A few days ago, once again, 19 children and two teachers were shot dead in their school in the United States. The entire international community has anew unanimously condemned this act of irrational barbarism. The debate on access to guns in the United States in the face of the powerful National Rifle Association lobby has rightfully been reopened, and the President of the United States himself has expressed his personal and institutional rejection and frustration with the situation.
There are many factors that can try to explain why such acts are repeated on a regular basis and why violence and hatred are still present in our societies.
We live in a world where the force of arms seems to drive the destiny of humanity. “Homo sapiens” should have drawn lessons from its own history, as well as take note of scientific advances and the progress of so-called “Artificial Intelligence”. But at the same time, it should ask itself where is the “human intelligence” to protect life and ensure the dignified and fair development of all citizens of the world? Where do these unhinged fanatics come from? What are the educational games that our children play in their formative teenage years? Why do video games where you win when you have killed more people exist? In our consumer society, we are capable of banning tobacco, but unable to limit the use of weapons nor the incentives to use them. It is high time to ban the sale and use of all such video games.
On the other hand, for more than three months now, weapons have continued to destroy human lives, buildings and infrastructure in Ukraine, forcing more than 4 million people to seek shelter and protection outside their homes, and to suffer day after day the anguish of an existence characterised by the uncertainty of life, both their own and that of their families and loved ones. These images are what we all, including young people, see day after day.
It is time to stop this senseless war, as His Holiness Pope Francis has called it. The toll is already terrifying. We do not know the actual death toll on both sides. However, the horror of the violence, the desolation of ghost towns and destroyed buildings, lingers with us on a daily basis. The main victims of this human folly are the Ukrainian citizens, and to them we must show our full solidarity. Hence, the first and only task we should all undertake is to stop this confrontation.
It is true that we in the West gave the adjective “World” to the first and second wars of the 20th century. Yes, these wars were, in a sense, global, but they were above all European. Today, we are facing another war on European soil, which we do not yet call “World War III”, but which is having direct and indirect global consequences. The recent UNTACD report clearly demonstrates the impact this crisis is having on the supply and price of foodstuffs, as well as on energy or finances. The suffering of the “global South” is increasing day by day as the war in Ukraine drags on. The UN Secretary General’s efforts to address these issues as a matter of urgency are therefore to be commended.
Why has international diplomacy not been able to stop the violation of the UN Charter? Why not reach a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table? It is imperative to stop the guns and return to the path of peaceful conflict resolution. Diplomatic negotiation is not “appeasement”. Negotiation is not the renunciation of universal principles and values, of which the central and most just one is “Peace”.
That is why we should create a culture of peace, of values, of respect. This is where the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) should continue to develop its programmes at local, national and international levels. Education, youth, migration and the rejection of hatred are the core tasks of our projects, but the resources allocated to these objectives are very limited compared to the unacceptably large and immeasurable military budgets.
At the international level, UNAOC must be more ambitious in fulfilling its mandate and become an Alliance for Peace. The war in Ukraine must stop and sooner or later a process of reconciliation will have to take place. For this, we would need a world where there is room for understanding for all. We are “one humanity”. Diverse cultures, ethnicities and civilisations exist and are legitimate. Therefore, the time has come to defend and achieve that we can live together and create a fraternal and humane world that makes “Homo sapiens” proud at last.