A minute before I opened it on my computer I was thinking about the possibilities of a public forum on peace that reached everyone who could browse the web. More and more people are turning to the web for their news instead of reading news papers. Every day when I see people scrutinizing a daily paper I ask them "Have you found any good news?" The few who say yes are probably reading the sports page. Their team probably won.
Can anyone help us create a popular "Building a Culture of Peace" news and forum space on the Internet? Or can you tell me where it is if there is one? It would not be like the ServasNet where one had to subscribe but would be open to anyone who could browse.
It could be a very exciting and even popular electronic news Sections might include:
International Peace - political
Justice progress -
Successes in various situations -- domestic and around the world
These are only a few topics I can think of at the moment which are essential to building a peaceful future. They should not deal with lovely words and speeches but actualities.
There should be a separate forum for those who want to discuss methods, ideologies etc. Thus the debates are separated from the news items.
I have just begun to discover the great movement happening in schools in many countries that goes under various names: peer counseling, peer mentioning, peer helping, natural helpers. It includes students helping other students. Some programs are focused on reducing uses of drugs, preventing AIDS and unwanted pregnancies, and reducing drop-outs. It is good that schools are increasingly recognizing the potential of students helping other students who are succumbing to the negative pressures in our modern societies. The very act of dong this gives the students an increased sense of worth. When the teachers and other adults give formal recognition to the children and adolescents in organized programs the students develop a pride in their positive peer pressure and the mentality in the whole school community is raised.
What excites me most, however, is the potentiality of this movement to create a peace culture in schools around the world. Such a peace culture could have far reaching repercussions. Imagine the students who become empathetic peer helpers developing life long attitudes. The best programs reach out to alienated fellow students, the students at risk: the incipient drop outs, the furious students, the suicidal students, the tormentors and those drawn into gangs. In friendly relationships they draw them back the isolated students into their student community. I call these student helpers INCLUDERS because they work to overcome alienation.
In my wild dreams I see these Includers in every school. They grow into adulthood with a special perspective on the power of peace.
As adults we see them reaching out into troubled, splintered, racist societies like Kosovo and Rwanda and Shri Lanka and many others around the world. There they quietly, gently, unobtrusively form bridger's clubs. In these clubs individuals from the antagonistic groups meet on a social basis and discover each other as warm thought troubled human beings. They build bonds of friendship across the idiotical, doctrinaire, and racist chasms -- bonds of neighborliness so strong enough despotic leaders can not put them in the cock fighting rings to chew each other up because they no longer have a low flash point. They learn to respect the quality of neighborly community relations more than power seeking, rabble rousing, politicians and despots. Gandhi and ML King demonstrated the power of these ideologies. What we have not adequately explored in practice is putting down roots of non-violence after a non-violent struggle has been won. Needed is to develop a solid foundation in every community and every city that generates leadership of ordinary in peaceful sharing programs of ordinary people -- peers to peers.
The simple programs of peer helpers in schools can become the foundation for a peaceful world wide culture. Like a tree it would grow slowly as it puts down deeper roots.
Peace will come when we people break down the antagonisms in our local communities and then use the habit of being Includers in wider and wider relationships. No long range peace is possible so long as most ordinary people allow agitators for violence to inflame them. An enduring peaceful society will not come by simply mediating little and big conflicts. Such actions often postpone an explosion. A peaceful society needs roots of compassion and understanding that run deep in our communities..Bob Luitweiler