Of War, Peace, and Education

September 24, 2007
Our modern world is one engulfed in the chaos of conflict. As a collective batch of humanity, we suffer from every imaginable hardship, specifically: overpopulation, poverty, and war. The world’s chronic misunderstanding and division of itself is the most prominent contributor to our global fracas. Through various bits of information I’ve garnered, I’ve come to the conclusion that contemporary humanity will have three stages: overpopulation, poverty, and misunderstanding; war; and global warming. Each of these events marks the beginning, the middle, and the end; or the cause, the effect, and the ultimate outcome. And each can be unraveled.
One exceedingly plausible solution exists: education. The effect would only be noticeable generations from now, but only extended solutions can stand the tribulations of time. War is far too swift of an approach; it is like snow, in the sense that when snow melts, you are left with water, which seems sensible in reasonable amounts, but when overly copious, it is devastating. Not to mention, water evaporates. An education is permanent.

Overpopulation and poverty cause tension not only within communities and countries, but throughout the world. This tension leads to further confusion and conflict. For population growth to cease, each couple would have to have two or less children, essentially replacing themselves. Due to the wretchedly low social status of women in most countries, this is not possible. Nevertheless, educated women generally have fewer children than those who are uneducated. When women are offered an education and opportunities outside the home, they become more aware of other possibilities and are more likely to pursue a different path than previous generations. Educated women have the potential to raise a countries standard of living and strengthen the economy. Eventually, the population would balance out and poverty would be drastically less severe.

If the previous issues are not resolved, they can cause war. Educated people are more culturally aware and are less frightened of things they fail to understand; making them more open to diplomacy and negotiation. If the world was educated, conflict would be settled over a cup of tea, not weapons of mass destruction. The most prominent war today is the so called war on terror. The United State’s government claims to be invading countries to catch renowned terrorists that are threatening to civilization. However, to defeat such a covert group of people, one must start at the source. This particular source is the lack of balanced education in Middle Eastern countries.

The governments of countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan do not supply adequate funds to build and staff schools for their youth. Followers of a Sunni Islamic extremist offshoot, known as Wahhabism, come from Kuwait and Saudi to build Wahhabi madrassas. The madrassas are comparable to bee hives; many students are enclosed behind the windowless compounds being fed an ultra-extremist, religious education. Countless students of the madrassas grow up to be terrorists. Instead of attempting to fight the hidden forces of extremism today, we should be focusing on preventing those of the future.

If our government wishes to truly eliminate terrorism, it needs to provide alternative education for the Middle East’s most impoverished students. Many Americans may find it difficult to believe, but the majority of Muslims are not, in fact, terrorists. But as western shells continue to rain down, more and more have been pressured to attend madrassas and become the Wahhabi equivalent of our Marines. However, not all madrassas teach a militant curriculum. In 2001, the World Bank estimated that at least twenty thousand madrassas were teaching over two million of Pakistan’s students. It can be guaranteed that not all of those two million students will go on to become terrorists. However, if the western world would provide a balanced, non-extremists education, even less of them would. We could win the war on terror with a bloodless display of compassion. Not only would a more educated region emerge, fundamental Muslim terrorists would be practically nonexistent.

Imagine a world without war, a world with burgeoning understanding and compassion, a world that would still have one problem: global warming. Generations of mass consumption have undoubtedly left a permanent scar of the environment. If there were no war, countries would be able to focus on finding a solution for world-wide demise. But before that, leaders could focus on educating the masses. Education would give people the opportunity to study resolutions rather than centering their lives around supporting impoverished families or plotting whom to kill next. The solution may lie in the mind of an oppressed Indonesian prostitute or in the heart of one of Africa’s battered child soldiers. A good idea simply needs a chance to emerge. If we can open humanity’s eyes with education, they will see a home worth saving.

The global community cannot continue as it is now. We need a solution, a global resolution. We need something that will raise the standard of living, and lower the birth rate. We need something that will target our wars, and decrease our targets. We need education. A new world will not appear overnight. But time is the binding factor of life and the threads of time are wearing thin. In our modern world, education is not only the key to success; it is the key to survival. Education alone will guarantee our future.

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