Posted by: malechallengemedia | February 14, 2010

The Campaign for a Department of Peace A Holistic Approach for Reducing Violence

The Campaign for a Department of Peace

A Holistic Approach for Reducing Violence

By Pip Cornall

A tsunami of change is sweeping America. In fact, all around the world people are saying “enough violence, enough destruction, we are prepared to do what it takes to achieve peace.” In 2004 author Arundhati Roy said at the World Forum “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way and on a quiet day, if I listen carefully I can hear her breathing.” Signs of that world manifested in Feb-ruary 2003, with the largest anti-war movement in history as people around the world expressed their opposition to a violent solution to the situation in Iraq. She manifested again in February 2007 when seven hundred of us visited senate and congressional offices in Washington, DC; and with 42,000 campaigners from forty-seven states actively supporting a bill (HR 808) currently before the US House of Representatives to establish a Cabinet Level Department of Peace and Nonviolence (DoP). With 62 co-sponsors so far, this landmark measure will provide practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of national and international conflict.

Determination to create a safer and saner century inspired the birth of the US and Global campaigns to create Departments and Ministries of Peace. These movements have quickly attracted the best people and institutions in peace scholarship and violence prevention from across the world, experts who all agree that a holistic approach is needed to reduce violence. A war on terrorism, a war on drugs, and a war on youth violence is not going to bring peace. The root causes of domestic violence, gang violence and international terrorism need to be treated with a whole systems approach—which includes seriously working to improve ourselves. Just as we can prevent disease in ourselves by addressing the deep causes, in the same way we can treat the disease of violence.

The DoP campaign draws on existing peace practices and violence prevention institutions who already apply a systemic procedure to peace making. One such institute is Transcend, a training and research partnered with the global DoP campaign (www.transcend.org). The Transcend model identifies three categories of violence. Direct violence is the violence we see, such as wars, terrorism, homicide, domestic violence, sexual violence, gang violence and others. A far more pervasive form is structural violence, which is built into the very fabric of our societies and is mostly unintended. Structural violence is built into our laws, our economic systems, our schools, towns and nations. It is the violence which excludes certain people from access to water, food and medicines, a living wage employment, and results in over 100,000 deaths every day (many more than die in wars). It includes structures like authoritarian regimes but also lists economic authoritarianism which denies many people basic human rights. Cultural violence refers to cultural norms that make the direct and structural violence seem normal and acceptable and includes cultural concepts (like “you are with us or against us”); economic theories and economic apartheid which favor a small elite; and the normalization, even the glorification of violence on TV and in video games. An example of cultural violence occurs when important issues such as sustainability, organic food, energy medicine and global warming are relegated unimportant and demeaned in the mainstream media.

Structural and cultural violence create large numbers of desperate people who are more likely to take desperate measures (direct violence) to address their dire situations. This applies nationally as well as internationally.

Lasting peace will not be attained by stopping one war or preventing the next but by applying a systemic approach to the structural and cultural violence behind the direct violence. In this way we can treat and resolve the conflicts before they escalate into violence. The most efficient way a Department of Peace can operate is to fund and coordinate existing efforts to reduce violence at the grassroots level.

From exhaustive studies by Transcend, the UN, WHO and Amnesty International we now know what the root causes of violence are. We have the science, the research is in, we have the skilled people, we know what works, both here and abroad, we have the ability and the desire. What is now needed is an institutional platform to provide the coordinating, the funding, the focus and the institutional heft to back that desire.

HR 808 will establish a Cabinet level Department of Peace and Nonviolence which can provide much-needed assistance to efforts by communities and state governments in coordinating existing violence prevention programs as well as the development of new programs to:

• Teach violence prevention and mediation to America’s school children.
• Effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology.
• Rehabilitate the prison population—the world’s largest.
• Build peace-making efforts among conflicting cultures both in the US and abroad.
• Support our military with complementary approaches to peace-building.
• Create a US Peace Academy, a sister organization to the US Military Academy.

The Department of Peace will be primarily a coordinating and funding body supporting proven organizations and best practices in the fields that already exist. One third of the emphasis will be international violence reduction; two thirds will be on national violence reduction issues mentioned above. A US Peace Academy which acts as a sister organization to the US Military Academy will research and teach the most cutting-edge techniques for the amelioration of violence among domestic and international populations. The Peace Academy will join the Military Academy in providing assistance to the military in international conflict-resolution. The Peace Academy faculty will be derived from well-established practitioners known for best practices in the field of conflict reduction and resolution.

