Two churches in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia were bombed and attacked and victims were undergoing rehabilitation while we gathered on the theme “Together in Action for Peace and Reconciliation” in Cipayung, Indonesia. We, the 104 students and youths from 16 countries in Asia and Pacific, belonging to 6 ecumenical organizations namely, the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, Christian Conference of Asia, International Movement of Catholic Students Asia-Pacific, International Young Christian Students Asia Secretariat, World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific Region, World Young Women Christian Association and friends from the Asian Methodist Youth Network, Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism and International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs met from 7-14 December 2004 through the EASYNet (Ecumenical Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Network). In a threatened and violent world, we shared as a learning community, enabling each other and lighting the flame of hope and love in us.
We were inspired through our interaction with friends who served as our resources through keynote presentation; thematic workshops (on Globalization and Economic Justice, Peace and Human Security, Education and Culture, and Interfaith Dialogue and Ecumenism); synthesis and analysis, and faith reflections. We were warned against the false prophets of peace: empire, militarization, globalization and fundamentalism and were called to resist the impact of these false prophets in our society. We were challenged to go to the marginalized, listen and stand with them. We shared the life of the “least” of God’s children through our exposure in the communities of farmers, survivors of the “May 1998” riot, street children, laborers, interfaith village and Muslim students. We celebrated our diversity and formed a community, creating further awareness of our interconnectedness. We lived the ecumenical spirit during the ASYG.
In the context of globalization, the world’s wealth and resources have become more unevenly distributed. Globalization has brought further poverty, widened the digital divide, and severe ecological destruction. Globalization with the instrument of Information and Communication Technology provides effective communication yet also enables the control of the rich and powerful from a distance over the weak and poor. Globalization has brought about homogenization of culture, values and market. It has a deep impact on the culture, ecology, education and tradition of many countries, particularly the poor ones. People are commodified; even peace is bought or sold.
In multi-religious and multi-cultural Asia-Pacific, we see rising intolerance and exclusivism. The current U.S policy of ‘war on terrorism’ is creating more conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region fanning the flames of religious fundamentalism. It also intensifies the militarization of the region that has tremendous effects on individuals and societies—politically, socially, economically and culturally. Human security is being ignored and violated.
Education is a lifelong process by which a community transmits its culture to its next generation to help its members live a happy and meaningful life. However, our schooling is ignoring the holistic education process that promotes learning and provides knowledge, skills, values and beliefs based on the balance among material, natural, personal and spiritual dimensions of life. It is increasingly commodified and inaccessible for the underprivileged.
In spite of these, we envisioned a just world free of racial, gender, class and caste barriers, human rights violations, promoting holistic development, human rights and respecting all of God’s creation. We hope for a world that seeks to love their neighbour as themselves and sees the whole world as their neighbour.
In order for us to live in peace, and move closer towards our vision we commit to the following actions and invite our friends and fellow students and youth to join us in:
We leave with a heavy heart due to the tragedy that occurred in our midst. On the other hand, we rejoice for the community of hope and love formed among us, inspiring us to take on more challenges. We have been motivated to go beyond our boundaries, allowing peace to dwell in us that we may ourselves become symbols and bearers of love, peace, and reconciliation.
We will overcome violence with God’s peace.
Peace is action. Peace begins with each one of us!