The answer to the assertion that “War is human nature!” is, “Yes, and so is peace.”
—William Ury, The Third Side
“It fascinates me that almost all, if not all, conflicts can be resolved,” Carly Parmer says.
Proudly admitting to being a dreamer and an idealist, she aims for solutions. International conflict draws her because she feels an innate calling to make a positive difference in this world and can’t remember not thinking this way. An event at The Fourth Estate in August of 2011 crystallized her sense of dedication. This was an international convention with 650 advocates for justice hosted by Invisible Children, a non-profit organization focused on resolving LRA-affiliated conflicts—disasters connected to the “Lord’s Resistance Army” of Uganda. The convention focused on peace throughout central Africa, and it marked the first time Carly felt surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. She felt incredibly motivated, which intensified her determination to work for peaceful change throughout the world.
In high school, Carly had already been a supporter, becoming president of the Invisible Children club which fundraised for the non-profit organization. She wanted to continue her leadership role in college and met with the President of Aztecs for Africa at San Diego State University, who helped Carly become Vice President. Carly knew the group was right for her and eventually became President. Student members contribute time, talent, and money to help support sustainability in various parts of Africa. The organization helps mainly through sponsoring education to help break down stereotypes and barriers. Fundraising efforts support their family in Africa and other targeted non-profits.
As a leader, Carly puts her heart into it. At meetings, one of her goals is to have members realize the leader inside of themselves. If others have ideas, Carly wants to hear them. She hopes that they will recognize their own potential. Directly responsible for group dynamics, a leader controls the group’s level of interest, ranging from apathy to action. Inspired leadership is thus “a tool of mobilization that can change multitudes,” given the one essential ingredient—purpose. Without purpose, apathy ensues and mobilization dies. A leader who is told he/she is great will stop trying, so leaders must look beyond greatness and reach higher than what seems practical. Carly says, “Running a club has challenged and pushed me to test my limits. And what I have found is this: we are limitless.”
Carly believes passionately in the power of potential. “Every day, month, year, I try to push myself beyond my limits by choosing to challenge myself and never taking the easy way out. I let myself gravitate toward my fears because only then can I learn and grow.”
To become a career peace worker and resolve conflicts, Carly seeks to build her skills in the craft of international cooperation. In addition to HSI, she recently studied in Rimini, Italy where she participated in a forty-hour Mediation program run by the San Diego NCRC (National Conflict Resolution Center). Living in an interconnected world can be a beautiful thing, as Carly sees it, but it means, of course, that local conflicts reverberate on a world scale, environmentally, financially, and politically. So, it is up to each individual to decide how to address that conflict, whether war or peace is in their basic nature. “For me, I have chosen peace,” Carly says.