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Wondering

August 21, 2008

Soon after the recent conflict in Georgia began,  I saw an on line headline that said the price of oil has just gone up again as a result of escalations of conflict in Georgia.

Thus I wonder.  Those who wish, like the Bush administration and like Senator McClain, to escalate the conflict seem to be working at cross purposes.  These are the forces that have said we must do all kinds of things, including further boosting of oil companies and accompanying degradation of the environment in off shore drilling, to reduce the price of oil to the American consumer.

I wonder, then, why they would not want to utilize all means to deescalate the conflict.   We have aggravated Russia by many policies, including putting unneeded missile sites near its borders.  We have encouraged (at least George Bush and John McCain have) Georgia to aggressively take back its breakaway regions.

De-escalation of conflict would involve having honest talks with Russia and Georgia about all these issues and would involved any number of possible suggestions for solving the problems peacefully over time. 

The oil markets would stay calmer, prices might continue to come down, and many lives might be saved.

I wonder.  What do the Republican hawks really want?  Do they want to appear macho?  Do they want oil profits to go up despite what they say to the American people regarding the interests of the public?  Do they want to fuel the profitable industrial/military war machine?  Do they not even know what they want but are inclined to act impulsively and say what comes to mind, what they think sounds good at the moment?

Linda M.

Why Use the Word “Waging”

August 11, 2008

Sometimes when people see the phrase “waging peace,” they say it sounds too much like “waging war.”  They suggest we should find a phrase like “practicing peace” that doesn’t evoke the idea of war.  Good point and well taken.  Women Against War often uses the phrase “peace work” to describe events, particularly the annual cross-generation conversations we have around the time of International Women’s Day in March.  I like “peace work” because it can also be heard as “piece work.”  “Piece work” evokes a long history of women’s work and art.  We think of factories, of women who did piece work for factories in the home, of quilters.   It reminds us of the oppressive conditions under which many women worked and still work, but it also reminds us of women’s tenacity in the face of oppression and of the spirit that could not be denied some expression in art. 

But I also support the use of “waging peace” and here’s why.  So many times when I talk to people about my peace testimony, I get a response that goes something like this:  Sure, peace is possible, some time some day, maybe, when we have solved all the problems that make people fight each other.  In other words, peace is possible when no more work nees to be done.  In this view, peace comes off as passive, a kind of Sunday rest time, a laying around in the sun and lolling about — nice to think about but really kind of impossible to imagine we would ever get there. 

Personally, I see peace as hard work.  I often say to people, sometimes don’t you think it would be easier to hit someone than to have to sit down at the table and work out your differences?  What is the hardest work you have ever done?  Maybe it was that conversation you had to have with someone you disagreed with but also needed to collaborate with.  And it takes amazing strength to listen to a person whose views are hard for you to take and not to demonize them.  Creating monsters is easy; seeing the human side of your enemy takes courage.

So if “waging peace” can begin to help people see that peace is an active verb, I am all for it.  Now that I think of it, maybe we should start using “peace” as a verb in the way we use “war.”  How about “peacing nations” to describe those countries that actually get along?  Let’s hear more about how they do it and devote less time and energy to those who are “warring.”

Friends in Iran

July 24, 2008

Iran is mentioned frequently in the news these days, and usually in the same sentence with the words “nuclear” and “threat”.  However, for me, the mention of Iran brings back memories of the warm and friendly people who welcomed our group of citizen diplomats.  Last December, our group of ten visited five cities in Iran.  Everywhere we went, Iranians told us enthusiastically that they love Americans, but not George Bush.  They understand that we, as ordinary citizens, do not necessarily share the opinions or values of our President.  Many Iranians with whom we spoke expressed clearly that they do not like the views or rhetoric of President Ahmadinejad.

I continue to speak to small groups, sharing my photos and stories of my experiences in Iran.  Our two countries share so much in common.  It seems we are divided by what we do not know and the rumors.  My hope is that our new leadership uses the time honored art of diplomacy.  We have so much to gain.

                                               

This photo shows Masoumeh, on left, speaking with me about our visit.  This was in Qom, outside a holy shrine.  Masoumeh asked me if I was Muslim.  I explained that I wasn’t but that we were there to learn about Iran and meet Iranians so we could share these experiences with other Americans.  We spoke about various things.  When she left, she asked that I pray for her to my god in my own way.  This total acceptance by a devout young Muslim that my beliefs were different and that that was fine left a very positive impression on me.

Our two countries have so much to share and learn from each other. 

