It’s that time of the day again — time for the afternoon pick-u-up.
Today’s offering comes from charity and self-described “enlightenment organisation” The RSA and former U.S. Marine Rye Barcott, author of the book, “It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace.”
“You don’t have to wait to make an impact,” says Barcott, addressing an RSA gathering on July 7. Barcott argues that, to be truly successful, development work must start from within a nation. To illustrate this point, Barcott discusses his trip to the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya and the efforts underway by individuals within some of the region’s poorest communities to bring greater equality and prosperity to the region.
Barkott joined the Marines following his first visit to Kenya — an experience that helped him realize what he sees as flaws in the military’s nation-building strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. At RSA, Barcott discusses how he applied his military training to help catalyze change in Kibera over the last 10 years, helping to establish a health clinic and a sports program for Kibera’s youth.
“What I’ve tried to do is show both the strengths and the values of military service, as well as its severe limitations,” says Barcott. “One of the fundamental limitations of the military was that by the time we were leaving a place like Fallujah, we’d barely had an understanding of who the local leaders were, let alone had built any relationships that could endure and actually propel long-term development objectives.”
“Most of these revolutions throughout Africa and the Middle East are being propelled by young people,” he continues, “What becomes of that demographic? Is it a time bomb, or is it the path to a more modern and a more peaceful future?” Barcott argues that, if nations and organizations make a greater effort at listening, the latter option is possible.