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The following are responses of young people who were asked to define peace, some wished to share their name and age, some did not.

Peace is…

Peace is quit, not fight.  Yohan

Peace is love that people show you and what you show to them.

Peace is happiness and a quiet place.

Peace is equality, everybody getting along everybody together no harm no violence just like bunny rabbits and rainbows no joke I wish the world was peaceful.   Kentrey

Peace is smiling, sharing and being happy with each other.  Caity, age 10

Peace is the sign you make with your fingers – you know, like a V. Joshua, age 8

Peace is when my little brother DOESN’T knock over my Lego building.  Cindy, age 7

Peace is something that due to over zealous armed forces will never be achieved. Shelbi, age 17

Peace is something our government is doing a fine job of making sure we will never live to experience, world peace is a “what if” and nothing more … Josh, age 19

Peace is when people are united. When serenity is the mood of the populous. When people choose to compromise instead of clash.  Lea, age 14

Peace is not being in war and not fighting. If we never had 9/11/01 happen then we would be at PEACE with Iraq. I have family in Iraq and want them to be home safe and sound.   Marie, age 13

Peace is where there is no war or fighting. It’s where people love each other. That’s what I think peace is.  Michaela, age 14

Peace is a quiet place where you lie (down) and think and have a wonderful idea of what you’re going to do.  Dashawna, age 9

Peace is a quiet place to sit down and hear the wind blow and lie down and read. Daija, age 10

Peace is to have fun with my sisters and to have peace and quiet and to sit down with my sisters and have fun.  Frank, age 6

Peace is the feeling of accepting yourself.

Peace is a feeling of calmness.

Peace is like the taste of chocolate on your tongue: warm, sweet, and smooth. Ray, age 11

Peace is smiling at everyone you see and having them smile back. Peace is everything realizing everything else exists/matters. Which?   Naomi, age 12

Peace is no war.

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Rachel Voit traveled to Germany this summer with the Ames High German exchange.

A family watches out for each other. They celebrate each other’s joys and cry for each other’s tragedy. A family sacrifices resources and time in order to support and help the greater good of the group.

Mankind is a family unified by the fact that we are all human. We can all prosper when cooperation, compassion, and understanding are the foundation of our civilization. We must learn to work together to accomplish common goals, to stop thinking in pieces but realizing that when we can all come together, so much more can be accomplished.

We should express sympathy and humility when considering the thoughts and actions of others, to use our skills and resources to help those who lack life’s essentials.

We have to seek to understand the reasons of our neighbors so that we may be empathetic to their cause.

We are all members of the human race; A family that is sometimes dysfunctional, but not beyond repair. When we begin to work together, share love, and embrace and accept our differences, we can unify as a family.
-Rachel Voit

Kevin Arritt traveled to Uganda this summer and last summer on the Ames High Uganda Project.

Upon returning home from my first trip to Uganda, all I could think about was how much I wanted to go back, how many unanswered questions I had. I tried to spend as much time as I could on my second trip to learn about what life is really like for Ugandans.

Talking to Ugandans about their hardships, I learned that the problems of Ugandans are many of the same problems we face in America; Alcoholism, drug addictions, corruption in government, food distribution, and abusive relationships, to name a few. As people, we must feel a sense of solidarity, not of charity.

I can safely say that going to Africa twice completely changed my views on the world. I realized that the hardships faced by all humans are quite similar. I could laugh and joke with people who barely knew my language, and I could empathize with people who had lost loved ones. This experience has made me realize what Tolstoy really meant when he wrote “I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders.” We are humans, we are united.
-Kevin Arritt

Sarah studied theater and art in Bulgaria for a month this summer.

How can we transform our world of divided people into a world of unity
and peace?

This summer I studied theater in Bulgaria with students from around the globe. Not all of us spoke the same language. But by collaborating on projects, we were able to gain an insightful understanding of each other’s wildly different cultures. Unity can be achieved through diplomacy and politics, through the far reaching power of world leaders; but true unity begins when people sit down together and actually get to know one another. The collaborative nature in the creation of art is one way to achieve unity.

