Young people (aged 15-24) make up around 18% of the world’s population, and are the primary participants in conflict today. The factors that pull young people into violent conflict are complex and can vary significantly. Young men can be manipulated by warlords or extremist groups and are influenced by drugs, alcohol, and spiritual or material rewards to commit atrocities. Young women, on the other hand, are victims of physical and sexual abuse and a number of horrifying, violent practices in war.
What the Bible says…
“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for the image of God has God made humankind.” (Genesis 9:6)
This is a profound principle regarding the evil of violence. God states this very early in the biblical account, making this a foundational truth. Most importantly, it links to the fundamental reality that violence against human beings is wrong because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. There is a worth, a value, a dignity, to every human life, which makes selfish or deliberate violence a moral offense.
We will never eliminate violence, but we can lessen it. Followers of Jesus are called to do more than passively wait for the next person to draw their gun. Our Lord and Saviour commands us to close the gap with people rejected by others. To connect with the wounded before they lash out and wound others; to bring down the level of tension and stress around us by living in peace. Three basic actions should guide our response:
- Stand up and be heard
- Get help
- Try to be the first person to report violence done to you or others
Make your voice clear and heard by teachers, parents, family members, carers, or any people in charge so that they will take notice and find the best solutions.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life