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  • All They Are Saying Is: Give Peace a Chance

    When Miss Congeniality admitted that she really did want world peace, little did she know that the government would have an answer. A recently introduced bill would establish a Department of Peace to “reduce and prevent violence in the United States and internationally through peacebuilding and effective nonviolent conflict resolution.”

    Representative Kucinich (D-OH) and his fellow sponsors hope to promote peace in the United States by developing new policies to prevent animal abuse, gang violence, and domestic abuse. This bill will also promote international peace by establishing a Peace Academy to function as a coequal institution with the military academies, which will train students to mediate between the United States and other countries and to ensure that conflict is avoided whenever possible.

    All Americans, of course, want to live in peace, but a Department of Peace won’t deliver that: the bill’s goal is so lofty that it actually compromises national security and oversteps the prudential limits of the federal government.

    The biggest problem is the underlying belief that government programs can transform human nature. A Department of Peace, it claims, would promote a “higher evolution of the human awareness” and “tap the infinite capabilities of humanity.” Some of us still cling to Madison’s view that men are not angels, and we recognize that human selfishness is never going to disappear. Our efforts to promote peace must rest on a sober assessment of human nature—one that understands human weaknesses, not one that assumes humans’ “infinite capabilities” to eradicate violence.

    Second, in its effort to ensure peace, this bill could actually compromise national security. In addition to overstepping the Department of Defense by working with other countries to eliminate nuclear weapons, it requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to consult the Secretary of Peace—even in a crisis situation.

    Finally, at the domestic level, this bill takes away more power from the local government and civil society and places it in federal hands. True improvement transpires through human relationships and while the government can deter and punish violence, the most effective way to prevent violence is to allow civil society to do its job: Let families, religious organizations, and voluntary organizations reach out to their neighbors and transform lives through grass-roots renewal.

    We are all for peace, but citizens must realize that it comes through a hardnosed view of human nature, a strong national defense, and a renewal of local communities.

    Brittany Baldwin currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to All They Are Saying Is: Give Peace a Chance

    1. Jacob Breach, Las Ve says:

      This is absurd. In a time when we are trying to cut government spending liberal Democrats want to establish a new Cabinet Department that will cost billions of dollars and expand the role of government again into American lives. They threaten to supplant the Department of State and the Department of Defense, undermine State and National sovereignty, and add more to the wasteful spending and worthless regulations. I can't believe they are talking about this.

    2. West Texan says:

      Rep Kucinich and his sponsors are totally out of touch with reality. Time he and his social progressive loons pay a visit to the white coats. I'm personally offended by such a stupid idea. We already have a department of peace keepers who faithfully defend Americans' individual freedoms, our nation's military. If this is not a joke, then I must conclude Kucinich's proposed bill is but another power grab for more government control over people's personal affairs. If the congressman is truly interested in preserving the peace, let him start by supporting our troops. These mad demagogues are literally destroying what's left of our republic's foundation. Janet, please move the USBP from the Rio Grande to the Potomac's western bank. The rest of the country desperately needs protection from these intrusive Beltway politicos.

    3. Roger, Boise Idaho says:

      You've got to be kidding! Stop the insanity bus… I want to get off…

    4. Bobbie says:

      As human life, how much more condescension are we going to take? There's no need for a separate department to hold our hands for government "guaranteed peace!?" This is certainly in favor of someone's beliefs!!!

      Enforcing civil law promotes peace! How about doing what's expected of you, mom and dad government?

    5. Jacob Breach, Las Ve says:

      I wrote my own post on it and cited you Ms. Baldwin. Thank you for brining this to our attention


    6. Chris in N.Va says:

      Why am I not surprised? Seems the totally expected (il)logical extension of the Progressives' worldview.

