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Cole Crouse

Cole Crouse is the Director of Operations for Youth In Need, a nonprofit organization that reaches out to youth in an effort to help them in all areas of life. Through creating environments to elevate student’s values through understanding and engaging with them as individuals, and transforming lives by empowering their strengths and passions to be able to achieve their goals and passions.
Interview by Clare Newell May 2015

My understanding of peace begins with freedom, the freedoms that individuals have. People are in a sort of bondage, trapped within ourselves, a slave to the things we deal with in our lives. One way to define peace is as freedom from personal conflict. This is also related to freedom for a purpose. Often the freedoms we have are taken advantage of, and we can become irresponsible with our freedoms. Peace can begin when we use our freedoms for a purpose to help others. It is also an ongoing process that people should always be working toward within relationships. Conflict is started between people, and therefore peace is also between people, working toward achieving internal peace, which can be used to promote the peace of others and the world.

I’ve learned working with Youth In Need as a leader and with other organizations and as a mentor that it all starts at the relational level and how we communicate with people. Communication creates connections, and is necessary for creating peace. It’s in the relationships that I have to build with the people I’m helping. You must first recognize and understand what it means to be in relationships with others. We need to look at ourselves first. A large factor that prevents peace is self-centeredness. We can’t reach peace when we don’t care for the person next to us. We have to recognize where others are coming from before we can expect them to understand and relate to us. Leadership starts with knowing that it’s not about you. A shift to being others minded, and more community centered to develop the prominence of peace.

In order to better promote peace, we need to start having conversations and valuing the perspectives of others. Until you have a conversation with someone about their beliefs, you won’t be able to understand that person or promote peace between individuals, thus stopping the building of peace at the individual level. There is a possibility for cohesiveness among all people, but it won’t occur until there is understanding and respect in relationships. Are we promoting peace or just talking about it? Are we listening first? People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Like love, there is a multiplicity to peace that can have many different ideas about what it is and means to people. However, it is first necessary to know and understand the different opinions and beliefs through conversation before putting your ideas on to others.

In order to better learn peace, leadership and communication are vital. I believe everything rises and falls on understanding leadership. People already in leadership roles most often damage peace. In the big picture of leadership, the goal is more important than the role. If I am more focused on my role as a leader and what I can do with it than the goal, then I lost the ability to achieve the goal as well as peace. Quality leaders are necessary for understanding how to facilitate peace. The development of basic communication is also necessary as communication is a foundation of succeeding in all areas of life including the development of peace.