On those days when I’m perusing Youtube for new clips, presentations, slideshows, or music, I’ll come across an artist like Zain Bhikha or Matisyahu that will put a new spin on my perspective on the youth movement for peace.
Today’s youth have grown through their lives surrounded by ideas and objects that previous generations would stare at in disbelief. We can watch our favorite TV show in an instant with cable, satellite, or On-Demand. We can get news updated astoundingly fast via the Internet, and people who were once separated from us by miles of ocean and expanses of land are now able to be reached in a matter of seconds. This is a great weapon that can – and has been – ignored, abused, or utilized.
Young people can often make wonderful use of the resources at hand, and the URI is a wonderful example of the power that comes with such technology. We are are a diverse body of people, from all corners of the globe and from every tradition imaginable, and yet, we are connected in a vibrant community by resources such as the email system, Facebook, informative websites, and regular chats. Outside of the URI, we can spread messages of peace and encouragement to friends and strangers alike in an instant. We can promote our own peace efforts and projects further than ever before. Our modern technological resources are a great tool that can promote the common good.
However, these resources can also be ill-used. Propaganda abuse and the spread of false information skews the truth and hurts all peace efforts. Media outlets, often bias and one-sided, cannot often be fully trusted as the ultimate and final source of truth in regards to current events and developments. The spread of misconceptions – about a country, a race, a culture, or a religion – is now easier than ever before.
Sadder still is the fact that many youth ignore the power of our modern technological outlets. Sure, some young people can easily connect to Facebook to joke and chat with their friends, and yes, some young people can easily play games on the computer with people from around the world, but they do not understand the wonderful power at hand. Instead of utilizing these outlets for the common good, they employ them as an escape route from the problems of the world. If more young people would set aside the game controller or put down the TV remote in favor of promoting peace and working with efforts and organizations that align with their worldviews and hopes for a better world, there would be an extraordinary amount of progress in the world.
In the end, it is up to us to utilize these powerful technological resources for the common good – to promote peace and understanding, and to put an end to violence of all kinds in the world. When I look at artists such as Zain Bhikha and Matisyahu, who have utilized these new forms of media and have used these new technologies for the common good, I am inspired and invigorated. In order to spread the message of peace and cooperation to the new generation, we have to continually turn to new methods of promotion and new highways of information. As youth, it is our responsibility to reinvigorate the world via these new media outlets, and everything we do will promote a culture of peace, understanding and hope.
This is the epitome of my hopes in the development of my Ambassadorial project, the Abrahamic Youth Alliance – an international chatroom and forum for Jews, Christians and Muslims. As an Internet-based group, we will be utilizing these new medias and attempting to connect young individuals from around the world for a wider perspective, with fresh methods, and working towards the same goal that we all strive for: a peaceful world.
Peter Dziedzic (Chicago, Illinois, USA)