“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

By Zoe Jannuzi

There are some concepts in which we believe despite the difficulty of seeing any evidence of their existence. Religion is perhaps the most obvious example. Although for some, the physical evidence of their belief is apparent, many people believe in some higher power without the need for concrete proof of their faith. The concept of love is similar. Love can be shown through gestures, but is also something which most people believe exists even when they cannot see its physical manifestation. However, outside of these few examples, it is harder (though definitely not impossible) for people to believe in things which they cannot see.

This week Pushpa spoke to us about the practice of decolonizing knowledge. Though I love, and whole-heartedly support the idea, my colonized brain has trouble understanding how the process of decolonization will work in the long-term. Things that will take longer than my lifetime to complete, or venture even farther into the future than I could ever imagine, are tough for me to process. Even imagining a world where everybody has the tools to recognize all the ways that our world is colonized seems about as far-fetched to me as imaging a world with no conflict.

Just in case you thought that wasn’t hard enough, though we are working towards decolonizing our minds, decolonization is a goal, not an endpoint. Just as there is no such thing as “post-conflict,” a fully decolonized world can never exist.

Believing in God or a higher power despite being provided with no physical evidence of their existence is one thing. Spending your life believing in, and advocating for, a God or higher power while knowing for sure that you will never be provided with any physical evidence is quite another.

How then does one work towards something one cannot even begin to imagine? How do you continue to believe in decolonizing knowledge?

Pushpa provided one possibility. One way to start decolonizing knowledge is by decolonizing your mind. On a micro-scale, decolonization is easier to understand and implement. I may not have the capacity to radically imagine what a society that practiced decolonizing of knowledge would look like, but I can begin to imagine what my brain might look like if I practiced decolonization of knowledge. In this way, I am beginning to create that society.

You can also approach the concept of decolonization from the perspective of the other systems you believe in without full understanding. Most people believe in love, even if they have never experienced being in love. They may have little concept of the feeling of true love or the way being in love will affect their life. They may also be unsure as to whethere being in love is a recognizable destination or a process they’ll come to realize they have been going through. Yet they have this faith that one day they’ll be able to say they’re in love. Maybe this is how we approach decolonization. It doesn’t mean we can’t wonder about the practical application, but this approach suggests there needs to be some aspect of blind faith in your approach to decolonizing knowledge.

Ultimately the way you approach decolonizing knowledge needs to be personal. One idea of decolonizing knowledge is that systems, including the hierarchical passing down of tools and theories, need to be analyzed and decolonized. Whichever way you end up going about it, I wish you the best of luck. And of course, if you’ve never been in love, but want to be, I wish you luck with that as well.

“History Has Its Eyes On You”

By Zoe Jannuzi

In Julian Barnes’s book The Sense of An Ending, there is a section where the narrator recalls a history lesson in which the students are asked to define history. The first student called upon responds that “History is the lies of the victors,” to which the professor responds, “Yes, I was rather afraid you’d say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated.” The second student responds that “History is a raw onion sandwich.” When prompted to explain himself further, he says, “It just repeats, sir. It burps. We’ve seen it again and again this year. Same old story, same old oscillation between tyranny and rebellion, war and peace, prosperity and impoverishment.” Lastly, the third student, when asked, replies that “History is the certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” While I prefer the third definition, I think the three come together nicely to encompass the discipline of history.

This week in Qamar-al Huda’s session, we were asked to think about the field of peace education. Incorporating peace education in schools involves creating formal peace studies courses, integrating peace studies into other disciplines, and bringing informal peace practices into community life. A critical aspect of the peace curriculum is the focus on re-defining history. Instead of merely defining history by periods of violent conflict, we must widen the circle to bring in social change movements, arts, music, culture, invention, etc. This is difficult. But, before we even attempt to re-think the way we have written history, we must consider why teaching history matters.

“History is the lies of the victors” & “the self-delusions of the defeated.”

If we see history as a method for recording lies or self-delusions, the purpose of history is to build national/ community identity. Thus “changing” history would be changing national identity. Whether they have deluded themselves or lied to others, people are unlikely to want to re-frame history because they’d then have to reckon with a more plural past.