This summer, I discovered that the globalization of the art and theater world not only produces art that contains richer concepts, but a people that understand one another- because the making of art cannot be stopped by language barriers or differing customs. All that art needs to become a reality is a spark of creativity and a group of open minded people who are willing to turn that spark into a wild fire.
-Sarah

Rachel Voit, Junior | Kevin Arritt, Senior | Sarah, Senior
Ames High School

The thing to do about human rights is not to talk about them but to defend them. So I will share a convenient and powerful means of acting in support of human rights that will affect all of us, both internationally and at home, right now.

At this moment when we making genuine progress against racial discrimination in the United States, we are being confronted with a rise of religious antagonism of a sort that we have not experienced since the era of Nazi fascism.

Along with most every newspaper subscriber in my state, I have just received a free movie in the mail that indicts “Radical Islam’s war against the West.” Its message is broadcast graphically by featuring the international symbol of the Islamic religion: the crescent and star.

If such a film title began with a Star of David or a cross, we would have little trouble in identifying it as the indictment of an entire religion, but we have become so familiar with statements about “radical Islam” and “Islamic terrorism” and even the only somewhat rarer “Islamo-fascism,” that we have learned to ignore the fact that they are implied indictments of Islam as much as they are literal indictments of a supposed variety of Islam.

“This is a film about radical Islamic terror, it is important to remember that most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror.”

A shorthand way of recognizing the mistake of accepting such language without immediate protest is to substitute your own faith or community for “Islam” or “Muslim” and consider how such language would make you feel if you were living in a land where you were in the minority.

Contributed by Gary Michael Tartakov, The Alliance for Global Justice

Like many children born during the Great Depression, my generation embraced thrift and responsible stewardship of limited resources. In my household, a penny saved was considered a penny earned. We recycled long before it became politically popular to go green.

During the Great Depression, international trade plummeted. Farm prices fell by up to 60 percent. The global economy suffered a free fall of prices, profits and prosperity. The shrinking economic situation and dismal unemployment rates paved a path of protectionism, nationalism and isolationism among the world community of nations.

Despite the world’s economic gloom and doom, I grew up on an Iowa farm in the l930s with an inherent sense of neighbor-helping-neighbor. A strong moral code of social responsibility, fiscal conservatism, environmental stewardship and economic opportunity bloomed into a politica1 philosophy I pursue to this day from the policymaking tables in the United States Senate.

From renewable energy to sustainable agriculture and free trade, my rural roots compel me to protect the Earth’s natural resources that regenerate the rich fields and maintain the purity of waterways for generations yet to come. Global food security is the fundamental lynchpin to world peace.

Living in the land of plenty offers Americans ample opportunity for prosperity and awesome responsibility to share our blessings with those whose lives are challenged by homelessness, poverty, disease, hunger and oppression. Geopolitical barriers and despotic regimes restrict the free flow of goods, capital and ideas. Protectionism widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots by increasing costs for consumers. International trade is the anchor to global prosperity. Allowing the global marketplace to meet supply and demand can serve humanity for the greater good – a rising tide to lift all boats. Consider that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. Turning our backs on our international friends and neighbors would turn back the clock and seriously jeopardize economic prosperity and geopolitical relationships.

As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which bears legislative jurisdiction for international trade agreements, I have long worked to advance international trade relations as a pathway to peace and prosperity for the global community.  What’s more, I understand commercial relationships build strong humanitarian relationships.

When Iowa struggled to recover during the farm crisis of the mid-l980s, I launched an effort to showcase Iowa’s people, products and places to the world community. Since 1986, I have hosted an international delegation of guests to tour Iowa every other year. We visit business and industry, academic institutions, cultural attractions and Main Street businesses.

Our international guests aren’t surprised by Iowa’s agricultural abundance. Many are enlightened by Iowa’s high-tech and research industries. Virtually all leave Iowa with an overwhelming appreciation for the personal relationships formed during their visits with Iowa workers, families and business leaders.

