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Ava Lowery on Fear and Optimism

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When I was 7 years old, I wanted to be a ballerina and a chef when I grew up. I was fiercely passionate about it. I never took a single dance class and I couldn't make anything more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but these two things in my mind seemed like the ideal combination. Exquisite beauty married with amazing food. What could be better than that? I would wear gorgeous costumes and flit around on stage and everyone would clap and applaud and bring me roses. Afterward I would bring all my friends back to my large and well-decorated New York apartment and serve them all an amazing meal of ...well I never really knew what, but it would be something that took lots of time and dozens of knives and mixers and came out of the oven smelling like heaven.

I don't remember the exact circumstances of the day, or the hour or even who said it. But I do remember how I felt after behind being told that being a ballerina/chef wasn't a reasonable expectation. "Ballet dancing is very competitive, it takes a lot of time and hard work, you can't spend so much time with your friends, you have to have just the right body type, you can work your whole life and never be good enough. And to be a chef! You have to travel to Europe and learn from the masters and taste all the foods you want to cook and how can such a picky eater be a good chef?" And there, it was done. I resolved by 12 to be a child psychologist. (I like to believe not by coincidence.) After all...

Fear is a very powerful tool.

That's a phrase of which teenaged activist Ava Lowery has grasped the full meaning. She recognized something disingenuous was afoot in our government and set out to be a voice of change, courage, justice and peace. While many others and I sat watching bombs exploding over Baghdad on March 20, 2003 with tears in our eyes, Ava was creating videos and speaking out against an illegal war.


This Sunday, Ava, now a 17-year-old young woman, sits down with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero for a spirited, heartening conversation about peace, civil liberties, fear, the Bush administration, and new media. Anthony brings wisdom and experience of his years fighting for justice with the oldest and largest civil liberties organization and Ava brings continued hope for the next generation of activism. She embodies what This Brave Nation is all about.

It's an episode not to be missed!