Friday, March 13, 2009

"Bed-In For Peace" - How will it help?

Fellow peace blogger Pippa Bartolotti posted an invitation to her readers to join a global "Bed-In for Peace" to mark the 40th anniversary of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono event in 1969. While I applaud the spirit and intent of this type of event for raising awareness and reminding people of the need to voice their desires for peace, I don't share the optimism that these gestures will do anything substantive to make the world a better place. Below is a response from one of Pippa's readers who agrees with me:

Hi Pippa-

I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on the bed-in idea (how uncomfortable would that be?!?) but… In the grand scheme of things, this is still simply another symbolic gesture for people to demonstrate how much they long for peaceful society. It’ll make participants feel good for a little while, may get some press coverage if it’s big enough, but will do very little to make
peace a sustainable influence in the world.

You did hit the nail on the head, however - “…peace needs to be worked for.” Staying in bed for a day may sound like “work” for some (not for me, BTW), but it’s not the same as getting out there and either a) making the world a better place - teaching conflict resolution skills to inner city youth, for example - or b)lobbying elected officials to create the Ministries and Departments of Peace that would ensure nonviolent approaches to solving problems get the funding and recongition they deserve.

In the U.S., there is an on-going national grassroots campaign led by The Peace Alliance that is working to pass legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace. The legislation already exists - H.R. 808 - and has 66 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, but the campaign has a long way to go to make the DOP a reality. We need the people who care about this to step up and become citizen lobbyists working with Congress to get this thing done.

There are similar efforts going on in Canada, the U.K., and several other countries (see In fact there already exists a Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation in Nepal ( and the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace in the Solomon Islands.

So, change is happening. We just need people to get off the sofa, out of bed, and into their Representative’s office.

Columbia, MD

I could not have said it better myself.