by Sophia Devereux
Twenty-seven freezing, rosy cheeked, excitable, and bundled up adolescents accompanied by their six devoted and passionate guides walked down the streets of DC, and I was pretty sure everyone in the group was thinking different things. A couple of us were probably attempting to take selfies, others chatting about the election, others picking up fallen red leaves off the sidewalk and exclaiming “Look! Red leaves! We hardly ever get these in Houston!” and yet others having deep conversations about what truly hit them about this peace trip. We were headed to our last destination on our peace trip: the Friends Committee on National Legislation (or the FCNL).
We entered the FCNL’s bustling, cozy, warm building complete with a LEED certification, a geo thermal heating system, and a huge opening in its ceiling where light just poured into the lobby. At the center of the Quaker faith lies the belief that every human has an Inner Light. This means that in every human soul there is a piece of the light and energy of God. Dr. Maria Montessori also believed that every child was born with an inner will and light. This will and light are drawn out when a child has been exposed to the right education and has been given the correct opportunities. The building completely reflected this Quaker belief and reminded me a lot of the design of our school: light filled the room making you forget all about the cold DC weather outside. You were safe inside this little oven of peacefulness, and immediately began to feel at ease.
I was pretty excited for the FCNL. The FCNL is a lobbying organization based in DC that was founded in 1943 by members of the Quaker religion. Ever since 7th grade, I have been obsessed with the Quaker religion and its ideals. I admire their pacifist views, their belief that the relationship between God and man should be a relationship of direct communication and honesty, and I love everything about how they hold weddings and have their weekly worship time.
After a few minutes of looking up at the marvelous design of the impactful FCNL’s building, we entered a conference room. Frightening facts like the US has 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners and Black youth account for 16% of all American youth yet make up 28% of all juvenile arrests surrounded us. When I saw these statistics, I immediately wanted to make a change and I think the FCNL inspired my peers to do that also.
The friendly woman named Emily who talked to us about the FCNL was a global warming lobbyist. Although we only were in the FCNL for about one and a half hours, that was more than enough time for Ms. Emily to make an impact on me. As someone who is positively in love with the environment and who definitely wants to study environmental science in college, for me to see that a young, strong woman lobbying both Republicans and Democrats trying to get them to take steps in preventing global warming was truly inspiring. I left the FCNL with a new feeling of hope inside me. It does not matter how old I am, for age is merely a number. I can have as much of an impact at the age of 14 as someone who is a 45 year old with a master's degree. I can make a change. "The world shouldn’t be a violent place, but there is nothing we can do about it." Those words are constantly in my head. So many people have said that—giving up and not even taking a moment to truly realize that we can do something about it. Yes, the world should not be a racist, violent, place where people are not living in communion with each other, but there is definitely something we can do to prevent this from continuing. As a passionate 14 year old, I will work hard to make even the smallest of differences. It all starts with one person who is not afraid to speak out to try and make a change, and I will work hard to become that person. I will now not only wish for a peaceful world, but I will take steps to create a more peaceful world.Life’s not about expecting, hoping, and wishing, it’s about doing, being, and becoming.