16 x 16 blog: The contribution of art in peacebuilding

Karim Habib • 7 September 2020

Our world is facing a strong need for peace nowadays to achieve what we can call a rescue plan on all tracks - economical, environmental and human being - and all numbers and statistics show that we have no other solution except co-operation to reach peace. In the Middle East, new generations are suffering from the old curricula that hasn’t been updated for many decades. That’s why in Egypt there is a strong inclination for changing this, and a lot of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Egypt are now moving to the gamification and short time-based workshops as tools to deliver a very specific point in what we can call “education for social change”. As a Co-founder for “Educuality”, I can say that we are lucky having these new ways of working and a passionate generation, as the old curricula offered in schools are not enough to fill young people’s need to be a part of social change. That’s why we in Educuality are focusing on empowering youth in the age range 17-25 and engage them with social activities and initiatives that meet their passion and make them feel a leading position towards a better world.

The contribution of art in peacebuilding by Karim Habib
The contribution of art in peacebuilding. Credits: Karim Habib.

A lot of tools are discussed all over the world to build peace but besides discussing tools we should firstly ask about whom? And to whom? Youth or experienced? Talented or just workaholics? Artists or businessmen? And to reach the suitable answer for those question we have to admit that the main shortage point, we have in our currently systems working on making our world better, is about positioning - all those mentioned names can be engaged in the peacebuilding process, but where and how?

 

As I am talking in this article about youth, especially art-talented youth, and how they can be engaged in the peacebuilding process, from my point of view as a Middle-East citizen, I can say that art-talented youth are a two-edged sword. When we see the full picture, we can easily conclude what can prevent their talents being on the right track like discrimination, bullying and racism. At the same time, we have the other edge of the sword with organizations with  “evil intentions” that welcome and attract talents to their sides. You can easily imagine this situation .. a rejected guy who can’t easily express his talent, always feels refused, can’t find someone who believe in him and suddenly he met the only organization that can accept him and takes care of his talent! That is what produced “ISIS” as example and all lookalikes organizations.

If we are planning to eliminate terrorism in the early stages, we have no solution except quality education and engaging youth in different fields - a fixed curricula is not sufficient nowadays, since we know that talents can be discovered in young ages more and more better than after graduation. Initiatives that are led by youth and for youth are the best approach to the new education methods, because Art education is totally different from technology education, geology, math etc. and all these kinds of science education. So it’s the time now for the big change in our educational theme, specialized curricula for human rights education, peace values, diversity acceptance, and all this type of values that we need to spot a light on them in our communities. well trained and educated young leaders can be a good model to follow instead of the old fashioned schools all those points are the keys for a successful merging.

Now it’s time to ask about what is the perfect role that talents and artists can help building peace in? And how?

Building on what was mentioned before, the clear answer for this is that the perfect position for artists in building peace is the “early stages”. In a community that suffers from hate, extremism and all those wicked ideologies, the first step to build peace, where artists can play a role, is by gathering a lot of different cultures through art, which can give a good image that make crowds listen, so it’s easier to spread your message. Having a specialized curricula that focus on empowering the talent inside every kid and teenager can be the magic solution for preventing extremist organizations attracting youth and start bringing everyone in the right position.

There are steps we should follow towards meaningfully engaging youth. First step, to appreciate their efforts and accept them with their different ways of thinking, their words, their art pieces should be shown more and old fights between art and business should stop. Second step is to engage them in each community that we need to deliver the peace message to. The third and the most important step is to provide them a healthy atmosphere that offer the needed tools for building and improving the talent inside them. The NGOs that are working on building young peace agents have the key for the right positioning, introducing global issues, and suggest solutions. Needs and weaknesses in the peace system can give those artists a complete image about where they can be, and based on their choices they can be used. Now we can say that we have a perfect peace resource in its perfect position. No one can deny that this is the perfect start towards a peaceful world.