The Affect Of One On Many

The Affect Of One On Many

What I took away from Ms. Marhaban's peace building strategies and how that can cause the rest of us to change others.

When I think of political issues in the U.S., it can only leave me in a headache. The headache grows when I try to discuss these problems amongst peers and find too many people end up either angry and stubborn, or quiet and never say their piece. Our politics has come to a point where there is no such thing as a discussion, and people end up yelling over one another or post slander on social media. Worst yet is that I believe our media feeds a large part of this. On television, we'll see news anchors, professionals, politicians, and common citizens talking about their unrest and how everything in the U.S. is going to hell. This unrest is troubling and, if anything, is causing more problems than fewer, because people are losing trust and faith in those who cared to protect them and their families. It can almost feel as though the same values we try build ourselves upon are being violated left and right before our own eyes, and there's nothing you can do. I know I feel that way at times and feels so easy to give up, but it's in those little moments in between when I realize that there are still those fighting to make the world better. One of those people was Shadia Marhaban, a peace builder mainly working in Indonesia.

Towards the end of the school year at W&J I attended two of Ms. Marhaban’s sessions. One was a welcome reception of the exceptional peace builder, and the second one was her lecture in the Allen Ballroom regarding her work in Indonesia. I was impressed by her lectures and her work. I was impressed because her work was based on cooperation, something that feels intangible in the United States. The U.S. has a tendency to televise our differences in politics and to use this to create unrest as a solution for problems, but to have someone like Ms. Marhaban prove cooperation more useful, was eye opening. It was interesting because with someone like Ms. Marhaban using peace building strategies, we in the U.S. don't televise more about her cause and others like it, using peaceful techniques and advertise cooperation. Unfortunately, I think part of this problem may come from the U.S.'s past of being on top for so long. I think we've become so accustomed of the U.S. overcoming disasters with American citizens leading the future with innovation and now that we are coming across problems we can't fix with past tactics, it unnerves the populace.

Many of the hardworking Americans that would rely on old industries, like coal, lost their jobs and have some difficulty turning to newer occupations. Progressive minority groups find that it's harder to have the public have conversations over prejudice, and to get injustices retconned by their congress, only then to find that these conversations are not happening and many of their congress officials shrug these issues off. Scientists and science enthusiasts are facing swaths of people distrusting facts and regressing back to falsities like claims of vaccinations giving children autism. Americans have come so far that it is frustrating to know that now we are facing a threat that can destroy America, but not with missiles and military force, but with the clenched fists of frustrated Americans. Any more of this unrest and America may be doomed to a similar fate as Rome. So what can we do to prevent that?

When I mull over this question in my mind, I reflect on a quote that I remember from one of my favorite books, Space Chronicles by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Mr. Tyson stated, "Until recently, space exploration stood above party politics. NASA was more than bipartisan; it was nonpartisan. Specifically, a person's support for NASA was uncorrelated with whether or not that person was liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, urban or rural, impoverished or wealth." I believe Mr. Tyson was on to something about American politics, especially outside of the realm of science. The U.S. is turning many social issues and exploration as a matter of politics rather than as a matter of "nonpartisanship," as he coined it. It may be that some of what we are doing is politicizing the issues too much, to a point where it is getting difficult to differentiate a political party's stance from the social matter. For instance, when it comes to the issue of African Americans being shot by cops, it is common for people to assume that if you are a Republican, then you don't support black lives, and that if you are a Democrat, you don't support cops. Yet that doesn't have to be the case, but it makes it so because we have politicized this social matter rather than put it under this realm of nonpartisanship.

I believe the reason Ms. Marhaban is successful is from working at this angle of nonpartisanship, where the issue of peace isn't a matter of conservatives versus liberals, but a matter of human compassion. Ms. Marhaban isn't alone in that fact either, because others like Malala Yousafzai and Desmond Tutu still fight for social justice and peace amongst people. Plus, many of us in W&J can do so as well. We can participate in active conversations on these social topics, we can attend sessions like the one I went to, and W&J also offers a robust Conflict-Resolutions Studies course. It doesn't have to only fall on a few to solve these problems, but can turn into the responsibility of the citizen to better their communities with active participation on these social matters.

P.S. I know that Mary Montigue will be returning to W&J and that she will hopefully give a lecture, so keep that in mind for all of the freshmen out there.

For more information regarding Ms. Marhaban you can visit Inclusive Security:

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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