Panic spreads in “civilized” countries. Young people, teens, still at school, run away from home and go to fight with extremist groups in the Middle East. How can they not see the benefits of completing their education, have a good job and live according to the rules of the “Free” Market Economy?

The answers to this phenomenon are inconsistent. Some promise serious reprisals if they decide to return “radicalised”, others offer sympathy realising the kids do not know very well what they are doing. But there is little analysis of the factors that contribute to what is happening, at least not beyond a few voices who understand the degree of discrimination suffered by some ethnic/religious groups or the anger when contemplating the disaster the West’s policies are creating in the Middle East. Nor is there much news of young people travelling to fight against extremist groups, as this does not contribute to the manipulation by fear being sought from some media. Interestingly enough this is a generation of youth who have been making repeated attempts to establish changes by nonviolent means. In Europe, in Arab countries, in many parts of the world this is a generation that seeks to raise again the anti-war and anti-nuclear fervour of the ‘60s. With the addition of environmental protection in fashion, which was inculcated in school, plus a criticism of the capitalist system, not from reading Marx, but by having experienced live the consequences of the savage concentration of money and resources in ever smaller economic groups indifferent to the suffering they cause.

The blame for the decision of these boys and girls to leave everything and go to fight seems to fall only on the influence of religious groups with extreme views. And not much is analysed about what the West might be doing that also contributes to them abandoning nonviolence and peacemaking to take up arms. But such a thing is happening and in many ways, here are some examples:

  1. 1. Frustration of any attempt to nonviolent action, ensuring that no positive results come about.
  2. The progressive criminalisation and violent repression of nonviolent actions.
  3. Films specifically aimed at young people where they fight against oppression and injustice exclusively through violent means. Although this is not new, there has been a proliferation of films for teenagers where a super-brave girl manages to transform a whole oppressive system, such as the series ‘The Hunger Games’ with its 17 year old heroine. Also the “Divergent” series with its heroine of 16, and the resurrection of the Christian series ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ from the ’40s still suffering the aftermath of the Second World War which required youth to march obediently to the battlefront and therefore seeing child soldiers in the screen did not seem inappropriate
  4. Violence on TV and video games: although there are investigations with mixed results about the influence they may have on children and youth, the question we must ask is: why millions are spent on advertising, if there is no guarantee the product advertised on TV will sell more? Or, why commercial firms are trying to get their brands and products in children’s videos? If the TV and video games can “sell” products, there is no doubt that violence can equally be sold by them.

Many are afraid of nonviolence because they do not understand that it is the only methodology that guarantees no reprisals and revenge against those responsible for this dehumanising system. Nonviolence is dreaded because fear has been installed so successfully that many can no longer feel compassion for others and in this state they cannot believe that others will feel compassion for them. Nonviolence is feared, especially if young people implement it, because it is truly revolutionary and able to completely change the violent sign of the civilization (?!) in which we live, and for some violence is an excellent business.

Youth, do not be poisoned by violence. Even if at times it may seem inspiring, entertaining and successful, kneeling in front of it means losing your ideals and hope. That is, the death of the spirit.

The commitment Pressenza has taking with nonviolence means it is open to young people who wish to express themselves through this news agency to reach many others with a message that really opens the future for all humanity.