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September 23, 2005

Department of Peace Conference in Washington D.C.

Dear Friends,

The annual Department of Peace Conference in Washington D.C. last week was hugely successful, with over 450 people attending from forty states across America. Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced the legislation to establish a U.S. Department of Peace with 60 Congressional co-sponsors, and in a thrilling new development Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota introduced a Senate version of the bill just yesterday (September 22).

If you are not already actively working in support of the Department of Peace legislation, please visit www.thepeacealliance.org and see if it speaks to you. For those of you who are already involved, congratulations on your work well done. It is an honor to participate in such a wonderful cause with such wonderful friends. We are on our way!

All my best,

Marianne

Posted by mwblog at 9:44 AM

Dayton Introduces Legislation to Establish U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence

September 22, 2005
Contact: Brooks Halliday, 202.228.4289
Press release

Dayton Introduces Legislation to Establish U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence

Bill would elevate Reagan-established “Institute of Peace” to Cabinet-level department

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Mark Dayton today introduced legislation that would elevate the current, nonpartisan, federally-funded Institute of Peace to a Cabinet-level department, dedicated to the study and development of policies to promote peace and expand human rights. Dayton’s Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act is the Senate counterpart to House legislation (H.R. 3760) introduced by Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and cosponsored by 59 members of Congress.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Dayton said, “If we are to remain the world’s leader, and if we are to lead the world into a more secure and more prosperous future, we must become better known and more respected for our peacemaking successes than for our military forces. Peace, to have any lasting value, must be advanced, expanded and strengthened continuously. Doing so requires skill, dedication, persistence, resources, and, most importantly, people.”

In addition to making it a Cabinet department, Dayton’s legislation would expand the focus of the Institute of Peace, which was established by President Reagan in 1984, to include domestic issues. The Department of Peace and Nonviolence would serve as a preventive counterpart to the Department of State and the Department of Defense, which resolve international conflicts and defend the nation from attacks.

Currently, the U.S. spends $400 billion on national defense, not including the hundreds of billions being spent on the Iraq War. The Department of Peace budget would be $8 billion annually, equivalent to 2 percent of total defense spending.

Appropriately, Dayton’s legislation coincides with the 44th anniversary of the nation’s oldest federal agency dedicated to peace. On this day, in 1961, President Kennedy signed legislation that created the Peace Corps, an idea originally proposed by Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1957.

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Posted by mwblog at 9:40 AM

September 4, 2005

Reckoning in New Orleans

The following op-ed piece was written by Marianne Williamson, and was published in the Detroit News on September 10, 2005

Something very important is happening here -- something more than simply a hurricane, or the suffering of thousands who were neglected by their government during a time of great need. Most worldly occurrences reflect deeper truths. What is happening is a gigantic reckoning, as Americans are forced to come to terms with how very, very naked is the Emperor who we thought had such incredible clothes.

We are raised in the United States of America to believe that our government is the strongest in the world, that as Americans we are basically protected, and that our country is basically good. It is cognitive dissonance for us to be confronted with evidence to the contrary, and yet such evidence has been piling up fast and furiously during this odd and potentially catastrophic phase of American history.

There is nothing strong about rushing into a unilateral war based on faulty intelligence, thereby squandering the resources necessary with which to take care of your own people; there is nothing protective about a government that apparently didn’t monitor events on the ground in New Orleans any better – in fact, less well! – than the average viewer of CNN; and there is nothing good about taking care of the rich at the expense of the poor. If it took a Level 5 hurricane and the huge suffering of thousands to bring those facts to light, then at least it can be said that there is value in this horror. If enough Americans are beginning to wake up and face the awful fact that our country’s basic functioning has become infected by a soulless sensibility, then perhaps the suffering on the Gulf Coast will not have been in vain.

Regarding the abysmal response of our government to the hurricane’s aftermath, there is a lot of talk right now about accountability. Some argue we should have the discussion today, while others argue that that discussion should wait for a more propitious time. But there is a danger in waiting, for a governmental status quo has talent for co-opting criticism as long as it can buy enough time. Passions cool; memories become revised and faded. Six months after a disaster, the government appoints an independent commission to find out what really happened but by the time the commission releases its final report there is not much sense that too many people are listening. The people are exhausted by then; they’re trying their best to move on.

And the status quo knows this; that’s part of its game. Do whatever you want; act horrified and remorseful for a minute whenever too much suffering results as a part of your actions; then put off the accountability conversation until people are too tired to care anymore. This is not a new pattern in America. What might be new – what I sense might be happening – is that people are waking up to it now. And as soon as we wake up, then the pattern will end.

Abraham Lincoln said there is not too much evil any American government can perpetrate, as long as the people remain vigilant. He was referring to the fact that we have federal elections every two years, through which we can replace the entirety of the House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate. The ultimate accountability conversation is written into the U.S. Constitution; it is called elections. At this particular juncture, that means the mid-term elections of 2006.

The president prides himself on running the government like a well-run business. That of course makes him the chief executive. And if the government failed, then he failed.

Fool us once, and maybe their tricks were dirty; fool us twice, maybe their PR was too good; fool us now, and perhaps we just deserve to be fooled. From war to hurricanes, oh America, the alarm bells of needless human suffering are going off everywhere. A nation who refuses to wake up at this point is in a dangerous slumber. The nightmares are upon us now. They will remain until our eyes are opened and we have awakened to the truth.

Posted by mwblog at 12:27 PM

September 2, 2005

Place Light Around New Orleans

Dear Friends,

Our mission on the earth is to meet the darkness of the world with the light of God's Love. The tragedy of hurricane Katrina, like many such incidents, is darkness that challenges us to reach for the brightest light within us: the light of compassion, the light of self-awareness, the light of humility and the light of hope.

Let us have the compassion to help others in any way that we can; the self-awareness to realize how casually we devastated Baghdad, and now see up close what the devastation of a city really means; the humility to ask God's forgiveness for our ever having taken for granted our extraordinary blessings; and hope that, with His help, we can rise to the level of power and humanity to turn this tragedy into a lesson from which all of us have learned.

Dear God,

Please help the victims of the hurricane.
Send them legions of angels
both human and divine.
Please fortify their hearts
and bolster their strength.
Pave a way
from this darkness
into an ever-increasing light --
in them,
in America
and in every single one of us.
May what has hurt us
now heal us,
as it takes us
deeper into Love.
For them,
and for all the world,
may miracles restore
the broken places of the heart.

Amen

God bless you. You know what to do. Send what you can to the Red Cross www.redcross.org or call 1-800-HELP-NOW.

Pray without ceasing. And remember: miracles are happening there too.

With love,

Marianne


Posted by mwblog at 12:27 PM