“Who are you and what will you fight for? The world is big, and beautiful, and troubled. It needs you.”
These were the words spoken by Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chapman University Presidential Fellow, during her commencement address on May 21, 2022. Nadia fights to preserve the memory of the attack by Isis terrorists against the Yazidi peoples of Iraq. To prevent additional women and children from sharing her fate of becoming a victim of sexual violence. To bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice.
Her words inspire us to take up this cause in war-torn conflict zones around the world.
But her words also resonate closer to home.
Soon after Nadia spoke these words to us, a heavily armed 18-year old shot and killed 19 children and 2 teachers in a Uvalde, Texas elementary school.
Several days before she spoke these words, ten African Americans were murdered in a racially motivated mass shooting in a Buffalo, New York supermarket.
Like Nadia, we must find our collective voice not only to denounce evil and wrongdoing, but to do our best to prevent an endless repetition of a cycle of violence that seems to dominate our world, from Uvalde to Buffalo, to Iraq and Ukraine.
This is a moment when it is difficult to find that faith. A moment when it is difficult to resist the temptation to succumb to despair and cynicism that anything will ever change.
We must resist these emotions, and like Nadia, refuse to be defined by all that is wrong and unjust in our world. We must choose to fight for justice with determination to build a better future.