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Don’t preach peace to us!


2 October 2003
War is a waste of time and lives, but preaching to people about peace is counterproductive, according to Southern Cross University (SCU) politics tutor and PhD candidate, Jim Page.

“Peace education ought not be preaching at people, but demonstrating the benefits of co-operative relationships as well as the destructive nature of war and violence,” he said.

Mr Page, whose thesis is on peace education, has taught widely in Australia and overseas, and has served as a member of the United Nations Taskforce on the International Year for the Culture of Peace with the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris.

He said that peace education had long been recognized in official United Nations documents as being an essential element of education at primary, secondary and tertiary level, but governments - including governments in Australia - were not always supportive.

“I think that some governments have been reluctant to support peace education because they fear curriculum overload on young students. That is understandable,” he said.

“However, I suspect that some of the reluctance is because of the implied criticism in peace education of existing commitments by society to the use of force in conflict resolution. Governments the world over have massive financial and philosophical commitment to military enforcement and the industries and culture of war.”

“So, we need to be able to articulate to governments and societies not only what should be done within education for peace, but why,” he said.

“For those committed to peace and to peace education, the ‘why?’ is self-evident. However, we need to develop a rationale that is acceptable to the wider community and that states clearly what we hope to achieve,” Mr Page said.

“We need to highlight the ever-present threat of global or imperial warfare and the continuing injustice of the misdistribution and exploitation of global resources. At a personal level, we need to highlight the problems flowing from violence and a culture of violence within personal relationships.”

Jim Page will hold a participative workshop on foundations for peace education on 7 October at SCU’s Lismore campus.

Media contact: Kath Duncan or Sara Crowe on 02 6620 3144, or 0439 858 057.