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When Countries Disagree

Developing news stories about possible war with Iraq and tensions between Europe and America.

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To put into context the developing news stories about possible war with Iraq and tensions between Europe and America.

Preparation and materials

  • As with all rapid response assemblies this may date quickly - be prepared to update the assembly in line with developments.
  • Be sensitive to the possibility that children may have parents or relatives who have been posted abroad as part of the build-up for a possible war.

Assembly

  1. Introduce the theme of the assembly and explain that you are going to talk about the current world situation. We suggest avoiding a detailed explanation as this is a complex situation with one country's 'facts' being another's 'fiction'. You could make the following broad points:

    The United Nations was set up to try to sort out difficulties when countries disagree.

    It passes 'resolutions' - agreements that countries are supposed to follow.

    There have been resolutions about Iraq - a country in the Middle East which you may know from ancient history when it was called Persia.

    Many countries believe that Iraq has dangerous weapons - called weapons of mass destruction - that could be used to attack others or even be used by terrorists. Others say that Iraq is not friendly enough with the terrorist groups to help them.

    The UN resolutions are about Iraq giving up these weapons.

    Weapons inspectors from the UN have been in Iraq but no one is sure that they are really seeing all there is to see.

    The leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, is generally recognized to be a dangerous man who has treated his own people very badly and in the past has invaded a nearby country - Kuwait. This led to the 'Gulf War', when he was defeated by an alliance including America and Britain.

  2. Explain that the countries of the world now have to decide what to do. Some want to go to war with Iraq, others want to wait and see and give the weapons inspectors more time. Some think Iraq is a real danger to the world, others think it is a danger but one that can be 'contained' - the world can be kept safe without going to war.

  3. Ask the children to think of times when there is a disagreement between groups of friends, how everything gets muddled up and no one is sure who to trust and people don't know who their friends are any more. Say that this is just the same sort of thing that happens between countries and, just like with a group of friends, it can be very difficult to know what to do and how to sort it out.

  4. Ask them to think about what happens when there are different groups in a class, or street or town; perhaps they are not all friends, but mostly they let each other be. Then something happens and the groups become enemies - do they recognize this sort of behaviour? Point out that the same thing happens between countries.

  5. Say that no one knows what will happen. There are often serious disagreements between countries that get sorted out by talking, not by fighting, but sometimes fighting does happen. We don't know whether there will be a war or if some other way can be found to sort out the problems.

    But there is something we can do and that is not to be worried about things that haven't happened yet and might not happen. If war comes it will be something to deal with then, but for now people are still talking and still trying to find a way out.

    Terrorists are called terrorists because they spread terror - we don't have to be frightened of what might be. We can go on with our lives and not let terrorists win - not let them frighten us. So rather than worrying about bad things that might happen, we should remember Jesus' words:

    'Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'

Time for reflection

Dear God,
We pray for peace in the world.
We pray for peace in our school.
We pray for peace in our hearts.
Amen.
Publication date: 2003   (Vol.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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