“History is a raw onion sandwich.” “It just repeats, sir. It burps. We’ve seen it again and again this year. Same old story, same old oscillation between tyranny and rebellion, war and peace, prosperity and impoverishment.”

If we see history as the study of cycles of human achievement/ failure, the purpose of history is to learn from mistakes. Re-framing the past may disturb what is seen as a victory, and what is seen as a failure. This again requires an interrogation of community values, identities, and culture.

“History is the certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

If we see history as an imperfect discipline, the purpose of history is not to provide objective fact, but rather to analyze the information we have, and determine what stories are left out. Re-thinking history in this way can be very uncomfortable for the majority group. The stories of those who have been systematically oppressed are often not as comprehensively recorded as the stories of the majority group or oppressor are.

Ultimately, I reject the idea that history can ever fully be encompassed, whether it includes our peaceful moments or not. To catalog objective truth is impossible. In fact, I believe there is no such thing. The imperfection of words impedes the conveyance of “objective truth.” Similarly, though objectivity is often thought of as devoid of emotion, history devoid of emotion fails to capture an essential aspect of the human experience. But… I do like the theory (and practice) of peace education. When you define history as the complete record of the human experience, peace education can’t widen the discipline of history enough to fulfill the definition. However, if you narrow your definition of history to one of the three in Barnes’ book, the subject of peace education begins to become useful.

If history serves to create a national identity, steps must be taken to encompass as many of the stories of the residents of that nation as possible. This necessitates telling the stories of inventors, artists, musicians, activists, non-violent leaders, pop culture figures, marginalized peoples, and many others not connected to the military or wartime apparatus.

If history is simply a way to learn from and reflect on past mistakes, you must be sure to record as many challenges as possible. Although learning from the mistakes we make in war is necessary, learning about the mistakes we make as societies in peace may be just as important, if not more.

If history will always be imperfect, we must learn how best to tell our collective story. History books must be diversified and analyzed for misinterpretations and/or flaws. Although our documentation will always be inadequate, we must learn to put aside as much personal bias as possible when documenting or analyzing history.

I believe we should institute a peace education curriculum, mainly as related to the study of history. There will be significant pushback, but this is no reason for keeping history as it is. Even disregarding the question of whether to integrate peace into the curriculum, I believe most would agree that current written history is severely lacking in diversity of perspective. The lessons we would learn, and the multiplicity of truths we would have to consider as a result of implementing a peace education curriculum, make it well worth it.

“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”

By Zoe Jannuzi

During one of our sessions on Friday, Jerome Sigamani introduced us to the idea of carrying a story around with you to build peace. He shared the story that inspires him to continue working and told us that if we were to take only one thing away from his talk, it would be to find a story for ourselves. I was particularly interested in this advice as I had previously been contemplating the role that emotions and emotional stories should have in how we confront future situations as peacebuilders.

Last week, during one of our outings, we visited the Salinas police station and were able to speak with the chief of police, Adele Fresé, as well as some other officers. During our visit, the officers s a lot about the institutional culture of the police department. They classified themselves as type-A, unwilling to publicly show deep emotions, or accept help from others.

During dinner on Wednesday, somebody wondered aloud whether we, as peacebuilders, should have our own personality type or group identity. Earlier a group member had shared with us how their perspective on who’s cut out to be a peacebuilder has shifted. From what I understand, they have come to realize that there are people who are too quickly over-come with emotion to handle a life full of exposure to terrible, and often violent conflict. As researchers, we must act as so, responsible for pulling whatever knowledge and understanding we can from a situation, no matter how infuriating or upsetting it may be. On a basic level this might mean nodding in response to things regardless of how you feel on the statement. By giving the appearance of agreement, you put the speaker at ease, and can withdraw the most information. Under this logic, I would also feel compelled to restrain my emotions when hearing the story of a survivor of sexual violence. The general principle being that to continue to receive the most information possible, you cannot let your emotions overpower you and cause your body to shut down.

I don’t have a life of fieldwork behind me, so I can’t comment on whether a specific personality is really a prerequisite for a career as a peacebuilder, but I would like to push back on some theoretical pitfalls of creating an insider peacebuilder culture.