During these “11 Days of Global Unity,” I applaud the grassroots efforts of Iowans who are committed to raising awareness among their friends and neighbors. As Iowa’s senior U.S. senator and a family farmer I join you – through prayer and policymaking – to advance a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Contributed by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Does it matter how we get around and what patterns of development we choose in Ames? I challenge everyone reading this to first think about how many times a day a car leaves your house (the average number of trips per day in American suburban communities is 10 to 12.) Then consider how many people have died in oil related wars or “conflicts” in the last century. Consider what auto-centered living really costs us individually and in local, state and federal taxes.

Let us now consider how Ames would be different if we really wanted to begin to reduce the environmental impact of our transportation and development patterns and take sustainability seriously.

* What if Lincoln Way, Grand Avenue and 13th Street were tree/flower-lined boulevards with bike lanes, wide sidewalks, quiet traffic, 30 mph speed limits (for maximum car volume) on two travel lanes plus turning lanes? These modest changes would transform these noise streets that are dangerous to bikers and pedestrians to places people would actually like to travel and live. This, in turn, would allow many to consider combinations of biking, walking and busing as real alternatives to family ownership of second and third cars.
* What if most Ames households owned only one car and some ISU students were not allowed to bring cars to town? This would translate into 25,000 or 30,000 fewer cars in Ames. Instead, 30 percent could bus to work (now 10 percent), 25 percent could bike (now 10 percent), and 20 percent could walk (now 5 percent). Perhaps high school students would have to pay high fees to drive cars to school (this could cut their car use by 75 percent).

Much shopping could be done by bus and bike. People would see and get to know their neighbors – in buses, on bikes and small electric vehicles. Result? Ames would begin to feel like people lived here, not just cars.

* What if good land development patterns in Ames became the talk of the Midwest? Ames could be known for beautiful new neighborhoods, centered around the fabulous design of front porches, court yards, side yards and small front yards with beautiful landscaping, small parks with cars and garages hidden in alleys.

These are alternatives to residential streets dominated by miles of separate con-crete driveways, beige vinyl siding and thousands of garage doors facing the street.

* What if the land and infrastructure dollars saved by these sustainable measures made it possible to have renewably generated electricity, bike paths, more Ada Hayden-like places, neighborhood schools, pools, parks, winter/summer skating places and affordable housing?

This effort to convert future suburban sprawl to high tax revenue and much improved community design and amenities would make it clear to people visiting Ames that the quality of life here is unsurpassed.

* What if commercial areas of Ames were redesigned for people first and not just cars? Adapting most parking lots to parks, fountains, community gardens and affordable housing might invigorate neighborhood businesses, attract great coffee shops and restaurants and make it more attractive to spend many of those dollars here instead of in Des Moines or Disneyland.

These many ideas, taken together, could reduce our transport carbon footprint by at least half and save 30 percent of farm land. These ideas could also bring Ames together as a community of people instead of just a community of cars.

Contributed by Joe Lynch

Restorative Justice is commonly known as a theory of criminal justice that focuses on a crime as an act against another person or the community, rather than a crime against the state.

Restorative Justice takes many different forms, but all systems have some aspects in common. In criminal cases, victims may have the opportunity to express the full impact the crime has had upon their life, to receive answers to any lingering questions about the incident and to participate in holding the offender accountable for his or her actions. Offenders may be able to provide some type of compensation. Types of compensation may include community service, education or programming to prevent recidivism, or restitution: money paid directly to the victim for their loss.

Restorative Justice sometimes happens in the context of a courtroom, in the community or through a nonprofit organization. In the courtroom, a first-time, or low-level offender, may be referred to a Restorative Justice program. Many times, the offender will receive a deferred judgment, meaning that if the offender can successfully complete all of the terms and conditions that are assigned by the court, no judgment will be entered upon the offender’s criminal record.

In the community, the offender may meet with employees of a nonprofit organization such as the Center for Creative Justice. The center is Story County’s only nonprofit adult probation services provider. The center supervises approximately 800 cases each year. Without the center, those first-time and low-level offenders would simply receive a fine and/or jail sentence with little to no rehabilitative effort and absolutely no supervision.

The center’s staff supervises the payment of court costs and restitution, as well as the completion of programming such as substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, drinking drivers’ courses, batterers’ education programs, anger management, and parenting classes. The center’s probation officers also may help offenders secure resources such as employment or housing. Probation officers help offenders identify, and work on, needed areas of change.

