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Our choice must be peace
Nichole Kayne is a student at Lakeview Academy and was the winner of the Gainesville Evening Optimist Club’s essay contest. She is the daughter of David and Tracy Kayne.
Today's choices shape my future because the way we handle foreign affairs affects us domestically, which unfortunately most people, including politicians, don't seem to realize.

By making enemies around the world with our pushy, power-hungry policies, we alienate ourselves as a nation, making us vulnerable. We should seek alliances and build channels of communication, otherwise we may be losing innocent lives that we would never even imagine would be put in harm's way.

When we consider the effects of war, we think in terms of economic factors, foreign casualties and our troops. But it never occurs to us that in far-reaching ways, our own people can be affected, too, and not just soldiers.

Currently, there are an estimated 691,000 Iranians in the U.S., almost all of whom are citizens or working to become such. These people are our countrymen, and whether or not we realize it, our foreign policy could potentially ruin their lives, specifically, that of my little brother.

My brother and I are half-Iranian by way of my father, who fled to this country after his life was threatened by the Ayatollah when he first came to power. Now we visit Iran every year, and in order to do so, we must be citizens.
Iranian law dictates that all men at the age of 18 must perform a mandatory two-year military service, which can be overridden by a fee of $5,000, but, as we found out upon our last visit, only during peacetime.

If America were to wage war against Iran, which seems only a matter of time considering our country's current inflexibility and their despotic nature, my brother would be drafted into the Iranian army in just a few years and if he refused, would be unable to return or else face a deserter's fate the second he stepped onto the tarmac: hanging.

My future as well as his would be shattered if he were to be wounded or killed in battle, or even emotionally scarred. As his big sister, I can't stand to think that callous politics could very well ruin our lives and thousands of others like us.

Such a war would tear my family apart, as well as the families of those thousands of other young Iranian males in this country who possess duo-citizenship. This would deliberately put our own people into harm's way, would pit them against other men and women who may be their own neighbors and classmates, whose beliefs they support.

Unless our government makes steps towards a comprehensive Middle East summit, or at least reaches out to the current regime, we will be faced with this awful war and my little brother will be in serious danger. We cannot afford to endanger our own people just to prove our strength; the only real strength to be had at this juncture is the strength to make choices that will make peace, for other countries and for ourselves.

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