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Home » 3 Faiths Together


21 January 2019 No Comment

Father John Walsh

General Romeo Dallaire, in the latter part of his book, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Lie Children (Random House Canada. 2010), challenges youth to accept the task of eliminating child soldiers. I believe Romeo Dallaire’s words to youth could be adapted as a Charter of Challenges for Youth. He enjoins youth to not wait for leaders to take action but to assume responsibility as youth and act as leaders. Dallaire reminds youth here at home that they must find inventive ways to describe the impact that conflicts abroad will have on our lives here and that may help to make the risk-taking more palatable and easier to explain. We know we are living in a world of perpetual and rapid change, and youth is challenged to lead. In an era of revolution Dallaire calls it as he sees it: “There are no sidelines anymore. You don’t have twenty years to work out your priorities, dreams and passions in the comfort of your milieu. You are looking at a future that is not only very near but one that is within your power to affect. We are entering an era in which evil has no place to hide and there is no limit to how we can present the good.” Dallaire’s language is forceful but his own example proves that he knows from where he comes. “So go forth and invent, create and become a new generation of multidisciplinary individuals dedicated to ensuring that all members of the human race thrive on our vulnerable planet in peace and serenity. Attack with courage and energy those hang-overs of the past that put the whole exercise of universal humanity at risk. You could create a global accountability process that would so overwhelm those in power that they agree to the eradication of the use of child soldiers. This is an objective as tangible as was the elimination of slavery, or the pursuit of human rights, and it is within our grasp. Not only can you make a difference, you are ethically responsible to do so.” Reminiscent of the inaugural speech of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “Ask not what your country …” Dallaire’s challenge is similar: Instead of asking yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” ask, “If I had one or two years to devote to something, what would that something be?” What would you do?” There are precedents set by Gandhi, King and Mandela who devoted their whole adult lives to creating “impossible” change. Youth today can bring about incredible change as we see in preventing bullying, in leaving out violence, and they don’t even have to get out of their chair. The statistics offered are staggering: a daily email to the local media would mean 30 per month and if everyone in the country of Canada did this one month would mean 996,380,880 emails. Youth are texting up to 400 times a day… how many would that make per month to the media? Humanity needs to be reclaimed before it might be too late.
The words are poignant and need no commentary: “Go and smell, taste, feel, see, heard and cry with your peers, so many of who are starving for love, aching for release from the grip of conflict, hoping that one day they will again find the inner world of childhood — they will be aided in their desire to grow into mature, responsible adults, parents of a future generation of children with a chance to be safe and happy. And then return to you own safe and happy home and take up the cause of the advancement of human rights for all with a passion, transfigured by witnessing with your own eyes the impact on your peers of being used by rogue adults as instrument of conflict. Bring you new-found depth of argument to the political elite of our nations and remind them day in and day out of their enormous responsibility to protect, to assist, and to intervene.

Pope Francis is calling all Catholics to see that the Church be a church of the poor for the poor, hurting and dirty and out in the streets, a field hospital to heal the wounded, a mother who teaches but has mud on her shoes in the streets. Young women and young men who may have given up on institutional religion have a great deal of food for thought in the images offered by Pope Francis to become involved in helping their fellow human beings. They can create impossible change here and now.

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