Sarah, USA

sarah

Dear World,

This letter comes too late for my sisters and brothers around the world but it’s not too late for our children and grandchildren. We are living in an age of war and at this rate, generations will grow up without ever knowing what a peaceful life is. We can change that, but it starts with you – and it starts now.

I need you to teach your sons that teamwork is more important than competition, and that ideas can have more power than force. Teach your sons that women deserve respect, unequivocally, that consent is always a necessity and that physical abuse is never acceptable. Teach your sons to ask questions with an open mind and respect other points of view, even if they disagree. Teach your sons to stand up for what they believe in, but to never be afraid to change their perspective if they learn new information.

I need you to teach your daughters that it’s good to be confident, even cocky, when they have worked hard and accomplished something. Teach your daughters that they should never feel ashamed of their bodies or how they look. Teach your daughters that they deserve respect, unequivocally, and that consent is always a necessity and that physical abuse is never acceptable. Teach your daughters to stand up for themselves even if it seems everyone is against them.

Have hard conversations. Hear the other person’s ideas – don’t just listen. Act with empathy and understanding. Remember to differentiate between the actions of governments and those of individuals. And if you don’t understand a point of view, a culture, a tradition, a religion: learn.

We live in an age of war, but we also live in an age of knowledge and connection. Do your research. Ask your questions. Be unabashed in your quest for information. Be respectful of the answers you may find. Find your similarities and your differences with friends around the world, and learn to appreciate both.

Together, all of us can create ripples of change. Together, we can change what the future looks like, so our sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and grandchildren can live in an age of peace.

It starts now. And it starts with you.

Sincerely,

Sarah Waldman

Age 21, United States of America

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Reny, Egypt

reny-iskander

Dear world,

I’m Reny. I’m a 20-year-old from Egypt. Being from an Arab-African country changes one’s definition of peace. When more than 50% of your population suffers from poverty, when God knows who is constantly bombing your neighbouring countries, when you struggle for your basic rights and when being a young woman doubles the struggle…. You really don’t see “peace” the way people in other circumstances do.

For me, peace is being able to walk in the morning or at night without having the slightest fear of being harassed, if not raped or kidnapped. Peace is making my own decisions without having to justify them to every single person in the society. Peace is when the less fortunate have their basic needs met and are treated with the respect, equality and humanity. Peace is when every country minds its own business. Finally peace is when men, women, children, black people, white people, rich people and poor people are treated equally and have the same rights all over the world.

In my opinion, the main problem with peace is that people accept the fact that a certain race/gender/people is better than the rest.

Thus, men have to fight for women’s rights, they have to refuse the current situation and demand equality. Women also need to stand up for themselves, they need to speak up and show the world their capabilities. Women cannot wait for someone to grant them their rights; they must reach out for them.

Ultimately, the light at the end of the tunnel is the new generation, the one that is growing up with wars, starvation, occupation, inequality and discrimination. The older generations paved the way but there are laws that need to be implemented and mentalities that need to be changed. Young people have to continue what their predecessors started and they shouldn’t accept any less than what they deserve.

Peace has to spread. The world has had its share of violence and this must stop. Love and equality need to be prioritized and promoted. If we never stop trying and celebrating the small achievements, we will get there and peace with all it’s different definitions will spread around the world.

Thank you,

Reny Iskander

Age 20, Egypt

Meher, Afghanistan


Meherbano.JPG

Dear World,

An uneducated person never thinks about you, my world. You are a beautiful gift of God. We human beings do not know the value of you, my world. You are like Disney Land for me, which is full of beauty and adventures. Unfortunately, we human beings cannot understand the meaning of that beauty, and we make you to face the evil power of humans: war, inequality, robbery, atom bombs, poverty, etc.

In this world, everyone—educated and uneducated—is looking for power and wealth. No one has equal rights in this world. One is rich and another is dying of poverty. One country is too developed and war and bombs destroy another country. One is tired of education and other is begging for education. All countries give more freedom to men and discourage women.

