Thursday, June 05, 2008

Has the time come for a U.S. Department of Peace?

A bill has been introduced into the U. S. House of Representatives (HR 808) calling for the formation of a national Department of Peace and Nonviolence. It would work on non-violent solutions for our national and international woes, from domestic violence and abuse to the staving off of wars, especially, one would hope, those deemed preemptive and thus started by our own government.

U.S. Representative and erstwhile presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) often proposed a Dept. of Peace and got laughed at, but perhaps he was prescient. As with the formation of the Department of Energy in the 1970s, such things come to be when a dire need is felt far and wide. Perhaps one legacy of the Bush/McCain/CIA/traditional American interventionist "police the world" doctrine will be the institutionalizing of some antidotes to the messages we send and the sheer horror and havoc we wreak with military might and war.

The American powers that be are quite macho, and so the Department of Peace probably sounds too wishy-washy to them, too girlie. Maybe such a department needs a different and alas more "practical" (manly), bricks-and-mortar name, such as the Department of, say, Civil Affairs, since civility is, by its very nature, peaceful.

Or how about the Department of Civic Responsibility? That of course implies that we, the citizens, "We, the People," are responsible for governing ourselves according to someone else's definition of what responsibility is -- always a dangerous thing to suggest. (We vote to give responsibility away, not keep it for ourselves. Millions would rather complain about the White House or Washington than look in the mirror.)

The crux of the problem, especially in the U.S., is that we are taught to be MORE competitive than cooperative. I think that is at the heart of the matter. As a culture, if we taught and demonstrated that cooperation is better than competition, we might actually get some place. That is the future of human evolution. For millions of years, we (and our animal ancestors) have shown what competition can do. I think it's high time we give peace (I mean cooperation) a chance.


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