Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Peacebuilding is Economical

(Guest Blog from Annette Karr, Department of Peace Activist from McPherson, Kansas)

During this current economic crisis, great effort has been directed in cutting costs both in the public and private sector. There are three areas that place a substantial drain on our nation’s budget. It occurs in the emergency room, the court room and the prison cell.

Through proactive measures dealing with the prevention of violence, we have been able to skim some of these costs, but our communities are in need of more focused intentional approaches to these challenges.

I recently represented Kansas at the national conference of The Peace Alliance, which is an organization focused on the passage of the bill H.R. 808. The bill deals with the development of a cabinet level Department of Peace.

Since 85% of the bill centers on domestic concerns, the majority of the speakers were individuals working in violence prevention programs across our country. One of the most impressive speakers was Azim Khamisa whose 20 year old son was gunned down by a 14 year old gang member in 1995. In the midst of unspeakable grief and despair, he came to the realization that there were victims on both ends of the gun. He and Plez Felix, the grandfather of the man who killed his son have developed a program where they speak to elementary and middle school students about the consequences of violence, and as the two men stand next to one another, their message extends beyond the prevention of violence into the ultimate demonstration of peace.

Mr. Khamisa, along with a host of others working in the nuts and bolts process of peace provided us with information about their programs. We also heard from a sampling of those working in the international field.

The conference concluded with a morning on Capitol Hill where the participants met with over 200 members of Congress or their staff to lobby for the bill H.R. 808.

Peace is not an ethereal concept. It is a practical matter desperately needed in our society. There is a wealth of individuals and programs across the nation working to lessen the need for the emergency rooms, court rooms and prison cells. Through the umbrella of a Department of Peace, those individuals and programs could receive some funding and communication to provide their services more efficiently, thus, making the Department of Peace cost effective.

Our society recognizes the need to teach our children to read, and are willing to invest in that endeavor. It provides our citizens with an essential tool that reaches into many aspects of our society including the individual’s economic needs. Our children need to be educated in the same intentional manner in how to live in a nonviolent world.

More information on H.R. 808 and the nationwide grassroots campaign to create a U.S. Department of Peace can be found at www.thepeacealliance.org.

1 comment:

  1. Annette, This is well said and highlights the importance of such legislation. We have the means to "shift" the focus and highlight the possibilities of peace. It is a win/win all round. Thanks for all you are doing. For peace, Lynn Ellis, Maine

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