In my country, people made inequality a part of our culture. They do not let their daughters get an education or to work outside because they think they are Muslims. A Muslim girl should not go out, she should wear hijab and do housework. But, a Muslim boy can do anything they want. A boy has the freedom to tease girls and to misuse their freedom. They do not know that girls are the flowers of this world. If the world loses its flowers, this world will lose its beauty.

When a baby is born in this world, that baby comes with a hope to see the beauty of this world. Unfortunately, that baby cannot find the beauty, only bad deeds and misfortunes. I apologize that I cannot do anything for you my sweet world. I can promise to pray for you and for the people that hurt you, so that may God open their mind and show them the right way.

Sincerely,

Meher Bano Mirzayee

Roqia, Gaza

Dear world,

My name is Roqia Al-Taweel. I’m 16 and I’m from Palestine. You may not know what Palestine is, or where it is. But I’d like to tell you that it’s the country that has been occupied for more than 68 years, until now. I witnessed more than 3 wars and uncountable attacks. As a young woman, I’m looking forward to living in peace, but unfortunately, “peace” doesn’t exist in Palestine for a reason. But I still believe that peace will get to the world someday. I mean, Palestine isn’t the only country facing wars and problems. Look at Syria, Iraq, etc., and look at civilians fighting to get their freedom, and to have some peace.

As a Palestinian woman, I grew up in a society that is full of blood and pain. I find myself identifying peace as seeing other nationalities helping countries in conflict to show their sympathy and support. It’s peace when men and women stand next to each other to fight for their rights. Peace isn’t held with men only, and never will, because women have always played an important role in every single case in the world.

What I picture for a better world is something really simple and easy. Hope should take control. A peaceful world is a world full of courage and love, a world that is full of faith, kindness, equality, and chances. A better world can happen when we start with ourselves first. When we let both men and women change our communities to what is best.

To find peace, we need to be educated. As my dad always said, “to live in peace you have to be strong. And to be strong you have to get an education. Peace can’t occur if you are either weak or illiterate.” And my dad convinced me by his words, because when you fight for something you should always have statistics and knowledge. If you know nothing about it, then you lose the fight.

Peace is when we help and care; it’s when we look after poor, orphaned, injured, and sick people. The world is so small that we have to help folks we don’t even know. We should let them see that we are there for them and that they exist.

Peace is where you give and offer; it’s where you think positive. Peace is when people stand next to each other and stop bullying or killing.

People want to learn, face the world, travel, volunteer, and do other stuff that I can’t do in Palestine. We deserve life and we deserve to have fun! Peace is on its way to the earth.

Sincerely,

Roqia Al-Taweel

Age 16, Gaza

 

 

Emily, USA

Dear World,

My name is Emily and I am 20 years old, living in the United States of America. I am currently a student at a women’s college in New York City and a fast paced and inspiring community surrounds me every day. Going to a women’s college I see the value of women in a different way now than I did before. I had always been a self-proclaimed feminist but didn’t understand the nuances within the social movement nor the importance of intersectionality in understanding the world. I believe that most people in the world are similar to who I used to be—someone who was unaware of the world I lived in but with the desire to improve it in some way.

In order to achieve peace and equality in the world I think it is ESSENTIAL that people start learning about different identities and the struggles people face due to their identities that may not be obvious. It is important for men to try to understand what it is like to be a woman and to recognize our struggles. It is important for the youth to be educated and exposed to a diverse range of topics and people. It is important for men, just like any dominant group to recognize their privilege and to support those who do not have the same amount of privilege.

I have always been the type of person to go out and help those, who for one reason or another may not be able to help themselves, whether that be related to immigration, the judicial system or simply within a social setting. Our world is at a crucial point in history in which danger is not only taking shape in the form of war, but can occur anytime and anywhere, and can change the lives of a person and their loved ones forever.

People should not have to live in fear. 
People should not have to hide their identities. All people should be treated equally.

This will be hard to achieve and it won’t happen overnight, but in order to change our reality we need to change the social structures and mentalities of people in society to be more accepting and encourage them to stand up for others.

We can do this as women, as men, as children, as immigrants, as gay, as black, as white, as Jewish, as Muslim, as every person with every unique identity. Together we can make a difference in our world and together we can take steps toward equality and peace.

