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Nonviolent Activism

Decent Essays
On September 11, 2001, two planes hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 individuals and injuring over 6,000 more. That day, also called 9/11, left a stain in the hearts and minds of many Americans. It would impact much of my life, but I would use the opportunity to develop peace from within.
I had recently moved to Florida, transferring to a new elementary school. After 9/11, it was as if I had changed overnight from a new student to a loathed enemy. My peers called me names like "terrorist" and "bin Laden's son," excluded me from group games at recess, and avoided me during lunch and breaks. This practice continued years later, making me feel helpless and isolated. These feelings grew
stronger
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Unexpectedly, through this approach, I uncovered many tools to confront my past. Learning about karma within Hinduism, I gained awareness of life's interconnectedness by understanding that good or bad actions would positively or negatively affect everyone. Mother Teresa's work illustrated to me the power of compassion and use of one's talents to selflessly serve the world. Through reading about Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., I discovered how his vision for racial equality and nonviolent activism led to legal reform in the U.S. Lastly, by practicing Sun salutations each morning, I realized that awareness of one's body and breath leads to physical wellness and mental peace.
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My college experience contrasted sharply with that of elementary school. I quickly found a community with those of similar backgrounds?not only of peers whose parents immigrated to the U.S., but also those who had similarly been ostracized after 9/11. Talking to these peers,
I noticed that, although we had different identities, we shared one common connection: we had no avenue to voice our stories and struggles. Inspired by that insight, I coordinated a community-wide event that empowered my peers to share their stories as panelists,
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I believe that many world issues originate from an individuals' lack of mental and emotional peace. So, the individual, irrespective of background, must uncover the solution. By using tools such as inquiry and meditation, an individual will develop mindfulness. Being mindful, if individuals are exposed with experiences with those of different backgrounds, they recognize shared struggles, develop empathy, respect their differences, and realize the interconnectedness in the world. Feeling their common humanity, these individuals will reflect on their experiences, define their unique story, and responsibly use their knowledge with others for a good purpose. Everyone in this world has experienced a unique internal struggle, but the earlier that one discovers and utilizes the tools to overcome it, the easier it will be to create a peaceful world.
Having overcome my own struggle, I am now the president of one of my university's largest student organizations. My story motivates me to help others develop internal peace through cultivating mindfulness, interconnection, compassion, and reflection. I have learned that building peace is a process which begins from within, and that it is our responsibility to
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