The Leading Edge of Peace
“This organization is on the leading edge… Through your organization the word spreads out among the people, so it becomes a more popular thing to be counted as one of the pilgrims, trying to lead us to this promised land of peace.”
The news headlines tell us everyday that we live in a violent world. The truth is, the violence isn’t just ‘out there’ – it affects each one of us, personally, in a myriad of ways.
And yet at the center of the human spirit there is a great longing for peace. During this moment in our history, it is becoming imperative that we invest in and prioritize in the work and practices that can help bring about more of the peace we all desire. The consequences of manifesting a culture of peace or, conversely, continuing on the current course of rampant violence and war are both enormous. Thankfully, the heroic work of the growing field of peacebuilding offers a prescription for our times that can make the great dream a reality. Indeed, it already is.
The Costs of Violence:
From the personal to the collective, violence, in all forms, has been the greatest and most devastating struggle we have ever faced. Consider just a few sobering statistics:
- 1 out of 4 kids are bullied.
- A World Health Organization report estimates the cost of interpersonal violence in the U.S. at $300 billion per year-excluding war-related costs.
- U.S. youth homicide and suicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrial nations.
- Homicide is the 2nd Leading Cause of death for youth ages 12 to 24, and the #1 for African Americans
- During the 20th century, more than 100 million people lost their lives to war—most were non-combatants.
From infants to the elderly, violence affects people in all stages of life. The personal physical and emotional scars it leaves behind can be devastating.
Violence also erodes our communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services. This path is so socially and fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable that an immediate course correction is imperative.
Hope is not only on the horizon, it’s here now. Over the last few decades we have seen the field and work of peacebuilding emerge more strongly, helping to foster more peaceful solutions in many arenas. Practices and models that are sophisticated, pragmatic, effective and sustainable have been developed and implemented in various settings and locations in our nation and around the world. From teachers who bring conflict resolution education into classrooms, to community programs effectively dismantling gang psychology, to programs in prisons helping inmates turn their lives around, to sophisticated policies and efforts to avert violence from erupting in international conflict hotspots, to a parent learning new skills and taking daily actions in the name of being more supportive to their children — there are countless options and examples. These offer a powerful counter-balance to many of the more punitive methods we have traditionally relied upon when dealing with violence.
|PEACEBUILDING: Peacebuilding addresses issues of disharmony, violence, crime and war by identifying their underlying causes and implementing nonviolent solutions that build an infrastructure for sustainable peace.|
Academics and students of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies have helped us better understand that many of the punitive power-based methods we have traditionally relied upon to reduce or eliminate violence are not effective over time and have costly consequences. In addition, we now have the ability to measure and quantify the predictors of violence, the costs of violence with all its ramifications, and the savings in lives and dollars when effective and more sustainable peacebuilding programs are implemented. Indeed, growing numbers of city, state, and federal agencies are supporting violence prevention efforts that focus on the root causes of violence.
Building the Infrastructure for Peace:
The fields of peacebuilding and violence prevention are not yet at the forefront of our national priorities or conversations. We must make solutions to violence a part of our collective everyday understanding and help take proven programs to scale. If this burgeoning field of peacebuilding is to reach full potential, we must help catalyze and galvanize a movement behind it and create much stronger systems and infrastructure to support it. The deeply entrenched interests working to maintain the status quo of stiffening penalties, building more prisons, increasing our military budgets, etc. — are as well funded and powerful as ever. That is where our efforts come in as an integral part of the growing choir to make this work of peacebuilding a national and international priority.
The Peace Alliance is a dedicated team of organizers and advocates throughout the United States, taking the work of peacebuilding from the margins of society into the centers of national discourse and policy priorities. Advocacy, education and mobilization are the tools we use with demonstrated effectiveness.
1. Legislative Advocacy: We advocate for evidence-based peacebuilding legislation and policies that will enhance our capacity to reduce violence through prevention and intervention – building sustainable peace both domestically and internationally. We are working to greatly increase peacebuilding infrastructure and investment. Our advocacy for a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding, The Youth PROMISE Act, and greater funding for U.S. Institute of Peace are a few examples of the policies we are championing.
2. Education: A Spotlight on Peacebuilding The Peace Alliance works to make the practices and values of “peace,” in it’s many forms, a better understood, more tangible, personal, and accessible phenomenon. By shining a bright spotlight on the “Faces of Peace” out in the world we show the many facets and practices of peace. Through various formats, including traditional and new media, we are educating the public and our political leadership about what peace looks like and it’s importance to our nation and our planet bringing the field of peacebuilding into the national spotlight.
3. Galvanizing a Movement: We are working to build a large-scale constituency 1,000,000 strong for peace. We support individuals and groups working for political change, as well as daily personal choices and actions to “Be the Peace” we are advocating for.
Our community of advocates includes volunteer grassroots teams in hundreds of cities, towns, colleges and high school campuses. We organize state by state, congressional district by congressional district, and school by school to facilitate community-based change and grassroots lobbying. We work with coalitions and partner organizations. To better serve the field, we also work with special focus to help strengthen and grow coalitions and alliances among like-minded groups and organizations. In conjunction with our Washington D.C. based staff, this network forms a powerful platform from which to shift the national discourse of our country and make peacebuilding a true policy priority. Through it all, we work to embody and live the values we aspire to manifest.
In order to accomplish our shared goals, we need each other. We need the support of people like you – – people who see the larger vision of a world invested in peace. We ask that you help champion this effort to reveal and solidify the growing wave of humanity reaching for effective nonviolent solutions to outdated problems of war and violence.
Together, we can create a lasting gift for generations to come.
5 things you can do to help:
Please help us strengthen and empower the movement to build and sustain a culture of peace for generations to come.
- Join our Email list: Stay connected to what we are doing and recieve critical action alerts. Sign up!
- Spread the word! Use email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever you can to share the good news about our work. Use tools at top of this page.
- Make a Donation: Large or small, any donation will help. We hope to raise enough money to get these stories out in creative ways, to media, and beyond. Join our Faces of Peace Facebook cause and make it contagious.
- Join the Movement: Get involved in your community to work for peace advocacy.
- Make a commitment to practice peace in some new way: whether it’s a daily choice or a larger effort. Work for peace!