Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The US Department of Peace and Non-violence

Sound absurd?

Actually, it's been an aspiration by many a patriot for this nation since the good ol' days of GW.

Um, that's George Washington, not GW Bush.

I don't understand the centuries of resistance to look at dangerous situations that needlessly cost so many innocent lives in another, lifesaving, light. Especially now, when there are so many potential threats of mass destruction.

That's what the role of a Department of Peace and Non-violence boils down to - learning and teaching better, more effective problem-solving skills without using brutality.

Violence only begets more violence, and as we've seen in the Middle East, the bloodletting never stops as long as war and murder become the only way adversaries understand to act. Retalliation becomes the only known means of "problem solving," and of course that is not solving any problems at all; it only exaserbates hurt and anger, fomenting more violence.

In case you don't know, a bill introduced in congress (HR 808), submited last year by US Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) co-sponsored by 66 other US Representatives would establish the cabinet level department to advise the president, cabinet members and the public of numerous options to violence and war to solve problems of destruction facing the US.

Americans for Department of Peace and The Peace Alliance promote passage of the bill. Both have chapters throughout the US, notable advocates and advisors. It is also supported internationally.

Here's what the bill would provide:

-The Department of Peace would have jurisdiction both internationally and domestically:

Internationally ~ it would provide the President with specific, proven options for non-violent resolution of conflict and highly sophisticated peacemaking strategies for post-war stabilization.

Domestically ~ the Department of Peace would have jurisdiction to address national and local issues including: drug and gang violence, school bullying, prison reform and domestic abuse.

Government agencies currently addressing these problems are scattered among numerous departments. Under this Bill, all would be coordinated under one umbrella to increase efficiency and effectiveness (like Homeland Security).

-The Department of Peace would establish a Peace Academy, patterned after the military academies, where students would learn peaceful conflict resolution skills and, after graduation, would serve in peace-related postings here at home or abroad.

There is a University for Peace in Costa Rica, created in coordination with the United Nations, that studies everything from language that foments, infers or inspires violence (and non-violence) to problem-solving methods that are effective and non-violent.

I'm always intrigued by people who consider those advocating non-violent problem solving as "soft," or "weak" or "peaceniks," or somehow afraid.

Because anyone who is married, in a relationship, working in a stressful environment or even in a reasonably functional family knows that living in "peace" is much more difficult and challenging than just terminating the relationship or shutting up entirely or taking a number of other passive-aggresive tacts to deal with the people they must.

One of the problems in US politics is that campaigns are arbitrarily violent in some way. Accusations, name-calling, lies, sabotage, vote rigging and/or bullying of some kind takes place. While those are considered the "old" politics by Senator Barack Obama, it seems that he has also indulged in some of these behaviors - it takes a lot of awareness and innovation to change the language from that of anger and defensiveness to powerful positive, proactive and effective.

When these measures are understood and learned, more gets done constructively, more quickly with permanent payoffs and everyone feeling good about the outcome.

Getting people to stop relying on old destructive language and habits is very difficult, but not at all impossible *if* people are motivated to change.

What motivates people?

-The understanding that peace is a viable option.

-People who are role models in creating peaceful outcomes.

-Educating people how to live in peace and prosper.

-Great leaders who inspire fighting peoples to surrender their arms and use their heads.

-Great leaders who inspire their own people to choose peace and prosperity, which benefits everyone - rather than war, which only benefits a few economically while hurting the rest of the economy and killing its citizens.

Once motivated to change, they must immediately be presented with literally a step by step education on how to do it all differently - in peace instead of with destructive conflict-filled behavior and violence.

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with conflict - that's life. Conflict helps us hone our personalities and skills and craft and relationships. It's *how* we deal with those conflicts that makes all the difference.

As I've said before, anger is a secondary emotion, preceded by fear, or fear and hurt. When we act out of fear, or fear and hurt, chances are the outcome is not going to be constructive, even though it might make the perpetrator of fearful destruction feel safe and therefore powerful - even if only momentarily.

Living in peace is tough. It requires problem-solving skills. Learning those skills requires the desire to want to live in peace, time and attention for the "how to's" and practicing them all the time.

It's much easier to yell, leave, punch someone or worse rather than admit the fear, hurt or other emotion at the core of violence, the feelings that motivate destructive behavior toward the self or other.

I particularly get a kick out of people whose psychology becomes an open book when they get really pissed at people who talk about seeking peaceful, constructive solutions. After all, isn't the whole point of the US Constitution to guarantee its citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? When we go to war, we fight for peace, right?

What a great idea - take out the costly middleman (war) to achieve peace. To be a world leader in achieving peace - which leads to a vibrant economy?

Meanwhile, if you're a US citizen and want to find and let your US Representative know how you feel about .. whatever, go here.

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