HOLMGREN: Who can say no to peace?

Ashley Holmgren

It would be sad to think that America’s youth has become uninterested and uninvolved in many issues concerning today’s society, specifically in regards to the war on terror. Many assume that young people just don’t care, that they are apathetic and that they do not bother to have or express an opinion. As a generation, we seem to be preoccupied with extravagances such as iPods, video games and the search for the almighty dollar.

However, I believe that in truth, we do care – we just have not shown it yet. Considering that we have a stake in the outcome of the current war, America’s youth must recognize the need to take the plunge and get involved. Recent history has shown that youth movements have altered the fate of world events.

Studying abroad this summer in Chile, I witnessed my first student demonstration. Chilean students were staging a protest concerning the fees imposed by the government to cover universities’ admission tests and other requests that would lead to improving the quality of their education.

Students studying at the university I attended went on strike for a series of days. Instead of attending classes, they protested in the halls of the schools and across many major cities, holding up signs and chanting. Throughout the country, young people expressed their views in an organized and peaceful manner. Their power became evident as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet responded by agreeing to most of the students’ terms. This was an eye-opening experience for me because I was able to see firsthand the great impact that students my age had upon a government when they took a stand, acted in a peaceful and united manner and ultimately achieved their goal.

The Pope has articulated that he is against the war on terror and sees the end of the war as a priority. Every Sunday we celebrate and proclaim, “Peace be with you and also with you.” We should help the Catholic Church in its noble effort to gain a lasting peace. In these modern times, governments need to negotiate peace agreements; governments should be working together to resolve issues peacefully without the expenditure and barbaric loss of young and innocent lives.

Have we not learned from our mistakes in Vietnam? Instead of withdrawing from the war in 1968, our country waited until 1972 to finally end the war in a stalemate with even more American casualties. Vietnam showed us clearly that the loss of lives only leads to more lives lost. Our troops are tired of fighting this ambiguous war, and we want them home.

Experts have stated that the current war has escalated the risk of terrorism and made the world a more dangerous place to live. As of Nov. 27, there were almost 22,000 American casualties in Iraq. The war in Iraq has cost over $1 billion in Philadelphia alone, over $13 billion in Pennsylvania and $350 billion for the entire United States. Unfortunately, our generation will bear the responsibility of the war’s financial consequences.

With the outcome of this past election, it is clear that voters want a drastic change from our current status. It does not matter what your political affiliation is, this generation needs to ensure that Republicans and Democrats unite in a common goal. Learning to work together will help our generation and future generations enjoy peace in the future.

It is important to make sure that our voices are heard and that we do all we can to promote a lasting peace. We can start by putting up signs on our dorm windows that say “give peace a chance.”

Let’s be the first campus in the United States to join in this effort and let our voices be heard. Hopefully, other campuses will follow suit. The sooner our country comes together, the sooner our people will stop dying.