As we aspire to universal brotherhood and sisterhood, we harken to the cry from the heart of the world and respond affirmatively to address through thought, word and deed conditions which give rise to conflict: Economic exploitation, empire building, political oppression, religious intolerance, poverty, disease, famine, homelessness, struggles over control of water, land, minerals, and oil.
We realize that what affects anyone, anywhere affects everyone, everywhere. As we help others to heal, we heal ourselves. Our vision of interconnectedness resonates with new networks of world citizens in nongovernmental organizations linking from numberless centers of energy, expressing the emergence of a new organic whole, seeking unity within and across national lines. New transnational web-based email and telecommunications systems transcend governments and carry within them the power of qualitative transformation of social and political structures and a new sense of creative intelligence. If governments and their leaders, bound by hierarchy and patriarchy, wedded to military might for legitimacy, fail to grasp the implications of an emerging world consciousness for cooperation, for peace and for sustainability, they may become irrelevant.
As citizen-activists the world over merge, they can become an irresistible force to create peace and protect the planet. From here will come a new movement to abolish nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. From here will come the demand for sustainable communities, for new systems of energy, transportation and commerce. From here comes the future rushing in on us.
How does one acquire the capacity for active citizenship? The opportunities exist every day. In Cleveland, citizens have developed the ability to intercede when schools are scheduled to be closed, and have kept the schools open; to rally to keep hospitals open; to save industries which provide jobs; to protect neighborhood libraries from curtailment of service, to improve community policing; to meet racial, ethnic and religious intolerance openly and directly.
Active citizenship begins with an envisioning of the desired outcome and a conscious application of spiritual principles. I know. I have worked with the people in my own community. I have seen the dynamic of faith in self, faith in one's ability to change things, faith in one's ability to prevail against the odds through an appeal to the spirit of the world for help, through an appeal to the spirit of community for participation, through an appeal to the spirit of cooperation, which multiplies energy. I have seen citizens challenge conditions without condemning anyone, while invoking principles of non-opposition and inclusion of those who disagree.
I have seen groups of people overcome incredible odds as they become aware they are participating in a cause beyond self and sense the movement of the inexorable which comes from unity. When you feel this principle at work, when you see spiritual principles form the basis of active citizenship, you are reminded once again of the merging of stardust and spirit. There is creativity. There is magic. There is alchemy.
Citizens across the United States are now uniting in a great cause to establish a Department of Peace, seeking nothing less than the transformation of our society, to make non-violence an organizing principle, to make war archaic through creating a paradigm shift in our culture for human development, for economic and political justice and for violence control. Its work in violence control will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful coexistence and peaceful consensus building. Its focus on economic and political justice will examine and enhance resource distribution, human and economic rights and strengthen democratic values.
Domestically, the Department of Peace would address violence in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs, police-community relations conflicts and work with individuals and groups to achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies of cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war is inevitable'. Thus it will help with the discovery of new selves and new paths toward peaceful consensus.
The Department of Peace will also address human development and the unique concerns of women and children. It will envision and seek to implement plans for peace education, not simply as a course of study, but as a template for all pursuits of knowledge within formal educational settings.
Violence is not inevitable. War is not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are inevitable. We can make of this world a gift of peace which will confirm the presence of universal spirit in our lives. We can send into the future the gift which will protect our children from fear, from harm, from destruction.
Carved inside the pediment which sits atop the marble columns is a sentinel at the entrance to the United States House of Representatives. Standing resolutely inside this "Apotheosis of Democracy" is a woman, a shield by her left side, with her outstretched right arm protecting a child happily sitting at her feet. The child holds the lamp of knowledge under the protection of this patroness.
This wondrous sculpture by Paul Wayland Bartlett, is entitled "Peace Protecting Genius." Not with nuclear arms, but with a loving maternal arm is the knowing child Genius shielded from harm. This is the promise of hope over fear. This is the promise of love which overcomes all. This is the promise of faith which overcomes doubt. This is the promise of light which overcomes darkness. This is the promise of peace which overcomes war.
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