April 12, 2013


The 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on March 20 was a grim reminder of the lingering costs of war—the financial costs that have crippled the U.S. budget and heaped trillions of dollars of debt onto the backs of future generations.

Partnering with communities throughout the world, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) daily challenges the idea that war and violence are effective ways to secure peace and justice. Every day, we are creating conditions for peace through personal transformation and community healing.

But at AFSC, we know that building peace is too important to be left solely in the hands of a few passionate activists.

The culture of U.S. militarism that wages wars overseas also results in inhumane and misguided policies at home—closing schools, leaving the long-term unemployed to fend for themselves and their families, militarizing our borders, stigmatizing immigrants who come seeking a better life, and imprisoning young men of color at alarming rates. Is this the best future we can offer younger generations?

Of course not! We know we can do better.

This weekend in Washington, D.C., young people from 15 states will gather to share their visions for the future, imagining what the world would look like if the trillions we spend on war were allocated instead to our communities. They are coming to showcase their videos at AFSC’s “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” youth film festival, and then to meet with their Congressional representatives.

Among the youth are Summer, Darron, and Jordan from Kansas City, Mo., who see that investing to keep youth out of homelessness will help end the gun violence that grips their neighborhood. And sisters Mina and Lana, who left their Baghdad home to escape the Iraq War, only to find schools being shuttered around them in Pittsburgh; they urge the U.S. to invest in education instead of in war.

Other youth who participated in this year’s festival see how the U.S. could create true security by investing in green infrastructure, college affordability, and job creation; they want lawmakers to focus on ending gun violence, expanding public health initiatives, and making every school the nurturing, learning community that every child deserves.

These visionary young people will share their ideas with lawmakers and the public on Monday, April 15—Tax Day, the perfect day to be reminded of the future our tax dollars could create if they were directed to life-supporting human needs instead of being wasted on war.

On April 15 and every day, let us listen to these wise young voices, and join them to build the world they imagine. YOUR voice is urgently needed, reminding our leaders what we could accomplish by cutting military spending and investing in life.

In peace,

Shan Cretin
General Secretary