February 21, 2011
A DEPARTMENT OF PEACE: To Dream, Then to Act
On February 18, 2011, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced HR808 into the 112th Congress, calling for the establishment of a US Department of Peace. The crux of the DOP would be the establishment of an Executive level department in the US government, whose purpose would be to investigate, articulate and facilitate non-violent solutions to both domestic and international violence. It was President George Washington who first argued that in addition to a War Department we should have a Peace Department. In honor of his birthday, let's be as forward thinking in this area as he was.
Given the current make-up of the US Congress, the passage of the bill this session is somewhat unrealistic of course. But that does not matter; no true warrior for peace and justice ever let "realism" stop them. If that were the case, there would have been no abolitionist movement, suffragette movement or civil rights movement. When it comes to doing the right thing, it doesn't matter whether the status quo is with you yet. You just keep on keepin' on. We're building something in the ethers here; when the tipping point will get here, no one knows.
The idea of this bill getting out of committee this year is almost laughable, but so what? Let's not let laughter stop us -- let it propel us. Laughter is a powerful thing, as long as it's a laughter in anticipation of what you know in your heart is bound to become reality someday, rather than the cynical laughter laced with inner tears at the sight of what already is.
For two per cent of the current Dept. of Defense budget, this bill would celebrate and honor and -- most importantly -- support with actual resources the extraordinary peace-making efforts of Americans both here and abroad. It's not enough to simply fight violence with violence. We must do more than that; we must proactively create a world in which violence has no room to breathe. This is hardly some pie in the sky idea; it's an idea that would institutionalize the drive towards peace creation. Whoever wants to laugh at that can laugh. There is already enough support given to a war machine in this country; it could be argued that were we in our right minds, we would cry all day just thinking about it. So why shouldn't we create a peace machine? As John Lennon said, "Let's give peace a chance." One of the ways to do that is by giving it some political heft.
On President's Day, let's remember these words of President John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable." Today, let's take a stand for peaceful evolution, despite the extraordinary material forces arrayed against it. The ways of violence and brute force have always amassed material power, but don't let that stop you. Love has cosmic support.
This President's Day, do something that you might do if you were President. Take a stand for peace. Write your Congressperson and give support to the Dept. of Peace bill. Tell him or her you'd like them co-sponsor it. Find out more about it at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-808. Write an Op Ed, attend a Town Hall meeting of your Congressperson, send this information to your mailing list. Make a beautiful noise about a beautiful idea.
We won't eradicate war until we more deeply embrace peace, and that takes more than just a wish or even a prayer; it takes spine. One of the leaders of the Egyptian protest movement said something remarkable after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. He said, "We're dreamers and we made it happen." We're dreamers too, but dreams must do more than dream. Now we must do the "make it happen" part.
What better day to do that than on President's day. And who knows? If our noise is loud and powerful and beautiful enough, even our President might hear....
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