Bibi, aged 15

“Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just.” – Dag Hammarskjöld 

Searching for peace and justice within us may be one of the hardest tasks with all the prejudice in our souls. We are raised into a world filled with fear, which eventually catches up with us.

Born and raised into a family who taught their children about the injustice of peace and freedom given to our nation, it was an extreme difficulty to learn to accept the people I had heard so many things about throughout my childhood until today. Growing up in a cosmopolitan city, and going to an international school opened my eyes to their point of view and their ideas to maintain peace. Our ideas couldn’t have been more different. As I would progressively learn more each day about the situation of these two countries in the Middle East at a horrifying, appalling war, I learned to judge the situation on my own. My parents grew up in an era of war and forced deportation and sense of loss of all their family’s owned land, pictures, money, house and every single other thing they could possibly own. Thus, they were never able to forgive and forget what was done to them. However, my brothers and I learned to respect and tolerate the other side’s point of view despite our differences and the prejudice of the years.

Hence, we opened our eyes and have more appreciation to the other side.  This is where our search for peace within our private world began for each of us. We view the world from an omniscient point of view, trying our best not to include our personal lives into a political movement or opinion. Everyone needs to strive to this balance. People tend to completely identify with one side and one ideology. Instead, everyone should try to understand the issue at hand, making their own judgment of their knowledge in the subject, and ignoring their personal feelings towards the issue.

To build a world without fear is an extremely difficult, almost unattainable, thing to accomplish. Fear is all around us. It can be caught sight of simply in the streets to an employee in fear of losing his job, especially in times like these. As there is so much fear incorporated in human beings we feel the need to act outwardly with the use of violence. We fear not having our own rights. We fear not maintaining our life style, high or low. We fear losing everything. Pockets of desperate poverty in the world are the ideal birthplace of fear. Basic needs such as food and shelter could potentially drive people into aggression.  Absence of justice and abuse of human rights is leading humans to act this way. There is nothing more important than assuring that people’s rights are respected, that their belongings are protected and that their lives are free from fear and that they shall flourish in peace.

Building a confident world starts with making everyone feel secure. Many countries are far from this. Is it fair that in the west side of the world we are over nourished and spoiled? Is it fair that human beings are starving in Ethiopia and Somalia? Any person with a sense of logic would answer negatively to these questions. So how can we, people from developed countries, help people to overcome this poverty, thus this fear that plays such a grand role in their life. We can start alleviating their fear by demonstrating comfort and convenience to them. If they feel secure, it’s a step forward to building new relationships and trust between one another.

If everyone were to treat them with justice they would not feel inferior to the rest of the world.

If every single person is just towards others, our world will significantly grow peacefully towards harmony. This is linked to building a world without fear. We can do so by giving everyone the human rights they deserve.

Someone who is treated unjustly and unfairly will react with fierceness, which is completely normal. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice”.

Wherever there is justice, there is general contentment. For example, this can be seen in Switzerland where people have the right, for instance, to vote for all aspects governing their social lives and relationships.

While in the Middle East the absence of justice has lead to the Arab spring where the youth who felt dismissed, marginalized and unheard rose and revolted against the social injustice demanding their freedom and human rights. Despite the fact that they were governed under dictators for the past forty years they managed to tumble down the government in a rather peaceful manner. Such examples prove that justice, hence peace, can take place and the people shall never give up.

It is obvious that a country with the absence of justice is filled with sorrow and displeasure. For example, the people of Somalia have done nothing erroneous to deserve what has come their way. It is not their fault that there is a civil war and famine and yet they are paying for all the ills of Somalia.

Every human being has the basic right to eat; it should not be a charity it should be secured to everyone. Surely this would not happen were they given the basic democratic principles. It is up to the developed world to help the people of undeveloped, poor countries, such as Somalia, find their way out of their misery, sufferance and anguish.

Dignity, democracy and social justice are the first steps to building our world to a better tomorrow. We should start building these three essential ingredients into our own private worlds. If each person practices, shares and expands this, the world will find itself flourishing into the path of peace. As George Washington said, “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

Dag Hammarskjöld was absolutely correct when saying this visionary statement, “Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just”. These three short sentences could summarize our aspiration for peace in today’s modern world. Though we are filled with prejudice, one who takes the time to search for peace within him can persuade others to do as well.

About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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