in a manifestation of peace for the person and for everyone else.
If we educate for war, then we can also educate for peace. We must provide our youths with an integral education in all fields, through the Chair for Peace, to form mediators of peace that become multipliers of respect for different ways of thinking.
So go on, creators of consciousness, builders of peace, united, working for the peace of humanity with this project of the International Alliance of Universities for Peace.
Thank you very much.