In addition to leading the Department, the Secretary of Peace shall provide the President with statistically-verified recommendations on how a specific policy either increases or diminishes the prospect of domestic and international peace along with recommendations regarding the social and financial impact of domestic and international policies.

This campaign, which is arising from a coordinated grassroots movement, represents a revolution in human dignity, forged as we increasingly realize the wisdom the ordinary citizen has to contribute to problem solving—the realization that the lay person is an essential part of the solution. We are blowing wide open the myth that we live in a hierarchical world and discovering a networked world, a web where all input is valuable. For collaborative peace making to be most successful the elder’s wisdom and experience needs to be combined with the input of the young who can adapt to this fast changing world.

The bill to date has been a collaboration of the best institutions and experts in the vast field of violence prevention. Every effort is being made to establish feedback loops so community wisdom can be utilized. Within the DoP campaign there is also a fast growing body of students for peace. The Student Peace Alliance chapters are organizing at community colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, and high schools across the nation. By integrating efforts SPA groups build strong partnerships with those outside school walls through grassroots org-anizing, lobbying, and working to support cultures of peace on their campuses and in their communities.

As Marianne Williamson said at our recent campaign training in Washington, DC, “America did not suddenly wake up one morning and adopt the requests of the abolitionists, and the women’s suffragettes. Those movements persevered and networked and slowly spread the word until solid in the hearts and minds of a critical mass of Americans.”

While we’re very committed to the goal of creating a cabinet level Department of Peace, we’re also very committed to the journey of peace making and walking the talk. Our goal of achieving peace by peaceful means dictates that we do not demonize those who hold opposing views. For a national and global campaign of peace to succeed we must be engaged in self improvement. Most importantly we must experience peace within ourselves if we are to be beacons of peace. An angry activist will not bring peace to the world.

Peace is entirely possible if our goal is to create a world that works for everyone.
The best route towards creating a process that enables a world for everyone is eloquently expressed by Johan Galtung, international mediator, who writes:

“In international conflicts any worthy mediation method seeks to identify the goals of all the parties through empathic dialogue, and to find creative ways to meet all parties’ legitimate goals. Goals are legitimate if they affirm human rights and serve to meet basic human needs.”

Legitimate goals are reciprocal, i.e., whatever we want, we should be willing to grant to other parties as well. The level of human happiness and satisfaction of basic needs in any given society measures a policy’s success. By these criteria, the current US foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere, which causes great human suffering, is a failure.

Deepak Chopra, at our recent campaign conference, used the transformation of the caterpillar into a magnificent butterfly as a metaphor describing the transformation of the human race in these crucial times. The old form (of the caterpillar or of non-sustainable human behavior) destroys itself so that nothing of the original is left. However, arising from the “nutritive soup” are “imaginal clusters,” different types of cells, which, when they join together, form a magical and beautiful co-creation, a global family devoted to achieving peace by peaceful means based on the platform of creating a world that works for everybody.

The Department of Peace, Oregon District 2 Campaign seeks to develop chapters in Medford, Grants Pass, in smaller towns, in the schools and colleges, and in churches and clubs. This is a model we are following across America and within other countries. Peace promotion can be fun—I invite you to join your passion to the campaign. Dance or sing for peace, paddle for peace, jog for peace, or consider fun activities of your choice to raise funds and build peace in your community while spreading awareness for the campaign. You’ll join with some of the most wonderful people on the planet and play a part in this great evolution occurring in the hearts of conscious people all around the world.

Peace is coming to our world and it is unstoppable. I feel it, it is spoken of convincingly by the emerging new paradigm leaders; it’s visible in the living democracy movements, among sustainable energy activists and in the young who see themselves as part of a global family. It will take a lot of work but the work is a wonderful part of the process and gets easier as our global family experiences the shift—a true collective evolution of consciousness.

Pip Cornall is a mediator, conference facilitator and trainer. Please visit http://www.pipcornall.com to contact him for further information. For more on the Department of peace visit http://www.thepeacealliance.org.

http://www.sentienttimes.com/07/07_june_july/dept_peace.html

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