Taylor: The ultimate tool for change

Both girls, both Muslim, agree that the best tool for change is not weapons but education.

Hadisa is a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, top student in her Grade 12 class. That in itself makes her exceptional.

“The question is,” she wonders, “are human beings capable of abolishing war?”

After World War II, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein asked the same question in a manifesto: “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”

One of my friends wonders if we humans are hard-wired for war. Our history – the history we record, at least – lists mainly wars and conquests. Who beat whom. Who seized whose lands, peoples, resources…

Noah Yuval Harari, in Sapiens, his sweeping history of human existence, suggests that we have become the world’s dominant species by exterminating our competition.

There were once, he argues, seven human species. Homo sapiens killed off the others. Just as we are now wiping out 140,000 non-human species every year. That’s an estimate, of course, because much of it happens to insects, algae, and other life forms that are commonly overlooked.

Science journal makes the connection — the number of invertebrates fell by half over the past 35 years, at the same time the human population doubled.

Mass extinctions are not new. Dinosaurs, for example, emerged after one of the biggest extinctions, about 250 million years ago. They in turn disappeared some 65 million years ago after an asteroid smashed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan. The resulting climate change doomed the dinosaurs, but gave small mammals an opportunity to flourish.

However, Scientific American claims that the current human-caused extinction rate is the fastest ever, roughly 1,000 times faster than the average pace in earth’s history.

Even as we destroy other life forms on the planet, we wage war against each other. In Syria and Ukraine today, in Kosova and Bosnia a few years ago, in the trenches of Europe a century ago. Are we, as my friend wonders, hard-wired for violence?

In Afghanistan Hadisa lives in a world that a volunteer doctor calls “riddled with intractable violence.”

But every Friday, Hadisa teaches at the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School. Over 100 ragamuffin street kids, often the breadwinners for their families, attend morning and afternoon classes.

“In this school,” Hadisa tells her students, “we wish to build a world without war for you.”

Like the more widely known Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to women’s education (after being shot in the head by a resentful male), Hadisa puts her life on the line daily for her convictions.

Both girls are Muslim – a religion often portrayed in the west as dedicated to jihad, holy war.

Both girls agree that the best tool for change is not weapons but education. Malala wrote, earlier this year, “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world — but they choose to spend it on other things… If the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just eight days, we could have the $39 billion needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna career fair offers new opportunities

Don’t miss the upcoming Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair in Kelowna, March 12.

Kelowna to introduce new strategy for community education about supportive housing

The model seeks to enhance community engagement, accessibility and transparency

GoFundMe campaign started for young Kelowna girl in need of service dog

Alena suffered from an in utero MCA stroke, that affected most of the right side of her brain

Summerhill Winery proposes college for sustainable food production

The proposed Culinary College for Humanity will help to develop a sustainable food culture

Kelowna woman reported missing

Kiana Haner Wilk’s family has not been able to contact her since Tuesday evening

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Regional district gives approval for farm worker housing near Summerland

Application is for 41-bedroom facility to be constructed in Meadow Valley area

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Goose cull proposed in Vernon

Three options to manage bird populations in popular parks pitched to councillors

COLUMN: Losing and winning a book battle

Recalling a time when outraged parents spoke out against a book on the school curriculum

COLUMN: Acknowledging the freedom to read

We provide full access to material that some might find objectionable

Shuswap protest blockade temporarily lifted following negotiation with CP Rail

Onus placed on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

Most Read