A celebration to create and build a more peaceful world was held on the United Nations annual International Day of Peace, September 21, 2013, hosted by SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series in partnership with The Peace Alliance. Held at SGI-USA’s Santa Monica Culture of Peace Resource Center, Peace L.A. was attended by a diverse spectrum of people representing numerous religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and ages ranging from young teens to senior citizens.
Peace L.A., a multi-faceted event, included a forum to educate, inspire, and engage people towards action. The speakers shared information about proven effective programs for addressing bullying in our schools, and the prevention and intervention of youth violence. Also highlighted was a discussion of the positive effects of restorative justice, prison rehabilitation and the fiscal benefits of preventing violence as such programs not only greatly reduce crime, but save much more than they cost.
The audience was moved, inspired and motivated by the speakers, beginning with Marianne Williamson, internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer www.marianne.com. The keynote speaker, Marianne is a founder of The Peace Alliance and launched the campaign to establish a U.S. Department of Peace. Her message directed the attendees to take action to build peace. Azim Khamisa, international speaker, author and teacher of forgiveness www.azimkhamisa.com, founder of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation www.tkf.org, shared his personal story of losing his son to gun violence, and stressed the urgency of stopping youth violence. Rich & Yvonne Dutra St. John, founders of Challenge Day “Challenging You to be the Change” www.challengeday.org, engaged the attendees to share deeply in an exercise defined by the words, “If you really knew me … ” Bob Baskin, President of The Peace Alliance www.thepeacealliance.org, extended the invitation to get involved in a Peace Action Team locally. The hip hop emissaries of peace, the Luminaries www.luminariesmusic.com, closed out the program with everyone on their feet chanting the message “Peace worldwide starts from inside.”
Special invited guest, Congressman Tony Cardenas (CA-29), a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Youth PROMISE Act (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education), H.R. 1318 [S. 1307], spoke briefly at the beginning of the event, declaring that not only are there effective programs that save lives and give young people the opportunity to meet their potential, but that there is currently breakthrough legislation before Congress focused on innovative, evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies, that would provide our hardest hit communities with the support and funding they need to effectively address these issues. In addition to the Youth PROMISE ACT, The Peace Alliance also advocates for H.R. 808, the US Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013 (Barbara Lee CA-13, Sponsor).
Several other organizations working towards a Culture of Peace were present: Greater LA Chapter of UN Women www.unwomen-usnc.org; US Fund for UNICEF www.unicefusa.org; The Peacemakers documentary (Neverending Light Productions) www.thepeacemakermovement.com; Save Chain Reaction (Preserve Paul Conrad’s historic landmark in Santa Monica) www.conradprojects.com; Unity-and-Diversity World Council www.udcworld.org; United Religions Initiative (URI) North America www.urinorthamerica.org; SARAH Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope www.sarah4hope.org; The Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest www.compassiongames.org. The Banner of Peace was also featured.
Peace LA was produced by local volunteers for The Peace Alliance, empowering civic engagement towards a Culture of Peace www.ThePeaceAlliance.org, www.StudentPeaceAlliance.org, and Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA), Buddhist Association for Peace, Culture & Education www.SGI-USA.org.
Follow-on: The Peace Alliance is honored that so many people are taking action as a result of Peace LA 2013. Here are some specific ways you can get involved with The Peace Alliance:
- Start or join a local Peace Alliance Action Team
- Start or join a Student Peace Alliance at your school/university
- Engage your network or organization in support of the work of The Peace Alliance
- Volunteer or partner in a future International Day of Peace event
If you are interested in learning more:
Los Angeles area residents, please contact: Tory Haslinger, Volunteer State Coordinator, [email protected]
Other U.S. residents contact: Dan Kahn, National Field Director, [email protected]
SGI-USA’s Peace L.A. contact is Danny Hall, Peace & Community Relations, [email protected].
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“Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.” (Earth Charter) and goodwill (a most contagious human quality) is the active principle of peace … the touchstone which will transform the world.
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Link to the Peace LA 2013 webpage:
Direct link to the webcast of Peace LA 2013:
Link to a photo summary of Peace LA 2013: