And a Child Shall Lead the Way
Pass the Torch of Peace to the Next Generation
The slogan created by UNICEF which hung in the United Nations General Assembly Hall during the First Earth Run closing ceremony was: “Give the World a Chance: Children Need Peace.” The First Earth Run was dedicated to the children of our world and their future. It was the children who opened the hearts of the political leaders with their entreaty to give them a peaceful world in which to grow up. Many children I met in war-torn parts of our world had lost one or both of their parents. All too many had also lost a leg to land mines. I was touched by how emotionally they responded to the torch. It provided them hope that adults might be able to create a different kind of world for them to grow up in.
The pervasive violence in today’s world has caused many of our children to lose hope for their future. Without hope they lose heart. We cannot allow this. The short-term goal of this action is to open our children to hope. The long-term goal is to help them sustain hope by being part of the solution: learning how to befriend those who are different from them. As children all over the planet begin taking this action they will discover the power they have to shape their future and that of our world. The torch will have been passed to the next generation.
Invite the children in your life to watch the First Earth Run video and read the story. This is particularly powerful to do as a family. If they are young, read it to them. Invite them to open their hearts and fully let the story in. After they have taken in the video and story invite them to tell you how it made them feel. They will have many different feelings from sadness as they witness children affected by war, to joy as they view people celebrating the torch’s arrival in their community, to awe as they observe the diversity of humanity. For many children this will be the first time they have experienced themselves as part of the larger world and it will be quite exhilarating.
Then explain that a major reason for the conflicts in the world is the fear we have about those who are different from us. To create peace on earth we need to overcome these fears. Let them know that as more and more children take this action these fears will start to fall away and a better world will emerge. Then invite them to help create that new world by reaching out and learning from schoolmates or other children in their community who’s skin is a different color than theirs, or practice a different religion, or are excluded for one reason or another by other children. Create time to talk regularly about their challenges, successes and what they are learning.
When the children build up their confidence and have success stories to share, encourage them to become torchbearers by inviting their friends to also take this action. And do make sure to learn from them as they lead you into the future they are creating for our world.