“Peace is a goal that can be attained only through common accord, and the means to achieve this unity for peace are two-fold: first, an immediate effort to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence – in other words, to prevent war – and second, a long term effort to establish a lasting peace among men. Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education. We must convince the world of the need for a universal collective effort to build the foundation for peace.”
– Maria Montessori
From her 1936 address to the European Congress for Peace in Brussels Belguim
In 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations came into being with the purpose of saving future generations from the devastation of world conflict. There are six principle bodies of the United Nations and at the time Eleanor Roosevelt headed one of the commissions, the United Nations Human Rights Commission. That committee under the leadership of Ms. Roosevelt created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This week opened with a recognition and honoring of the 70th anniversary of the writing and passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As we contemplate the future for ourselves and our children there are few issues that are singularly more important than any other: the establishment of a lasting peace which is a respect for all humankind and for our home—the Earth.
The same way we want our young people of SCM to learn about the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, we need to help our young people to understand that we are part of an even greater community—a universal community. Maria Montessori along with many others has declared that we are citizens of the world.
In 1937, Dr. Maria Montessori convened an International Congress “Educate for Peace” in Copenhagen. This was an invitation to come together on behalf of the child and for world peace. It seemed to people that there was no other time in history that we had been so close to destruction. During this congress, she emphasized human’s potential for good and the need for collaboration for saving the earth.
The questions and challenges still lie before us. How can we as adults evolve those special human qualities that will help young people develop a sense of real peace? What are the elements in our educational programs that promote inner peace as well as lay a foundation for peaceful resolution to conflict? How can individuals work collectively for positive changes in ourselves, inner community and on our planet?
We are encouraged here at SCM as we see such care and love for one another promulgated in the children adopting families, raising funds for the victims of the Camp Fire, donating food to Second Harvest and collecting for UNICEF. We take the opportunity to care for our beaches with Save Our Shores as steward of New Brighton Beach and by moving toward greening the school with its solar campaign. We are encouraged by the exploration across cultures of the traditions and ways of each special community.
Written by Tom Postlewaite, Director of the Wavecrest Adolescent Program; he has been teaching at SCM since 1980. He founded the
Wavecrest program in 1991 and teaches English and history.