When Paul K. Chappell, NAPF Peace Leadership Director, spoke about Peace Literacy in mid-May to over 400 students at the International Youth Conference for the Christian Community in Hamburg, Germany, he also addressed a number of young refugees from the Greater Middle East. Some of them spoke English, had been in Germany for a number of months, and they said they were hopeful for the future. They had survived traumatic experiences and while they were hopeful, they knew their future was not guaranteed.

Chappell has often talked about the “muscle” of hope, and how realistic hope can survive enormous suffering even when trust has been betrayed. Unlike naïve hope which is the result of helplessness, realistic hope grows from the trust we have in ourselves, others, and our ideals. Participation in creating progress is a higher expression of hope.

“The presence of these recent refugees made our discussion on peace less abstract and more about reality,” Chappell said. “When a face is put on an issue, our empathy can grow.”

“It is important to recognize our shared humanity. When we understand our shared humanity we can see through the illusions of dehumanization and realize when people are trying to manipulate our human vulnerabilities in order to take advantage of us.”

Chappell also addressed waging peace, ending war, abolishing nuclear weapons, and our responsibility to animals and creation. “The refugee crisis is an opportunity to put our ideals into action, to see ourselves in those who are fleeing oppression and war. Germany’s empathy for those fleeing from the chaos of war in search of peace is an inspiring example for all of us.”