New Year’s Reflections on Writing for Peace
By Carmel Mawle
I’m going into the New Year meditating on what it means to choose a peaceful response to violence, to acknowledge our human impulse to strike back…and choose something different. What does it mean to pick up a pen when every cell of your body cries out for a sword?
I’m humbled by my friend Damilola Michael Aderibigbe in Nigeria, a young writer who has picked up a pen in answer to the senseless bombing that left a church’s steps covered in blood on Christmas morning. In their shock and pain, even good people are calling this violence an act of war, a declaration that can only lead to more violence and suffering. Yet, despite his pain and anger, this young man is looking for another answer, a way to reach out to all the good people of Nigeria, for Christians and Muslims to stand shoulder to shoulder against violence, to work together for the security and well-being of all Nigerians.
I started Writing for Peace to create a place where young people could develop cultural empathy and compassion through creative writing, connect with other young writers and be inspired by each others’ work. Since going online, I’ve met young people from all over the world who are writing about human rights, political and environmental issues, their own lives and hopes and dreams. Their fiction, poetry and essays have inspired me. In Sarah Jane Kyle’s recent Coloradoan article about Writing for Peace, sophomore Madeline Wischow, 15, put it this way, “I might be young and a little naive, but sometimes you need naiveté to hope for something different.”
I have not found naiveté in these young writers. In fact, I wonder if there has ever been a generation more clear-eyed. But if our future is in the hands of young people like Madeline and Damilola, there is hope for us, yet. Damilola’s vision for a peaceful Nigeria is one that we would all do well to aspire to in 2012.
Best wishes for a Peaceful New Year.
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