Should we work to develop a field identity? What would be the purpose of such an identity? Is there value in limiting ourselves? Who should be a peacebuilder? Who gets to be a peacebuilder? What is the purpose of hearing a terrible story if you numb yourself and can’t then use the knowledge on human emotion you have gained? What feelings are worth putting away? Do feelings get in the way of action? How do self-care and the ability to put on a brave face interact with peacebuilder culture?

I don’t believe that there should be one type of person in any profession. There may be those who are more suited for one job or another, but in general, I believe that everybody can participate in and make valuable contributions to whatever field they chose. I do, however, believe that institutional identities can serve some purpose. Selecting a common cause is one quick and strong way to unify a group of people. A shared identity can increase your resilience. But I also believe shared identity is limiting, both to the contributions we can make to our field, and also to our own personal growth.

At the police station, the officers spoke a lot about the hiring process, including background checks, investigations, interviews, and probationary periods. What interested me the most was what they said they were looking for. The offers all mentioned that they were looking to branch out in terms of officer personalities. They acknowledged that people with other personality types would bring more to the job then they themselves could provide.

In some ways I believe the job of a peacebuilder, and that of a police officer are very similar. In both professions, you are expected to be able to handle violence in a responsible manner. As a police officer, your job is more immediate and may require using force to counter violence. As a peacebuilder, you may not come as close to direct violence, (then again depending on your role you may) but you are still expected to act intelligently in the face of often heartbreakingly terrible situations. Workers in both professions often internalize some of the pain and suffering of the people they try to help. This is not only dangerous and damaging to the peacebuilder or police officer, but also, if it hinders the worker, extremely unhelpful for the community in need.

This is where a field identity might come in handy. In times of distress, it is often comforting to know that others in your situation experience similar feelings. However, with my understanding of actual police officer culture and the proposed peacebuilder culture, I see some pretty glaring opportunities for harm. Limiting acceptable emotional response to an event is one quite dangerous way to internalize feelings.

I take issue when people describe reactions to violent situations as calm or intelligent, but instead mean they are void of intense feeling. I do not necessarily view intense feeling as a significant impediment to action (although I am quite willing to hear arguments on this). In fact, I believe that when adequately reflected on, feelings may perhaps be one of our vast resources.

This is not to say that people shouldn’t make smart choices about what they can, and should subject themselves to every day. Just as it is unwise to become best friends with a person who abuses you each and every day, it is also unwise to choose a career that will subject you to intense pain or cause you to re-live trauma each day. As peacebuilders, we must not allow our job to become centered around our own emotional stability, but instead, we must recognize that to help others we must have full (as opposed to clouded) access to our thoughts and feelings. Rather than limiting potential peacebuilders by institutionalizing an appropriate level of emotional response, why not give peacebuilders the tools to transform overwhelming emotion into overwhelming action?

I’m interested in finding “my story to carry with me” as I continue my journey as a peacebuilder. I hope it is one filled with intense emotions and teaches me how to hold love and joy, but also sadness and anger.

“An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living”

By Zoe Jannuzi

On the first day of the program, we had a conversation and completed an activity about our values. We were asked to read a story and rate the characters from one to five based on the degree to which we thought their actions were reprehensible.

This exercise is always interesting to me. When I was little, I think I assumed that everybody held a shared definition of right and wrong. In elementary school, there were strict rules for conduct and clear consequences for breaking the rules. While I never blamed classmates for breaking the rules, and understood, at a basic level, that their identity and position in life had impacted their reason for breaking the rules, I think I believed that eventually my classmates would re-imagine our shared values and recognize the error in their action. Not until I was older, did I realize that though we were all sitting in the same classroom, and had all been presented with the same set of rules, each person at the school had slightly different values. Even within spaces, places, and cultures, it is impossible for everybody to share the same values.

The way we see right and wrong is shaped almost completely, if not entirely by the culture, family, and society we grew up in. Though in many places there are common threads of understanding, these threads cannot be extended to cross the entire world.

Throughout this program, many sessions have reminded me to consider the perspectives and values of the people speaking. Perhaps the clearest example of this could be seen in the session facilitated by Rosemary Soto. She was joined by a deputy district attorney and a deputy public defender, two women who agreed on many things, but, it seems to me, had different values and approaches. Learning about restorative justice, punitive justice, and reconciliation, I’ve begun to notice an overarching difference between those who work primarily on behalf of, or with those people who commit crimes, and those who primarily work on behalf of, or with those people who are targeted by crime.

