Over the course of the year 2016, our planet as a whole faced tragic events regarding peace and justice. In the course of one year, one thousand eight hundred and thirteen acts of terrorism occurred all over the world. We have reached a point where no place is safe. Terrorism can strike anywhere at anytime and all we can do is hope it doesn’t reach us. I pray that someday the phrase “terrorist attack” will become a rare phrase to hear, not one that echoes out of the television so often to the extent that it seems normal.

The number of attacks that occurred in the Middle East during the course of 2016 is uncountable. It’s not news to anyone that problems especially in terms of violence and government obstruction have occurred throughout the years in Islamic states. Although these Middle Eastern countries face many political and social issues that affect other countries does not mean that the world has the right to label all Muslims as terrorists. No people should be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs it is unjust and has been fought over in multiple countries in the past. Just because some members of one religion decided to create havoc does not mean the whole religious base is the same. Too many times have Muslims been called “Terrorists”  for the way they dress, for the way they speak,  and for the religion that they practice. The first word that many people think of when they hear the word “Terrorism” is the word “Muslim”. Every man,  woman, and child deserves to be judged based off of their character not the religion they practice. No Muslim should have to feel unsafe in a foreign country because of their beliefs. Nobody is safe from the terrorist groups that inhabit our planet. I pray that someday Muslims will not be labeled as “Terrorists”  and that someday no one will feel unsafe because of the religion they practice.

In the year 2016 the following hashtags appeared all over the internet: #PrayForBrussels , #PrayForParis , and #PrayForBerlin. These were only a few of the attacks that happened in Europe. We hear more of the major attacks that happen in the big cities but there are so many more minor attacks that happen every single day. In the summer of 2016 I spent a month and a half in Germany. Having grown up all over the world and experiencing different cultures my entire seventeen years of living never did I ever feel as unsafe as I did that summer. I felt safe when I was at the homes of relatives but going out into public meant being on constant alert. On Friday July 22, 2016 a shooting occurred in Munich, Germany. My family and I were far from Munich but panic sprang throughout the whole country. I remember sitting with my grandparents in front of the Television as news of the attack was broadcasted. I remember feeling sick to my stomach and the consistent flow of messages from friends in the US who were worried about my safety. Every time I was at an airport I felt a wave of panic. I became anxious and uncomfortable, always feeling the need to watch my surroundings. Traveling should be fun and exciting not a nervous twist in your stomach. I am thankful for learning how to be watchful of my surroundings from a young age and I can only hope that others also learn how to observe. The world is inevitably changing and I pray that someday the hashtag PrayFor… will not appear in my timeline and that I won’t feel sick to my stomach everytime I walk into an airport.

On the topic of peace, the role of awareness comes into play. Not every child has had the opportunity to live in a European country and a Muslim country. I’ve had the opportunity to see much of the world that many of my peers have yet to discover and I will forever encourage leaving the United States to see other parts of the world because I am so thankful for my experiences. To the Americans who have never left America, stop labeling people based off of where they come from. You do not have the right to judge people you have never personally interacted with. I’m not an expert but you wouldn’t like it if another country labeled all Americans unskilled and vacuous. To the people who try to force their religious beliefs onto others, not one religious book approves of the force of religion. Know where the line is drawn and accept that people have the right to believe what they wish to believe. To the World, stop ignoring the fact that terrorism is an issue and that it needs to be taken care of.  The sooner we all become more aware the sooner this war on terrorism will end. If we all stopped fighting one another true peace would be achieved, love is greater than hate. With the agreeance of World Peace, the world would have a much brighter and happier future. Imagine a world with no wars, no hunger, no poverty. Imagine all the possibilities for advancement. I would rather live in a place where I wouldn’t have to fear death at any moment. In today’s modern society, peace does not exist but the hope for it remains as strong as ever. Let justice be served to all those who have wronged and let all those who need it most receive peace, love and happiness. Until then stay aware. Fight for what you believe in, and don’t discriminate.

People are like books. “Never ever judge a book by it’s cover,” we’ve been taught that simple concept since we were able to write, yet we continue to go against it. Read the book stop judging it by it’s cover, the story is worth so much more than what you see on the cover. As  Norman Vincent Peale once said “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” I pray that someday I won’t have to pray for peace and justice will be served to all.

-A European-American Seventeen Year Old

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