The Peacemakers of the Future are Here

 

Briefly interviews Sarah Prager, PPF's new Web Content Manager, 26, who lives in the Washington D.C. area and comes to PPF with a history of activism in LGBT work for equality and Palestine-Israel reconciliation work.

Briefly: Sarah, we began the PPF Endowment Campaign as a partnership across generations with the Peacemakers of the Future. A benefit of the campaign delay caused by the recession is that the Peacemakers of the Future have begun to arrive. As a young adult, what has motivated you toward peacemaking?
Sarah: I was raised by a mom and dad who cared about social justice. It was a value that they instilled in me. When I was 12, we went to Malaysia and I saw real poverty for the first time. From that trip came a desire to help change the things that keep people in poverty and violence. As a child, it struck me as unfair that I was born into a situation of peace and privilege while others were born into a place where it was much more likely that they would fall into violent situations.

My dad's family lives in Israel as Orthodox Jews living in the belief that the land is theirs. When I went to college, I was randomly assigned to a roommate who was Palestinian-American. Together we founded the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Alliance our freshman year. It was a club that allowed students to focus on the similarities between the two cultures, such as food. There were interna-tional students there from Israel and Palestine who had never met someone from the other side who were able to form friendships. We put on social events, as well as film screenings and discussions of the issues.

A sense of common ground in that group is something that my whole generation is being raised with. We are perhaps the most diversely-connected generation ever—racially, religiously, in terms of sexual orientation. We are so much more likely than our parents to meet and know people who have different identities. This increase in opportunities for cross-cultural friendships will help us with peacemaking.

Briefly: What peace issues concern you the most?
Sarah: Most of my time has gone into Israel-Palestine and LGBT issues. There has been so much change just in my lifetime for those of us who are gay or another sexual minority. Hate crimes against anyone who is different are issues of nonviolence and peacemaking. Also issues of food, water and environment, as wars have and can be fought over these issues that affect everyone on the planet.

Briefly: What does your generation of peacemakers have in common with prior peacemakers?
Sarah: The underlying feeling of outrage at violence and wanting things to be different will always be the same, no matter how times change. People will always have this same feeling that connects us. Mass demonstrations and direct action are tactics used by past generations of peacemakers that have not gone away.

Briefly: And differences?
Sarah: Technology is the biggest difference. The internet allows us to connect with movements and groups around the world as never before. We're already taking it for granted that we have this amazing tool. My generation could click a button and consider that their activism is done. It's been described as "slacktivism" -- posting on Facebook or signing a letter on-line instead of going out and having a face-to-face conversation with someone about the issues that might be more effective than one tweet. Though I understand that downside, I believe strongly in using social media and blogs to spread our message and using them as tools for good.

Briefly: What is your message to the peacemakers of the past?
Sarah: Thank you for the foundation and groundwork you have laid. Cooperation and action within one's own generation can accomplish many things, but it will disappear if it is not passed on by mentoring, teaching and investing in the younger future leaders of the peace movement. Working to change the world is impossible to do without investing in the next generation who will do this work.


Sarah Prager edits PPF's PresbyPeaceE-News every other Tuesday. Sign up here.

Invest in the peacemakers of the future with a donation to the PPF Endowment. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar through September 15, 2013.