Those who work primarily with people who have committed crimes tend to investigate the structures and systems that lead to that crime. “If only we could decrease the stigma around mental health, there would be less crime.” “If only we could decrease poverty, and increase access to quality education, there would be less crime.” “If only we could provide security and a sense of belonging, people would not join gangs, and there would be less crime.” These criticisms of a structure are crucial to peacebuilding. When you reach a structural level, any changes you implement will go beyond simply slapping a band-aid temporarily over the problem. And when you are constantly asked to empathize with a perpetrator of a crime, especially a violent crime, it’s often easy to see the systems and circumstances which played a role in leading the person to commit a crime.

Those who work primarily with people who have been the target of crime tend to focus on individuals and their unique needs. When working with individuals, one tends to (rightly) focus in on the unique needs of the individual and personalize their treatment, rather than using specific cases to fight larger battles with the systems. These people may not see larger systems, but they might be more able to understand the importance of details. For instance, the words “victim” and “survivor” mean different things to different people. “Justice” also looks very different to different people. These are the people who have begun to reform the way victims are treated by the system. These are the people who work tirelessly to ensure that “justice” is served.

Let it be said that the previous analysis is very general, is only based on two people (speaking together outside of the courtroom for the first time in their lives), and should not be seen to adequately describe perspectives in the whole of the criminal justice system. It is also not a reflection of the feelings (as I see them) of these women outside of their jobs. But I do believe the basic analysis of values and perspectives says something important about the way we should consume information and view our surroundings.

The more I learn, the more I think there is no best way to deal with violence. We must recognize that the needs of people matter on both large and small scales. Notably, we also need to realize that to build peace, we must work for justice and equity on both large and small scales. Jennifer and Elaine both work against the violence they see. Both believe that they are doing the best for the people they serve based on the problems they see.

Jennifer and Elaine demonstrated that working together is possible even when you are working on a substantial problem from two very different angles. But, this kind of collaboration is not always possible. It is our responsibility to make it easier for everybody to meet each other on an even playing field for collaboration.

“In the Eye of the Hurricane There Was Quiet… For Just A Moment”

By Zoe Jannuzi

This week has been a whirlwind for me. Whereas I usually find myself in the relative calm of the eye of the hurricane, recently I’ve been swept out with the havoc-reeking winds. Over and over again, this course has made me realize just how much the field of peace and conflict studies/ peacebuilding is ever-evolving, and, at least in this world we live in, chaotic.

In describing myself in my college application essay, I wrote: “My emotional roller coaster has mostly potential energy.” I still believe that the statement describes my personal life pretty well. I don’t think I’ve ever actually yelled at anybody. However, as I evolve, and am privileged enough to explore outside of the circles I grew up in, I’ve realized how much there is in the world that is worthy of my righteous indignation and drive. So too it seems, has Peacebuilding.

The first day of the course, Kevin Avruch described how the field of Peacebuilding has evolved. The Peacebuilding I’ve encountered, the one I always have trouble explaining to all my friends and relatives because of its broad scope, wasn’t always the reality of Peacebuilding. As Kevin explained, Peacebuilding began as Conflict Regulation/ Management. Wary of the absence of violent conflict (for conflict brings about change), early peace scholars sought to regulate conflict and begin to maintain negative peace. In 1990, John Burton introduced the concept of Conflict Resolution, adding to the field an underlying desire to get to the root causes of conflict. This focus on structure still helps to define the field today. And peacebuilding scholars and practitioners have only gotten more ambitious. Today, thanks in part to Lisa Schrich, Peacebuilding not only seeks to recognize the underlying structures of conflict, but to actively work peace into these underlying structures.

The study and practice of Peacebuilding require attention to so many moving parts. I couldn’t catalog them even if I tried. The list would evolve faster than I could type.

As Pushpa Iyer reminded us, in the world of Peacebuilding, there is no such thing as “post-conflict.” While there may be a cessation of large-scale violent conflict, such as when civil war comes to an end, this does not make the community “post-conflict.”

