On the Three Volumes of Love and Pedagogy

Learning to Educate for Peace, and in Peace, at Bridgewater College

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Photo by Michael Caldwell

(Left) Former President of Costa Rica and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Oscar Arias and President of Bridgewater College David Bushman.

McKenzie Melvin, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, VA – Oscar Arias, two time president of Costa Rica and winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize, visited Bridgewater College on the night of Thursday, Mar. 15, 2018.  Arias brought with him a message of hope and empowerment for American youth, and a vision for education to be reimagined in a way that teaches for peace.

Arias opened his presentation with a synopsis of his proclaimed favorite book, “Love and Pedagogy,” by Miguel de Unamuno. Among Unamuno’s primary interests were individual destiny, the nature of human relationships and the renewal of artistic forms.

Shining through in his novel was the idea that loving other human beings is the key to living well and the only possibility of salvation for mankind. It is in reading this novel that Arias’ passion for investing in people and human security is kept alive and well.

Arias was fortunate enough to grow up in Costa Rica during a time of a great shift toward peace.  When he was eight years old, then-president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres Ferrer, made a never before seen gesture of peace toward the entire world in his decision to begin the process of disbanding and dissolving the Costa Rican military.

Young Arias would go on to work as an assistant to Figueres in 1970 before assuming the presidency himself in 1986.

During his first term as president, Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his plan, in conjunction with the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, to put an end to the devastating civil wars plaguing Central America.

Following his first term, and into his second term, Arias focused his efforts on working with peacebuilders around the world to draft the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which attempted to apply the peacemaking process used to alleviate the Central American civil wars of the 1980s to the global community.

First introduced in 1977, the Arms Trade Treaty finally went into effect for the more than 100 countries that ratified it in Dec. 2014.

Throughout his life and political career, Arias has acquired a vast  knowledge of peacebuilding. In his address to attendees at Bridgewater College, Arias asserted that democracy, peace and justice are the pillars on which the international community must build its foundation.

“Democracy, peace, and justice, like love makes education worthwhile,” said Arias.

Furthermore, Arias delivered a message of empowerment to the youth present, in the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., saying, “Our young people bring to the table bowls of what is required.”

In response to the mobilization of American youth against the current gun regulations in the United States, he said, “When young people embrace their potential and speak the truth, they cannot be denied.”

Thus, on the topic of peace and justice in the 2st century, Arias encourages all young people to retain their hope and their optimism, and continue to utilize their potential to change the world.

He further encourages the older generations to support the new. Arias implores man to make peace more than just an extracurricular activity, so that it may become more than an extracurricular activity.

Knowing that peace, justice and democracy are never completed works, he urges the world to invest in people rather than in profits, and to educate not just for the mind, but for the heart.