Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Define ‘peace’ before trying to achieve it

More than 950 students from 45 high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 52nd annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 20. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A spokesperson was chosen from each group to write a column about the students' findings.

When a large group of highly opinionated high school students from all ethnic, social and political backgrounds comes together and discusses controversial issues, one thought generally comes to mind: uncivilized and cause for headache.

This was definitely not the case in my discussion group, "Around the World," at the recent Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum. With the guidance of our moderator, our group of intelligent individuals diligently debated prominent subjects affecting our world today. Any adult would be proud knowing that our youths take notice of what affects our country and care to make a difference in the future.

One of the most heated discussions in "Around the World" was world peace: possible or not? It was apparent we needed to define what "peace" meant in relation to the world: all cultures, societies and governments being able to work together without using military force.

Although there were a few optimists who said industrialism and capitalism will force cooperation and world peace, the majority of the group felt otherwise.

To achieve world peace, all the countries in the world would have to be willing to compromise and work together.

Let's face it, every country typically looks out for its own interests. Ultimately, it is a competition among nations over power: a powerful military, power over trade and power over the economy. Power needs to be shared among nations so it will equal out, and many are not willing to sacrifice it.

The issue of America taking on the role of the world's police force was another cause for debate. Should America continue its ways of today or go back to a foreign policy of isolationism?

The opinion of the group was that isolationism lowers the ability to trade. Because the United States has a strong military and economy, we essentially took the role of world's police force on ourselves.

Still, the United Nations needs to play a larger part in the world's police force and there needs to be less American involvement. Countries in the United Nations need to be strong and involved, yet many of those countries have no incentive to fix international problems.

Lastly, a discussion arose on our stance on Iraq and the war on terrorism. Are we winning? Losing? Accomplishing anything or wasting our time, money and soldiers?

Primarily we needed to decide what "winning" meant. In this case, winning cannot be measured by casualty counts but by reestablishing, educating and making a peaceful environment in the Middle East.

The seemingly liberal side of the group strongly insisted there was no purpose for American troops in Iraq and that, with the tactics being used, winning is impossible on both ends. I, along with the other half of the discussion group, thought that starting something so controversial and not finishing it would be foolish and give our country the reputation of finishing halfway.

In the end, hearing my peers' stances on world issues opened my eyes to different stances in our society. It gave me better insight and a better ability to look below the surface on topics that affect us all. It is safe to say our youth will take an active part in the future and always strive for success in our world.

Bertelsen is a senior at Eldorado High School whose group covered the topic of Around the World.