Priscilla

Peace Ingredients From the Community Pantry

July 19, 2008

Grannie and Daughter cooking up peace

Grannie and Daughter cooking up peace

Remember these ingredients for cooking up peace in Washington Park during Mother’s Day weekend of 2008? In the soup pot were some of the basic ingredients that Grannies for Peace thought would be necessary to lead to peace in the world instead of the world in pieces. Peace is so much more than the absence of war. It requires that every human being have access to the basic necessities for sustaining life as well as human rights and the possibility to express her full potential. Only then can struggles to survive give way to peaceful co-existence.

Imagine!

 

Peace On Earth; Peace Is The Way

Hope; Harmony; Truth; Honesty
Non-Violence; Respect; Tolerance
Love; Wisdom; Generosity

Empathy; Kindness; Goodwill Towards All

Justice; Living Wages

Food for All; Feed the Hungry

Water Rights ~~~~~~~

Education

Development; Positive Change; Sustainability
Diplomacy; Global Treaties

Listening! Reconciliation; Unity

Civilian Peace Reserve Corps
United Nations; World Court; Peace Keepers

No Nukes!

One of the aspects of Cooking Up Peace was a table where community members could write their own ingredients for peace on pieces of colored construction paper. The contributions to our pot of stone soup came from people of all ages including children, adults, elders and some eloquent teenagers. I’ve included them below, basically unedited, for you to cook up your own ideas about what “Peace” really requires

Mickie

 

Break it up; Whole (ly) talk with out words! (Master Ha Ha)
World Summit! Equal respect for the rights of all people.
No ownership of property. Stop wanting what other people have
Education; Respect everybody (written by Ajit & Ashnin)
Overwhelming strategic airpower; Love to all creatures
Peace, Patience, Tolerance, Joy; Open your heart & listen
Patience; Love each other
Love and respect each other!
Products for pets should have additional tax added for children of
domestic violence & other peaceful solutions for children
Don’t be afraid to love again! No more Republicans
A dollop of mutual respect; Say Sorry
Charity; Less money for war – More money for the needs of the people of the world to live in Peace.
Love, Life and Laughter; A pinch of common sense & a cup of Love; Sustainable jobs – Living wages – Opportunity for pursuit of happiness; No killing animals; A galaxy full of LOVE
Don’t lose hope; Learn to forgive & be sensitive.
Be compassionate towards others; Do the right thing – everytime
Get rid of BUSH; Honesty
Fire Congress NOW; Please Don’t Fight. (Signed by ME)
Impeach Bush; Police help; Tolerance, listening to all!! And every idea
Talk & Listen, Talk & Listen, Talk & Listen
Love, Joy, Gentleness, Understanding, Kindness, Humbleness, Meekness
Stop and think. Who are you aimed at, is it really worth it? Stop
Shooting without a thought. Is oil really worth countless lives?
Think of others. And accept what others believe. If we could take a
step back, slow down, and think most problems could be solved,
peacefully and with little cost.
(15 years old)

Signs of Peace Blooming in Washington Park

July 10, 2008

(more…)

Hope

July 7, 2008

Practicing Peace is all about Hope.  Hope is the flame that keeps each one of us going.  It’s something we need to carry around and to hand out to others to keep it going.  It’s what I have to offer – to those who are in unfortunate circumstances: poverty, immigration struggles, trying to learn English or manage to keep up in school, dealing with family members in prison; – to those who are working to change “The System”:  to make it more fair and equitable for every individual (“the American Dream”), saying “no” to the war machine, “yes” to First Amendment rights, “yes” to human dignity; – and to others who are practicing peace and need encouragement.

Last week I spent an afternoon volunteering to help with Ruth Pelham’s “Planting Flowers, Planting Hope” project.  Ruth, known as “the Music Mobile lady”, organized this amazing project in response to the shooting death of 10-year-old Kathina Thomas.  For three days, Ruth and her volunteers provided an opportunity for children of West Hill neighborhood of Albany to gather and use music, art, and words to talk about Kathina and what their hopes and dreams for themselves and their neighborhood are.  Each child picked out 8 colorful little plants which they planted in a 10 inch pot of rich moist soil, thanks to the City of Albany and sponsors.  Judy Stacey, Albany City Gardener, wearing a big sunhat and big smile, helped guide the children as they planted, and reminded them to water daily.

As I watched the children proudly carrying home their pots of flowers, I was struck by what an amazing act of practicing peace this was.  It planted seeds of hope.  If nurtured, like the flowers, that hope can grow.

Ruth Pelham is like a fountain of hope.  She exudes good energy – it bubbles out of her, just like her music.  She has that knack of making everyone feel invited and included.  She is trusted.  She knows how to listen deeply.  She also knows how to organize a big idea and make it happen – because she has hope. 

She gave me a big shot of hope and energy;  now I want to pass it on.

