Quotation by Dennis Kucinich:
We have inherited a world where war is dropped on our doorstep and we are asked to adopt it as our own. We are told deadly force must be used to change people's conduct. Violence to stop the violence, war to prevent war, war to end war. When we believe war is inevitable, we come to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy of war. War happens. We wonder why.
We must call forth from this world which is so fraught with fear and foreboding that which is beautiful and glorious a new possibility, a new thinking, a new physics, if you will, of peace. We must do it with courage. We must do it in fulfillment of salaam, the peace which comes from the unseen, the peace which comes from the heart, the peace which comes from our collective yearning, the peace which comes from an awareness that the world is one. That all people are interconnected, interdependent, one with the human family, one with the world, one with the spirit, one with the divine.
War is never inevitable. Peace is inevitable if we desire to call it forward, if we approach it as a science. I speak of peace not simply as the absence of war, but as a practice of the science of human relations, as a capacity of human evolution and human development. But if we call peace forward from the unseen we must name it, we must give it structure, we must prepare for it a place to exist - a space to breathe, to be nurtured - to flower, so that it can be appreciated as an expression of that divine spark of creation.
In writing of the unfolding potential of nature, the poet Lowell celebrates the month of June: "Every clod, [or piece of earth], feels a stir of might, an instinct within it that reaches and towers, and groping blindly above it for light, climbs to a soul in grass and flowers." His poem was about the search for the Holy Grail, a sacred vessel said to contain drops of the blood of Christ. Peace is a Holy Grail and the quest for peace is empowered by thoughts of peace, words of peace and actions for peace. It is a temporal question. It is also a spiritual journey: Wherewith Allah guideth all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leadeth them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light, guideth them to a path that is straight. Qur'an 5:16
Think of the possibilities if we could create within every nation a place where the best minds and hearts are brought together within the context of a cabinet level position or ministry wherein resides the power to develop social structures for peace and strategies to avert conflict between groups and between states.
Such a proposal exists; I brought it to the United States Congress two months before 9/11. In its simplest expression, it seeks develop an organized approach to make the daily work of our nation involve our top social and economic scientists to deal with the root causes of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, gang violence, gun violence, violence against gays, and racial violence. It would develop skills for non-violent conflict resolution on a domestic level, as well as internationally, where such a ministry would be prepared to assist to ameliorate the causes of violence inherent in poverty, lack of access to food, water, shelter and the instability caused by environmental disasters.
As violence is learned, so is peace. Education has a powerful social purpose. A ministry of peace would create the resources for peace education within every culture and within each government to construct a world where we learn to settle differences by tapping the spiritual principles of salaam, of peace. We are then within reach of creating cultures of vision, cultures of creativity, cultures of unlimited wealth and cultures of sustainability.
I have been in Congress for 16 years and involved in government for the better part of 45 years. I am told, "Dennis, such an idea is so impractical." After all, my nation spends more money for weapons and war than all the other nations of the world put together. We spend so much time, so many resources human and financial preparing for war. Why not begin to spend time and resources preparing for peace?
Will this vision be realized? I was reading a speech given in Dubai in 2007 by His Highness, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, observing the foundation His Highness created. He quoted a friend ". . . in this foundation you are like one ploughing the sea. The challenge is huge; the gap of knowledge in most of the Arab and Islamic countries is bottomless. There is a lot of talk about building communities of knowledge, but little action. The pit is too wide to be seamed, so why should you weary yourself over this matter?"
At a time when the technology of destruction and the capacity of human destructiveness is so great, this is exactly the time to create a common global effort to build communities of peace, to provide structures in every country to help peace issue forth and flourish. I, too, believe that if we will make of human development a new art, we will set our eyes to the distant horizon and plough the seas with wondrous effect. We can then lift up our eyes to the heavens and with our imagination, with joyous abandon plough the stars, and a thundering universe will burst forth with new possibilities and we will make heaven on earth. "Come my friends, "tis not too late to seek a newer world.'
(more by this author)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), Progressive Democrat, was the oldest of seven children and was born in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio to Frank and Virginia Kucinich. The family lived in 21 places, including a couple of cars, by the time he was 17 years-old.
He was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1977 on the promise to save the city’s municipally-owned electric system which offered customers significantly lower rates than the private utility. A year later, Cleveland’s banks demanded that he sell the city’s 70 year-old municipally-owned electric system to its private competitor (in which the banks had a financial interest) as a precondition of extending credit to the city.
The attempted political blackmail failed as did several assassination attempts.
The principled stand destroyed his political career. He lost his reelection bid. He was demonized as the mayor who threw Cleveland into default. Fifteen years later, the citizens of Cleveland - recognizing he had saved them hundreds of millions of dollars in municipal power bills and also forced the private utility to keep bills low to compete – voted him into the Ohio Senate. His campaign signs featured a light bulb and the expression “Because he was right.” In 1998 the Cleveland City Council honored Dennis for “..having the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city’s municipal electric system.”
In 1996, Dennis unseated a two-term Republican incumbent. He has followed that narrow victory by winning 60 to 70% of the votes in the following elections. Much of those vote totals were achieved because of outstanding constituent services and his successful efforts to save a local steel mill, two neighborhood hospitals and 10th District cities a dramatic - and disruptive - increase in train traffic.
At the same time his reputation as a progressive leader in the Congress grew. He was voted the chair of the Progressive Caucus because of his passionate commitment to peace, human rights, workers rights, economic justice and the environment.
In 2002 the second great challenge of his elected career occurred. After analyzing the “evidence” presented by the Administration in its rush to folly in Iraq and actually reading the National Intelligence Estimate, he stepped forward to help lead 125 Democrats in voting against the blank check for the President to wage an illegal, immoral and ineffective war.
Speaking from the floor of the House some 140 times against the war and appearing on over 100 radio and talk shows was a risky political move. But it did not stop him. The neo-cons and their complicit friends in media engaged in a frenzy of caustic name calling. In Feb. of 2003 when Dennis explained on “Meet the Press” that oil was a key causal factor for the war and that our troops would be trapped in a costly door-to-door war, administration zealot Richard Perle insisted Dennis’ comments were “scurrilous” and “an out-and-out lie.” Richard Cohen of the Washington Post chimed in to agree with Perle calling a Congressman who saw no evidence of WMDs and did see oil as a cause for war a “fool.” Other “mainstream” opinion commentators called him a “clown” and worse for not seeing the clear evidence of WMDs.
For his tireless and courageous efforts he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Award in 2003.
In 2006 when Israel and Hezbollah were facing off, Dennis again stepped forward for peace. As the Administration gave a green light to Israel and the Republican Congress sat silent – again – Dennis warned that the conflict and the ensuing deaths would make peace even more intractable. And now as the Israeli and Lebanese governments teeter from public criticism, his words ring true.
It was not the first nor, hopefully, will it be the last time Dennis Kucinich ignored political dangers to do the right thing. After all, it is his life story.
Country: United States
Context Details: Commencement Speech American University in Dubai Wednesday, May 9, 2012 Dubai, United Arab Emirates