Be an advocate for worldwide peaceOct 2nd, 2009 | By Nate | Category: Columns, Opinions
by Nate Bassett
I am a spoiled child. And if you’re reading, it’s likely you are too. Why is that? For one, you were born in the most privileged nation on the planet. Second, it’s likely you grew up in a relatively happy environment, and third, we have never experienced a fraction of the hardship much of the world endures daily.
Not to fault you for your birth; I believe all people should be treated the same irrespective of their origins. But because we are sheltered, we see the world through a cloudy lens, fogged up by our ignorance and naivety. That perspective isn’t shared by those whose lives are marred and tattered from violence, conflict, and war.
Violence begets violence, and many people who have pain forced on them propagate that struggle in their lives. Some would say that the nature of man is conflict. In a word, war. But violence is not strictly an evolutionary trait. It is a culture we learn through societal values and mores. And it is something we can unlearn, in time, with our words, our actions and our lives.
Building a sustainable society of peace is a monumental challenge; in fact it goes against the competitive mentality of selfishness that is celebrated by everyone who has something to lose and is cursed by everyone who has nothing to protect. But in a cooperative spirit of altruism, where we analyze the problems we are each facing, we can be real peace builders by addressing the causes of conflict rather than the symptoms of injustice.
The Student Peace Alliance advocates for a US Department of Peace and Non-Violence that will address the root causes that we are facing at home and abroad. Terrible circumstances in our country give rise to problems like domestic violence, juvenile crime and gangs. Despite our overwhelming military presence around the world, conflict zones fester and escalate into the wars of tomorrow. A US Department of Peace is an institutional way to address these issues at the highest levels of government and to examine the means to solve issues before they destroy lives and continue the cycle of violence.
Beyond that, SPA is a way for like-minded students to get together for the things they believe in. We will find ways to impact our community with the values of our mission; integrity, compassion, courage, creativity, and community. And by our influence, we will pass on and promote those values among others.
There is a paralyzing amount of apathy among fortunate people who take their rights and freedoms for granted. The most capable people in the world become the most useless when they think this way. The insidious thought that “I can’t change anything,” is what keeps real change from happening, the sort of change that goes beyond a campaign slogan into something that affects people’s lives.
You have the chance every day to go outside your sheltered, privileged life and be the difference the world needs. Changing the world starts with changing yourself. Student Peace Alliance is a way to help that happen. If you are interested, please contact me at PeaceMSU@gmail.com.