Role of youth in conflict resolution

More and more it seems that people are realizing the importance of bringing youth into the peace building process. As groups like ISIS rely on disenfranchised young people as their main recruiting base, it's obvious that providing positive avenues for engagement and including young people in the conversation is the smartest security move we can make.This week the Christian Science Monitor's editorial board wrote an article hitting on exactly this point:

What these potential recruits need are alternative role models, real examples of Muslims who can touch them by their individual success and their peaceful communities. Such role models are the best sunshine against IS’s dark ways and the surest way to collapse its recruiting pipeline.

It's a recommended read, as it goes on to explain several of these role models and the amazing work they are doing.The Envoy for Youth to the United Nations, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, shares the message that if young people are considered old enough to fight in conflicts, we need to see them as mature and engaged enough to solve them, as well. At his address on the International Day of Peace, he emphasized that 600 million young people today live in conflict situations. Talking about this wasted potential, he implored the global community to "give youth a seat at the table" because young people are demanding the right to combat violent extremism through peaceful avenues.When I consider the connectivity that youth today are experiencing-- the exposure to so many cultures, languages, images-- the ability to discover information and to connect with one another holds great potential. Young people are working on nuclear disarmament, on teaching each other religious tolerance, and on demonstrating incredible nonviolence and forgiveness. Youth are harnessing the power of thinking forward, not backward, and of problem solving, rather than of a cycle of revenge.The Ambassador to the UN from Iran shared an interesting idea in an statement he gave in April 2015: "Earnest young people who seek truth should break mental barriers raised by Islamophobia ... and set a new path in the interaction between Islam and the West. Thanks to these young people, the relation between Islam and the West will be based on constructive interaction, mutual respect and fairness." I think if anyone can do this, youth can.There was a poster in my first grade classroom that showed two little kids, one black, one white, sitting next to each other, smiling. The text read "hate is taught" and the message was clear: we don't start off hating one another. (It's taken from a quote attributed to Nelson Mandela.) It's natural to want to help, to contribute, and to love our neighbors. This doesn't apply only to small children, but to youth everywhere.Header photo: GenPeace Youth Network; Featured Image: Pinterest