A call for peace: Approaching today’s political climate
Members of the 2019 Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives Fellows Program.
Photo Courtesy of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternative’s Facebook
The current political climate – not only in our nation, but globally – makes me want to continuously find new ways to help. It is for this very reason I was determined to be a part of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, referred to as the Alliance by its members. The Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan activist organization.
Founded in 1985, it works to educate its fellows on peace, nonviolence and the value of deliberative dialogue and protest. It strives to instill a sense of obligation in the hearts of its members to be active in the peace movement while also informing them of the detrimental effects of all types of war and America’s role in global issues.
Margaret Melkonian is a founding member and current executive director of the Alliance. Additionally, she is the vice president of the Hague Appeal for Peace and director of the Long Island Alliance/Center for Civic Engagement Peace Fellows Program at Hofstra. Melkonian, along with the board of directors, President Andrea Libresco, a professor of social studies education, and Treasurer Martin Melkonian, a professor of economics, visit Hofstra in an official capacity annually and request that students send in applications designed to give them the opportunity to tell the board why the peace movement is near to their hearts.
After that, they hold interviews and select the most promising future activists to teach more about how to be on the front lines in the fight for a better world.
Once I became a member, I was hired for a five-week session in which the three leaders helped shape my abilities to engage in deliberative dialogue, educated me on global issues and aided in developing my vision for a peaceful world. All of this was done with admirable grace and respect for all of my opinions, which dramatically matured during my time with them.
I was in the Alliance with a small group of students and as the weeks went on, we developed a friendship and bond. All of us are passionate about the state of the world, and it was comforting to learn that we were not alone in our righteous anger. Over the course of our five weeks with the Alliance, we were given weekly readings that bettered our understanding of how events throughout history have both helped and hindered the peace movement. We would then have the remainder of the week to reflect on the readings and prepare for the two-hour discussion we engaged in every Thursday. On several occasions, they brought in guest speakers to participate in our discussions and tell us about their experiences.
Learning from such noble men and women while I was surrounded by peers who have the same goal in mind moved me in ways I could have never imagined.
We started each session by discussing the current events we had heard about in the news that caught our attention. This exercise forced me to keep up with issues that I might have previously missed.
Although this is a busy time in our lives, I now see the value in staying up to date on global matters. We all described what war means in comparison to peace, another exercise that reiterated the importance of the movement. War breeds destruction and hatred, while peace is the only medicine that can combat the poison the human race willingly inflicts on one another.
I was able to learn where my fellow members come from and why they are passionate about the search for peaceful alternatives. Even though we all come from different backgrounds and we were interested in a variety of issues, I was able to see that our awareness for what it means to be human was a binding factor that allowed for our differences to be something we could celebrate.
Despite the tragic issues we discussed, and the ignorance on the state of humanity that the Alliance lifted, I left my five-week session filled with hope. In a room full of pure-hearted humanitarians, you cannot help but be moved by the compassion.
The fight for world peace is a daunting task, and for a long time I couldn’t imagine where to start. The Alliance was where I was able to begin. The paralyzing desire to change the world is made a lot more tangible when surrounded by a group of fellows who are fighting to do the exact same thing.