6th North East Youth Peace and Cultural Festival concludes
It is not common for a speaker at an “interfaith” congregation to whistle into the mike. But today’s speaker at the 6th North East Youth Peace and Cultural Festival 2013, being held at Holy Cross Hr. Sec. School here, is not known for deploying common methods. Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, Principal of Oriental Theological Seminary and Convenor of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, was met with the enthusiasm he showed by the children and youth in packed attendance for today’s message on the Festival’s theme, “peace building through reconciliation.”
Dr. Wati whistled to get the boys at the congregation to cheer for the girls in attendance, drawing loud ovation in response, with some girls raising a high-five. “Women are not second class beings to be mistreated. Do not violate them, and treat them with respect,” Dr. Wati advised.
His message was heard with rapt attention.
“The world is in chaos—in the midst of this, you and I have this opportunity to meet and talk about peace and reconciliation,” spoke Dr. Wati loud and clear, engaging in a dialogue with the delegates, asking them to believe in the uniqueness of each of their being. The Festival, hosted by Peace Channel and People’s Forum for Peace, is being attended by more than 600 delegates today.
Since the conflicts of the 21st century revolve around lines of ethnicity, conventional methods or government systems of resolving conflicts will not work, explained Dr. Wati. Non government organizations, as well as churches, will play an important role to bring peace through their activism.
“We are in conflict with the world in a positive way,” he stated. Referring to the myriad peoples who inhabit the North East region of India, he asserted that “we do not want to be marginalized or subjugated anymore. We are not satisfied with the inhuman, divided world. Thus, we must be different in order to change this world.” The North East, he said, must be open to peace and hope for future transformation of state through “reconciliation in god.”
In that, “we are fortunate to transcend our local organizational and denominational lines to come together in a cumulative manner like this,” he said.
Dr. Wati made a reference to the “bitter hatred” that is making people kill each other today. Through ‘isms’ as well as the principalities (ideologies, tribes, etc.) and powers derived from this world, he reflected, “we often become involved in destructive social arrangements without being aware of it. This makes us partake in the evil of ‘collective sins’ especially through the actions of an agency or party. Young people have to take the initiative to change this situation; to fight it.”
He quoted the example of Yousafzai Malala from Pakistan who was shot at by extremists at the age of 15 for being a woman and daring to seek education. She survived and later took up the cause of equal education for all. Thus children, said Dr. Wati, should not take their life and opportunities for granted.
There is no age limit, he held, to stand up against injustice. Simple acts like keeping the city clean could contribute towards peace. Moreover, the youth should talk about curbing ‘isms’. “We are ethnically different but in a modern world, isms should give way to a common humanity through such congregations,” he maintained, referring to the ongoing Festival, which concludes today.