Peacemaking: Roles for Youth and the University

Wedforum | CRCS | Farihatul Qamariyah

As society changes, youth are taking on more significant roles as agents of peace building and the university is becoming a more important institutional actor. One consequence of the current context of the apparent increase in violence resulting from religious intolerance between Muslims and Christians, as seen in incidents that have occurred in several places carried out by certain religious groups, is the continuing anxiety across Indonesian society over religion and its role in social conflict. Thus, interfaith peacemaking is urgently needed.

In his Wednesday Forum talk, Andreas Jonathan, the co-founder of Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community Indonesia, discussed the role of the university in interfaith peacemaking. He offered the concept of the social need for peace expected by every member of society. The university serves as one key element in peacemaking as well as the center for the study of peace. Student support for the university in the movement could be the significant agent in social change. Courses in peace building are a significant starting point for basic knowledge about peace itself.

In his extended concept of peacemaking, Jonathan depicted an essential worldview that interfaith peacemaking should be intentional and continuous and establish a relationship among religious groups. According to him, it will not have a great impact unless there are continuity of intentions for peace movement actualized by agents in order to eliminate prejudices, deliberately accept diversity, and respect its existence as well. Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community (YIPC) has been established to address these challenges, including students from several universities not only in Yogyakarta but also in other regions such as Solo and Bandung. This community is a place for all kinds of Muslim and Christian groups, including those Jonathan defines as “exclusivists,” to be pluralist in these contextual interactions.

On September 21, YIPC organized a peace campaign in “titik nol km” Malioboro, Yogyakarta in commemoration of International Peace Day 2014. The purpose of this action was to persuade as many people as possible to recognize, sign and declare themselves committed to taking part in building peace without prejudice and boundary, as a right of every single human being. It fits with the vision and mission of YIPC: “Loving God and Others and Building a Peace Generation through Young Peacemakers”.

YIPC holds regular activities to build a spiritual landscape among the members through peace education, regular dialogue and relationship building. The activities lead to positive impacts in transforming the perspective and worldview of the students on religious matter from the exclusivist to inclusivist. Jonathan expects that prejudice will be eliminated and trust will be built.

The discussion brought many responses from the audience. One of the questions was about what kind of model is applied by YIPC in actualizing the concept of peacemaking in real social interactions. Jonathan explained that the real implementation of its model is in the conviction of this community that peacemaking is a way of life rather than merely focusing on a particular occasion or event. “We have to be religious persons to create peace, to talk about peace, to model and to live out peacefully within interfaith dialogue as a real lifestyle”. He considers universities which have offered a platform for the study of peace a safe space and place for students to conduct dialogue and interactions.

This post is also available in: Indonesian

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