There is much to write about regarding the past week. We’ve signed an MOU with GMU S-CAR, we’ve met with Search for Common Ground, Fr. Clem has gotten to see friends, and now we are in New York for the Social Good Summit. A recurring theme of this past week has been the importance of prevention, not just reaction, with regard to conflict. I will write on the other events soon. For now, I’ll stick to this theme.
We are trying to get people interested in waging peace. Yet, our national and international structures and governments are fixated on responding to existing crises without thought or priority to investing in PREVENTING radicalization and violence. This is not a negative comment, but a fact of life. The current crises seems so overwhelming that everyone’s attention cannot get beyond the reaction to start investing in serious steps to allow organizations — like 72 Africa — to act in ways that would prevent future violent conflict. And yet, this shift to a proactive approach is critical because it is the only way to break the cycle of radicalization and violence. By focusing our efforts on cultivating peaceful, stable environments through community-driven approaches, we can eliminate the breeding grounds of radicalization and violent extremism.
In Ghana, We have the opportunity to take a deteriorating environment and engage with those who can get ahead of the emerging radicalization BEFORE regional catastrophe. I’ve blogged about the details before. We are seeking $30,000 to support community leaders by hosting an inter-faith peace summit so that the different religious factions, youth groups, women’s groups, government representatives, and community leaders can start a serious dialogue without the distractions of radicalized influences and influencers. This dialogue, with follow up to ensure there is sustained commitment, is critical to start. And $30,000 is a drop in the bucket, especially when compared to how much it will cost to send in the military or other forces to quell the violence…the result of which will inevitably be temporary because it is not addressing the cause.
We have been talking to people for a few months now. Many individuals have donated what they could. We are deeply grateful for this support (and their prayers and love). The reality, though, is that many people we talk to agree and support what we want to do, but won’t write a check that would allows us to engage. Getting others to support, especially government and funding foundations is difficult because they are so bureaucratized and set on processes that are lengthy, best slated for programs that are valuable because of or just after violence, and are not flexible enough to address emerging crises.
In the case we are working on, we are on borrowed time. We have had 50 dead, rioting closing two schools, and early indicators that Boko Haram is beginning to have influence with local youth. Now, we have a new incident.
Time and lives are precious. Please spread the word that we must change the conversation. We must put pressure on governments and organizations to get ahead of the violence. Urge your friends and family to care and get involved. Get them to donate on our website. Spread the word and this blog on social media. Only through a large, loud, and sustained voice can we change the dynamics and break the cycle of reacting rather than preventing violence and radicalization.
We are here at the Social Good Summit to make connections and to get those who are so invested in social causes and social good to also understand that preventing radicalization and violence is the key to each of the Global Goals. We will keep pushing and doing our part…we hope you will join us and make your voice heard. This is the basis of Global Goal #16. There must be peace for the other Goals to be realized fully. Get involved!