More than 80 percent of our clients successfully complete their probation. With each individual success, our communities are strengthened.

Restorative Justice is calling us to a higher level of functioning, both as individuals and as communities. Many in our communities are ready to reach for a positive vision for our future. We are limited only by the scope of our vision and our belief in our own capacity to care about others.

Contributed by Mark Kubik, Executive Director, Center for Creative Justice

Sept. 11, 2008, marked the kickoff when Ames joins thousands of other communities, states, nations and organizations around the world recognizing
11 Days of Global Unity.

Sept. 11, 2001, is a date etched in the memories of every individual in Ames and around the world. Most of us can still recount the exact moment we learned the stabbing news piped from the East Coast within seconds. A sad new chapter in world history had been born.

Reactions varied from fear to hate to disbelief to helplessness to forgiveness. That week, I joined the stunned Ames community as we wandered from one candle light service to another – joining people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds coming together in stunned silence to contemplate the new world scene. The words of the refrain that still stick with me from that week were, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Now we ask ourselves where we are seven years later in following that direction. How have we translated this on the neighborhood and community level right here
in Ames, Iowa?

In this academic community, we are a long way from being able to give ourselves an A+. But as the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill reminded us, “All politics is local.” Thus, that elusive peace on earth must begin here at home.

What challenges do we face in making this a reality?

While we are proud of having been noted in recent months nationally by Money Magazine, Mother Earth and AARP, we must also recognize that we have significant challenges.

While our community has been acknowledged as one of the top places to retire, we are first and foremost a community that welcomes thousands of new 18-year-olds each fall. Their launching a new chapter of living independently from their families can indeed test local neighborhoods while simultaneously bringing our year-round residents an exciting infusion of activities and intellectual stimulation that is absent in most communities of 50,000.

All 50,000 of us need to be constantly reminded that being “One Community” doesn’t just happen. It takes effort on everyone’s part.

More recently, Ames has been part of a nationwide trend of mobility introducing us to people who have historically not enjoyed the benefits of middle class economic status, good education, safe streets and small town amenities.

The recent Inclusive Community Task Force performed an extensive self-exam-ination and recommended a host of areas where we could be more welcoming. This challenge requires constructive efforts for each of us – long term residents – as well as new.

Superimposed on this is an energized call to action to make Ames a community in which our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same clean water, breathable air, ease of transportation, which have beckoned people to Ames for generations.

And in order to maintain the amenities we have always known in Ames, we need to grow but grow with an environmentally sustainable conscience. And, I would add, that we need to grow with a conscience for the ascetics of every neighborhood and shopping area.

All these challenges cannot be met without jolting ourselves, as individuals, out of our own comfort zones and doing our bit toward sustaining our neighborhood, community and planet for future generations.

So, again, I remind myself, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Contributed by Ann Campbell, Mayor, City of Ames

Let’s think diversity and global unity. Hopefully, many Ames residents are participating in the local 11 Days of Global Unity celebration. This celebration is “designed to increase public awareness about humanity’s major challenges and encourage involvement in the solutions.”

Thinking about the celebration brings to mind a variety of thoughts about all the people who ought to be considered. For me, some of my thoughts can be shared. Others will be kept secret. The celebration makes me think diversity.

Diversity carries with it meanings that are positive and negative. The meaning, most likely, depends on intent.

In celebrating 11 Days of Global Unity, I want to view diversity in a positive way. I want diversity to mean that individuals and groups of people are different; but the difference comes with the full understanding of the importance of acceptance of, and respect for, people who don’t look or act like you or me.

Diversity is about seeing differences and acknowledging the importance of how those differences may increase our ability to care about others and their plight. The ability to work for the good of all is a necessary part of sharing this great world. Our share of the world is better served by our understanding and accepting differences that add depth and breadth to our views about those who should be considered as worthy of sharing in the collective peace, justice and wealth that many parts of the world enjoy.

In my take on diversity and by extension unity, I want being a human to be the first measure of diversity. That is, being human means one is approached as “one of us, not one of those people.” Where one’s race, ethnicity or other characteristic would be the last points on which we make judgments.

