THE BLOG
06/02/2014 03:25 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2014

Changing the Human Narrative

"We have to stop this narrative. It is an unhealthy and damaging narrative." This is the main takeaway point from a wonderful presentation of Mark Greenberg at the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. Greenberg is talking about the anti-bullying campaign. He rightly asks the question: who's against stopping bullying? He's advocating a new approach. To go from stopping or preventing bullying to building caring, healthy schools and communities. Greenberg states that the goal should be to build a healthy bedrock of human development. The way forward is the cultivation of compassion. I believe the things you give your energy to grows. Therefore you better be mindful where you focus your attention at. Resisting something also can make something become bigger, while the intention was to reduce it. If you wish to stop bullying build a caring and loving environment.

Children grow up to be adults. Imagine that war and armed conflict is 'bullying for adults.' And if you believe the above statement of Greenberg to be true. Is stopping war an unhealthy and damaging narrative too? As no one is against stopping bullying, no one is against stopping war. Should the focus be more on building peaceful, caring and compassionate societies as well as a world society? As Greenberg mentions in his talk, children learn more from what parents are doing than from what they are telling their children to do. What are the lessons we're developing now for the generations Yet To Come? Or, in other words, are we teaching our (future) youngsters how to stop wars or are we going to teach them how to build peace?

On Thursday 29th May 2014 the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies held a Panel Discussion with the Elders on 'Conflict, Dialogue and Peace: Speaking Truth to Power.' Kofi Annan gave powerful opening remarks to this discussion. One of the profound things he said was:

One way to avoid miscommunication and to build peace is to take deliberate steps to improve our cultural understanding of the other. The natural very human temptation is to hide behind the fortifications of our own prejudices. On the grounds that opening up to the other put's you in a weaker position. That maybe so in the short term, but in the longer term it enables us to use our greater understanding in positive ways, that strengthens us, while drawing the other side in constructive dialogue.

It is my personal believe that education has a primary role to play in building up cultural understanding. One of my public teachers, Sir Ken Robinson, wrote a report with others called 'All our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education.' In this report the following central roles for education in the cultural development of young people are named:

a) To enable young people to recognize, explore and understand their own cultural assumptions and values;

b) To enable young people to embrace and understand cultural diversity by bringing them into contact with the attitudes, values and traditions of other cultures;

c) To encourage an historical perspective by relating contemporary values to the processes and events that have shaped them;

d) To enable young people to understand the evolutionary nature of culture and the processes and potential for change.

In this month the latest book of D. Paul Schafer, The Age of Culture, will be published. He suggests that we should create a global federation of world cultures, where all cultures address a common set of causes and concerns, while simultaneously maintaining their identity, integrity, and autonomy. If you're interested you can read more about his book and connecting subjects via this link, which brings you to another blog of mine.

Let's carry the legacy of Gandhi, King and Mandela: The cultivation of love and compassion for every human being and whole humankind. To be able to do that we need to have clear goals. A moral compass. And then puzzle with the action steps to be taken. Lets do it the Confucius way: "When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."