Image by Meryl Ann Butler by Meryl Ann Butler
One of the major components of the proposed National Department of Peace (DoP) would be to teach nonviolent communication in schools, by addressing bullying, participation in gangs, and other violent behaviors.
The War on Terror needs to begin with preschoolers in our own country.
In Tucson, yesterday, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head and remains in critical condition, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll was killed, and others were killed and wounded at a town hall type meeting designed to encourage citizens' participation in government.
Who knows what might have been different if the Tucson shooter had received nonviolent training in elementary school? Training that taught him how to make his voice heard without the use of a gun?
Who knows what a national agency of this type might avert if it shone a light on vitriolic rhetoric in the early stages and educated the citizenry about its possible effects?
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) introduced the bill to establish a United States Department of Peace in July 2001, two months before Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old killed in Tucson, was born.
Kucinich has introduced it every two years since.
If the bill had passed in 2001, would nearly a decade of federal, domestic focus on peaceful communications and nonviolent interactions have helped to avoid the gunshots in Tucson?
Isn't it time to find out?
According to the Peace Alliance, there are currently 71 U.S. Representatives from 27 states (including Kucinich) who currently co-sponsor the bill to create a Department of Peace.
Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14-D] a co-sponsor, notes that in 1792 the famed African-American mathematician, astronomer, and civil rights leader, Benjamin Banneker, proposed a Dept. of Peace to his friend and colleague, George Washington. Over 200 years later, America is still waiting.
"Now," says Conyers, "the need for a Peace Department is too compelling to ignore."
On January 15, 2009, " Establish a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding" was voted as one of the Top Ten " Ideas for Change in America" in Change.org's nationwide competition to identify the best ideas for Americas new direction, in response to newly elected President Obama's campaign which promised change.
The website described the concept:
" The science of peacebuilding deserves a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions about foreign and domestic policy. The use of violence to resolve personal and international conflicts needs to be a last resort. The Department of Peace could build the institutional structures needed to help put peaceful means at the forefront."