For the fourteenth consecutive year, the Greenfield Peace Scholarship served as an opportunity to hear from young Oregonians on some of the most pressing issues of our time. We sponsor this annual scholarship in order to encourage Oregon’s youth to consider their leadership role in promoting a more healthy, just, and peaceful world.
The theme of the scholarship in 2022 was Reimagining U.S. Military Spending. This has historically been a writing scholarship open to all Oregon 11th and 12th grade students. This year, though, we asked young Oregonians who identify as low-income and who are high school juniors or seniors or the equivalent to respond to the prompt through original music and poetry video submissions. The scholarship’s goal is to illuminate the perspectives of Oregon's youth on issues of peace, health, justice, and safety in our world.
Leslie Monjares, Winston Churchill High School (Eugene, OR)
Ellie Emery, Tigard High School (Tigard, OR)
Sierra Moore, Crater Renaissance Academy (White City, OR)
Mal Sotelo, Crater High School (Central Point, OR)
To a generation born after 9/11, never-ending war is the norm. Very few anti-war movements have gained traction since worldwide protests opposing the US-Iraq War took place on February 15th, 2003, spanning over 600 cities across the globe. For most high school juniors and seniors, these anti-war events occurred before their birth. In the past two decades, the military has continued to operate with increased yearly funding, but a sense of decreased visibility and scrutiny from the public. Meanwhile, young people are being raised in a world that is saturated with tragic events through the globalized internet, twenty-four hour news notifications, and social media.
In recent years, young people have been at the forefront of movements for a wide range of social justice issues, ranging from climate justice to the Black Lives Matter movement, from stronger restrictions on guns to changing the way we think about policing and mass incarceration. Yet, due to the military’s incomprehensible power and protections, many of the countless atrocities of war are invisible or kept hidden. Regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, the military budget continues to grow, drone strikes continue to cause civilian deaths, veterans continue to suffer, and low-income young people continue to be recruited into military service at higher rates than their wealthier peers.
As Generation Z is bombarded with anxiety-inducing news through social media in a fast-moving, globalized world, it can feel impossible to stay focused. At a time when countless issues are demanding the attention of young people, think about one of the issues that matters most to you. Then, brainstorm how you would devise creative solutions to this issue if you had the resources that are currently available to the US military (public and governmental support, fiscal resources, a stellar research and development team, the newest, cutting-edge technologies, etc.) as you respond to the following prompt: “Half of the US discretionary budget goes to the military every year. How would you spend it instead?”