29.1.09

ceasefire - a call for peace in mindanao


“Youth are the first victims of war; the first fruit of peace. It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him.” – Bandain I

We understand the word peace better when we are younger. Peace is when everyone feels safe and free. It means families staying together and children being able to dream. Peace is when these dreams are possible.

Would a simple look through the eyes of a child make any difference today when the world is in turmoil?

We browse deadly conflicts daily. Violence, hatred and intolerance of differences are unfortunate parts of life in too many communities.

A highlight to this major catastrophe happens in the islands of Mindanao. It unusually makes the headlines except when some Western tourists are kidnapped. Mindanao has been the scene of an ongoing struggle that has now lasted for more than 35 years. The war has claimed 120,000 lives; many of them civilians, several are children, the youth. More than a million have been made homeless and destitute. Refugees continually move to different parts of the country in search of security. The victims as usual are innocent children and its local people.

It seems that peace in Mindanao remains to be elusive. Many children have known only war in the area. Their minds are corrupted on harsh realities that they happen to witness. They are very much aware of the transformation of peace into an impersonal jargon that makes it seem unattainable.

Peace made its way into the speeches of world leaders but not into the government policies. Lack of sincerity to pursue peace has diminished it as a sweeping idea. In this matter, we have done a lot of talking. But let us not pretend that when the ink dies on the final peace deal, the problems will be over.

Peace is a laborious process. Ordinary citizens, students and other elements of civil society has a concrete role to play. Still, we the youth should dedicate our very youth to peace, because it is simply work that needs to be done. If not us, who then?

The young people have the power to change the world. When youth speaks, the future listens. They are causes for hope and optimism.

We’ve had enough of bloody wars. It is time to stay the swords and give peace another chance. Bombs and guns can never be a solution to this deep divide. We should bring to the fore the painful impact of war to the population. Let us not allow war to sow carnage and chaos.

Let us create a new generation of empowered youth from all faiths and ethnic groups especially in the Southern Philippines to desire a real sustainable peace.

Seeing through the eyes of a child might not be enough. It may not make any sense at all. But seeing peace through those eyes makes all the difference.

“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children, and if they grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle.”-Mahatma Ghandi

Gabriel Billones Jr. here, clamor for reforms.

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