As Sarah Cechvala reminded us, no intervention is neutral. When cleaning, I dump the contents of my drawer out onto the floor, adding to the mess, before I can adequately clean up. In the same manner, peacebuilding missions, by definition, must add to the conflict before they can begin to resolve it. Not once is there a dull moment.

When I was in elementary school, we used to have career day. One day a year, we were all allowed to break uniform and dress up in the clothes we might wear for our future careers. All day we’d have presentations from family or community members on what it was like to work in their various fields. As I got older, I began to notice many of the presenters would end their presentations on a similar note. “My job is interesting…” they’d say “…but most of you will be working in jobs that don’t exist today.” At that point in my life, I wasn’t sure I believed them. One week of this course has given me all the proof I need that as a peacebuilder, my career will bear little resemblance to those who have come before me. While this constant evolution is scary for a person who thrives on organization, it is much less scary than the alternative. The moment the field of Peacebuilding becomes static is the moment all the hopes and dreams of beauty queens everywhere die: world peace ceases to become an option.

“See the line where the sky meets the sea it calls me And no one knows, how far it goes.”

By Zoe Jannuzi

Confession #1: I’ve made a lot of decisions I regret. However, I’m comfortable having made decisions I look bad on as misguided or wrong if, at the time, I thought I was making the right decision. I’m even okay with the wrong decisions I’ve made with nothing to go on but my gut. What is growth if not looking back and realizing you’ve made mistakes? But, I’m petrified of making a decision I’m positive I’ll regret because I have no other choice. I have no idea how I’d react.

This week, in two lovely and informative sessions, Sarah Cechvala, who works for CDA, taught us about conflict sensitivity and how it differs from peacebuilding. Conflict sensitivity, a new term for me, is defined as the ability of an organization to understand the context of their intervention, understand the interaction between their intervention and the context, and act in their intervention upon local understanding. For CDA, local is the keyword. Using historical analysis and on the ground research, they advise corporations, non-profits, and humanitarian aid workers on how best to “do no harm” within conflict communities. After teaching us about the theory, Sarah split us up into four groups to work on a case study. Putting the theory into practice was exciting, but also a good lesson in how life outside of the classroom happens. Although CDA’s framework is about connecting with all locals, Sarah explained that sometimes this is not possible. For example, if your funding comes from the United States government, you can’t engage with groups labeled terrorist organizations, even though they may be crucial members of the community. Because of these rules, CDA is often prevented from fulfilling their mission, not because they cannot see the limitation of not connecting with everyone, but because to continue with the project they can’t fully engage.

Kelly McMillin, the former chief of police of Salinas, also presented on the difficulties he’s faced as the person in charge of programming, without having full autonomy over funding. As chief of police, he implemented a community-based policing program that had great success. Kelly explained how, after grappling with the murky responsibility of the police to address root causes of violence, he decided to devote resources to the less visible structural violence beyond the visible direct violence. However, later on in his tenure, when the budget got tight, he decided to cut this program. 

Debriefing after Kelly’s session, Pushpa mentioned that at some points in our peacebuilding careers we would have to compromise our principles to sustain ourselves and please our bosses. As much as I’d like to think this will never be me, at some point it probably will be.

To me, this lack of independence is terrifying.

Confession #2: I’m a full-on city girl.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go whale watching for the first time in my life. I don’t think I ever pictured myself on a boat, huddling in three different coats, exclaiming at the whales. In California, do as the Californians do?

That’s not to say I don’t love being outdoors. As for many people, the relative quiet is a relaxing break from my first love: the city. Standing on the edge of the boat staring at the horizon, I couldn’t help feeling delighted by the indifference of the sea. It went about its business without a care in the world for its problems or mine. After the first week of this session, I needed something to stare at that wasn’t staring back.

Confession #3: When Pushpa Iyer handed us all our folders at the beginning of the session I acknowledged the fact that there was a sheet on self-care, read the first couple of lines and put the folder away. I believed it was necessary, but this week has really convinced me how crucial it is that I consider not only the well-being of those around me, but my own as well.

