Whenever I meet someone new, a question I like to ask is, “What kind of music do you like?” I like finding new music to listen to, broadening my sonic horizons. One can learn much about a person from their musical taste.

I enjoy listening to ‘80s music. The Smiths, Alphaville, and Tears for Fears are among my favorite bands. Though I wasn’t alive during that period, the fact that the time has passed long ago means there are no surprises, nothing that should alarm me. I find in that a sort of peace.

My life is heavily influenced by my desire for peace. Just as we would learn to fish from a fisherman (or woman), or learn how to teach from a teacher, a great way to learn to be more peaceful is by learning from those who exemplify peace. Following are three of my favorites.

I know a way out of hell

Born in 1869, Mahatma Gandhi is popularly known as a radical advocate of peace. One notable story occurred during a great war between the Hindu and Muslim people in India. Blood was shed and many died. One night, a man came to Gandhi, distraught and deeply troubled.

“Gandhi, I have committed a great evil and I am going to hell.”

Gandhi remained silent.

“I have killed a child. A Muslim child.”

“Why did you do that?”

“A Muslim killed my child.”

After some time of silence, Gandhi spoke up.

“I know a way out of hell.”

“How? Tell me.”

“Find a child whose parents have died in the war. Raise him as your own. Raise him a devout Muslim.”

The man hesitated. Raise him a Muslim? But I’m a Buddhist.

Gandhi always tried to find the common ground between people. He didn’t see reconciliation through violence, but instead through growth and acceptance.

You aren’t moving me

Irene Morgan was a Seventh-day Adventist African-American woman who was born in 1917 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1944, when she was 27 years old, she boarded a Greyhound bus. Shortly thereafter, so did the city sheriff.

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to move.”

“Why is that?”

“This seat is for white folks. Colored people sit in the back of the bus.”

“You aren’t moving me. I am one of God’s children just like any other person on this bus, so you haven’t got an argument in the world that will convince me to move.”

“Ma’am, the only argument I need is this arrest warrant,” the sheriff said, holding a slightly yellowed piece of paper in his hand, a victorious smile on his face. Irene reached out.

“Let me see that for a second.” Grasping the paper, she quickly yanked it from the sheriff’s hand and tore it to shreds. The smile grew on Irene’s face as it wilted on the sheriff’s. He then frowned and became louder, declaring, “You are coming with me, young lady.” Grabbing her by the arm, he continued to bark remarks at her, causing unrest in the bus. The power in his voice suddenly shriveled as Irene gave him a swift kick to the groin. Releasing her, the sheriff fell to the bus floor in pain.

Soon afterward, other men came to take Irene away. They saw her sitting calmly in her seat, but this calm demeanor quickly dissipated when they tried to take her away. Irene used every ounce of strength she had to fight the men taking her to jail. When she arrived at her hearing she pleaded guilty for resisting arrest—and innocent for violating segregation laws. Irene fought for what she believed in. Like Irene, we should be willing to stand up, or stay sitting, for what is right, and be willing to fight when necessary.

Sir, I must respectfully decline the firearm

There is a time, however, when fighting is not the answer. In these moments, peace should be readily at the disposal of a Christian. Desmond Doss exemplified this. Enlisting as a soldier in 1942, Doss spent the next four years working hard for the United States. His acts of valor caused him to be a war hero and earn the Medal of Honor, among other awards. He was promoted to corporal and combat medic. Though all of these accomplishments were commendable, none was his greatest feat.

One day, Doss’ commanding officer instructed the troops to pick up their standard issue guns upon falling out of formation. Desmond spoke up.

“Sir, I must respectfully decline the firearm.”

“What did you say, Private?”

“I said that I must respectfully decline the gun.”

“Yes? And why is that? Are you too scared to shoot someone?”

“No, Sir. I just don’t believe it is right. I am a conscientious objector.”

“I’ve heard of fellas like you, but I never thought I would be unlucky enough to deal with one. Doss, let me ask you a question. If out on the battlefield, a German comes up to you and points a gun at you, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to trust that my God will save me.”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“Then I will not waver in my belief in Him.”

After a moment’s silence, the sergeant answered with: “Doss, as long as it clears my superiors, it’s alright with me. We will see how well your God does at saving you from death.”

Many pressured Doss into changing his stance on violence, but he remained resilient. During his entire career, Doss held true to his promise to the Lord. His actions have inspired several books along with two movies. The second, Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield, was released Nov. 4, 2016.

Like Gandhi, we must search for common ground between ourselves and those who surround us. Like Morgan, we must stand for what is right, even in the face of adversity. Like Doss, we need to stand firm and hold true to our beliefs and not let the flags of our morality shift and waver with each passing breeze. Let us follow the notes their actions have left in history, and carry on singing the lyrics of their lives for generations.

Josue Feliciano is an English and language arts education major.