Education, not weapons, for world peace

Published 6:15 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

By Chris Quilpa

There is promotion and a love of peace when there is education that is accessible to all. Education can change the mindset of people who have it, and it is what we all need at the moment to promote and safeguard world peace — not weapons that destroy everything, including our dreams and aspirations.

Former South Africa president and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Nelson Mandela, once said education “is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” which has become more chaotic and less peaceful.

In his annual message for World Peace Day on New Year’s Day 2022, to all leaders or heads of states/countries around the world, Pope Francis urged world leaders to have more funding on education of their people and less spending on their military weapons that contribute to world’s confrontation, competition and division, disunity, insecurity, instability and uncertainty.

He encouraged all to “work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.”

As people are back on the grind with caution, after the holidays, it is my ardent hope that COVID-19 will be a thing of the past, a lasting memory in world history (although not forgotten because of what it did to the world).

What I would like to see is for our local, national and world leaders to be proactive and more concerned with more funding on education that empowers people to help themselves make the world a better, safer place for future generations and less spending on weapons that annihilate and destroy humanity and possibly the planet earth where we’re responsible to protect and to preserve.

With access to (free or affordable) education and healthcare worldwide, healthy children and the general population can be aware or assertive to fight for their human rights — the right to life, liberty, equality and justice — and contribute to nation-building and world peace, order and security. As Mandela said, with education, people can change their life and world better than what their ancestors have dreamt of.

Weapons, by their very nature, are agents of destruction, killings, violence and lawlessness instead of agents or tools to promote peace and order and security. Education empowers one to be a good, law-abiding and upright citizen who cares about his/her life, the earth and environment and other societal issues that affect his/her well-being, relationships with others, and good disposition in life.

Education is a catalyst of constructive changes and reforms. It spurs and stimulates a person or a nation’s growth and development. It encourages everyone, any group or organization or nation, to be better, useful, productive and responsible. It is an equalizer, leveling the playing field of opportunities for everyone who has it. With education, there is an opportunity to excel and be successful or progressive in his/her own way.

Education promotes good faith, love, charity, fraternity, service, nationalism, patriotism, peace, social justice, equality, security and unity.

Pope Francis said, “Education helps provide the skills and setting for dialogue between generations, cooperation and sharing expertise and experiences for promoting integral human development.” However, “there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training, these have been seen more as expenditures than investments.”

“Having dignified work is also part of building and keeping peace, as it lets people contribute toward a more habitable and beautiful world,” he said.

He urged countries to cut military spending, boost investment in education and do more to “promote the culture of care, which, in the face of social divisions and unresponsive institutions, could become a common language working to break down barriers and build bridges.”

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.