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Katherine Walter

Over the past few weeks I have tried to put into words what peace means to me. After the Marathon Monday Bombings in Boston rwo weeks ago, I feel as if this might be in the thoughts of others. So here are a few impressions from a journey that can be very personal for all of us.

First, I have to say that I feel very grateful to be surrounded each day as I go to school by those who strive for peace. I am constantly rejuvenated as I feel of their spirits and passion.

Second, as I was watching the General Conference that my church does twice a year there was a talk about personal peace. It was given by Elder Quentin L Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon Church. His talk encompassed a lot of what I have come to find as important in my journey for peace. Here is the link to his talk, where you can either read or watch here.

There is a specific thought from his talk I would like to highlight on the principle of agency. Agency allows us to choose a variety of good things that will enrich our lives. But, this same agency is what allows others to act in ways that bring “pain and suffering…even when caused by things we do not understand.” He continues later saying, “We all long for peace. Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention.”

I personally believe that part of peace comes from being true to yourself and those around you. We all have the capacity to be an influence for good and peace in the lives of others, if we choose to. How amazing is that?

Finally, I want to turn to the organization Ultimate Peace. Today I attended the panel and presentation given by the kids who participate in the program. Here is a quick description given on the flyer that was distributed through e-mail,

Ultimate Peace builds bridges of friendship, trust and understanding among Arabs and Jews from Israel and Palestinians living in the West Bank, using the character building sport of Ultimate Frisbee as context. The program started in 2009 and supports youth to apply valuable gains off the field.

Check out the website! They are amazing! I was so impressed and inspired by these kids. The last question asked was if they thought peace was possible. Their responses had a similar theme that not only have they changed and feel more peace, but it can and has changed the lives of the people around them.

What happened in Boston last week will be with all of us in many different ways. But, for many of us this was our first glimpse at the reality of frequent violence that exists for people all over the world.

What if we tried better to promote peace person to person as these kids have? What would change for us, or for those we interact with? How can you reach outside of yourself this week to touch another  life?

Katherine Walter is a graduate student in the Conflict Resolution program at UMass Boston.