I would like to write in appreciation of the attention your paper has given to the legislation now pending in the U.S. Congress in consideration of creating a cabinet level Department of Peace in the Executive Branch of our federal government.
Specifically, I would like to respond to Dave Coogan\’s statement regarding his belief that such a department would be \”completely ineffective\”:
This rather dismissive statement is a mere conclusion not supported by fact. It seems to be presented more from the perspective of his political affiliation and ideological bias (College Republicans) than from any sound reason. The facts seem to more readily support that our present means of dealing with violence at home and abroad are not working…regardless of who is the \”ruling\” party. This proposed department is a trans-partisan concept.
It does, however, require that the governed and the government evolve. I for one am not so skeptical that this cannot be done. This is a democracy, and we are a species given the gift of free will, we can and will do whatever we decide to so do. A more intelligent direction than what we currently employ would seem to me a good use of our free will.
From a cost/benefit analysis, this legislation is more practical and timely than any effort now being employed. Wasn\’t it Einstein himself who advised that we cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it? Not unlike the concept of preventative medicine, if we address violence at the front end of the equation we will not be required to spend so much of our tax dollars on violence’s manifest.
What\’s all this I hear about \”VALUES\”? You would think, after the last election cycle, when we heard so much about values, that we would be mindful of how many lives have been lost because we did not value them quite as much as we valued our need to react to our own fears. Over two thousand of our own people killed, countless others maimed, \”collateral damage\” for years to come for countless families, tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens killed in the name of saving them from that bad man Saddam. Al Qaida is now part of the norm in Iraq. There is an estimated 80 percent unemployment in that country while Halliburton is making a \”killing\”.
Here at home, school children are killing and being killed, women are battered, police are at highest risk in responding to domestic violence, prisons are overflowing, schools are closing, racial and homophobic violence continues to rear it\’s ugly head. And when these things happen usually our answer is to commission another study. Might it be valuable to do our study before the violence happens?
Too much bureaucracy? NO…just a shift in bureaucracy. The simple truth is that the State Department deals with U.S. interests abroad, often in the interest of U.S. businesses. The Secretary of State can negotiate with heads of state, and usually does so only after an issue arises. A Department of Peace would have as it sole mission PROACTIVELY researching and addressing the underlying causal elements to violence abroad.
For instance, we knew for decades about the environment that was festering in Afghanistan and did nothing. Would it not have been beneficial to have someone at the table (cabinet) advocating and advising regarding the likely outcome that such an environment would become a breeding ground for terrorism? We may have stemmed that tide for a fraction of the human and financial cost expended thus far. At a minimum, we likely would have mitigated our damages had we taken a more proactive role in preventative measures. The State Department has some ad hoc programs that deal in these terms, just as the Departments of Education, Defense, Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, etc. do. None of them are given priority status, and none of them create the national intention a Department of Peace would create, nor give uniformity, funding and priority to all of the existing programs in our local and state governments.
Readiness and Training. The Department of Peace would create a Peace Academy as a sister institution to the existing military academies. America has many people who are ready to step into roles training military and civilian students in proven techniques of non-violent communication skills who could be sent into any given environment before, during and post conflict. In addition, this academy would address education in language and culture arts that would give soldiers and civil servants the tools necessary to truly have credible communication with peoples from other countries.
Every school in our country should have curriculum that employs this skill. Teaching non-conflict resolution prevents the weeds of violence from taking root. That we will continue to have conflict as human beings is plain enough to learn how to \”agree to disagree\” without the use of violence while we are promoting our own positions is essential to our survival.
Democracy requires that whatever form of governmental institutions we create must be held accountable by citizens to do the task they were created to do. Do we do that now? No. One only need look at what\’s become of the EPA. Does that mean we should not have an EPA? No, it means we must evolve as a citizenry to recognize that we have a vested interest in seeing to it that we elect people who will properly administer all the departments created for our health, safety and welfare. No matter what your individual politics are the citizens, by action or omission to act, have to take the ultimate responsibility for the government that exists at any given time.
One hopes that when the citizens of this country realize the need for a Department of Peace to the extent that their elected representatives will be compelled to comply with their wishes, that we will have also come to the collective realization that we will have to maintain our investment in sustaining a non-violent environment by our vigilance in seeing the intentions of such a department be honored.
Let me quote a very wise woman who proffered the golden rule thusly: \”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…because they will\”. With the weapons available, which are capable of annihilating the species, and people who are willing to kill themselves in the pursuit of their beliefs/causes, the concept of creating a Department of Peace is the most sane, practical and productive effort I have seen promoted in my lifetime. That is why I volunteer my time to coordinate the State of Michigan\’s effort to lobby for passage of these bills.
I hope you will join me. We not only have the potential to change the world, we have the present capacity to do so.
P.S. GO GREEN
For more information visit www.thepeacealliance.org