Peace and hope,

Priscilla

The Dumbing Down of America Caused the Wars

July 2, 2008

Whenever I hear anyone mention “the war,” I’m not sure whether to cringe or roll my eyes.  It isn’t “the war.”.  It’s “the wars”.  Not only have we invaded, destroyed, and attempted to occupy and prop up a US-friendly government in Iraq, we’ve done the same in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan is far away and exotic, granted, but it is a real country with real people in it, too.  There is one difference about the invasion, etc. of Afghanistan.  It was, as the saying goes, pre-destroyed.  Much of the pre-existing destruction was paid for or instigated by the US.

This leads me to how the dumbing down of the US enters into the causes of the wars.  The average American, college educated or not, gets most information frlom TV, and a whole chunk of that from sitcoms, reality shows, and talk shows.  Here we are in a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world (number 15, according to a UN survey), access to unlimited information in free libraries and low-cost Internet access, but few people seem to have bothered to learn the facts about the wars and those profiting from them.

Are you one of the know’s, or the know-not’s?  If you don’t know about these organizations, why not spend a little time searching online and reading about them: PNAC (Project for a New American Century), Blackwater, Carlisle Group, Halliburton.

If you know all about these organizations and are someone who still believes we have a humanitarian mission in either Iraq or Afghanistan, please explain it to me.

Cooking Up Peace

June 30, 2008

 

Grannies for Peace is one of the committees of Women Against War. Every Mother’s and Grandmother’s Day weekend we hold a vigil in Washington Park in the Saturday of the Tulip Fest. This year, our theme was “Cooking up Peace” We had some wonderful props including a huge pot,  some large peas for peace, and carrots for community, cooperation, creative nonviolence and communication. There were also many signs sharing our thoughts about ingredients needed for creating peace in the world. As part of the action, we provided a table with construction paper for passersby to share their own ideas. That will be the subject of another post.
Peace and creativity,
Mickie

Cooking Up Peace in Washington Park, on May 10, 2008

Please Join Our Circle!

 Grannies for Peace along with their allies and community members are here today cooking up a delicious, nourishing pot of peace soup. Please join us and add whatever ingredient you think is vital to our recipe for a peaceful world.

The Ingredients:

Peace is so much more than just the absence of war. Here are some of the things that we’re adding to the pot: Enough food and water for every person in the world, adequate, universal health care, safe, affordable housing, literacy and education, protection of women and children. Then we’ll throw in meaningful, sustainable jobs, a living wage for all, a safe, clean environment, equal respect for the world’s religions and cultures, and preservation of indigenous cultures with their wisdom and ways of life.

Seasoning for the Soup:

As Mahatma Gandhi has said: “Love is a rare herb that makes a friend of even a sworn enemy and this herb grows out of nonviolence.” Let’s add the herbs and spices of love, understanding, caring, trust and hope to season our soup and transform it from an ordinary meal to an extraordinary source of inspiration.

 Our Cooking Utensils:

 Here are some useful tools to help us stir up the pot: unconditional negotiation, regional and world diplomacy, disarmament, true nuclear non-proliferation, international treaties, the world court, and the court of world opinion. Let’s not forget local training in peacemaking, conflict resolution and nonviolence.

Heat and Energy for our Cooking

 We need a new model to replace the old, tired one of using sticks and carrots to negotiate. The carrots belong in the pot but the sticks of weaponry, power over others, sanctions, and war need to be dismantled and recycled to provide fuel for cooking up peace. If we used our combined energy to take back the resources that are now pouring into war we could harvest the money and lives that are being squandered

Please join our circle; add your wishes, ingredients, and ideas for cooking up peace. Share your energy and prayers for change. Then help yourself (and the world) to a nutritious, sustaining bowl of Peace Soup.

  PO Box 505, Delmar NY, 12054, 518-426-0710

www.womenagainstwar.org

Grannies For Peace, a project of Women Against War,

Hello world!

June 30, 2008
Iran billboard, Central Avenue

Iran billboard, Central Avenue

Practicing Peace Signing on to the blogosphere for the first time ever:   Here’s a little summary of what we’re about and what we hope to accomplish with our blog.  We wanted the domain name “waging peace” but it was already taken.  A good sign! 

PRACTICING PEACE 

 OF COURSE PEACE IS POSSIBLE!

It takes courage, creativity, perseverance, and a lot of hard work. Join us for a conversation on “waging peace”, the how, the why, and the what. Women Against War is a Capital District organization dedicated to ending the war in Iraq; preventing new wars, especially with Iran; educating people about the cost of war, particularly to women and children; and inspiring people to believe in and demand that our foreign policy be based on alternatives to violence. Read on and discover that waging peace can occur in a simple conversation, a billboard on Central Avenue, or a trip to another country.