A Response to the Afghan Peace Volunteers From Syracuse Students For Change

From the July/August 2018 PNL #861

Syracuse Students for Change

Syracuse Students for Change is a student activist organization that first organized after the Parkland school shooting in the March for Our Lives rally. They work with the local community to spread the awareness of gun violence, and organized a Die-In protest in front of Congressmember Katko's office and hosted a Democratic primary debate prior to the July 26 election. Follow them on Facebook for their latest updates: www.facebook.

com/syracusestudents.

This June, the US government passed a bill with broad bipartisan support that expanded US military spending to

$716 billion. Additionally, the president decided to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council, alleging its bias. In a society where injustice is rampant, our government's actions are just one example of the problems that we're facing, but it is scary and saddening to see parallels between the fights our group has taken on, as young people in the US, and the ones in Afghanistan.

We hear too often that teenagers can't change the world, and often, we aren't taken seriously by our older peers-yet we still push for change. There are even more youth groups who have been pushed to act, like the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

They have stood up to the actions of the US military, even facing serious opposition. They have seen injustice, and they have raised their voices instead of letting it pass by.

As young people across the world are saying: now is the time. Now is the time for those in power to hand over the wheel and listen to us, because for too long we have been silenced and ignored. Some people say that young people don't know how the world works, but when the world that we do know is so often mired in injustice, we must work to change it.

But at the same time, we must acknowledge our hypocrisy. How can we in the US, in our rallies, chant that guns belong to the military, when those statements normalize the brutality against not only Afghan civilians, but many other Middle Eastern and Asian lives? If we ignore US military actions, if we only focus on our own problems, we are complicit in the deaths of innocent civilians around the world. If we can restrict both the production of weapons and military spending, we can create a better world where both Americans and Afghans can live in peace.

In Afghanistan, youth haven't grown up in a world untarnished by hate and militarism, just like youth in this country. But in both places, we're standing up against them. We all have our own struggles- devastation of war, gun violence, discrimination- but it is important to remember that we are in this fight together, as young people, and fundamentally as humans.

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