I think that peace is something that every nation should strive for; however, a lot of countries today that pursue this goal have blood-soaked histories. Take my home country, Argentina. The most significant military event took place on March 24, 1976, in the form of a coup d’état. US-backed Argentine Armed Forces seized control of the government. Shortly before 1:00 am, the current president at the time, Isabel Martínez de Perón, was detained and taken to the El Messidor residence, which was the provincial government’s residence. At 3:10 am, all television and radio signals were cut and replaced by military marching, followed by a message from the Argentine Armed Forces:
“People are advised that as of today, the country is under the operational control of the Joint Chiefs General of the Armed Forces. We recommend to all inhabitants strict compliance with the provisions and directives emanating from the military, security or police authorities, and to be extremely careful to avoid individual or group actions and attitudes that may require drastic intervention from the operating personnel. Signed: General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier Orlando Ramón Agosti.”
Citizens that morning though they woke to another uneventful day; however, that could not be further from the truth. Detentions multiplied, seeing the abduction of workers, unionists, students, and political activists from their homes, workplaces, and even off the streets. They were never seen again or killed. This was known as the Dirty War (Época de los Desaparecidos), and activists state that some 30,000 people disappeared or were killed. Military men often spared pregnant women, keeping them in custody until they gave birth, before killing them and giving their children to childless military families. The U.S. secretary of state at the time, Henry Kissinger, privately assured the military regime that any actions they took would be fully supported by the U.S. This was just one of many of the campaigns in Operation Condor, a covert operation to suppress active or potential political dissidents.
My mom was only 4 years old at the time, however, the military Junta lasted till December 10, 1983 when democracy returned again. She remembers her parents being very afraid of strange cars parking near her house, as it was a tell tale of future victims of the regime. Peace was nowhere to be found. There was no tranquility, only disturbance.
When democracy was finally restored, with the democratic government of Raul Alfonsin, a National Commission was set up to investigate crimes committed during the Dirty War. but, is not easy to restore peace after such calamity. The country was in pain, and in shambles. To this day, trials continue against those involved in the atrocities of the Dirty War.
The lesson I want to share is as follows: cherish peace, protect it, and don’t take it for granted. Peace is like a delicate flower – even the most docile wind could damage it, and the harm that it leaves behind is extremely difficult to overcome, if at all.
Good morning everyone, my name is Mila Mabhongo, I’m a junior at TD and I’m from South Africa.
Just a little forewarning, I’m going to say certain words in my accent or my language because it is very difficult to speak about South Africa and South African cities and South African people like an American.
I’ve been asked to speak today about “Peace in SA”, and so I’d like to give you all a short history lesson.
From the year 1948 to 1997, South Africa was run by a system of institutionalized racism and segregation. Non-white South Africans, who were (and still are) a majority, had to live seperately from the whites. This system was called Apartheid.
We were forced to use public bathrooms, go to different schools, sit on different benches and we were offered “different” job opportunities.
Apartheid started out as an idea. After the Great Depression and World War II had messed up the entire world, the [white] leaders of the Republic of South Africa had thought that by separating “their” country, it would help South Africa build a stronger government. Of course, this didn’t necessarily work out nicely.
Eventually, it became law. The Bantu people, Coloreds and Asians had to move out of the big cities. To put it into perspective, amaBantu are Black South Africans, Coloreds are mixed race South Africans, Asians are the Indian and Pakistani population of South Africa. So to put it into perspective, that would be like saying me, my family, and everybody that looks like me needs to pack up, leave our jobs and move out of New Rochelle, forever, and find or build our own homes in rural areas.
Now Bantu people were not only kicked out of our land, but we were also strongly divided by tribal lines, as we are a Black people consisting of many different tribes and languages. The Venda people lived up north in Limpopo, amaZulu lived in KwaZulu-Natal (along the coast of the Indian Ocean), and the Xhosas (like myself) lived more south in the Eastern Cape.
We couldn’t go anywhere without what we call today, a passport, or else we’d get arrested and/or killed. If you’ve watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, with Idris Elba, you’d see in the beginning that a Black man is spotted drunk in the city at night without his passport and they arrested him. When the police brought him to jail, he was beaten to death and his body dragged out. Of course, the police stated his “cause of death” as illness.
After many years of being forced to live and suffer through this life, we started to get angry. There were protests and strikes and uprisings.
When describing the events of Apartheid South Africa, people would say that the “peace was lost” when the violence began with the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960. But the thing that’s misunderstood is that it was never, ever peaceful to begin with.
This is where uTata Mandela comes in. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary. To quote his words, he had fought against “white domination and black domination” in a system that was created to benefit only white South Africans.
What makes Nelson Mandela, and everybody else that fought by his side, stand apart from the ideas and beliefs of the masses was that he wanted peace. He did not want our people to take back our country and get rid of white people or to kill them. He wanted peace. I cannot stress that enough. He wanted peace. All he wanted, which is what he fought for, was equal opportunities and same treatment to every South African, regardless of their race, gender, religion and sex.
Now after the abolition of Apartheid, my country was still boiling in anger. I mean, after the way we’d been treated over the previous almost 50 years, it made sense. There aren’t enough words or movies or speeches that could even begin to describe how terribly we were treated and how much we lost. How today, we are still suffering from the effects of Apartheid.
But as hard as it was, we chose peace. When he was released from prison, Mandela said, “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness, and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”
Choosing peace is the most important thing one can do. uTata taught us how to forgive and to choose peace. He had forgiveness for every person that had wronged him, white or black, and taught so many people to do the same.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s a value that everybody has to learn for themselves. Although they will never deserve it, we forgave our oppressors and had to move forward as a country. There was no other choice. Otherwise if we had decided to go out seem revenge, or had gone to war, I would not be standing here in Westchester, New York.
About six years ago maybe today or tomorrow, my mom made a similar speech at my old school when we were recognizing UN: International Peace Day. So I’d like to close with her words:
“Today, South Africa belongs to all who live in it. So let’s choose peace,”
What exactly is peace? Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. For many years, people have tried to achieve it, between society, races, countries. They created organizations such as UN, IPB, IPI, and they really helped though time. But sometimes even these organizations can’t help to create a peaceful environment between countries, or even society and government.
There are several examples of countries that are trying to achieve peace, and do protests, create some organizations that help people who have suffered from injustice, some people are urging others to speak about it in social media, so everyone can see that they do care. For instance, right now, in Russia, there are a lot of protests going on, because of the unfair elections, and a lot of people who were taking part in these actions or were just walking by, are taken to jail. With that, we can not achieve peace, and many of the famous politicians, actors and singers, started to talk about that on social media, and urge people not to be silent. In this situation, we can only create a peaceful environment, by changing all of the Russian government, as they think that this would not touch them and their families, but eventually it will. Our society is full of new inventions, technology and creativity, but the government can not manage the problem of unfair elections, and it is very sorrowful.
Moreover, there is a decades ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestain in dividing the land. There is pride in both of the cultures, and countries, but basically they are all brothers and sisters, as it was an Ottamin Empire before, and everybody was living peacefully together. There is no real solution for this problem, and not to go really in-depth, I believe these counties should just start from a new beginning, as people in both Palestine and Israel been suffering a lot. So, the only solution that can be, even though ones are muslim and the others are juish, they come from the same origin, that’s why these countries should understand that they will help their people not with war, but with peace and begining from the new page.
To conclude, peace is an integral part of people’s life, so parents should teach their children not to create war between nations or countries, but be kind to one another, to create a friendship with people, because otherwise, this world will be doomed without peace.