“Young people have this opportunity to be the bridge between the polarization—we are not old enough to be affiliated with a party yet—we are just the youth who want our schools to be safe to study in, we are just the youth who want our friends to be safe and not profiled as immigrants, we’re just the youth who want our voices heard and taken to heart.”
- Catie – Christian-American participant, 15 years old
My dad is an Episcopal priest, a minister and a doctor. My mother is a former reporter and teacher who is pretty involved in social justice issues. Largely because my father’s path in the church, religion has been a big part of my life growing up and I definitely identify as a Christian.
There’s a misconception that all Christians are all conservative. But in my life, my religion has informed my socially liberal views. To me, my religious texts support every human life, and say every human being should be loved and have access to human rights.
The role of religion for an American peacemaker can be an absolute motivation to make change. I use my religion to propel me forward. It’s where I find meaning, my reserve, and my drive. In fact, I would call my religion the backbone of my activism. Of course, interfaith peace action is something I’m super passionate about, so education about religion and creating places where youth who share a belief can come together to make change is extremely important to me.
When you only hear opinions that came from your own faith, that are similar to yours, you are limited. But interfaith dialogue opens you up—you learn about others, but in turn, it teaches you more about yourself. You broaden your horizons and expand your worldview. That connects to activism and peace-building because knowing you don’t know everything comes from these types of dialogues.
Kids4Peace allows you to move out of your comfort zone, and meet people who are different from you, or people who you’ve been told are trying to harm a US ally, or who are supposedly violent.
Young people have this opportunity to be the bridge between the polarization—we are not old enough to be affiliated with a party yet—we are just the youth who want our schools to be safe to study in, we are just the youth who want our friends to be safe and not profiled as immigrants, we’re just the youth who want our voices heard and taken to heart. These are all just basic rights that we want to protect, to build a good future for ourselves.
Through all this work I’ve realized how much impact the youth can have, and as an upper-class white woman living in America today, as someone who has access to a lot of resources and the chance to educate myself about what my friends who aren’t as privileged face, I have the potential to make a lot of change. But only if I take the opportunities that I have access to.
It’s a time of extreme polarization—our country is really divided right now. And not only are we divided from each other, we are separated from the rest of the world. Being a young activist and advocate means I’m in this not to support a political agenda—I’m in this to help others, and build a better future for me and my friends.