Last month, the YPI team went out on the streets of the Hague to ask young people: What does ‘peace’ mean to you? Just one simple question, one might think. But it turned out it was a lot harder to answer.
The Oxford Dictionary defines peace as “a situation or a period of time in which there is no war or violence in a country or an area”. I think many of us would agree with this definition, but when we asked people what it meant to them, much broader definitions came to the surface. At the end of the day, peace means so much more than the absence of war. For some, it was all they ever knew; for others, something they longed for in the countries where they came from, where their loved ones lived., And for some, something that recently became the biggest commodity.
It was interesting to see the responses of the people we approached on the streets. They often needed a moment to think, to reflect, to internally look for their personal meaning. It was beautiful to see that process happening in front of our eyes, inside their minds. The answers were honest, personal, and different, they were tied to their experiences, to their unique backgrounds. People spoke about safety, security, freedom, value, acceptance, diversity, empathy, peace of mind, love, societies living in harmony, and more. It showed us that the work we do is not just of value in societies directly influenced by war, but also in countries where the absence of war has become obvious, peace in all its forms is always something we should work and strive for.