      Next up —

      Department of Puppies and Unicorns (and Universal Distribution Thereof)

      Department of Pixie Dust and Magic Beans

      Department of Kumbaya Sing-alongs and Bare-chested Drumbeating

      Department of Granola (with Undersecretaries of Fruits, Nuts and Flakes)

    7. Roger S., Mass. says:

      I had to check the date(s): No dice. We are well beyond the 1st of April, though not beyond April's (in this case February's — the month of this bill's introduction) fools! Some Congressional Twits just don't get it:

      We (the people) are ever so tired of them and their hired (at our considerable expense) legal and public policy hacks from Washington DC, via Ivy League Academic Elites, trying to tell us how to live our lives, how to "be nice", how to "be good citizens", how to be PC, how to "love" or not, "hate" or not, and so on, all "for the good of society", as THEY would define it !!! —- We are going bankrupt due to a century's worth of such ever more expensive while ever less effective "do gooder" meddling aimed at "correcting" our alleged "human failings" from the top down and from an ever greater (governmental) distance (the professional bureaucratic state of Pres. Wilson and his mentor Goodnow), and all THEY can come up with is more of the same? — Let me hazard a guess: Anything (the more elaborate and inscrutable, the better) to get in the news by creating "problems" for "government to solve". Anything at all to get their hands on even more of our hard-earned cash to fund their and their crony' favorite kind of "job security"!

      Let me hazard another guess: Sen. Al "Frumpkin" Franken is another big (co-) sponsor of this newest abomination of a "Brave New World" proposal? Anything to finally join the "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them" he once ranted against? Just a guess, but wouldn't surprise me at all !

      Beyond that, I can only join (and quote) West Texan: "Rep Kucinich and his sponsors are totally out of touch with reality. Time he and his social progressive loons pay a visit to the white coats. I’m personally offended by such a stupid idea."

      One should add: beyond our DOD and Military (only 15pct of the bill's sought impact is devoted to foreign policy, the remainder to domestic "meddling") we already have mostly superb local police departments, state police departments, any number of local development and outreach efforts mostly doing a pretty good job when left to call their own shots in their own communities. This newest piece of legislative BS appears to be intent on nothing less than instituting into our communities some form of United Nations methods "to better mankind"; and we all know how well those are working, don't we?

      Beyond that, we have the 2cnd Amendment: In communities where people are known likely to be armed (because allowed to "carry") we have the highest degree of civility and lowest crime rates of all. We don't need a new bunch of half-baked PhD's transplanted from Berkeley, Boston, or New Haven to DC to falsely tell us otherwise!

    8. West Texan says:

      To Roger in the Common Wealth of Massachusetts, your comment is much appreciated. To Chris in the Common Wealth of Virginia, I needed a good laugh.

      Thanks all,


    9. Roger S., Mass. says:

      To West Texan: liked your comment too. Thanks for the sanity in an insane world!

      Ditto to Chris: Sure was funny, and a much better summary than mine!

      THANK YOU!

    10. Karen Johnson, Illin says:

      My mother pushed me to enter beauty pageants when I was in my teens in the 1970s. If she had informed me of the college scholarships and prizes, she may have been successful, even though we didn't share the same value on that means/forum of recognizing the physical beauty of female humans. I entered the "peace movement of the new millenium" in 1995, which has provided several occasions to visit and revisit the irony of the stereotype (perhaps deservedly) of young beautiful women naively wishing for world peace–and my rejecting that path my mother so deeply wanted for me, and ultimately dedicating my life to working for individual, community and world peace. Do many beauty queens actually end up working for world peace? I haven’t done the research.

      My dedication doesn't come from naivete and no one could have breathed this type of life into the young, intelligent, cynical woman I was in the 1970s. It grew from a combination of spiritual inquiry and years of research as to the possibility and paths of inner, community and world peace. It grew from my personal healing and transformation. The exploration of "the physics of human behavior" enlivens me. I know this is not true of all of us. So, while I often pointed and laughed at the silly “older” hippies in my youth (even as I bought tie-die shirts), now I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and we laugh at each other’s stereotypes in-between impassioned, compassionate, informed debate and exploration of the truths and falsities found in our modern culture, politics and media.

