By: Pablo Venturino, Youth Developer
During my fasting period, I was able to reflect on how we make decisions everyday and what’s really important in life. The former came to my mind because I was not expecting to fast this Saturday, but I covered my colleague who unfortunately got sick. Not knowing that I was fasting on Saturday, I went to the grocery store on Thursday night and got food for a couple of days, including my favorite treats, like chocolate and cheese. It was hard because I was at home all day reading and working, trying to control my energy expenditure, and I was so tempted to go and grab some of that food that I really like. It would have been so easy for me to get a piece of delicious candy, or cheese, etc.
How does that anecdote relate to the real meaning of the Season for Peace Building Campaign? This thought was the trigger that made me reflect about the kinds of choices that we, as individuals who are part of the community, make every day and how our decisions influence and affect others.
Generally speaking, there are two ways of doing things: the easy but superficial and meaningless way, and the more complex but deep way. It would have been so easy for me to go to the fridge and get some food (like if I say I am against violence in Oakland but do not engage in any initiative to change that reality). It would have been so easy for BAM, RAW, Life Academy and Alternatives in Action Staff to go to the classrooms after our children were killed and give a meaningless speech about how bad violence is, and make an empty statement about it, and just keep going. But, our youth said, “No, that does not have any real impact in the community!”
We opted for the more complex way. We are trying to actually do something and let everybody in the community know that we all need to change the way we are doing things if we want our children to grow in a nurturing and caring community that will provide them with the support and love that they need in order to become productive members of society.
We are not just against violence; we are building community in order to build peace. BAM and RAW youth are telling us that we, as a community, need to speak up and let people know about the need to come together as a community in order to stop the violence in Oakland. BAM and RAW youth are showing us that kids in Oakland are truly peace builders who need all of our support.
Regarding what’s essential and what’s not, I was thinking about all of the different flavors that we get to experience through food. However, flavor is not what keeps us alive. Vitamins, proteins, calories, etc. are the essential components when it comes to food, if our goal is to be healthy human beings.
Now, how does that relate to our lives as community members? What is essential when it comes to community and society? What are those things that we cannot go without if we want to have a healthy community?
My fast turn is ending, and the conclusion that I arrived at for the above questions is: strong and healthy relationships! We cannot go without strong relationships among community members anymore! There is so much we need to accomplish and so many barriers we need to overcome, but if we are really going to change this negative reality that we and our youth experience everyday in Oakland, it will really depend on the quality of relationships that we are building today.
That’s what this Season for Peace Building really means to me: building community in order to build peace. It makes me very proud to see that that’s what our amazing Life Academy students are doing!
Edited By: Eva Oliver, Digital Journalism Teacher