By TAMMY HECKENBERG
District 7190 Governor
Each month Rotary International focuses on a particular humanitarian issue. In February, for instance, the focus is on “Peace and Conflict Resolution/Prevention.”
While we all tend to focus somewhat singularly on the high profile conflicts around the world, like the fighting and human suffering in Syria, the fact is that according to the 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI) the global level of peace has deteriorated in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations.
Peacefulness in 92 countries deteriorated, while in 71 countries it improved. The 2018 GPI reveals a world in which the tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the past decade remain unresolved, especially in the Middle East, resulting in this gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness. Clearly, there has never been a more important time for Rotary International to push forward with peace initiatives worldwide.
In our own District 7190, we will hold our second annual “Peace Summit for Youth” on May 11 in Schenectady. (Details to come.) This day-long event is aimed at high school students and invites them into a facilitated conversation which encourages them to self define peace — in their school, in their community and in the world.
While adults may think of peace on the context of war and border conflicts, our youth perceive conflict in social media, drug abuse, violence, bullying, and sex. Finding peaceful solutions to these issues is where they tend to focus their thinking and hopes.
It is our job to nurture their ideas and help them to grow hope for their own future.