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Lessons from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

kindergarten class in djabal

Old Preschool Building in Camp Djabal

Yesterday I took an afternoon break from work to see the new movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with my stepson. I loved it. Not just because it was very well made, but because at the end of it I was even more convinced that Little Ripples can change the future of the people of Darfur.

I remember distinctly the moment of standing in the dilapidated thatch-roofed hut with dozens of singing children and Umda Tarbosh translating the song which, he said was about their need for preschool. Now, I’m not totally convinced that all those smiling children were actually asking for preschool education, but I am convinced their song was about a better future. Four years later, we’ve launched the first Little Ripples school and we now have a replicable plan to implement as many Ponds (in-home Little Ripples centers) as needed (and that we can find funding for).

The battle in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is between humans and apes, but it is more about learning what strategy – peace or violence – will prevail and allow societies to live together. During the movie I became more and more convinced that teaching children peace, empathy, and compassion to the extent that they believe it is the path forward is the answer. During the movie I found myself wondering if I was doing enough to foster these lessons in Leila, Mimi, Gabo, and my nieces and nephews. I also found myself tearing up at the courage that some leaders had to choose peace over violence. It is sad that in our world violence is sometimes the easier way out and peace takes more effort and bravery. How do we change this? How do create a world where peace is the easier path?

Imagine a world where all the children grow up with a strong foundation of peace, patience, understanding, and sharing. Where helping one another and fostering community replaces the individual rat race that fuels competition and selfishness. Where talking is the first step towards resolving conflict and weapons are buried as unnecessary relics of a brutal past.

For those who have experienced violence first hand or live in a traumatized community, giving them these tools for a peaceful future is even more important. Without them, they will turn to the only tool they know that resolves disputes, violence. So we must start to grow a foundation of peace, and this can be done by fostering empathy and compassion. By allowing people to connect, laugh, and see beyond their differences to acknowledge their similarities. If we see each other as equals and believe in the power of community, then we will work together for all of us to thrive.

There is a chance for a more peaceful future, and I wholeheartedly believe that Little Ripples is one of those chances.

Preschools from i-ACT on Vimeo.

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