The modern world is becoming smaller, highly integrated and technologically more advanced. It is also becoming highly fragmented, less peaceful and unsafe for both present and future generations. The world is today passing through an environment full of tension, violence, declining values, injustices, reduced tolerance and respect for human rights. The gun culture has already taken a dominant position in most of the developing countries, threatening the future of the youths who deserve a peaceful and better quality of life. The youths constitute the richest wealth of a country. They develop quality of catholicity of personal integrity, personal discipline and open mindedness.
The youthful period is a period of passions, emotions, activities and vigour. Because of their front line positions in any country, their input to any development programme will go a long way in achieving desired objectives. There is no doubt that there is a greater need to create a culture of peace and conflict free environment. This is an area where the youths can come in. One important role which the youths can play in peace and conflict resolution is for them to“BE THE CHANGE”. The youths can do this by changing their attitudes towards people, traditions, religion and believes. They should earn to combine their enthusiasm with patience, realising the importance of living together and should be responsible to defend the frontiers of peace and non-violence.
The youths should equally understand their leadership capacity by educating themselves on the need for community leadership and taking opportunities available to prioritise leadership development programme especially within them in rural areas because lack of knowledge about basic decision making impedes progress and therefore results in conflicts. On the other hand, the youths can play an active role in peace and conflict resolution by forming a new phalanx of peace missionaries and NGO network in the grass roots, concentrating on value education and spiritual renewal among children. In the area of ethnic development, the youth of different ethnic groups can forge links between cultural minorities and popularise shared values, shared culture and traditions handed down from generations to generations.
The youths on the political area of development can engage or join in political awareness building, force reforms in bureaucracy to ensure good governance, accountability, transparency and citizenry participation. At the international scene, the youths can become peace ambassadors of their respective countries, promoting exchange programmes in education, culture, science and technology, sports and games and in tourism promotions to link all the youth of the region and the world in the pursuit and maintenance of peace and conflict. In addition, the youths should learn new skills to deal with conflict in non violent ways and create a community that lives by a credo of non-violence and multicultural appreciation.
This however must be done with the present crop of people whom we have termed as the leaders of ‘yesterday’ given the necessary chance and creating the opportunity for the youths to act with their enthusiast. With all this and with every youth having at the back of his mind that wherever he goes, peace is with him because without peace, he cannot live, then the 21st century would be a century of tolerance, peace and conflict free.