Children continue to call for diplomacy

Can any one person really change or even save the world? What if that person was not even old enough to drive a car?

Decades ago, eleven year old Samantha Smith became a hometown hero when she travelled to the Soviet Union, after the American child actress wrote a letter to its leader, Yuri Andropov.

Samantha expressed her concern over whether or not nuclear war would ensue and urged peace through diplomacy. Brent Budowsky, a columnist for The Hill remembers that time:

We were living back then obviously during the cold war. I would get top secret briefings about the end of the world, what would happen if nuclear war exterminated us and here comes this girl, speaking truths that the adults hadn’t yet learned and the adults kind of said yeh, she’s right.”

This time around, thirteen year old Korean-American Jonathan Lee is hoping to have as big an impact on North Korea.

Jonathan is travelling to North Korea in hopes of convincing its leader, Kim Jong-Il, to create a peace forest in the demilitarized zone. It’s quite a feat considering the DMZ has separated North and South Korea for more than a half-century and is one of the most heavily guarded areas in the world.

Many people may say that there’s no hope and there’s too much conflict for this to happen. But, I see hope on the Korean peninsula” Jonathan wrote on his website.

Although the young teenager is optimistic, not all of these kinds of diplomatic efforts end in success. A group of volunteers known as the ‘human shields’ were attempting to stop the US from bombing certain areas of Baghdad, they were however unsuccessful.

I’m kinda just a little bit excited because not many people get to do this kind of stuff. It’s kind of a rare thing,” said Jonathan.

A rare thing that many folks are hoping will result in positive change.