From the pay-it-forward philosophy that my mother ingrained in me, boundless optimism and from my experience, I would like to share my insight on how I contribute in creating a peaceful world. Peace for me is not just peace amongst people, but more importantly, within ourselves.
There are two challenges that I believe, if brought to awareness, would bring peace, they are defining our own paths and challenging our beliefs.
The first challenge is rooted in people following borrowed paths of their family, friends and community, living most of their lives never exploring where their true passions are. Society is driven by the rationale that if we don’t achieve certain milestones then we will never be happy; people chase the ‘status quo’ of how they ‘should’ live instead of how they ‘want’ to live.
The model is purely an economic one, focusing on a materialistic spree and financial security. People often replace passions for the analysis of people’s opinions and standards. To find peace, we need to discover our own interests and create a life of meaning where one sets their own standard. When I was running training programs for AIESEC nationally and regionally for 1500 MENA youth the most powerful question was “What do you want?” Often most youths had never been asked that question and were astounded when they realize that they are focusing their energies and running someone else’s race.
Everyone is looking for something and the moment they realize what it is, life is transformed as they have found a purpose that is truly their own.
Common excuses range from, “my contribution won’t make a difference” to “I have no time, money, or expertise”. What if we were to use our creativity to think of solutions? What if we reinforced beliefs that life is an evolving growth process, in order for us to succeed, must we not also dare to experience failure?
She met 8 year old Fatma who didn’t go to school as she had to walk two hours daily to collect water for her family of five who lived in a room equivalent to three bathroom cubicles. Fatma blonde hair resulted from lack of nutrients and she wore a thick sweater in the intensive 43 degree heat because that’s was all she had.
My classmate was traumatized by what Fatma had to go through that she started to focus on engaging more volunteers to support this community. Through that experience, my classmate pushed herself outside her comfort zone and began volunteering regularly, channeling all the “but…if”s to “what…if”s and assisted the growth of the programs.
I learned that young people can elucidate that by constantly challenging themselves, that change of perspective is a very powerful tool for growth but also for achieving peace.
We need to resolve our internal turmoil and ensure that we have control and are able to manage our emotions and realize that we need to become more aware about our own wants and needs.
Identifying what is important to us to help us find meaning, re-looking at perspective and celebrating our daily blessings are small actions. This is how one finds peace in a materialistic age.”