Dialogue within Revolution: Tools for Supporting Peacebuilding

Dialogue within Revolution: Tools for Supporting Peacebuilding

Statement and report from the FDCD’s 2012 international youth camp

One of Global Ministries’ partners in Lebanon, the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), recently held its annual International Work and Study Camp from July 5-15.  The camp, which began in 2005, is held every summer for 10 days.  The overall objective of the camp is to work with youth from Europe, North America, the Arab World, and Africa in the process of dialogue, its role in peacebuilding, conflict resolution/prevention and transformation.  The climax of this summer’s camp was when the group had the chance to present their “Message of Peace to the World” at the end of the camp at a press conference for the Lebanese media.  On the morning of the press conference, the participants gathered to discuss what they would like to be included in this message and Global Ministries’ GMIs, Gabrielle Worley, who assisted and participated in the camp, compiled the ideas into the message entitled, “Youth Message of Peace to the World,” which follows:

Youth Message of Peace to the World

Listen, because I am Madagascar, Iraq (Kurdistan), Lebanon, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Syria, Palestine, America, Sudan, Iran, Egypt.  Listen, because I am young and old and full of life.  Listen, because I am full of faith in something, in my God, my dream, our future.  Listen, because I am different from you and you have much to learn.  And I promise that I will listen to you because in the deepest rooms of our hearts we are also the same.

We have gathered together youth from 12 different countries, cultures, religions, languages and traditions at the International Work and Study Camp to learn about dialogue and peacebuilding.  We have been transformed and we want that this transformation does not stop with us but that it lives through us and through you as we all carry this message to our homes, offices, and our places of worship.

We have been gathered for 10 days in dialogue and in that short time we have begun the process of taking down the barriers that have been built between us over thousands of years of history.  It does not mean that differences do not exist.  We have differences but we have come to believe that we must try to understand these differences, and we have been inspired to leave behind our assumptions, our stereotypes, and our fears.  We are young and passionate with the promise to continue to build bridges from living stones of mutual respect, acceptance, love, freedom and security.   But we need your help.

We ask that when you gather at fancy tables to discuss the future of our countries and our world, when you gather in kitchens and cafes to organize the revolutions, when faithful gather before you to better understand the word of God, that you remember us…

Listen now, and remember me when you sit and speak of my freedom and my rights.  Remember that I have stood before you and asked from the depth of me that you try to know yourself, your humanity and the humanity of others.  Remember that I have asked you to accept and respect your neighbors with all their differences because a person is either your brother or sister in faith or your equal in humanity.  Real dialogue begins with a sincere desire to understand each other, a willingness to see our common values and the courage to push our boundaries and deal with differences in a positive way.

We ask that you practice true dialogue in your daily lives and work by seeking equally to understand and be understood, that as much as you speak, you try to listen more.  By practicing this form of dialogue we have realized that despite the differences born in the traditions of 12 different countries, we have common values, fears, hopes and demands. 

Listen now, and remember your children and mine when you speak of good and equal education and healthcare for all.  Remember your beliefs and mine when you speak of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, gender and ethnic equality.  As you make political decisions, don’t base them on religious opinions or personal benefits.  Remember us.  When you publish articles and pictures in your newspapers, remember that we have stood before you and demanded that you tell the truth.  We demand a media and government that does not hide or manipulate the people.  Let your words reflect the reality and your own humanity because it is only from truth that we may begin to know each other and build again.  Help us to work for social justice and against persecution and oppression. 

In 2006, the second year of this camp, a war broke out between Israel and Lebanon and the participants had to return to their countries.  The experience of having a war begin at the start of our training for Peacebuilding and Dialogue helped to shape the form that this camp has taken while the new conflicts and struggles that surround us today remind us of the depth of our barriers and the importance of this work.    Our surroundings continue to inspire our passion and belief in this work as we seek a common future in which diversity is seen as a gift. 

Listen now, because we are closer than you think and in this changing world we need each other more every day.  Look into my eyes and remember me, because I am a piece of the heart of God and we belong to each other.  All my love, anger, fear, passion and hunger is as real as yours.