One of my professors stated that the first 15 years of the 21st century is going to be defined by conflict and terror in the history books. In light of recent world events, it seems like that statement couldn’t be more correct.
Over the past few weeks, it seems like I haven’t been able to take a breath without hearing about conflict and terror in the world. News of Syria, Paris, Mali, Nigeria, San Bernardino, and countless other incidences of tragedy filled my head. The violent attacks themselves are devastating, and the responses broadcast through major media sources and personal social media sites are tragic. It seems news of these events spark a brief period of solidarity, followed by a long period of finger pointing, name calling, and pushing away. For a while, I felt jaded, depressed, and overwhelmed. Pessimistic thoughts race through my head: Why is terror lurking behind every corner? Is this the world I am resigned to live in? What is wrong, and why am I surrounded by so much hate?
The problem is, I keep asking “what is wrong with the world?”, rather than asking myself “what can I do to make it right?”
Terrorism may be scary, but we cannot give in to the fear. We may not be able to control the next terrorist attack, but we can control how we respond to it. We may not be able to control the next outcry of violence, but we can control the images we paint on our Facebook walls. We may not be able to stop others from hating, but we can stop ourselves from succumbing to the bigotry that appears to be engulfing us.
The question now is: how? How do we promote peace? How do we make peace more sustainable than terror?
Peace is not a faceless entity, but a natural resource. No, peace will not heat your house or help you get to work in the morning. But it will make the world in which we inhabit a better place. Let’s recognize that peace is a rare and precious natural resource and treat it with the respect it deserves. We take little steps in our life every day to preserve the environment: we recycle, and turn the water off when we brush our teeth. So why don’t we take little steps to preserve peace on earth? World peace does not start at the United Nations in New York City, but in our own homes in humble Durham, New Hampshire. Let’s make a conscious effort to love more than we hate. Let’s begin a Sustainable Peace Movement.
This Sustainable Peace Movement can be thought of as a combination of negating-the-hate and paying-it-forward. Everyone can play a part. It can be as easy as posting a heartwarming video on your Facebook wall to counteract the hateful messages of your so-called Facebook friends. Why not call that real friend you lost touch with? Maybe you take it a step further and befriend the quiet student sitting alone in the dining hall. Maybe you go even further and embrace a culture that is completely different than your own. Maybe you take the altruistic route and begin volunteering weekly at your local soup kitchen. As long as love and peace are the primary motives, you will be promoting Sustainable Peace!
Sometimes, it is hard not to let negative messages penetrate us. It is hard not to get lost in the “if it bleeds, it leads” ideals of the mainstream media. While it is important to stay informed with current events, it is also important to understand that there is so much goodness surrounding us. As some added inspiration, check out this website that only posts happy, positive news stories. I challenge everyone to post one of these stories on your Facebook wall, as your first step to contributing to the Sustainable Peace Movement.
We cannot change the tragedies of the past, but we can inspire the progress of the future. Yes, the first 15 years of the 21st century may always be defined by conflict and terror. But that doesn’t mean the next 15 years of the 21st century can’t be defined by peace and love. It starts here. It starts now. Your move, Wildcats.