Thank you,

Emily Goldstein-McGowan

Age, 20 USA

Farah, Libya

Dear World,

My name is Farah and I am 23 years old. I live in a continent where war is constantly being driven by race, religion, poverty, and injustice.

I live in a country where conflict has been and still is a constant and on-going struggle, where individuals and families have been kidnapped, assassinated, displaced and exiled. When day-to-day basic human rights resources become scarce privileges and the path to social stability becomes constricted by rivaling governments and political situation.

As I write this letter, there is a war happening around 460 km from where I live, and another one in the eastern part of the country. Since the civil war broke out again in 2014, the “quality of life” which has already been low is now becoming non-existent, the ability to keep a positive attitude towards life and peace is diminishing and the hope for truce and reconciliation between cities, tribes and people has become overshadowed by the sounds of gun-fire, pride and greed.

Despite all the challenges we go through, there are aspiring young educated leaders in various fields who dream for a brighter future and work towards peace in Libya and the world. There are motivated young women who have broken social barriers and who will not submit to community pressures, in order to build a safer and a more prosperous life for their daughters and the next generations.

Sometimes, conflict is not always a bad thing; it could act as a starting-point for peace and global change. It may temporarily create a hostile environment with devastating effects, but it also builds a stronger generation with better awareness of their rights as human beings and a broader perception of acceptance and compassion.

Sincerely,

Farah Al-Atrash Tripoli, Libya

Hannah, The Netherlands

Dear World,

What are we doing? There is so much hatred and anger in the world we live in. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to change this. Oppression, violence, and hatred are engraved in humanity. In order to create peace, we need to be able to forgive. Decades of injustice can only be stopped if we learn to forgive. Creating peace is not a one-man or one-woman job. It requires us all to work together, even with the people that have hurt us the most. Of course, this is easy for me to say and I realize that, but it is the only way to truly move forward.

We also need to be more thoughtful towards each other. It is very easy to form an opinion when you only see your own perspective. Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would you feel if you were treated differently than others? You might realize that not everything is black or white. There is a lot more grey area in this world.

The way we were raised, what we see on TV, what we read online and so many other factors influence the way we look at different social groups. In different parts of the world different social groups are shown in a bad light. Our initial reaction to certain people can be explained by what we were taught to see, but we cannot use that to excuse the way we act. We all can control how we act. There are bad Black people and bad White people. There are bad Muslims, bad Christians, bad Jews, bad atheists and so on. However, that does not mean that the person in front of you is a bad person. Treat others how you would like to be treated. A little kindness goes a long way.

I aspire to forgive, to be thoughtful and not to let my surroundings cloud my judgment. I know that I was put on this world to help others. That is my purpose and I have known it since I was a little girl. I strive to do at least one good deed every day to make someone else happy.

What do you want your role to be in this world? What is your purpose? Think about and act on it, because it is our responsibility to create the world we want to live in.

Sincerely yours,

Hannah van Egmond,

Age 18, The Netherlands

Walaa, Egypt

walaa-badr

Dear World,

Our ancestors gave us the fundamental principle of freedom that set in motion today’s global system of government. This world must be safe for all of us or no one will truly be safe. We have ignored what happens in the rest of the world and have accepted time after time to live in a global political inferno, ignited over and over by a series of dictators and global terrorist organizations. We see what happen in Syria; we can see the innocence of children killed every day, but we still stand and watch. We see humans like us, wanting the right to live in peace, but we still refuse to give them their rights. We have duties to help the children of our world. I don’t accept living in a world where there is no justice, no rights and no peace: in a world that lost its humanity. Never forget that Syria, Somalia, and other countries in the Middle East are suffering while we are standing here. All of us are responsible. Never forget your duties to your universal brothers.

Sincerely,

Walaa Ahmed Badr

Age 18, Egypt

Naila, Algeria

m-k-naila

Dear World,

I want to introduce you to a 9-year-old little girl. She was beautiful, pure and sensitive. She lived in a peaceful society with her parents. This girl had a normal dream, in which one day she grows up to become a very, very successful young woman. She wanted to make her daddy proud, being his only girl. She always had the dream of being one of the best girls out there representing her society. This girl is me.

