War and Rumours of war
Nicky Cox writing in the Independent this week highlights the rise in fake news and the corresponding rise in young people’s anxiety. “Outside of worries about their families, terrorism is the single biggest fear in their lives” she says citing a huge increase in calls to Childline from children suffering with anxiety over world events, including nuclear war.
RS teachers have a special responsibility in this. While war is still in most of the GCSE and A level specs, we as professionals have long realised that we are dealing with something very sensitive indeed. It is a hard line to tread between presenting the dry academic facts of ‘Jus in Bello’ and the heart-stopping fear that can haunt a child long after they leave the classroom. They worry – seriously – that nuclear war is coming and will destroy everything in its wake. We have to be very careful when we talk about war in the present climate in particular.
At the same time, students need to know the facts. The Religious Studies classroom may be the only time in their childhood, and perhaps even adulthood too, that they will have the space, support and resources to engage with issues that have divided mankind for centuries.
When Ethics Online facilitate a GCSE conference we usually start with a power point. For copyright reasons we can’t include the soundtrack here but import some music and feel free to download this and use as a generic starter to ‘war’.
Often we the get students talking about different types of killing. One of the priorities of ‘Just war’ is the protection of innocent people. But what constitutes innocence? If someone inadvertently leads you in to danger, does that make them no longer innocent? What’s the real difference between attack and self-defence and are there limits to the sanctity of life? We use these (rather elaborate) scenarios to get people focussing in.
Later we show ‘The Priest that Blessed the Bomb’ from our film Just War which charts the remorse of the Catholic priest that blessed the Hiroshima bomb.
Sorry it can’t be more here but we’re sure you will be able to use these – and we’re always happy to come into school – though because Joe is still teaching that’s easier said than done… so in his absence, hope these help!
Joe and Nicky