Words of encouragement from Marco Impagliazzo to the Youth for Peace in Paris
Photos: Youth for Peace
Paris is a very special city. It is a city par
excellence, the city that exported the idea of the citizenship. But who are the true citizens of a city? Those who prefer to stay in their small district and refuse to leave it? Or those who are not afraid of the city? Those who are not afraid to go anywhere in the city – to the periphery, to the poor? Thanks to our experiences, we know how to be true citizens of our cities. We leave our comfort zones. We go to the periphery, to bleak and isolated places. We visit the homeless, the Roma, the refugees, the elderly. We see where there are still walls that need to be torn down.
The poor are the true citizens of our cities. There is no place where they do not live. We have to follow them. It is not true that they are a danger. They are in danger. We push them to the edge, to the outskirts, out of our sight. To tear down walls means to be on the side of the poor.
The color of the European Union flag is blue. It is the color of the sky, the place of our dreams. But today the sky is no longer blue: for many it has turned gray. Why? Because we lack dreams. Europe is about to die because of spreading fear and egoism. The values of the EU – peace, solidarity, human rights, unity – are not important anymore. The love of money has replaced them. Financial difficulties are choking the entire continent. We have to remember: Europe was born as a collective, as a “we”.
My friends, I want to give you some homework (laughter and an annoyed “uuuhhhh” ).
1) We have to explore our cities…
2) … and take our friends with us.
We have to defend the values of Europe. The “youth”” of “Youth for Peace” is plural: we have to do it together. Be vocal: don’t listen to those who say that your voice is not important. Speak up. Be heard: now it’s your turn! Get involved: not only for yourself, but also for your friends, for the Syrians, for those like Malala or William from Central America, for the Roma, for Nigeria… There are many reasons not to be silent.
3) The peace movement has to spread worldwide.
There are a lot of problems outside our borders. What does a Syrian youth feel when he thinks about Europe? What about a young Roma? Their hopes are often constrained by financial hardship. But we have to listen to them. The poor have many stories to tell: they open a new world to us when we listen.
4) We have to be for peace everywhere.
We have to spread the color of our dreams. There is a theory that says that the more young people there are in a country, the more violence and war you will find there. That is absolute nonsense! We have to demonstrate the opposite: more young people means more peace!
5) We must not leave our young Muslim friends alone.
Islam is not a problem, but it has problems. Many young Muslims are being radicalized by those who preach evil and violence in the name of religion. Unfortunately, there are many such teachers of evil. How should we respond? By not isolating our Muslim friends. We have to be in solidarity with them and together be teachers of peace for one another and the entire world.