Prevention of violence as social responsability
The Museum of Violence was conceived as a direct communication platform with the community, especially with the primary target groups – adolescents, teenagers and students. That communication is always two-way – we believe that it is very important to give space to young people to express their opinion on social processes regardless of the “correctness”, that is to say affirmativeness of such opinion. As a social group, the youth are a very sensitive category. Parents, educational institutions and society have certain expectations of them, often demands too, having previously failed to offer the answers to questions they posed, not having established a clear (affirmative) value system, nor have they built an efficient mechanism of understanding the system, which is certainly at least their ethical obligations. They are the ones acting from the role of the parent who are responsible for the process of upbringing and educating new generations.
In such a social context, with its activities the Museum creates those very mechanisms aimed at young people not only to adopt certain attitudes as “positive or negative”, but, above all, to autonomously think and understand why certain forms of thought and action are considered harmful and socially unjustified, while others are positive and lead to a better society, and therefore happier individuals. Since in the process of accession to European Union the essence is not changing the legislation, but rather understanding the quality of change, thus in the process of young people adopting the values it is important to support them during the thinking process which will, in fact, enable them to understand the affirmative system of values and non-endangering, non-violent principle as the foundation of the community they live in.
A very important part of that mechanism is the active listening of young people’s opinions. In order to learn how they think, with a view to finding “entry points” and design an approach, they should be heard and acknowledged. Why is the acknowledgement important even if the attitudes of the young are negative and discriminatory?
Because, if our reactions are judgmental, and therefore stigmatizing, young people will not have any room for change left. They will raise an even bigger wall in front of them and cement their current beliefs (as a way of seeking a safe space) and as a society we will lose all potential for building an open, equitable, affirmative and non-violent society.
Hence, the activities of the Museum, and especially those of Public school classes are designed so that there is room for everyone’s opinion without judgement, that no question is considered stupid or rude and that none should remain unanswered, and that there is a clear system of values supported by authentic documentation as a product of discriminatory ideologies which are openly discussed here, right here in public school classes of the Museum of Violence so that out young people would become a part of the affirmative potential and not the piece of the violent problem.
Likewise, we should bear in mind that the act of supporting young people from the position of some kind of non-hierarchical authority (as curators), to freely express themselves in a group, in a public space, in an artistic atmosphere of the Museum concept, usually results in greater interest for the topic in question, more systematic thinking and more active discussion approach. Thus, the group is often “on your side” though the topic of conversation is a taboo that usually creates such sharp divisions in the society. That being the case, in order to convey the knowledge and the values that we represent to young people, it is imperative that we acknowledge and understand them, and support their processes of learning and change. The situation “in the field” is precisely such that it requires capacity and mechanisms of change – the young accept negative, discriminatory and retrograde attitudes very early. Moreover, they have already adopted them, so it is necessary to work precisely on changing these attitudes, to replace the conceptual structure and guide them towards affirmative values.