Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Blogphilosophy: does #peace, pacifist education exist in #MOOC?

How many MOOCs focus on building peace? It seems not too many, yet we all need it. So… this blog rolled out of my keyboard.

The summer of war
It used to be that July and August were said to be leisure months. In Flemish: cucumber time: a time where nothing important is said or done, and life can be lived and enjoyed in simple ways.
With social media, networks and connected communities… this is no longer the case. No matter how hard I try I cannot keep war and conflict out of my mind’s eye. It is there, and it provides me with tons of anxiety for I myself feel helpless while watching the world stage as it is alight with anger and grief across multiple regions.

Helpless one 
Here I stand. And in all honesty, there is not a single course of action I seem to be able to take. The powers that be are using all their influences - no matter from which point of view - to instill all of us with the thought that “war is necessary and good”. Propaganda has multiple tongues, the media is everywhere, and humanity has nowhere to hide. War never pays off for us normal folk. It never does, simply because it is always us citizens and civilians that pay the price. We are canon meat. Now more than ever, as guided missiles, drones, and long distance weapons in general are deployed by whomever, whenever. And as such, many citizens turn to social media (if it is not censored by government) to share their plight, giving a human face to evil circumstances on both sides of any fence.

Searching for free peace education
As I was taken aback by my own powerlessness, a mail came in from FutureLearn (blog picture), telling me the upcoming courses. And what did it show me? Four courses related to warfare and telling me either what good came out of it, or how war changed the image of heroism. Luckily one course will focus on trauma from war, which seems more in touch with the horrors of war. Although these war courses are related to celebrating the end of World War I, I was dumbfounded. And then it struck me that peace is celebrated so little in current times, and particularly in open education. But how can we propose education for all if we do not provide free courses on obtaining peace, on celebrating togetherness? Is academia so distant from the concept of peace that it does not come to mind to provide teaching on creating peace, or harmony, or simply living together? Or is it too difficult to obtain? We all know it is possible, theoretically that is. So I started to search some of the MOOC providers, searching keywords like “peace”, “pacifism” and “nonviolence”. And that resulted in only one course, a Spanish course provided by Mirada and not yet with a fixed starting date ( ). Of course I am not a specialist in the field, and maybe these keywords are not used, but still… it made me wonder in which educational world I live in. 
So can someone please build a peace MOOC? I am more than willing to help in some way (no content expert, but I do feel I could support in some way). No funds needed, just doing it will make a difference.

Ebola for humanity?

There is no greater good for all of us, except humanity in its frail and bare self. If we kill, we are beasts in state of hunger and ignorance. And as I learned in primary school, we are all part of the same ecosystem, and as such humans are vulnerable to nature just like all other living beings. Maybe nature will help us understand our precious human condition once again. Unfortunately, nature is already taking lives of innocent people who live peaceful lives. So maybe nature will march forward in its almighty variety? All it takes is one airborne Ebola infected person (I admit luckily it has not come to that, but time is always on the side of small living creatures and human and infrastructure resources are scarce in the affected regions). So let’s imagine one such a person is to fly to each of the conflict zones (each time at each side of the fence). But it might just happen without any planning, just nature taking its course, and humans dying equally. Would this result in more propaganda? Probably as any devastating human loss tends to result in propaganda, at least at first, for as long as we do not take up a shared responsibility of our earth and all of our neighbors, we are prone to divide ourselves into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ however stupid this dichotomy is in the face of all of us who try to live a simple life. But maybe after the pandemic, we will all understand our own vulnerability, and how precious life is to all of us and who knows rebuild a more grateful, open society.