NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Aisling Griffin – Understanding Conflict Through Peace Education

I’ve often been in schools talking about Pax Christi’s work when I’ve been asked about a current conflict, such as the on-going situation in Palestine/Israel. I’ve been reflecting on, not only the need for education on conflict but also the things that make for peace.
Many schools may teach about Israel/ Palestine in lessons. However, this is not something all of us feel equipped to discuss and it can often be seen as too complex or difficult to talk about. Discussions and debates about how we see it reported it in the media, stories of conflict and discrimination and comments on social media, make it clear that we need to be equipped to enter into constructive conversations and dialogue. We need an understanding of what is happening in order to be able to work for a just peace. Below are some examples of resources that could be used to do this.
As peacemakers we must reflect on the wider context of conflict and peace education. Companies with factories in Britain produce components of the weaponry used in war and in violent crowd control against peaceful protestors. As a country exporting weaponry to oppressive regimes we need to reflect on our role in promoting and sustaining conflict around the globe. Some of these companies also go into or work with schools to promote science and technology. What are the ethics surrounding this? Should faith schools be inviting them in? Is this showing children and young people a balanced viewpoint and promoting peace?
In Palestine/Israel, and around the world, there are many people working nonviolently to promote a just peace. We rarely hear their stories. Educators, activists, Israeli conscientious objectors and Israeli/Palestinian communities, such as Neve Shalom/Wahat a Salaam, are all working for justice. There is no peace without justice. Let us work to promote these voices and narratives, to see the true cost of violence and war. By learning about the root causes of conflicts and ways in which to discuss them we can engage with them more fully and promote peace in our own lives and globally. Peace education enables us to do this.
As Pax Christi works in both peace education and supporting our partners working for a just peace in Palestine/Israel, we also need to continue to support each other in dealing with conflict and injustice.
Pax Christi: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-education/secondary/workshop-resources/
Quakers in Britain: https://www.quaker.org.uk/resources/free-resources/teaching-resources-2

Aisling Griffin is Pax Christi’s Education Worker.