By Gwendolyn S. Myers
The Global theme for this year’s international day of Peace is “Together for Peace, Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”. We have as our local theme, “Vote Peace” because we want the commitment that young people would not be a part of election violence, as violence is known to erode the gains of peace and therefore not the solution to stability and development.
When we look for inspiration, we look back to our history. Liberia, before our civil war, was once the most peaceful nation on earth. If we forget about our past and tradition of respect for human dignity, of tolerance, then we lose what we already have. We need to take back this enviable position and vote for a President and representatives that would guarantee peace.
Hate, fear and greed are the root causes of conflicts in our society and as young people we must learn to overcome these unhealthy human behaviours and attributes. It is time to vote peace.
The high number of young people in our population is far more than just a demographic dividend that could dictate the outcome of this election; it is still a driver of new ideas for sustainable peace. Young people have tremendous potentials that could be unleashed for peace and all of us have a responsibility to ensure we live up to it.
As we march through the streets of Monrovia, we are proud and encouraged to see young people of different political affiliations matching together for peace.
We, as young people, should be very proud of this uncommon association. This is a resounding statement that no matter our political ideology we share a common responsibility for a stable and peaceful Liberia. Our collective efforts should reinforce each other. We are all in this together.
On this day, at this hour, we would like to admonish first time elections voters and other young voters to follow the rules established by NEC and ensure an election free of violence and tension. This is our time, our space and we’ve got to make it count and do it right.
As we prepare to elect the next President, young people should have an aspiration for unbroken peace. Our value for peace should transcend any political leanings and should be in the higher interests of Liberia.
We need young people to be driving the process and develop a national compact for peace. We share the same hopes, the same struggles for human security to learn and to live. According to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people and societies from achieving their full potential”. He went on to add, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hopes.”
As Liberians wait and watch, uncertain of our common future, let peace be our watch words. Peace takes everyone and we should be together for peace.
The slogan for Vote Peace is “one goal, one peace: #Peace, my democratic choice.” Until next week when we hope to continue this dialogue among peace messengers: Vote Peace-Part VI, let the words of Doe Zantamata resonate in your hearts: “No matter what surrounds you. Keep your joy alive inside”. For the moment, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time.