How will I deal with questions of independence, morality, and principle in the future? I am privileged enough to have consciously chosen to be a peacebuilder instead of joining the army or the police force. I (rather naively) thought involving myself with peacebuilding would put me in a place where I would not be responsible for the deaths of others. The more I learn, the more I realize that as a peacebuilder my choices and those of the people I work with, may have as much, or more impact on real lives than the effects I’d have as a police officer or soldier. To do this work, I will have to be resilient, I will have to know myself, and I will have to strive to continue to mobilize individuals and communities to do more even when I feel I cannot immediately continue myself.

Before this session, I had some notion that self-care involved more than curling up, with some chocolate and an excellent book. However, I don’t think I truly understood the extent of the term or its usefulness within peacebuilding. Staring out at the horizon is calming, but it is an incredibly individualistic practice. As an introvert, I have a real need to re-charge, but exercises like these cannot and should not be the extent of my self-care.

Thank you Pushpa.

“Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started — Wait…”

By Zoe Jannuzi

Although I wasn’t a boarding student, many weeks I spent more time inside my high school than at my house. More specifically, I camped out in the dance studio. At my arts high school, I spent half of my day in academics and the other half in dance class (not to mention rehearsals). I was an academically successful student, the expectation was that I would go to college, yet I spent the vast majority of my time dancing.

When I got to college, everybody wanted the answer to one question: “What do you want to study?” Enthusiastically I would respond that I was interested in history. Then the follow-up I quickly learned I needed a response for: “What part of history are you most interested in?” Unlike many of my peers, I hadn’t completed summer research, secured an internship, or spent hours reading textbooks.  I had chosen history because that was what I most enjoyed in high school. Dancing, something I loved to do had left me in a tricky place. The one thing I had devoted thousands of hours to, was the one thing I knew I didn’t want as my career.

This summer is the first summer I haven’t participated in a ballet summer intensive. It’s a summer of a lot of firsts — my first summer as a college student, my first summer I’ve participated in a program related to an academic interest. Maybe most interestingly, my first summer I’ve been interested in academic theory.

I like to think of myself as a very reflective person. Although, I suspect I often take the easy way out. I’m more comfortable reflecting deeply on the less challenging things, while subconsciously avoiding some of my thoughts that might give me more pause. Summer especially is my time for self-reflection on how my character and tendencies may have changed throughout the year. Odds are you’ll find me sitting on the floor in a corner, shoes off, listening to music with my headphones in, staring off into space, just letting the thoughts roll in like the love it or hate it fog here in Monterey.

The “boring,” tediously explained, readings that stop every sentence to ensure they have described the terms in the previous one should have been my first love. After all, what better way for a reflective person to learn about the field, than from a fellow over-thinker? But… like many, I had always found them annoying and over-explained.

This summer, I discovered the problem wasn’t that theory wasn’t my cup of tea; it was that I had been exploring the wrong theory. Completing the background readings for this course was an activity which I assumed would consist of a few mind-numbing hours, the monotony broken only by my excitement at a new set of highlighters. Instead, I found Galtung, Burton, and Ball. All of a sudden, (though they did take forever to get through) the explanations that had previously seemed over the top, were fascinating. After I had read so much Galtung, I began to find the other readings, ones which I may have loved in the past, begin to fall short. They were easier to get through, but my standards had increased. I was no longer convinced simply with flowery language. I wanted each writer to go more in-depth, back to the roots of what they were explaining.

I do, and probably always will love reflecting on things. But the readings and all of the theory/ lecture heavy sessions with Kevin Avruch have put me in full nerd mode. Now not only do I love the field of peacebuilding in theory, but I like the theory of peacebuilding. I’m not sure I feel ready to go out in the field and build peace (will I ever truly feel ready??), but I am at least prepared to answer the question my new college friends posed: I am interested in peacebuilding.

Reader, this is Me

By Zoe Jannuzi

All—

My name is Zoe. I’m 19, and I’m from Baltimore City. I’d like to start with a couple of quotes. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to words, I’ll be the first to admit they are incredibly imperfect, yet I’ve spent my whole life collecting them. When I was little it was phrases from movies I’d watched or books I’d read. Now that I’m older, it’s more often something funny a friend said or something wise a teacher said. The notes app on my phone is full of quotes, most of which I’ll probably never go back to, but that struck me in some way, and at that point in time warranted writing down. When I read books, even for fun, I’ll keep a bookmark covered in page numbers, marking down pages with insights I particularly enjoyed. Throughout this session, you might see me pull out a tiny notebook and jot something down. Don’t be alarmed, I’m just casually recording your exact words for perpetuity.

