When I first heard that Cindy Sheehan had camped out in front of President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, it reminded me of another woman who sat down in the front of a bus because she was tired and had had enough.
Then I thought, here is yet another painful example in our world today. We are tired of young men and women around the world dying needlessly, without purpose, and leading to escalating violence between nations, in our country, in our communities, in our schools.
Women from around the country are uniting in Texas. It is time to ask ourselves why we are not using the knowledge and methods we already have to resolve conflict in nonviolent ways! We have not yet invested in organizing the wealth of information and resources we currently have and creating the structure to do so. It is time to do this.
The focus of a cabinet level Department of Peace is the nonviolent resolution of conflict internationally and domestically.
What would a Department of Peace be doing? How might it make a difference? We would be working within our government, the Iraqi government and governments of other concerned countries - with professionals trained in alternative dispute resolution, mediation, truth and reconciliation. We would call upon those who have worked in community building successfully around the world.
We asked Louise Diamond, founder of The Peace Company, and co-founder with Ambassador John McDonald of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, if she were part of a peace team right now what would be possible?
Louise responded: “Our approach to peace building is threefold:
* Social – working with the hearts and minds and direct experience of the people;
* Political – working with politicians and leaders; and
* Structural – working with institutions in society that affect lives, i.e. education, economics, military."
She also indicated: We would look at needs and programs in Iraq, in this country and in partner countries and facilitate understanding and agreement on a peaceful direction. These discussions would be based on the premise that the cornerstone of freedom is the opportunity for all voices to be heard and for all people to have the opportunity to make a difference. Through dialogue and with the willingness of leadership to hear the voices of the people to create respectful and open-ended dialogue, we would resolve conflict.
President Bush recently called for a conflict response team in our government. We encourage that dialogue. Our troops need our support. Let us quickly move in the direction of providing them with training in de-escalation of conflict, nonviolent communication, how to effectively manage potentially violent situations, and more!
In the documentary "Gunner Palace", the closing scenes are of interviews with U.S. soldiers in Iraq commenting on how killing has not proven to be an effective solution in the past and that it is no different today.
It is time for all of us, individually and as a group, to speak up in conscience as part of the new politics of hope. It is time to focus on creating a world that will work for everyone.
Thank you Cindy Sheehan for your willingness to demonstrate how one person can make a significant difference on behalf of the common good. We are grateful to be part of the dialogue. Please support the much-needed Department of Peace!
In the Spirit of Peace,
Dot Maver, Executive Director
The Peace Alliance
Campaigning for a US Department of Peace