Creating a culture of Peace


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,          June 26

In general, the messages Richard and I send out to this list and the cj list
deal with the imperative for political transformation.

But we know that the transformation we seek must be cultural, and surely
spritiual as well.

I found the latest issue of _Fellowship_ magazine had some very exciting
leads on promoting just this type of change, on creating a culture of peace.
In the editorial below you can read about how the first decade of the new
millenium came to be designated as a "Decade for a Culture of Peace and
Nonviolence". The editorial also mentions an article by Mark Hyman on a
"Transformative Experiment in Creating a Culture of Nonviolence". The story
Hyman has to tell of his work helping his young students go from settling
disputes with violence to involving the whole community in recognizing the
value of nonviolence and in learning to use it in their daily lives is truly
inspiring and I would be glad to send a copy of it to anyone who would like
it. Alternatively, you can go to the _Fellowship_ web site:

all the best, Jan

Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 15:14:39 -0500
From: •••@••.••• (Fellowship Editor)

The Audacious Challenge: A Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence

Pierre Marchand is an extraordinary Frenchman from Compiegne, near Paris.
The founder of Partage, an IFOR affiliate helping children in areas of war
and disaster around the world, Pierre has a deep and faith-driven passion
to relieve suffering among society's most vulnerable.
Such suffering is not an abstraction for Pierre, who as a boy experienced a
great deal of violence, including being raped and being involved in a
terrorist group. His life might have continued in that destructive
direction had he not had some transforming, life-changing experiences along
the way.
Through his church he was able to go to the Taizé community in France where
thousands of young people gather for prayer, singing and community
building; there he had a deep, spirit-filled experience. Through Fr. Jean
Toulat, Pierre learned about nonviolent resistance to evil practiced by
Gandhi and King. He became active in Amnesty International and in the
French FOR. Cao Ngoc Phuong and Thich Nhat Hanh, and Jean and Hildegard
Goss-Mayr, had a strong influence on him as he struggled to overcome all
the violence he had experienced and build a life of compassion.
Pierre heard Thich Nhat Hanh talk about teaching nonviolence to children in
school and about the importance of each school setting aside a place for
meditation and conflict resolution. About the same time he heard Marie
Pierre Bovy of the Community of the Ark, then president of IFOR, call for a
"Year of Nonviolence." Combining these ideas, Pierre went to Belfast,
Northern Ireland, to talk with Nobel Laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire. She
agreed to lead a Nobel Peace Laureates campaign for a Decade of
Nonviolence. After writing the text of the appeal in a Children's Village
in India, Pierre began visiting Nobel Peace Laureates to get their
signatures. They were so taken with the idea that eventually all of them
signed on-an unprecedented show of unity.
Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO, saw the importance of combining
the Nobel Laureates Appeal with the effort of UNESCO for a Culture of
Peace. IFOR was a major supporter, along with the Peace People of Northern
Ireland, Serpaj of Latin America, ASSEFA in India, and other organizations.
Pierre went from one UN Mission to the next, garnering support for what was
now a resolution calling for a "Decade for a Culture of Peace and
Nonviolence." With special help from Bangladesh, many countries lined up in
support of the resolution, and when it came before the General Assembly in
November, it was unanimously passed.
This special issue of Fellowship on the "Decade for a Culture of Peace and
Nonviolence" is designed to help spread understanding and support for the
Decade. Glen Gerschmel's article gives hands on information on the
remarkable work of the Lutheran Peace Fellowship in furthering the vision
and potential of the Decade. Mark Hyman recounts how Tenafly Middle School
in New Jersey built a culture of peace and nonviolence among the teachers
and students in a program that exceeded everyone's expectations. Articles
on Iraq and Kosova are reminders of the immediate work of peacemaking, even
as we plant seeds for a future harvest of peace.
If this Decade reaches its potential, it will be because enough people and
groups took it seriously and developed creative programs and initiatives
all across the globe. Even while we continue to oppose US bombings in
Yugoslavia and Iraq and work for a peaceful society at home, we need to
promote this great vision of nonviolence. Our steadfast work to uphold this
ideal will surely one day bear fruit.
-Richard Deats

Fellowship Magazine--the Magazine of the Fellowship of Reconciliation
Richard Deats, Editor
Sally Savage, Managing Editor
Rebecca Pickard, Editorial Intern
Rabia Harris, Assistant Editor (•••@••.•••)
Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960
Phone: (914) 358-4601 Fax: (914) 358-4924/1179