This month, SEAN-CSO interviewed Dody Wibowo, the lecturer at the Peace and Conflict Resolution (MPRK) master’s program at Gajah Mada University (UGM), Indonesia. He also serves as the Director of Advocacy and Community Empowerment at Sukma Foundation based in Aceh, focusing on the human resource investment of youth through education. We discussed the topic of empathy-building as violence prevention through the academic perspective and his organizational experiences.
He defines empathy in CVE as an approach to understanding why individuals have been exposed to violence from the beginning until they became the person they are today. He explains that the key to persuading individuals to refrain from violent activities is fulfilling their needs. “Humans need to be whole. If the state or their environment cannot provide their basic needs, other groups would fill in the gaps,” he argued. This gap is where empathy plays. It could help us understand how other people think and their needs. Dody also shares the don’ts of using empathy-building in CVE. He also believes that society’s definition of tolerance should not just stop respecting other differences but develop to a phase where they could embrace and protect people with differences.
He shared with us the story of when the Sukma Foundation participated in releasing Indonesian fishers from Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) hostage in 2020. Sukma Foundation awards scholarships for Moro children to study in their schools in Aceh. “Using empathy, we know that access to education is a basic need of every human. It is a long-term solution to ensure the future of their children. It’s different from a short-term solution, such as handing them money they can quickly spend. That is why we chose to provide the children scholarships to study in Aceh,” he added.
In the closing remarks, Dody shared tips to increase people’s awareness about CVE efforts. “The key is collaboration; try to change the mindset, not just to the exposed individuals but also society. He also emphasized the importance of educational institutions as an organized and sustainable way to instill peace values in childrens, youth, and the society in general. “In my opinion, all stakeholders, whether the students, school management and even the government, need to be supportive of this cause.”
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