My PeacebuildingPosted: 2011/03/24
By Ada Aharoni
My interest in peace, and in women power for peace, began when I was about 12 years old, when my grandmother invited me to serve cakes at one of her “Women for Peace and Equality” meetings. As strange as it may seem, this was in Cairo, Egypt, where I was born, just after the Second World War. I was amazed to see at this meeting so many women of all ages: Moslem, Jewish and Christian women and young girls, crowded in my grandmother’s sitting room, many of them sitting on the carpet, because there were no more free chairs. They had bright eyes and were enthusiastic and hopeful.
Young as I was, I was caught by their spirit, and their claims for equal rights and for peace. Their message: “Women of the World Unite and Bring Peace and Equality to the World”, deeply spoke to me, and it penetrated to the roots of my being. I felt I was a part of them, and their earnest cause went straight to my heart and mind. These women are with me to this day, and have influenced much of my ensuing life and peace activities.
When I think about the sources of my peace values, I realize today that literature was one of their main and deepest sources, as a child and as an adult. This is why I agree with Herbert Read, whose book “Education for Peace”, spells out the advantages of relating peace to the arts. His premises are that the arts are the best tools for developing personal values and moral virtue. The function of the arts in society and education is to expand human capacities and potentialities. He criticizes the over-emphasis on science and technology, and on mainly abstract thinking at the expense of emotive wisdom, or what is termed today EQ – Emotional Quotient, versus IQ, feelings, imagination and vision that can be acquired through the arts. He shows that they are even more important than abstract thought and ideas, for they involve not only the mind but also the heart.
Aesthetic education properly conceived, is also moral education, for the ethical and aesthetical are intimately linked. Culture and Art, are the means by which the deepest levels of the mind combine with the deepest levels of the heart, and they are expressed through great works of art and literature. Consequently, the moral function of culture, literature and art and of aesthetic and literary education is to unite humanity in a common bond and common ideals. The theory and conception of the establishment of a peace science and culture through the arts, are especially valuable and pertinent today, and should be at the basis of the new revolutionary “global peace culture” required for sustainable global development.
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See also: Books by Ada Aharoni