As a man of faith, nonviolence, and service, my beliefs forbid me from participating in any type of war. Since 2004, when I first visited El Salvador, a country torn apart by war and violence, I have had a deep belief that peace and nonviolence is ultimately best for this world. Seeing the faces and hearing the pleas of survivors of massacres, many of which were carried out by US-trained soldiers, led me to believe and realize that basically any tool of negotiation and peaceful relations is for the better in the long run. Those beliefs were furthered when I went to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), to protest. Joined by thousands, I cried out the names of innocent civilians, dedicated preachers, and world-class theologians, all who were ruthlessly and unnecessarily killed by soldiers many of whom were trained at that school which stood before me.
This past year, I spent my year as a Rotary International exchange student in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Learning and living their culture and way of life taught me that we are all one people in a global community. In that community I found an immense group suffering and in need of the most basic of necessities: food, clean water, and adequate shelter. This provoked the question for me: how does God permit this suffering? In my questioning of this I have become more aware that God does not will this, and as a believer, I have great responsibility in the global community. Part of that responsibility for me, based in a scripture passage, is a commitment to nonviolence. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4: 20-21
Witnessing the pain in El Salvador and in Brazil reinforced my belief that no one should ever have that type of struggle. It reinvigorated my desire to continue my efforts for peace and the ending of poverty. In my main vocation as a violinist I hope to contribute to harmony within and among people. One way I contribute is organizing benefit concerts for Heifer International, a sustainable organization dedicated to ending poverty.


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