Prepare our youth for peacebuilding, the best defense our country could have

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It is disturbing that one of the priorities of the new administration is the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP). It rationalizes that the intention is to train the young for national defense, including disaster preparedness.

Loving our country and defending its sovereignty are both necessary and important. But is it not better to prepare our young for peacebuilding than conditioning them to warlike preparations via military methods?

The best defense we can secure for our country is to have healthy people: well-fed, well-housed, and well-educated. We must build a society where the dignity of work has a place in every heart of the populace, and where a living wage is provided to all workers. If people are provided with social and basic services, they will pay these services back to our country and people. Prepare our youth to love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). The state should provide opportunities and conditions that would enable the youth to respect others and defend democracy. They must be equipped with rationality and good governance-driven articulation for fighting corruption.

If the government wants the citizens to be prepared in times of disaster, the best solution it can provide is to reduce vulnerability and increase the capacity of the people. Sound policies that are science-based, compassionate, humane, and pro-people must be imposed. The program must include care for the environment and repeal laws that become instruments of nature’s destruction. We only need to provide a sound economic system as a framework of social justice to prepare ourselves for disaster. The government must address the issue of climate change by reducing its impact on communities. Foremost, it must review corporate and business practices that plunder our natural resources for massive profit, leaving our natural resources in desolate condition.

Our youth must be oriented on studying history and society, including the roots of armed conflict. Our primary goal must be geared toward peacebuilding based on justice. It is fundamental for our youth to learn the ways of justice and unlearn the ways of quick-and-easy–solutions to our problems. We must aim to nourish our youth’s patience and objectivity when it comes to addressing the roots of conflict.

The state must provide opportunities and conditions that would help them serve the people and love our country. A good government can serve as a good example, so the people’s loyalty is assured in the defense of our territories and sovereignty.

Repeat: Let us prepare our youth for peace based on justice and disabuse them of unjust war mentalities.

Norma P. Dollaga,

[email protected]

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