      Brittany and previous commentators very skillfully touched on all the fear-based arguments against organized and cooperative peacebuilding, which inter-relates significantly with the development of human potential. I believe we are at the dawning of a new day of expanded awareness and understanding of what is possible in informed and inspired humans acting from love, rather than fear, individually and collectively. All movements toward more equality for more humans have been met with fear, physical and verbal violence and ignorance. Yes, this is human nature in the face of change. Gratefully, there are always "brave ones" to go out ahead of the pack and try on nonviolent realities/practices and prepare others to face the violence with nonviolence in order to meet our next phase of human evolution. The prize that keeps on giving: the peace which transcends all understanding.

      I encourage all to read the bill to establish a U.S. Department of Peace (H.R. 808) for themselves and engage in intelligent, informed dialogue about its intent and content. There's lots of room for interpretation in the skeletal version of this comprehensive plan, yet this also leaves lots of room for active members of this democracy to fill in the details on how we want our government to spend our tax dollars.

      There’s an interesting thing about paradigm shifts–only when one is willing to step through the invisible wall to the other side can one truly try on and understand what the "other" is saying or communicating.

      Just as we human beings will develop ever-increasing and serious symptoms of illness when we are in denial of healthy self-care, when a culture is denying certain of its members access to resources to meet its human needs, collective and progressively serious symptoms pop up in the most vulnerable members–the children. Yes, 85% of proposed funding is devoted to our human challenges at home. How many children must die in their homes, communities, schools, before we address every aspect of what is impacting their young lives and wellbeing? I think the past 30 years have taught many of us that our collective cultural dysfunction cannot be contained to certain "zones" by the walls of prisons or other delineating lines. We spend more on war readiness (when we are not at war) than all other countries combined while our children die in our streets, arguably for lack of attention and resources.

      Just as this forum requests commentators be respectful of each other, I have seen the power of humans with differing views and fears coming together in a room with the intention of respectful listening and speaking; I know the deep joy of watching myself and others as the respect for each other in the room increased as we looked into each others' eyes as we communicated, coming away with new understandings of what fuels the fear and costly violent strategies we see in ourselves and others.

      I agree substantially with Brittany's closing sentence, but might modify it ever so slightly: We are all for peace, and in time more and more citizens will realize that it comes through a realistic view of human nature and potential, a strong national defense ("retooled" to include a balance of strong researchers and advisors presenting violent, nonviolent and/or less violent options for consideration to each potential action or intervention), and a renewal of local communities.

      Yes, all we are saying is: give peace a chance. Yet, we're saying it from a foundation of historical experiences and research (that show the possible transformation of corruption, greed and selfishness or, in the alternative, how to navigate nonviolent compassionate humane action around the existing corruption, greed, selfishness and violence-is-the-best-strategy consciousness) since the beginning of human culture. "Now that I know better, I do better." Maya Angelou.

      If anyone would like to be a better informed citizen in this discussion, here's the link to the bill text: http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.80

      –a moderate Republican who can see and appreciate all of the lights shining their fears, hopes and needs, met and unmet, into public view (especially enjoying the humor in Chris's proposed new departments).

    11. Bobbie says:

      Karen, no offense but I'm not sure what you're point is? It's great to want world peace but your funding should come from those you know or are interested in your cause, not government. Why would you want people to be influenced from a controlling force, to have peace? It's demeaning and not right for any woman to support government dependency regarding anything personal. That's not a good role model for women and doesn't exemplify freedom.

      Those who don't choose peace and act to violate, will learn from the law.

      Enforce civil law to give peace a chance to grow naturally.

    12. Karen Johnson, Illin says:

      Hello Bobbie, no offense taken. I was making two points: (1) most people criticizing the idea of a US DOP haven't read the legislation, and even among those who have, many deliberately misinterpret the content and statement of intent, therefore it makes any intelligent, informed conversation impossible; and (2) change is challenging to humans and much of our history regarding significant changes applies to the controversy around this legislation.

      Take flat world vs. round world, for example. Seems pretty self-evident to us all now, yet look at all of the fighting and controversy that idea brought forth for so long, even with scientific evidence. Once upon a time, the fear of falling off the planet was prevalent.

      The idea of replacing the view of us as inherently violent humans vs. inherently peaceful humans has been taking on that type of controversy for some time now. Those actually giving peace a chance are seeing and experiencing things that those who refuse to look carefully cannot. I believe, at some indeterminable time in the future, people will speak of the day when the fear of being annihilated by offering an olive branch and acting with the shared interests of all peoples in mind will be marveled at, yet with the understand that we simply didn't know any better.

