My name is Alyssa. I am 22 years old, and I live in Boston, USA. I wish that I could say that because I have never lived through a war in my home, I have lived a peaceful life. But peace is not simply the absence of war. Peace is an active and intentional state of being that promotes human rights, equity, and the pursuit of opportunity for all people.
So when I think of a peaceful future, I do not only think of a world where war does not exist. I think of a world where governments act not only in the interest of their own citizens but also in the interest of all people. I think of a world where not only every country is at peace, but within every country, systemic inequality is no longer the status quo, women and young people are not exploited, and our resources are used sustainability and distributed equally.
We have such a long way to go, but we can start right now. I need to demand more of myself, and of the women and men around me. We cannot hope for sweeping institutional change if we are not willing to work for peace in our own local communities, friendships, and workplaces. We must understand that building peace does not happen overnight or inside a vacuum. We must refuse to be quiet when injustices happen around us. We cannot remain quiet when we see violence in our communities, discrimination in our words, and complacency in the face of oppression.
I need men to embrace feminism as ferociously as women do. I need men to understand that hegemonic masculinity is as dangerous for men as it is for women. We need not only to integrate women — especially women of color, trans women, and disabled women – into our local, national, and global systems of power, but we need to fundamentally transform the systems of power that are fueled by the oppression of women, of people of color, and of the poor.
Change is an uncomfortable process. We cannot fight wars on the ground of securing our country while so many people, both in this country and around the world, live in a constant state of insecurity. I implore you to reconsider your definition of peace and commit to condemning bigotry, participate in uncomfortable and difficult conversations, and to hold ourselves accountable for creating a better world for the next generation of young people to inherit this beautiful, damaged planet.
Age 22, USA