Madison, USA

madison

Dear World,

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,

Madison

Age 20, United States of America

 

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Zahraa, Lebanon

zahraa-abualloul

Dear World,

My name is Zahraa Abu Alloul and I’m 22 years old. Telling people where I am from has always been a problem for me, because I’ve never tasted the true meaning of the word “country.” I’m originally from a beautiful country called Lebanon but I was born and raised in a rich gulf country called Kuwait. Lebanon is my nation and the place that I belong to. Whenever I say that I’m Lebanese the first thing that pops up to people’s mind is the prestigious country that has gorgeous girls! And whenever they hear me saying I live in Kuwait directly they will start to think about my financial situation and my classy lifestyle! My family chose to leave Lebanon due to the unstable political situation and hard living circumstances. I grew up in Kuwait and I kept visiting Lebanon every summer, holidays and every time I get back home everything feels different. I grew up to find that I’m not the only one who is feeling lost between two places. I always ask myself why isn’t the world just one country? Why do we have borders? Why are we fighting for lands? Why do we have nationalities? These questions led me to find that the word “country” has become a place where wars, violence, poverty, illiteracy, inequality and injustice exist. These questions also led me to figure out that what ever happens in one country directly affects the world that we are living in.

Sometimes I start thinking about how the past was much better than now. Before, we never read about the refugee crisis and we never heard about discrimination between people based on their nationalities, colors, background, ethnicity or religion. Before, we never faced issues like bombing attacks or physiological problems! Why all these things are happening nowadays? As a human I think we should move a step forward to overcome all these problems that our world is facing. People need to strengthen their personalities and be change makers. A change maker for the change they want to see in this world.

As a female, the first change I demand is empowering the women in our societies. I strongly believe that one woman can change the world. I want to see women equal to men. I want to see successful women trying their best to acquire knowledge and continue to leadership positions. I want to see every child have access to a quality education. I want to see peace instead of blood and health care instead of diseases. I want to see the world as a green place instead of a polluted place. I want people to return back pure humans with honesty, modesty and innocence. I want people to stop spending most of their time behind a screen for a cause called Technology. We are losing the ability to live a truly human life. So for all the governments, the rulers who are hearing me, for all the humans I will say, we were born to live happy and the key of happiness is in our hands.

I’m Zahraa Abu Alloul. I have hope, and I promise to make the world a better place.

Zainab, Afghanistan

Dear world,

This is Zainab Azizi from Afghanistan. I am 19 years old. I am writing this to you on behalf of many, many others who think the same like me but don’t have the opportunity to write it to you. 
I live in a place where even living at home has become hard just because in every moment there is the possibility of an explosion and war. I live in a country where there is war among many tribes. It is a place where many treasures, mines and beautiful rivers can be found but none of them are left in peace. Dear world, I know how injured and torn apart you are. I know that you are crying deep down inside like a baby that knows nothing. It is crystal clear how all those things that you needed like politics, religion and science could bring you to these days.

Yes, you needed science, technology and religion for all those of the creatures living on you. It was essential for them to have faith and live with belief in religion, science or technology. However, regardless of all these essential fields, for you—my world—their politics are blind. Many do not understand the beauty and strength of these fields. However, their ideas do not provide co-existence and are destroying us all and you. For instance, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and my own country leave many of us injured, dead and in parts.

I hear about your cries, injuries, and dead bodies everyday and night. I hear about your wishes and all those traumas that living creatures are passing on you. I heartily understand your traumas, both spiritual and physical. Especially, after the attack that happened in front of me on my campus, American University of Afghanistan, which left many, many of us injured and dead. I think more and more about you, dear friend! I think about you because of the knowledge, open mindedness and education that some people are lacking. It is the acceptance, respect and beautiful side of each other that we should seek.

I want you to know this is no fault of yours. It is okay to have different nations, cultures, seas, rivers, mountains and religions. Although in some parts they are bringing you war, I believe they also show your real beauty. All these differences expose that you have the strength of the universe.

But above all we see and listen about you everyday and hear about all these wounds, dead bodies and wars. I wish you peace and prosperity. We, the new generation, will lead you to better days and nights in peace. You are our hope as we are yours.

This little injured soul will never give up on bringing you the better days that you deserve. My world, I am for you and you are for me, together we will shine beautifully.

Yours,

Zainab Azizi

Afghanistan

Juslin, Gaza

juslin

Dear world,

I am Juslin Akram, a 16-year-old from Palestine, Gaza. Palestine is an Arab country in the Middle East that has been occupied by Israeli army’s since 1948 and still is today. For Palestinians, peace is different. You feel helpless when so many young women and men die in war, when most of your people suffer from poverty, when people —especially women—do not even have their basic rights and struggle to survive.

For us, peace is not being attacked and not living in a war zone. Peace is not hearing the sounds of bombs constantly and not seeing little kids lose their families to war. Peace is being safe wherever you go and living without the fear of being killed or bombed at any second. For Palestinians, peace is being able to safely pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

For us, peace is having the basic necessities of life. Peace is access to electricity and pure water without daily cutout. Peace is equality between men and women. Finally, peace is when we have our FREEDOM!

Personally, I have passed through three wars, lived every detail of them and heard the sound of every bombing. I know how it feels to run from your home. The whole world needs peace in all its ways and definitions! So let’s unite to spread peace all around the world.

Sincerely,

Juslin Akram

Palestine