Nearly 35 years ago ‘99 luftballons’ was released by the band Nena; it preached against war and reached #1 in the U.K, Canada and Sweden and #2 in America. The original German song spoke out against how war charged society had become due to conflicts such as the Iran-Iraq war, Soviet Afghan War and Mozambique Civil War. These conflicts caused so much hatred and the concept that balloons could cause the next World War III was symbolic of how problematic conflict had become, sadly a running theme throughout history. Lead singer Gabrielle Susanne Kerner told Paste: “For us, it was always a song about misunderstanding”. This misunderstanding seems indicative that for every story their is more than one perspective, it is easy to misinterpret a side, even something as innocent as balloons could trigger mass destruction from a different perspective.
On the Tuesday 28th of November, the Sixth Formers at Chipping Campden School were given and hour long talk during a life learning session, held regularly, by Jane Woodford with Friends of Israel. Her core message towards the students was that the conflicts in the world are all relevant and as a youth we should be aware that the problems caused by these conflicts are very relevant to us. The talk was very impactful and got the students involved in an engaging way. One example was when she selected two pairs of students who faced each other and by asking “can you describe the person in the other pair?” it became apparent that depending on what side you are on in a conflict it is very difficult to understand the other side. The talk focused on the current unrest about countries in the Middle East and the struggles between cultures, religions and promises made to people.
At the end the students went away with a wider and broader perspective about the conflicts between countries in the Middle East and the complexity of the situation. One student described the talk as “helpful and informative, without bringing about bias and stereotype,” and “enlightening”. Hopefully with more awareness as a society we can try and resolve these conflicts not through aggression and blind sightedness but through acceptance and knowledge. As of December 2015 there are around 65.3 million refugees in the world and the tireless message of hospitality and kindness was also preached to the students, similar to the countless artists in pop culture that wrote about acts of charity and understanding which are key to co-existing more peacefully as a society. Don’t pull the trigger before you know a situation because it will never be as simple as 99 balloons floating in the sky.