It Starts With You
Yes, you! Sustainability is rooted in human agency. People power. To that effect, we’ve seen social movements rev up over the past decade. It feels like it’s happening before our very eyes! The world is more connected than ever, and with the increased media attention, we are further exposed to the impact of people power.
As I write this, motivated people out there are working on countless causes, struggling to help improve our societies. Indeed, not only are activists engaged with promoting conservation, protection and reform, they’re also winning inspiring victories! In doing so, they help spread awareness of sustainability, and what it means for our future. With that, they’re also embedding the notion of peace education into our everyday lives.
Peace Education Explained
Peace education lies in the initiation of a conversation. It calls on governments to put into question their motives. Activists within peace education often note that social forces shape political behaviour. That’s why, as we live in our current media and technology boom, peace education has been on the rise along with social movements.
Peace remains a dynamic process, enacted with the intent of justice. In having media as our mediator, we face a constant influx of worldwide injustices. We have far more recognition of the harm we inflict in the world, and far more to be angry about (information is now in abundance).
Despite the violence and injustice we are witnessing, peace is actually more accessible and attainable than it has ever been.
How is Sustainability a Form of Peace Education?
Sustainability holds its roots in social justice and promotes the preservation of a livable world for generations to come. Activists have been taking on many mediums, whether it be artwork, music, or photography, to promote peace with our environment. These visual cues promote the notion to face people in power and question their motives in regards to climate change and activism. The pieces are far more than just art, but work to validate scientific claims in ways that we all understand.
“Environmental activists produce change either as an intervening force that transforms what is considered to be possible or as a constituent force that builds autonomous institutions of social power”Nicholas Beuret, Counting Carbon: Calculative Activism and Slippery Infrastructure
For a long time, climate and science organizations did not fully appreciate the power of social awareness. Thankfully, many have since learned its importance. Instead of simply submitting scientific articles and documents to the general public (treating them as a passive audience), they’ve taken a different approach. We now witness scientists banding together with various activists, acknowledging them as helpful harbingers of change.
Arctic Indigenous peoples were among the first to promote sustainable lifestyles. These communities have previously adapted well to environmental changes through the use of traditional knowledge. With climate change however, the Arctic is destabilizing.
This new erratic climate is perpetuating a constant threat to Indigenous livelihoods and cultures. According to many Indigenous ideologies, human beings are in no way separate from nature. Rather, we are a crucial part of it. As a result, we must learn how to regain our balance with the environment and learn how to thrive within it’s limits.
The Climate Movement
The global climate movement struck during the summer of 2019. Millions of (predominantly) young people took to the streets to protest the ongoing destruction of our planet. A young Swedish activist by the name of Greta Thunberg was at the forefront of this phenomenon.
The heavily documented movement granted a sudden surge in awareness. Many media sources addressed the negative effects of our everyday ‘normal’ ways-of-doing, generating worldwide peace education in the process.
The various climate movements that sprung forth share very similar goals. Oftentimes, there is a push for a renewed peace with the land, and recognition of the harm inflicted on the world. Above all, however, the movements have promoted peace education as an alternate way-of-doing.
Why Do We Need Peace Education?
I would like to emphasize importance of human agency within peace education. Climate change is predominantly a human-induced issue. Should it not then also require a human-induced resolution? That part at least seems pretty clear. However, in order to achieve a global consensus of our accountability, we must first initiate the conversation.
Climate change directly impacts our ability to live in a peaceful world. Whether through conflict with each other, the cruelty and mistreatment of the natural world, or the contest between the general public and the big polluting industries, there’s a lot of conflict to go around. Unfortunately, as long as the Earth continues to warm, the disputes will continue.
A Call For Peace
It should come as no surprise then that the United Nations (UN) has already highlighted this. Climate change is directly impacting human rights. Specifically, the rights to life, self-determination, development, food, health, water and sanitation, and housing. Rather, it’s probably simpler to state what isn’t effected…
As a result of the tremendous risk we’re taking, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are seriously lacking when it comes to any significant and corresponding change from our current governments. Clearly, we must do more. To help accomplish this, peace education can serve as a stepping stone towards creating the sustainable changes we need. If we wish to continue prospering, let alone surviving, then we must commit to a sense of peace towards this planet we call home.
Editing By Megan Fuller & Marc-Antoni Tarondo.