Savoring Meditation #229: For Peace Day create Peace Center!
Every community needs a peace center. And by that, I don't mean a center named after a famous person who's last name is Peace, but a center dedicated to honoring and demanding a culture of peace in that community and the world.
My vision of such a community Peace Center in my city would be:
- a place for seekers of peace,
- for organizations working for peace,
- for honoring peace,
- for promoting peace, and
- for teaching peace.
What is needed for a peace center?
- A place
What would be the ideals that we would treasure?
- Community service
- Grassroots organizing
- Justice and mercy
Children need examples of peace more than ever. They need opportunities to:
- celebrate peace heroes, and
- learn how to be gentle forces for peace themselves.
A community peace center would be a local voice for peace that:honors:
- the heart,
- the family
- the community.
From our community peace center, we would lead by example what a culture of peace could be like:
- at the state level,
- at the national level, and
- at the global level.
Look at the example of Japan. After World War II, the new government there, ushered in by the U.S. Marshal Plan, decided to never form a military force again. Instead it used its backbone and sweat to build infrastructure, not to destroy other countries.
In a militaristic culture, are we any safer than we would be without it?
Just since 2010, more than one trillion American dollars have been spent on defense-related expenses. Meanwhile in our country, we are confronted by:
- unemployment and under-employment
- local educational systems gasping for adequate funding;
- a lack of affordable and low income housing, and
- sky-rocketing healthcare costs.
Also communities are facing:
- increased levels of hunger (my community one of the highest in the country);
- continued cuts for National Service programs like Americorps and VISTA; and
- more slashing cuts for National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service.
This is the time for grassroots efforts to pass local resolutions calling for cuts in our out-of-control defense budget.
Did you know that, depending on what source you get your news:
- We have troops stationed at 700 to 1,000 bases worldwide, spending on the average of a billion dollars a year on each base?
- We have allocated in recent years 56 percent of discretionary spending to the U.S. defense-related spending?
- Since 2001, more than $4,000 has been spent on our defense by every American?
It only makes sense that the less federal dollars going for domestic peaceful spending, the fewer dollars that will be spent at the state levels.
In the North Carolina 11th Congressional District, we taxpayers contributed one billion dollars for defense in 2012.
What else could that money have been spent on? Try these options:
- healthcare for a year for 426,361 children;
- an additional 19,362 elementary teachers for a year;
- an additional 24,812 firefighters;
- an additional 130,324 Head Start slots for children;
- renewable solar photovoltaic electricity for 187,326 households;
- wind power for 499,536 households;
- VA medical services for an additional 144,795 veterans;
- healthcare for 187,082 low income citizens;
- an additional 19,986 safety officers;
- an additional 179,034 university scholarships; and
- Pell Grants of $5,550 each for 181,453 students. (Figures from the National Priorities Project, 2011)
These facts aren't shared by our elected leaders. Our corporations and government would prefer we don't even think about these figures. But if we had community peace centers throughout our country, we could be that central place of truth for all citizens.
This year when you celebrate International Day of Peace (September 21) in your community, make a promise to one another that someday...the sooner the better....your community of concerned citizens will one day dedicate a Peace Center for the advancement of truth, caring and nonviolence at home rippling into the broader global corners of the world.