Celebrating peace and justice becomes something we want all humans to share. Global Unity is for the entire world not just for us in Ames or Iowa or
the United States.

Celebrating Global Unity is a time to celebrate the best in all of us. Let this celebration be a way for us to rethink what diversity means and the impact that meaning has on others.

Starting in October, Ames residents will have an opportunity to participate in “Community Conversations on Building a Stronger Ames … Including Me!” These conversations will help us to get know our neighbors and start building unity here at home. I encourage you to take part in the conversations.

Contributed by Barbara Woods, Community Conversations on Diversity Committee

The idea of global unity is an idea that challenges us to think on the large-scale of the globe as a whole. Thinking on this scale may cause us to consider how we are to effect peace and unity between political units like nations and their governments. And surely, if we have global unity as an ideal and a goal, then we must seek constructive and peaceful relations on the scale of geopolitics.

But global unity is not just a matter for governments to work out; we as individuals can enact unity on the scale of our personal relationships. In our interactions with the people in our daily lives – our partners, families, friends and coworkers – we can create the loving relations that are constitutive of our ideal of unity.

My life is my material for creating global unity; or, rather, our lives are our materials for creating global unity. In our own lives, we can increase the total sum of love on the globe by establishing loving relations with all the people around us. Now, that is an easy thing for me to write, and it is usually an easy thing for me to believe, but the actual practice of establishing and preserving loving relationships is not at all easy.

Love is not just a word or a sensation, it is also a continuously renewed activity, an ongoing practice. And seeking unity with others through our active practice of love is a very demanding pursuit, because the unity of a self and another involves making compromises, abandoning powerful grudges and, most difficult and most empowering, forgiving and being forgiven.

Anyone who has curbed the power of the self enough to ask forgiveness of another knows how challenging it is to preserve unified relationships – how challenging and how profound.

Each one of us occupies a small, living corner of the globe where we can embody global unity. “Global unity,” then, is not an abstraction and it is not a far-off goal for an idealized future. Global unity is an active, ongoing process that we can participate in every day by creating loving relationships in our daily lives.

Contributed by Nate Logsdon, President, Time for Peace

In the past several months, people in Iowa have had many opportunities to give and receive compassion. When the tornados hit across the state, people were ready to give of their time and money to do what they could to ease the pain and suffering of their neighbors. When the rains came, those on high ground went out to fill sandbags. As waters receded, helping hands and supplies were ready to aid families get back to a sense of normalcy.

In times of natural disasters, it is rather easy for people to get out of their comfort zones and reach out to a stranger with care, kindness and compassion. But there are other times when compassion is much harder to show. Times when peoples’ differences set up walls and we question whether an individual deserves the helping hand or the kind word.

Sometimes we see a situation and know we could do something to make a difference but choose not to get involved. We choose not to show kindness but to look the other direction.

The words of the song “Not Too Far from Here,” by Ty Lacy and Steve Siler, remind me of people I meet every day as I look for ways to reach out to people in need. The song speaks about people in need, being troubled and confused, lacking hope, and although we may not know their names or faces, we may be the ones who may be sent to help them in the midst of their pain. We may be the one who has the smile, warm handshake or encouraging word that gives them the strength to go on.

Compassion is not pity. It is more than sympathy. Compassion is the ability to look into the person’s eyes and listen, truly listen to what is behind the words. Is it fear? Is it loneliness? Is it emptiness? Is it hopelessness? Sometimes we hear the story and want to run because it will take too much time to listen and we still have so much to do. We may be scared.

Over the years I have learned that in the middle of a crisis I cannot say, “Sorry, my shift is over. I’ll be back at 8 in the morning!” I learned that there are times I need to stay, to dwell with the person and be fully present with them until the crisis is past and some form of hope is restored.

Compassion is the ability to walk through the struggle with someone and help them know they can make it through to the other side. Compassion does not place judgment on the person, but looks at the individual as a person of sacred worth. Compassion is the beginning of helping someone find healing and wholeness in life.

As we live and move about our community, may we be guided by a bit of compas-sion, the kindness and caring that restores dignity and worth to all whom we meet.

The Rev. Henrietta Klarenbeek

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