In the previous paragraph, I wrote “Now that I’m older…” which is kind of misleading as I’m still only 19. I think part of the reason I’m drawn to quotes, especially in writing, is because, as a fairly young person, I mistrust my written word (perhaps more than I should). My favorite quotes are the ones that evoke a feeling I understand intuitively, but couldn’t previously express. In our verbal language-centered world, the words you speak are often used to make judgments about your character. Although I believe that in conversation personal word choice is incredibly important, I also think that you can learn a lot about a person from the words and phrases they borrow, find important, and hold dear. The language we respect shows a lot about who we want to be. As I’m still in the very beginnings of life, I want to figure that out as deeply as possible.

When a person speaks to me I begin to understand who they are. When a person shows me the parts that stand out to them in their favorite books, their favorite quotes, or which lines they’ve highlighted in last night’s reading I begin to understand how they see the world.

So… in an attempt to start to show you how I see the world, I’ve copied some quotes both from the background readings for this course and from my recent life. Of course, words are imperfect, and we all interpret things differently (one of the most remarkable things about our diverse planet) so you probably won’t see them as I do, but maybe you’ll stumble upon one that holds meaning for you. At the very least if you love or hate one we could have a great conversation.

From my recent life:

“Justice is what love looks like in public” – Cornell West

“Connection is the ultimate Patronus” – Aditi Juneja

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde

“Ever seen too many midnights for no good reason?” – Hanna

“Radical humanization” – Sa’ed Atshan

“legitimate peripheral participation” – Edwin Mayorga

“History is an endlessly interesting argument where evidence is everything and storytelling is everything else.” – Jill Lepore

“I’m a father. Finding some way to be optimistic is part of the job description. But also I believe that critical optimism is a political necessity. Pessimism gives rise to nostalgic politics, and nostalgic politics tends to be racist, xenophobic, exclusionary, regressive, and very, very dangerous.” – Mohsin Hamid

“Our lives are remembered by the gifts we give our children” – Milo Thatch, Atlantis

“I’m a superficial work in progress” – Anna

“Sectionalizing the past does not always help to facilitate discussions around them” – Diego Armus

From the readings:

“If human needs were satisfied, would serious violence at all social levels then be avoided?” – John Burton

“There is a tendency within the development community as a while, not merely that portion dealing with postconflict situations, to seek “solutions” to problems that can be applied more or less universally. Although there are many similarities among postconflict communities, wholesale application of approaches that have proved successful in one postconflict environment may well be ineffective or even counterproductive in another postconflict environment.” – Nicole Ball

“Whether we are dealing with children, street gangs, ethnic communities, or nations of peoples, we are finding that there are human problems to be solved, and that no amount of coercion or repression can for long contain human developmental aspirations.” – John Burton

“Violence is here defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, between what could have been and what is.” – Johan Galtung

“… there is no reason to believe that the future will not bring us richer concepts and more forms of social action that combine absence of personal violence with fight against social injustice once sufficient activity is put into research and practice. There are more than enough people willing to sacrifice one for the other – it is by aiming for both that peace research can make a real contribution.” – Johan Galtung

“The voice of intelligence is drowned out by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all, it is silenced by ignorance.” – Karl Menninger

I’d like to end with a quote that is much less pleasant, something that the man who currently occupies the role of President in this country said about my city. Of Baltimore, Trump tweeted “no human being would want to live there” along with a slew of other racist insults. Being from Baltimore has shaped the way I see the world in an invaluable way, and my home city is one of the major reasons I’m interested in peacebuilding. I love my city. The best part of me would like to believe that Trump’s remarks come only from a place of ignorance, but the more parts of himself he shows the world, the more I think they come from a learned hatred of the other. I doubt anybody you meet in Baltimore will deny that it is a city with its fair share of problems. But simply criticizing a place, the structural violence ingrained in its institutions and the personal violence beings carried out by its people, is not a step towards building peace, nor is it respectful or dignified. Among many other things, during these three weeks I hope to learn how I can begin to build peace with people who think so differently than I when they see Baltimore they think not of all types of loving friendly people, but of rats, garbage, and crime.