Hello there, my name is Naila, I am a 21-year-old young woman from Algeria. You should have guessed my problem by now. Well, let me tell you! Racism, discrimination and hatred.

I am a Muslim woman who once was an innocent child. I didn’t choose to be a Muslim, but if I had the choice, I would defiantly choose to be one. I wear the head scarf and I choose to cover my body. My parents did not require me to wear it, it was my choice and I am absolutely happy about it.

Dear world, I beg you to listen to my story. When people judge me for what I wear, for choosing to cover myself, it tears my heart. I am fed up with people calling me a terrorist.

Dear world, I am a normal girl. Like everyone out there, I laugh, I make jokes, I paint my nails, wear high heels, I watch movies, listen to music, I dance, and I even cook. I do everything a normal American girl would do, except I choose to cover my body in front of men, and practice my religion peacefully.

What hurts the most is every time I travel outside my country, I have to deal with people’s insults. They look at me with disgust in their judging eyes, they treat me like trash, they make jokes behind my back, and most importantly they call me and my family and all the entire Muslim population TERRORISTS.

Dear world, how can you judge a whole religion by a small group of extremists? How can you judge the whole Arab Muslim world by a few people who are insane?

I have to tell you that ISIS is not killing only the non-Muslims; ISIS is murdering, kidnapping and raping Muslim people too. Have you ever thought about how many Muslim children are being murdered or tortured to death every day by these people? Think about how many women are being raped and killed every single day in Syria, Palestine and Yemen and other Muslim countries. Think about the fear and terror they face every day. Think about the peaceful Muslim families, how they have to say goodbye to their loved ones in fear of never seeing them again.

I have a vision that someday, I’ll wake up to hear on that all countries are having a huge party, celebrating a world free from all cruelty, hatred, ISIS, murder, rape, violence, and corruption. Do you think this is impossible to achieve?

I have a vision that all the countries put their weapons down. I have a vision of a unified world. I have a vision of a peaceful beautiful world, with all its breathtaking natural sights and different colors. I have a great vision in a world in which all races, colors, religions, languages and hair colors live together. I have a vision in which people are not judged by the choices they make about their religion or their body. I have a vision of a world in which no matter what you are, no matter what you wear, or who you are, you NEVER have to fear their judging glares.

Finally, whoever is reading this peaceful letter; please know that you are an amazing, beautiful soul. Never let their words sadden you. Instead, smile and continue working hard to prove them wrong. Be successful and reach your dreams just like the great person you are.

Stay always happy.

Sincerely,

M.K.Naila

Age 20, Algeria

Yutian Lin, Canada

Dear World,

I am from a beautiful country,

A country that knows only peace.

Where conflicts will not steal our family,

No need to pray for war to cease.

 

People have asked if I love my nation,

I may have hesitated before I answered.

If asked if I love people and relations,

Would hesitation come again? Never.

 

People are what the world is in fact, made of,

Each and every one of us makes a difference.

As a member you should take responsibility, to

Change the world with your own actions.

Every moment could be spent with less hate, and more love.

I am Yutian, a 17-year-old from Canada. I am from a place where people are known to be kind, polite and say sorry a bit too often. I am from a nation that is known to be peaceful and rarely involved in conflicts. As an individual I have the freedom to pursue any degree and profession, never having to worry about my next meal or any physical danger. This is the world that I live in, but I find it a pity that not everyone could have this.

Every single person is different, but that difference is normal. At least, I would not want to live in a world of 7.4 billion people who are just like me. With every single person trying to take control, who are not creative enough to compose a single piece of music and with no sports in existence. This would be my worst nightmare. We complement each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses, so are not those people who are different from us even more precious than the ones who are like us?

No matter your gender, culture, religion, ethnicity, age, we are all humans living in the same world. I am not going to say “throw your biases of people out the window,” but try to give some time to get to know that new neighbour, colleague, classmate before you make your judgments. Since this is not a single way street, you also have to open your door for others to get to know you.

We are all tiny on this globe, but if every single one of us makes a bit of an effort to respect one another, I believe we will have a world that is even more beautiful than it already is.

Sincerely,

Yutian Lin

Age 17, Canada