Spreading peace – the picture of hippies in the flower-power movement quickly comes up or a dove of peace that is sent out as a peace offer. But there are other, much more concrete ways! This week, four strong young women will tell you how they conceived their passion in very different ways and how they get to live it out. They all have the same goal – to campaign for peace! For themselves but also for other people. After reading the stories, you will surely realize that you too can start to spread peace immediately.
In the first part of this Passionweek you will learn why it is important for peace to start on a small scale and what both the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) and a religious community in France have to do with it. Don’t miss the lottery at the end of the article. We are giving away a book about strong women.
Spreading peace through information and enlightenment – Lorena is a press officer at the Bundeswehr
“Peace begins with yourself. If you know how it works to create and spread peace in your own environment, that’s the first step. In the same way, it can also be achieved on a large scale, for example in larger structures and systems, such as between states. Education and enlightenment are essential for peacekeeping. You can only develop understanding through knowledge and information about other countries and cultures. Because not everyone is wired the same way! So, if you can understand or comprehend why someone is acting the way he or she does, you can respond appropriately and avoid conflicts,” Lorena tells us in the interview.
Student and on-off soldier – this is what a passion can look like
Lorena (25 years old from Münster) studies economics and is also a reservist for the Bundeswehr. This means that after completing her basic training, she has not committed herself, but is available on a voluntary basis as a soldier if necessary and is also employed as a soldier during her semester break. Working as a press officer, she is addressed as a lieutenant.
“My job as a press officer is extremely diverse and I really enjoy it. I am constantly in rotation, so I often change my location and the operational area that I can accompany for press work. For example, I was even allowed to fly with a military aircraft, the Transall, to accompany paratroopers at their work. As a press officer, I get to know a lot of new people and great projects, and all teams always give me the feeling of naturally being part of the group.
The challenge of my work in the Bundeswehr
Through her work as a press officer, Lorena can contribute to “correcting” the media representation of the Bundeswehr. Because what is often portrayed in the media as ‘The Bundeswehr’ often does not, in Lorena’s opinion, correspond to the whole picture. She explains to us that armed operations in war and crisis areas are rather the exception. The actual work that soldiers do covers many different fields. The area of the medical service alone, in which Lorena worked after her basic training, comprises a multitude of different tasks. In addition to the classic care for patients known from everyday life, there are numerous specializations, among other things, in the areas of research, development and rescue of wounded soldiers at home and abroad, Lorena reveals to us.
Pacifists in particular, that is people who fundamentally reject war and violence through weapons, often question how weapons or the presence of armed forces in vulnerable areas can be used to create stability and keep peace. The Bundeswehr or soldiers and the issue of spreading peace, are often viewed as opposites and as incompatible. And that is often due to the lack of information about the Bundeswehr’s work. Because the Bundeswehr makes a contribution to peace, even on a small scale, through informational and educational work. For example, soldiers in multinational peace missions provide humanitarian aid and contribute to conflict prevention and crisis management.
ATTENTION! Stand still! Lorena’s way to the Bundeswehr
After graduating from high school, Lorena went to military service out of curiosity. Military service is the exercise of service in the armed forces of a state. She has always been excited about what is being done there and wanted to form her own opinion and find out how it really is. Because she does not fit into the image of a “typical” soldier for many people as she is 1,60m and of slight build, she often gets astonished looks. “But so far, I have not experienced any prejudices about myself and my decision, but rather actually consistently positive curiosity. That also encourages me to continue on this path.
Of course, the Bundeswehr is characterized by hierarchies and authority. Personally, I get along with it well. I view clear orders and the clear division of tasks in rankings as rather structuring and not as a personal paternalism. It is a prejudice anyway that at the Bundeswehr there is always a sharp tone. Because of the camaraderie as a value, we are often even more friendly with one another – even across ranks and badges.
Lorena’s #girlsforgirls tip for your career choice
You should enjoy what you do. And also the people you work with there. In general, you should also stand behind your work and only do what is good for you. And if you are also considering whether the Bundeswehr is something for you, I can only advise you to do the voluntary military service – if you don’t like it, you can get out at any time. But if that is too uncertain for you, you can of course always do an internship with the Bundeswehr first,” concludes Lorena.
Faith as a peace ambassador – Elisa was a volunteer in Taizé
“In Taizé, for the first time I really felt like I was in the right place at the right time. Taizé became my home for a year. A place where I could slowly blossom, get to know myself and above all God and that gave me roots. There, I was able to grow and thrive in a protected environment until I was ready to go out into the wide world.”
Elisa (22 years old from Bonn) went to Taizé as a volunteer after graduating from high school. A short stay was planned, but she quickly decided – I will stay here longer! Taizé is a small place in France where a community of Christian brothers lives together under very simple circumstances. Every week, many young people from all over the world come together to live, pray and work in a community for seven days. In some weeks, often up to five thousand people from all over the world come together like that.
Taizé – a place of peace
“Taizé itself is a very peaceful place. The community is actively involved in the exchange between different religions and invites everyone to engage in the search for peace in their own personal way. People from all nations, with different backgrounds and confessions, manage to live together without problems and to grow beyond themselves. People get to know each other, and inner boundaries are broken down. Through a better understanding of others, it is easier for us to understand and value other ways of thinking and living.
My time as a volunteer in Taizé – a full-time job
The task of the volunteers is to host the young people, to lead work groups and to coordinate life there. My main job was to cook for everyone. In concrete terms, this means leading a new team of up to 16 people every week and cooking for up to 5,000 people in large weeks. Otherwise, we had other tasks every week, such as organizing the reception, cleaning the toilets, serving food, collecting garbage and everything else that needs to be done in community life. During this time, I often reached my limits.
Pushing boundaries and growing with challenges
It was often a challenge to deal with opinions that contradicted my personal values. But every challenge is always also an opportunity. A chance to grow beyond yourself and to get to know new perspectives. This is how I learned not to prejudge others, to listen and to develop understanding. Even if I don’t agree. But also developing tolerance in community life was part of my development. In Taizé, for the first time I had contact with people who are oppressed in their countries because of their beliefs. The exchange with them moved me deeply and showed me how real and current the problem of unacceptance in everyday life is.
Elisa speaks from experience: This is how you can spread peace
To work for peace, you don’t always need big projects or strange places. Spreading peace first of all starts at oneself. Only those who have inner peace can pass it on. Go out into the world, into your environment, meet people, come into exchange! Maybe try to get in touch with people with whom you would otherwise not be conversing. Try to understand their point of view and listen. You can learn something from everyone!”
Passion Contest: Win the book “HerStory – 50 strong women &
girls who made history”!
A role model for today’s girls! This special, opulently designed non-fiction book is packed with exciting and lively stories of 50 well-known and lesser-known women and girls from all areas of life and from all parts of the world. They all bravely went their own way, never gave up and achieved amazing things – and that continues to this day. Answer the following question in the comments and you’re in the pot:
Who is your heroine? Who do you admire? And why?
You can participate until Friday, April 17th, 2020 – 12:00 p.m. The winner will then be determined at random and contacted by message. Fingers crossed. Participation is possible from the age of 14, legal recourse is excluded. The prize can only be sent within Germany. Many thanks to the publishers of Fischerverlage for the provision.
Would you agree with Lorena and Elisa that peace begins with yourself? How would you like to spread peace? Let us know in the comments.
In the second part, we introduce two other young women who work for peace. They show concrete ways how you can easily stand up for peace beyond your own environment. Click here for the article.
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