Write to be Heard: Peace-building will have to come from ground up

If in this crazy life we are headed anywhere as a collective, shouldn't it be toward peace? There is a little identified difference between peace for lack of war and peace by intention, the latter concept called active peace. Active peace or peace-building requires political maneuvering to protect, enrich and spread peace, while deconstructing the foundations of violence. As it stands now, peace is a lofty ideal that we may someday achieve when all opposition is eradicated. Whether for political reasons or moral ones, there is brilliance and integrity behind the peace movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. beautifully illustrates through these words how violence fails, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral; begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars ... "

We can only begin to apply the content of this statement to our lives, yet it is a simple principle: violence bets violence, and if that is the level you are communicatin on, that is the language in which you will receive your reply. Until we take an active pursuit of other means, we will only have war to look towards in these ever-frequent times of crisis.

Americans, prompted by external threats and insecurity for the future, are unable to sit back and do nothing. Maybe what the anti-war movement is saying is that violence is not the only option. Because violence is so deeply rooted in our culture and ingrained in our politics, we may have a hard time seeing outside the paradigm. Our heroes, our myths, our history are permeated with the glory of violence. When I look at what war's role has become it seems contradictory to call it a mechanism of safety or survival. War is not suurvival; pre-emptive war is especially not survival. Attacks on Iraq will undoubtedly takes lives; not American lives, or Iraqi lives but human lives. War will not protect us from more attacks. No amount of bombing, gassing or threaatening can ensure complete protection. Ultimately, to protect humanity we must address the roots, and starve violence at the source. The peace-building movement is in its infancy and I certainly don't have all the solutions we seek. Peace advocates are a rising voice reminding us to keep looking.

Representative Kucinich from Ohio maintains a goal for the development of a department of Peace, despite little support from his comrades. How unfortunate that he is not taken seriously. Discussion on a Department of Peace barely circulates outside small rings of e-mail petitions. The U.S. War Department dwarfs all other nations (second in power is Russia at one sixth the size of the U.S. military). We have little in place to counter such a large and influential aspect of U.S. government. The nation truly yearns for peace and stability, but we have yet to commit the resources and make the sacrifices required to achieve this.

Dismissing anti-water sentiment as unpatriotic is a sneaky attack, and far from the truth. Implying that peace protests are simply bitter dislike for the crrent administration misses the mark. What will outlive these decoys is a very real and powerful reasoning; War is horrifying. Many Americans are tired of history being a bloody book. Frustrated taxpayers watch $396 billion march toward the war machine, as much needed social, economic and educational programs face destitution. I am angered that society turns away from that which we once held as common goals. Imagine all the things we could invest in if we didn't build for war; the schools with vast, creative, inclusive curriculums; developments in justice, protection and rehabilitation; economic diversity and sustainability through unknown avenues and new resources. The future would see reductions in all forms of violence as our cultural awareness shifts from entitlement and domination to responsibility and community. As we actualize these societal goals, domestic violence, school violence, and our new international diplomacy of violence would become obsolete.

This war, big or small, will come and pass, and another and another, until? I am not simplistic. I am a realist. If America, as a model for the world, does not learn true leadership and peace keeping, if we do not explore new solutions now, we will not pass on a world that our children would want to inhabit. Active peace as a viable option to endless cycles of violence deserves the respect of our leaders, but I think peace building will have to come from the citizenry and work its way up.

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