Every night when I go to bed, I listen to the traffic outside of my window. I can hear the subway train passing by, the cop cars blaring their sirens, and the splash of cars running through puddles. What I don’t hear is the sounds of gunfire, of bombs going off, of airplanes or helicopters in the sky. I’m lucky enough to live in the United States where things seem relatively peaceful, at least on my college campus. However, this is not true for most of the world around me. It isn’t true for so many of the girls and women who seem so much like me.
War is a scary, violent, nasty thing. It tears us apart and separates us from our own humanity. How can we, as a society, as a generation, continue to condone such acts of violence? How can we sit idly by as cities around us crumble and fall? As our generation of vibrant, smart, intelligent human beings comes into the workforce around the world, it is vitally important that we step up and step out against war and violence, and instead create peace.
Peace is found on a playground where kids of all ages laugh and play together. Peace is found on an airplane ride where men of different cultures discuss how they were raised and how that has made them who they are today. Peace is found in a government official’s office when diverse voices are praised, not put down. Peace is found in a university campus where every gender, sexual orientation, religion, and racial minority is welcomed and celebrated.
When we create peace in our day-to-day environments, it has profound impacts across our lives. The little girl playing on the swings learns that it is okay to be different. The university students understand that diversity in opinions and upbringings strengthens our conversations, instead of bringing them down. Our government officials and business leaders use diversity to their advantage. When we as a society learn and understand each other, that is when true peace will be created.
War begins because we cannot handle the diversity of opinions and cultures in our neighbors. We don’t like how the “other” worships their god or puts down ours. There’s an us and there’s a them. How do we make it a we?
We start those tough conversations. We seek to understand, not judge. We welcome other voices, stories, people into our lives. That is how we open ourselves up to peace. That is how we end war forever.
I don’t ever want to wake up to a phone call saying that my brother was killed in combat. I don’t want any more Pulse shootings like in Orlando, Florida. I don’t want to be afraid to speak my opinion because you might not like what I say.
Let’s create safe environments for discussion and diversity. Let’s create communities that celebrate differences instead of shoving them to the side. We will all be stronger for it.
Peace be with you,
Age 20, United States of America