Children in a bomb shelter, widows weeping for their beloved husbands, houses burning. Hatred and oaths for revenge fill the air. Media propaganda calling the people to kill the enemy, making the people unable to see the victims on other side.
This is …..no, not the Middle East in November 2012 – it is Germany, in 1945. At the end of World War II that had killed dozens of millions of innocent people. A war caused by Germany that devastated dozens of countries, a war that threw whole continents back for decades in its development.
And one of the children in the bomb shelter is: my father.
Who could have hoped that decades of peace are just around the corner, at this very moment?
Today, kindergarten children in Berlin and Moscow are connected in video-conferences, talking to each other about snowmen and exchanging songs and poems. Children from marginalized communities in
France, Serbia and Germany meet to interview Germany Federal Minister Schäuble on the common future of Europe. Children from the USA and Germany exchange questions and answers on their everyday lives via podcasts. Kids in Morocco and Germany exchange ideas on their common future.
Children's reporters from Berlin meet school mates of Anne Frank to learn about this courageous girl who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp. Children from formerly colonized countries like Ivory Coast and South Sudan develop ideas for a new set of common global goals within the framework of the United Nations and share them with decision makers of the U.N. – together with peers from Europe, the continent that had colonized the lands of their fathers. Children from all over the world; of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, atheist and other communities join together in our global media network to learn together, make friends, work on pressing global issues of common interest – and simply enjoy
each others company.
One of our supporters is: my father.
Amongst our young activists: my own children.
Who am I to come up with advice and solutions for the problems in the Middle East? I do not have answers. But I want to share our own small encouraging example that stands for countless of similar grassroots peace-building initiatives across the globe. I want to share our own humble experience of how things can change for the better, in a tiny but fundamental way that was not imaginable for our fathers.
The achievements of lasting peace in Europe and beyond after 1945 were made within one generation, by courageous and wise people from many countries: Politicians, civil society and religious leaders, responsible decision makers in the economy who had the will and endurance to forgive each other and to make a brand new start, in the midst of the burning ruins.
They all together laid the fundament for international cooperation based on trust, fair partnership and Human Rights, across the borders of civilizations, cultures, ideologies.
It was their work that enabled us today to bring children worldwide together via media and in personal meetings; to empower them to commonly walk into the future - on the rough and rocky road of
A better world is possible – and it is just around the corner, even if it is unimaginable for us today.
The ceasefire between Gaza and Israel may be the first step. And civil-war torn Syria will see better days, too. It is all up to – us...
Dipl.-Soz. Thomas Röhlinger is Founder & Editor in Chief of Radijojo World Children's Media Network Winner of the World Summit Youth Award 2012 in Montreal, Winner of the Communication for Sustainable Social Change Award 2012 of University Amherst (Massachussets). Article Copyright © 2012 Global Experts, a project of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.