In honor of Peace One Day today, I decided to re-post the piece that I wrote last year for International Youth Network.

Original source: Irdiana, N. (2012). ‘World Peace Starts with You’. International Youth Network. [online]. Available from: [21 September 2012].
”Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” — Ernest Gaines.
21 September will mark the biggest peace movement ever created in the world. Everything we do during that day and beyond will make a difference in the lives of others. Confucius said, “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life.” To change the world, we must first change our country, and to do that we can start from our family and ourselves. We knew we cannot expect something from others that we ourselves haven’t done. Because of globalisation, the world is more complex than ever. Some people will even think that peace in the world will never be achieved because of it. However, I think it is actually starts from the small things we do every day. Even a small act of kindness like smiling to other people will change someone’s mood and brigthen their day a little bit more. It is also a contagious act of kindness.
In this write up, I will talk about the issue I think I am most familiar with, which is interfaith relations. Conflicts between religion is absolutely not a new issue, but it has a long story in the history of mankind. Even though this is not a new issue at all, the issue of interfaith conflicts now has been re-emerged. The re-emerging of this issue, I believe, triggeredby unsolved political issues within certain country or between two different countries. In my opinion, the biggest reasons behind these tensions are the lack of education as well as poor economic condition. In order to solve the problem and making the future world much brighter we should attack first the root of the problems by improving the quality of education of the people and deal with the economic problem systematically. Governments’ budgets have to be used to improve the quality of life of the people all over the world, instead of used to expand budget on military purposes.
Dealing with faiths of the people is not a simple issue and no government can resort to military or police forces alone. It would be useless if we could only resolve the issue of interfaith relations artificially because it will not be long lasting solution to the problem. I do believe through improved education and increased welfare interfaith conflicts will not become an issue any longer. Governments can change the world to become a peaceful place to live through a better approach and policy on the issue of interfaith relations. By among others, increase student exchanges between countries, races and religions.
Before I went to study in the United Kingdom, I always felt very safe and never been discriminated by others because I am a majority. Indonesia comprises of the majority of Muslims within democratic political system. The motto of the country is “Unity in Diversity”, which makes the country considered as a peaceful country. But difficulties in interfaith relations have been very familiar to us Indonesians. In a modern world such as the one we live in right now, it is saddening that a group of people still attacked churches. Christians will not feel safe when doing their duties inside the churches. Sometimes, even the police could not stop the extremist groups and the event become continuous. It is even worse to see Muslims fighting with each other because what they believe in is different from the other Muslim group.Sometimes being a majority made us selfish and intolerant. Why is it that something so pure like faith has to lead to violent actions? Why is it increasingly seen as a reason to hurt other people?
For me, it is really important and necessary to experience being a minority. I am lucky enough to have studied abroad. In my senior year of high school, I have a wonderful opportunity to go the United States of America in 2007. I learn to live with a host family with a very different background than me. I am not afraid to learn bible, attend churches, and celebrate Christmas even if I am a Muslim. My host parents and I learn a lot from each other’s religion. Curiosity is the best way to understand others and ignorance will lead us to nowhere. Knowing others lead us to more peaceful world in the future. Honestly, I never thought that Americans will be so committed to their faiths, or be so kind with people from another country, because of what has been portrayed in the media about them before I went there. Therefore, always questioned what you see, everywhere you go – this is one of the keys that will lead to world peace.
In the present, I am studying in London, a city filled with so many immigrants. In a city as global as London, ethnic minorities are seen in great numbers and they often feel that they have been discriminated. However, we can always see it from the other perspectives. You can see that sometimes ethnic minorities in London speak with their own languages, excluding the natives. Most humans want to be respected, but sometimes they do not know how to respect others. Understanding both of these understandings will help us understand the world better. It is important that before we judge other people, we try to understand or integrate with them. After that, we will know why our judgment is not always right. It is worrying that in this globalised world, we can still see insensitive judgment about race and religion.
Today I always feel that we should care about the world as a whole, not just our home country. Because when we set our mind set to belong in just one particular country, we will not care about others. For me, since I was a child, the concept of ‘othering’ is just strange. The notion of “they are Chinese, you are Indonesian” telling us that they are not the same like ‘us’. Should not we all embrace differences? No matter what colour your body is, no matter what country you are from and no matter what religion you are faithful for, we are all humans. Imagine living in a world where the people is not rigid to particular nationality or religion. There is no doubt that the most dangerous thing that human could have is thinking that they have all the right answer. People can learn from each other’s faiths in a positive way. I am certain that the people from our generation will bring positive changes in the future to build a peaceful world where they come together to solve problems and see diversity in a different way: not as a problem, but as a solution. We, the future leaders, have to make this happen. We have to question everything, looking to solve a problem by seeing it from every perspective, realizing that there is no right or wrong. Therefore we have to continously learns from each other. Have a great peace day this upcoming September 21st – let’s all do something that is worth sharing, either big or small. It all starts with YOU, International Youth Network readers all over the world!

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