Sara Jadid dreams of a peaceful world. One filled with flying doves instead of exploding bombs. A world of unity, where the strength of kindness prevails above all. On October 28, 2015, she received the prize for winning the 44th Universal Postal Union’s Letter Writing Competition for Young People. Sara, a 13-year-old girl from Lebanon, competed against 1.5 million youths from 65 countries all over the world. The theme of this year’s competition was “Tell us about the world you want to grow up in.”
In her emotional letter, she speaks as a child of experience, and one of heartbreak. But also one of hope— “I seek to knock on the doors of terrorists’ consciences, whose humanity sleeps, while war is awake within them.”
After a day of double bombings in her home country that killed at least 43 people, another bombing in Iraq killed dozens, and an attack in Paris killed over 120 people, and counting…it is difficult to imagine the world described in her beautiful letter. The tragedy of violence all over the globe is truly a tale of sleeping humanity, as young Sara suggests. It is a darkness of heart that has scooped out caverns in souls and replaced the space with thickened bloodlust and the thirst for righteousness and rightness, above all else. Those who commit these heinous acts do not see their victims as people with lives and hopes and dreams of their own, but as a means to an end. It is a very sad day for the children of Lebanon, the children of Iraq, the children of France, and for us all.
It is important to think about what we, as part of the creative global community, have as a responsibility to respond to such tragedy. How do we keep that hope alive in the brown eyes of a 13-year-old girl? What power do keystrokes and pen strokes, swaths of paint on a canvas, or musical notes from a hollowbody electric guitar have over Kalashnikovs? What roles do we or should we play in this crisis of humanity?
In the aftermath of such carnage, there seems to be more questions than answers. It begs a cycle of definition and re-definition of the purpose of creative works and their ability to facilitate change in the world. But hope remains in the basic desires that move us as human beings, which connect us to each other in a collective consciousness that for the vast majority of the global population has no inclination to perform such vile acts. This connection is key to the concept of hope. Sara threads it throughout her letter within the realms of family, of love, and of loyalty. The wisdom of a young girl communicated through the eyes and heart of experience represents the power of the written word, and other creative endeavors, to touch us as individuals in this global sea of humanity while reminding us that it is the idea of separateness, of difference, that is at the heart of our undoing. We can celebrate cultures, religions, and other qualities of identity, but we must remember the inherent beauty of our sameness, and the commonality of what it means to have quality of life.
Sara Jadid’s award-winning letter matters. The weight of the inspiration and emotional resonance has a universal power that in its essence holds the secret to awakening. And we, as lovers and believers in the potency of creativity must endure, and proclaim— arise, you sleeping beasts. Arise.
Laurel Dowswell walks in the woods every chance she gets. She was raised and educated in Florida, but landed in Santa Fe, NM, as a copy editor for an independent feminist newspaper. She likes porches, wine, and songs with guitar solos, particularly if they come together and sit for a spell. She lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia, with her son, and is currently working on a novel filled with oil paintings, family drama, and the spectrum of sexuality.