      So, I hope you do not take offense by choosing not to go toe-to-toe with you on the points you raise, which I do not see as relating to this legislation. As for your conclusion that our laws are a "natural" deterrent and educational system to those choosing to violate peaceful practices, I do not agree. They may have started with that intention, but they have been severely corrupted along the way. More and more "new science" (in alignment with natural or ancient wisdom/principles) shows that punishment, torture and forced compliance with unjust practices do not contribute toward reformed, happy, productive, contributory citizens in the long run, arguably the original intent of our judiciary system.

      I look forward to the day that we can come to the table with facts to look for the common ground that gives us a basis for a nonviolent process to continue the evolution of our young country into a more humane, responsible global citizen. I suspect so many others in the world are aching for us to do so, much like parents and community elders lovingly stand by and guide as best they can as youth turn to teens, to young adults and finally, hopefully, wise citizens.

    13. Bobbie says:

      Any legislation regarding a persons natural ability, I am against. Is this how you see America? "Punishment, torture and forced compliance with unjust practices?" This is where I see America going because of unfair laws and rules applied to some but not all, where favoritism of race and skin color runs wild and those not favored are held to a higher accountability! ALL under the control of government, NOT WE THE PEOPLE! and as influence from the government is a dangerous intrusion of who I am as my own person, my freedoms and liberties.

      How other people see America is something they determine for themselves. It's not the problem of Americans if the world is not impressed. How they know us will be up to them to come to know.

      You can't prevent communist, socialist influential leaders of the world your legislation is going to bring peace. Peace has to come from the heart, Karen, or it's not sincere. It's manufactured.

      In America, with common laws enforced and punishment to fit violations to the law, deters violent behavior to peaceful or tolerant anyway. No legislation necessary, Karen. I believe in people and freedom, not government interference of. How about giving people a chance?

    14. Kendra says:

      It sounds like this proposed bill is being misunderstood as legislating peace. I agree that such a law wouldn't work. On the other hand we have many laws that prohibit and punish violence. They don't eliminate violence, but they set a standard and establish the value that we want human lives to be protected.

      I support a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace, because military generals are saying they need help with peacebuilding. They are clear that true peace in a nation torn by war doesn't just magically happen because the fighting has stopped. Our military is being asked to suddenly switch from military action to helping to rebuild a society torn by war. Commanding generals and the Secretary of Defense have stated that lasting peace requires rebuilding infrastructure, bringing warring factions together, creating bridges between cultures within a nation that have a long history of mistrust, and more.

      We have more than 100 universities in the U.S. now offering programs in peace and conflict studies, teaching the very skills that are needed by our nation – - skills to resolve conflicts peacefully through intervention programs that go to the root causes of violence. I want our President and our nation to have the best tools currently available to deal with conflict within and outside our borders. Conflict is inevitable, but violence is not.

      And violence prevention saves not only lives but tax dollars as well. That's why we have those old adages: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a stitch in time saves nine. War is the biggest drain on our economy, not Social Security or Medicare or social programs in general.

      The reminder from The Heritage Foundation below is an example of the very way we need people to interact in order that we may all benefit from an exchange of views.

    15. Bobbie says:

      People are generally the most humble after the fighting stops.

      Minds of people are capable of reasoning and that's why civil law, which respects human life and is non-discriminative, non-bias, non-racist nor faith based, makes peace with uncivil conflicts by punishable measure.

      People learn peace naturally when they're violent and held accountable to their acts of violence. No costs or training necessary. Just law enforcement. How does legislation that demeans freedom, prevent violence? To prevent individual behavior, is speculative. Individual behavior or collective group behavior, can only be controlled by the individual.

      Why would you want to legislate someone elses ideas of who an individual/people could freely be without someone else's idea (legislation?)

      It's too bad skills that come naturally, have to COST MONEY to be taught today.

      I would appreciate your respect to build freedom and independence and personal abilities, not govern them.


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