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I've been thinking about this entry for a while now, being a little uneasy regarding what to write, but I think the recent events in Kairo definetly seem to require some attention. This is not a political blog and I have way to little background to comment on the situation there, but I'll try and give a CISVers perspective.

If you've followed some social media websites like Twitter or Facebook recently, you must have noticed how much CISVers  feel for our friends in Egypt. CISV Egypt has been a strong presence in CISV, and growing recently. They've hosted three great IPPs in the last 5 years and Basma was elected to the IEC last year. The - let's call it uprising - feels so much closer if you know somebody in that country, and I guess this is explicitley what CISV tries to achieve. The events in Tunesia, besides the fact that it is a much smaller country, seem quite distant - no real CISV chapter there!

Since CISV is not an activist organisation, I think it is fair to say, that no CISV NA should officially voice an opinion on what should happen next. We had this kind of conflict in regarding the Iraq war, and personally, even though I think that mission was  a terrible decision, some in CISV may see it differently: USA tried to bring peace, freedom and democracy (all values we cherish in CISV) to a country living under a dictarorship - so I guess some CISVers may think it was ok. I don't want to open that can of worms again, but let's look at Egypt: Of course Mubarak had to go after 30 years, of course the Egyptians deserve democracy - but why were so many Western countries reluctant to support the uprising? Because also Mubarak - love him or hate him - stood for stability. I truly wonder if one or the other Israeli or Palesteninan may be worried about the overall situation in the Middle East now? What if the Muslim Brotherhood wins the eventually upcoming elections? CISV works for peace, but sometimes it's far more difficult what kind of peace we are talking about, and how to achieve it.

So if we shouldn't be taking sides or marching on the streets, what can CISV do? This question is pretty easy to answer: Do, what we do best, and that is educate, educate, educate: Run a Mosaic project or the next Minicamp on Egypt. Explain the country's history, and why people are upset to the kids. Try and find reliable sources and come up with great activities to motivate kids and adults to look deeper into the story. People may be bored finding the newspapers and TV news full of stories from Egypt, but CISV can do better: Emotional, non-formal activities is what will get people involved.

Finally, I personally hope the best for my dear friends in Kairo, who's fantastic hospitality I enjoyed 3 years ago. I hope the country finds a truly peaceful way to move towards a better situation. Others did it before.

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Hear hear!

We should include and not exclude. Taking stands in any ongoing conflict will make us weaker as an organisation - and it will make us more homogeneous. The more homogeneous the less one will get out of our programmes.

So I agree - we should do what we do the best - in current CISV speak: build globally active friendly citizens...


Hey Nick,

It's funny, because actually I haven't visited FTB for a couple of months, and I thought you might have written something about Egypt so I came to check... and I was right. :)

Some things that came to my mind when I read your post. Having been part of the revolution myself since day 1, my opinions below might be quite biased, and emotional. But here goes:

- The Egyptian people were protesting peacefully for freedom, democracy and bringing down a regime that violated human rights and oppressed people for 30 years. To me that seems like all these demands + the way they are demanded are perfectly in line with everything CISV stands for. So I guess I don't see why CISV should not take a stance for something it stands for. I realise that I am opening the can of worms you were trying not to open, but I think as a non-governmental organisation that has certain beliefs and principles, we should have stances in issues like this. In regards to the USA/Iraq example, maybe the US was going to Iraq to free people from a dictator (which isn't even reeeally the case, but I won't get into that here) but it was done through war, which is something CISV is against. So again, we do have a stance at the end of the day. We just choose not to voice it.

- I had 1000 + people start following me on twitter because of the events in Egypt since I was tweeting live from the protest (well... when we had internet there anyway...) and most of them were not CISVers. So I agree that of course we tend to feel more for countries we have friends in. But I believe what was happening in Egypt the past days was quite globally felt since the revolution was asking for basic human rights, and of course the fact that it was the second one in 2011 after Tunisia meant that if it achieved its goals, then overthrowing dictators is becoming a global thing. So people around the globe watched as our world evolved. And we already see protests happening in Algeria, Yemen and Libya today. And I imagine more will be happening around the world.

I guess what I am saying is that CISV is an organisation mainly concerned with education. But what we educate for is totally political and with a very clear "agenda" for peaceful resolution of conflict, sustainable development, human rights and dealing with diversity. So maybe we can start exploring, as an organisation, how we can support causes like these around the world in all kinds of different forms. Educating people informally is a great way of doing it. But perhaps it is not the only way and if we start evolving as an organisation then we can actually act in what we preach.

Thanks Rou for commenting - you are the first celebrety to add value to my page ;)

Now seriously, I may be a bit consevative here, but I think CISV as an organization should educate and the individuals should act. If the individuals don't act, CISV has failed.

strange, while I am not really satisfied with your original post, I like and I agree with your answer to Rou. (And I love Rou's message).

Yes CISV has to educate and individuals have to act. If ex cisvers do not act cisv hasn't succeded. So, let's not take sides. (Which is not my position but still, it's cisv's position, and that's what counts) But let's face it: very few individuals who had been "educated" by cisv act. So, what that means?
Aren't we good enough? Is people hard to educate to action? What is the minimum acceptable ratio of active, involved, cisvers to consider cisv successful?
I am not sure which is the answer, I just ask myself and you: are we really an association educating people to be active in their society? Do we really believe in this? Or is it something we put over CISV to not feel cisv is an apathetic group of middle /high class people enjoying their time playing around the world?

It's a harsh judgement, I understand that. But still, sometimes we confuse inclusion with not having an idea. How can we educate if we do not have a philosophy? How can we have a goal if we do not have a theorical background? How can peace mean something like 'bringing peace and democracy declaring war' and working for a long lasting peacefull world at the same time?
Of course I know how CISV's official voice would answer (and me too, as a cisver).

But still we cannot pretend this is not a contraddition. Taking sides is not reductive to me. If you don't have a plan and you walk forward in armony with it, you just stay still.
That's why cisv today can not take sides in the iraqi war case not to be exclusive, but we can accept a NA with a registration fee of 1000 dollars (which on the other side, is not considered exclusive, or not so much to tell them: you can't do it).

Knowing we will never be totally coherent, I prefer to be in the first contradiction area: taking sides, not being totally inclusive, but for a good reason.


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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on February 12, 2011 8:52 PM.

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