Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the Season for Nonviolence (SNV) 2019, advocates of a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (HR 1111) worked to gain 17 cosponsors of that legislation. Not an easy time to promote HR 1111, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) introduced the bill in the chaotic aftermath of a 35-day government shutdown orchestrated by a president seeking to separate people by building a wall on the Mexico-US border.
Countering the message of division with a message of inclusion, a team of approximately 20 SNV 2019 volunteers -- and their allied groups -- made several hundred contacts with approximately 53 former HR 1111 cosponsors and 64 newly-elected and other members of Congress seeking their support of HR 1111. This included volunteers from at least CA, GA, IL, MA, MO, NJ, NM and NY.
In several states, SNV volunteers coordinated with allies in local organizations. California allied with theWellstone Democratic Renewal Club Peace Committee and others) to contact the “CA SNV 11” -- 7 newly-elected CA members of Congress and 4 other CA members of Congress who have never cosponsored DoP legislation. Illinois allied with a local Pax Christi USA group. In NY, volunteers and allies (Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence) planned to meet with their Congressman. In SD, volunteers and allies contacted Representatives in SD and MN.
SNV is the 64-day period between the memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 30 - April 4). SNV focuses on nonviolence as demonstrated by such leaders as Mohandas Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chaves, Nelson Mandela and His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14thDalai Lama of Tibet. (See www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence.) The purpose of SNV, which was co-founded by Dr. Arun Gandhi and The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), is to focus on the philosophy of attaining peace through nonviolent action and the use of peaceful means to create change. This is precisely what a Department of Peacebuilding will do.
The need for a Department of Peacebuilding is evident in the news headlines. The benefits of nonviolent conflict resolution, restorative justice and restorative practices, mediation, teaching acceptance and tolerance, and working for equality are also evident.
Message from Rep. Barbara Lee
In her message to potential cosponsors, Congresswoman Lee said, “This critical bill would establish a federal Department of Peacebuilding which would be solely dedicated to peacemaking and the study and promotion of domestic and international cultures of peace.
“As you might know, peacebuilding helps to address the root causes of violence, implement broad measures to stabilize our society and our globe, and prevent violent conflict to create a sustainable, peaceful world. My bill is important because it would:
- Provide assistance to efforts by city, county, and state governments in coordinating existing programs, as well as develop new programs based on best practices nationally
- Support our military with approaches to peacebuilding
- Teach non-violence practices and violence prevention to America’s school children
- Build peace-making efforts among conflicting cultures both in the U.S. and abroad
“The Department of Peacebuilding has the potential to reduce suffering on a national and global scale while saving billions of dollars through violence reduction and increased economic productivity.” See the end of this message for a summary of DoP 2019.
Gandhi-King Principles of Nonviolence
The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT) describes the Joint Gandhi-King Principles of Nonviolence:
- Nonviolence means to honor the inherent worth of every human being. In Nonviolence we naturally seek to understand each other, build friendship and community.
- Nonviolence means believing that our lives are linked together, that what we do impacts the lives of everyone we encounter. That we are responsible to and for one another. That we can trust one another and work toward the common good.
- Nonviolence means dedicating ourselves to the fundamental rights of every human being (Justice, Equity, Equality).
- Nonviolence is courageously choosing to practice compassion with our adversaries. We oppose injustice, not people.
- Nonviolence means recognizing love as the power of the human spirit to triumph over injustice, inequity, suffering; a true hero’s journey of personal-social change.
Messages from SNV 2019 Volunteers
SNV volunteers shared quotes from Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Howard Zinn.
Nonviolence is the most powerful force that we have for the counteracting of hatred, bitterness and violence which have infested our society. - Coretta Scott King
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't 'win,' there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. - Howard Zinn
Thank You SNV 2019 Cosponsors
During SNV 2016 in addition to Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) sponsoring the bill, 17 members of Congress signed on as cosponsors: Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Judy Chu (CA-27), William Lacy Clay (MO-1), Susan Davis (CA-53), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), John Lewis (GA-5), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Bennie Thompson (MS-2), Maxine Waters (CA-43), and Bonnie Watson-Coleman (NJ-12).
Thank you to the HR 1111 SNV 2019 cosponsors and the SNV 2019 volunteers.
Nancy Merritt, Campaign for a Department of Peacebuilding
On Behalf of SNV 2019 Volunteers, including:
Betty Cooper(MO), Anne Creter(NJ), Patty Duncan(NM), Jo Ann Gaines(CA),Cynthia Gilliam(CA), Karen Johnson(IL), Maggi Koren(CA), Nancy Merritt(CA), Kit Miller(NY), Kendra Mon(CA), Sister Kay O’Neill(SD), Debra Poss(GA), Pat Simon(MA), Cetta Smart(IL), Jerilyn Stapleton(CA), Donnie Watson(CA)
Official Summary of the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2019:
This bill establishes a Department of Peacebuilding in the executive branch, dedicated to peacebuilding, peacemaking, and the study and promotion of conditions conducive to both domestic and international peace and a culture of peace.
The mission of the department includes the cultivation of peace and peacebuilding as a strategic national policy objective and development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful conflict resolution, and structured conflict mediation.
The department shall collaborate with others to promote personal and community security and peace by supporting policies to:
- address personal and family violence, including suicide;
- address crime, punishment, and rehabilitation, including by reducing prison recidivism rates;
- reduce drug and alcohol abuse; and
- create, through local community initiatives, peace projects that facilitate conflict resolution and healing of societal wounds.
A Federal Interagency Committee on Peace is established to coordinate the actions of the department with other federal agencies.
The Department of Defense and the Department of State must consult with the department concerning nonviolent means of conflict resolution when a conflict between the United States and any other government or entity is foreseeable, imminent, or occurring.
The department shall encourage citizens to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace on Peace Days.