Filip, aged 15

“Our work for peace must begin with 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  

Peace is no material thing, it must be defined by justice, and state of mind. Peace is not only the absence of war and violence, but furthermore a value that is imprinted into each one of us. It must be discovered, experienced and passed on. Each individual has the power, not necessarily to change the world over night, but to inspire change. And to inspire change, we must all be driven by the values of equality, respect and dignity. To define peace, we must firstly define ourselves as peaceful. To define justice, we must define ourselves as just. The world consists of each one of us, and how can there be peace, if we do not inspire it? We all have a responsibility to contribute to the building of a better world.

“We must be without fear” does not necessarily exemplify the human trait of being fearless. It symbolizes to live unaffected by fear; fear to dream and fear to change. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his inaugural speech, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” We must not be afraid to dream, and we must not be afraid to change. Before we can start changing the world for the better, we must firstly do the same to ourselves. This means going against the human temptation to judge and to simply observe. We must take action for our dreams, fueled by our inner peace. Violence breeds violence, and we must not only encourage the stoppage of it, but the prevention of any initial act or thought of violence. We must not fear violence, but take a stand for peace. Only following our courage, driven by the want and need for peace, can we build a world without fear: without the terrorizing fear of knowing you cannot feed your children, walk the streets safely, or express your views without getting arrested. To eliminate this fear, we must all uphold the fundamental principals of human justice, and rule of law to secure peace.

Actions, no matter how small, characterize a person, not words. Although words, such as those of Dag Hammarskjöld can inspire these actions, Hammarskjöld’s words have inspired actions for peace in the morals of thousands, and of course, the UN. As Dag Hammarskjöld said: “To build a world of justice, we must be just.” Justice is a very difficult word to define, as it is very relative to the respective nation. Legally, it is unfortunately impossible to agree on a world-wide definition and law of justice. This is why, we must trace justice back to each individual. As Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” As we are all born equal in dignity, we each have the responsibly to act just towards each other. One simple idea, which has been around since the beginning of civilization holds the key to a better and more peaceful world: This idea stated that you must treat others with the respect that you would like others to treat you with. But before we can shape our world into a world of justice, we must accept the responsibility to be just.

This month, the world celebrated the 80th birthday of legendary South African archbishop Desmond Tutu. Together with Nelson Mandela, Tutu embodied the peaceful struggle for truth, reconciliation and the end of the discriminatory regime inSouth Africa. They did not shoot a single bullet, or raise their voice in anger or frustration: instead they energized the hopes and dream of a nation to build a peaceful future of dignity for all its citizens. What emerged was the “Rainbow Nation” where all people irrespective of race or belief, could play a role in shaping their country’s future. We see how his words have inspired not only belief, but actions of justice and peace to secure a better future. We should all take this as an example and follow these peaceful actions. In everything we do, we must believe that justice, and courage to achieve justice, yield peace.

Peace is not an abstract notion, it is something you must work at each and every day. We must not believe that others will escort it towards us, but that we must achieve it, and influence others to do the same. We must firstly be just and without fear, before we can, as Dag Hammarskjöld said, build a world of peace and justice. Effectively, we must abide by the memorable from Gandhi: “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” The following is a poem which I have written, which I believe exemplifies what I have written on this essay:

Leaves fall harshly from a tree,
striking the could ground beneath.
They wait for change,
Which will only come too late.

The leaves, immobilized by fear,
Are crushed by the bitter old man.
He violently rips them to pieces,
They just beg for release.

Above, green leaves flutter peacefully,
Caressed by the gentle wind.
They inspire belief,
Releasing the oxygen for the world.

If only the others had not just waited,
but for a better world conjugated,
Maybe they would be at peace.

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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