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Importance Of Peace Education

Peace education is a vital discipline requiring the committed engagement and marshalling of a diverse range of knowledge, attitudes, and skills many of which are not often recognized as being of particular importance.

For instance, assertiveness is a value that may seem contrary to the ways of peace. But peace educators tell us that ‘submissiveness is as bad as aggressiveness. In fact, it is the other side of being aggressive. Many criminals have submissive characters. Submissiveness serves as a mask to cover the aggressive nature within. Since submissive persons are potential aggressors, they cannot be trusted.

Learning to assert oneself without being aggressive or offensive - especially when criticized, pressurized, or treated unfairly - is a crucial skill that all children need to learn. It is also of signal importance in dealing with angry, aggressive, and unreasonable people in a non-violent fashion. Thus children who have learnt to deal with bullies at school peacefully and without compromising their self-respect are likely to be more successful as adults in negotiating with aggressors.

Critical thinking is also pivotal to peace education. Judging the correctness of attitudes and actions, realizing the fallacies and dangers of stereotyping, recognizing and respecting genuine differences in perspectives and opinions, and appreciating the emotional and irrational aspects of one’s own being and those of others are a few peace skills dependent on critical thinking. It is also essential that we learn to critically review our own thoughts, attitudes, and actions without demeaning ourselves or falling into a negative mindset. This is Sri Sarada Devi’s mantra for peace: ‘If you want peace do not see the faults of others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child. This whole world is your own.’

Healthy self-criticism requires a meditative inwardness, and this again needs to be taught at a young age if we are to reap its benefits in youth. The traditional Indian institutions of upanayana, initiation into student life, and upasana, contemplation, were particularly effective in this regard. It is only when we are trained in meditative ways that we are likely to realize the power of being peaceful and the wide reach of peaceful thoughts.

Source - Prabuddha Bharata Magazine Editorial - December 2009