The 2011 Bologna, Italy Symposium On Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Reconciliation
I originally wanted to propose a five minutes silence but unfortunately the idea was vetoed. Therefore you’d have to bear with me for the next five minutes or so.
The question that has been put before us is , now that we have finished this symposium, how are we going to utilize this knowledge and change the world.
My answer is short and simple: I will not change the world. Now we can have 4 minutes of silence.
Must we be utterly preoccupied by this notion of changing the world around us?
If we pause for a moment and ponder and look at the history, and more specifically the contemporary history we realize that the modern human being has been changing the world on a constant basis. Non stop.
But have not we changed the world enough already? We wage wars in the name of change for a better future, we impose premature peace processes in the name of change, We’ve lost touch with the nature and the environment, We are constantly changing the face of our planet to the point that soon it will be completely exhausted of it’s resources. Genocides, mass atrocities, revolutions have been committed in order to change the world. And yet this constant appetite for change is never satisfied. We must ask ourselves, what have achieved ? Is changing the world the solution ?
Given all the technological advances we have made people have grown accustomed to thinking that the development is happening at maximum capacity. That the world is improving at the fastest rate possible. That people’s lives are getting better and we’re fighting against disease and famine and inequality as hard as we can. This simply isn’t true. We’re barely making any differences and we are far from working towards maximum capacity. We need to lift that veil of ignorance and see the truth, that things aren’t OK.
We are so fond of this idea of changing the world that I fear, we forget the fact that we are part of a historical narrative. And history does indeed repeat itself if we don’t learn its lessons Change is not a reset button that we can press and start from point zero all over again. Time is a crucial factor that usually is sidelined in favor of immediate changes. However, one must keep in mind that change is not a project but a very , and I emphasize on very, long process. And there are no shortcuts.
Change comes from within. What we need today is not to change the world but to accept it the way it is with all it’s shortcomings and try to focus on truly improving the essence and quality of human relationships and think about what kind of legacy we are passing to the next generation because after all if we truly care about making a difference we must look beyond our own lifetime. Change is not about us. It’s about them.
July 2011, Bologna