World Youth Alliance, WYAAP Summer Camp

By: Jan Vincent Ong

I’m have been working in an NGO called PeaceTech that aims to reduce conflict between Muslims and Non-Muslims in Mindanao for 8 months. As I joined the team, I pondered on the meaning of my work. What is definition respect between people of different cultures and religions? Do we agree to disagree? How can I convince people to work together despite differences? I was seeking answers because I wanted to work in a profession that I truly profess and understand from my heart.

These questions further bugged me as my boss inserted the line “No one owns the truth because the truth is in us all” in our advocacy video. I felt that the line echoed something false but couldn’t put my finger on it. So, I studied peace education to put more meat into my work.

In the course of my search, I decided to attend the World Youth Alliance summer camp because their group provides speakers for our leadership program and I wanted know if their lessons were correct and beneficial to my youth leaders.

So, I eventually joined the camp and found the correct way of defining “No one owns the truth because the truth is in us all”. From a relativist standpoint, it would mean that people can define their own truths. Muslims or people from different cultures can be seen as subhuman according to the truth that is defined by others. This belief wouldn’t solve issues of prejudice and discrimination but propagate it. The outcome would be a false respect between people. On the surface, they would smile and exchange a facade of normalcy. Yet, prejudice in the mind and would remain dormant. The danger is that this prejudice could erupt when lit by the right fuel or match. As a consequence, if set a flame, could set loose a blaze of unseen hate that can lead to civil or international war.

Yet, if the truth in us all is our human dignity, person of different cultures and beliefs suddenly understand that they have a shared humanity. And with this shared humanity, people have to work together with a familial quality of respect and love. As such, uniting persons to be committed to each other for a sustainable future amidst diversity.

This realization could not have happened without the commitment of the WYA officers to the truth. Seeing young people interested in invisible ideas and their tenacity to prove and patiently draw out the lessons of each chapter is an indication that this organization is founded on something real, stable, and cannot be taken away.