Fiercely committed to the youth-led climate movement, Sarah has inspired thousands of young people to better understand the climate crisis and take action towards a better future.
Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin once said, “If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence.”
Today is September 21st, the International Day of Peace. Every year on this day, activists and humanitarians alike observe 24-hours of nonviolence and ceasefire. The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 to engage the global community in annual action against war and violence. Now, 41 years after it was first commemorated, it is clear as ever that we must continue to recognize the International Day of Peace and work together to peacefully fight for a better future.
In 2020, the world has seen a rough start to a new decade that has already included a global pandemic, social unrest, and increased awareness around systemic oppression. It’s no wonder that turbulence and violence have been on the rise this year. In a one month period from May to June, homicides increased by 37% in 20 major US cities. The week of June 15th, 106 people were shot and 14 were killed in Chicago. Twelve of the victims that were shot were under the age of 18, including five who passed away from their injuries.
Many people are fed up with the current state of the world and are ready to bring about change, no matter the cost. In this time of global pandemonium, the International Day of Peace serves as a reminder of the importance of driving change and fighting for justice, and of doing so peacefully. Like Bayard Rustin said – we cannot change society for the better by using violent tactics.
Today I will share with you my strategies for creating a peaceful planet by taking part in non-violent actions. I will also help you understand how, as a youth activist, I have made headway towards this goal by grounding myself in the ideals of hope and empathy.
My name is Sarah Goody and I am a 15-year-old youth climate activist from the United States. I received the 2020 Diana Award for my work empowering young people to take climate action and use their voice to inspire change. Working as an activist, I have come to understand that productivity and success go hand in hand with hope and empathy. As the saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. It is much easier to engage others in the work you are doing by being kind and empathetic; after all, humans are wired to respond to positive affirmations. This is why I believe it is vital to approach your work with the overall goal of creating peace.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Here are four tips for taking peaceful action while also addressing the 2020 World Peace Day theme: Shaping Peace Together.
1. Non-Violent Protest
Protests can be greatly effective ways of generating change. Organize or join a peaceful protest for a cause you’re passionate about. If you are the organizer, make sure everyone is clear about the rules of the peaceful protest and what the consequences are for not following those rules. It is often easier to engage younger and older people in peaceful protests because of their non-violent nature.
2. Educating Others
Use your voice to educate others about peaceful action by starting a conversation with a friend or family member. You don’t need to be an expert in peace-related topics to have a productive conversation – you just have to be open to sharing your knowledge and be willing to listen and understand different points of view. By discussing the reasons why you believe peaceful action is important, you can inspire other people to start similar conversations.
If you reside in a democratic country, be thankful that you have the right to voice your opinion by voting. It dismays me when I see low voter turnouts for local, state-wide, or national elections, or when I hear apathetic voters say they aren’t going to vote because their vote doesn’t matter. Every voice matters, and voting is one of the easiest ways to peacefully express yourself and push for change at all levels of government. Even if you are not old enough to vote, you don’t have to wait until you’re 18 to be part of the democratic process. Youth can have a lot of influence in local organisations, with their friends and family, the way they spend their money, and the issues that politicians respond to and prioritize during election time.
For information about the voting in the upcoming US election and to check if you’ve registered, follow this helpful link: https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote/voter-registration-status
4. Promoting peace with resolution, not anger with conflict
Instead of expressing your viewpoint in a way that might be polarising or divisive, think consciously about reaching out to others who might have opposing opinions, and aim to work together to find common ground. It doesn’t make a bad situation better to become agitated, riled up, or yell at the opposing side. What creates change is working collaboratively to understand each other’s point of view and finding a solution which both sides can support.
Using these techniques, we can work together to build a society rooted in peace, not violence. Now more than ever, we need people to stand up and bring the principles of the International Day of Peace into their everyday lives. Together, united, we can change the world.
Sarah’s passion motivated her work as a youth council member at ‘Greening Forward’, led her to found Climate NOW for young people in her community, to work with ‘Youth vs Apocalypse’, lead over 40,000 people at the San Francisco Climate Strike, and speak out on various public platforms, continuing to empower other young people and foster positive climate action in her community.