Do you believe you can have a positive influence on your country or community? Asked Richard Rowe, the Executive Director of the Opening Learning Institute. Majority of the participants believed they could influence their communities positively, and few believed they could only do so to a small extent. Those few argued that there was a lot of politics and struggle for power in their communities, that would hinder their role, adding that most government representatives felt threatened by the presence of a youth who is quite innovative and courageous.Their fear is that the youth might take over their positions. This ancient mentality kills cooperation between the youth and their leaders leading to antagonistic relationships, they said.
Richard on his part stated that “human beings are social creatures by nature and prefer to be united with others, thus, it is important for humans to socialize with each other”. He encouraged the young people not to be discouraged by the challenges they were presently facing in their attempts to address their community problems. Richard believes that such challenges will help to build a positive and strong individual identity that will be instrumental for their future endeavors depending on how the youths choose to deal with these challenges.
Since social power is equally distributed in society, everyone’s voice is important in the decision making process and it is important to work together to achieve common goals. The ability to work together is a strong incentive to prevent violent extremism. When human beings are disconnected from their societies they are easily recruited into terrorist groups. It is therefore imperative for young people to work towards connecting every member of the community, give them a sense of belonging so that no one will feel excluded from the community. Richard concluded that when addressing radicalization, it is important to work together with the local community to create those communication strategies that will counter terrorists’ rhetoric and propaganda. As young peace builders, Richard encouraged participants to initiate community programs that will bring meaning to the lives of many and in the process reduce the chances of them being radicalized.