Over 400 mass shootings in the USA by August 2023 (see the Gun Violence Archive), a devastating land war in Eastern Europe, ongoing conflict in Syria and places across Africa, more and more incidents of interpersonal violence, a rise of inflammatory political rhetoric, and undiminished socio-environmental causes of violence: everywhere we look the question of peace presents itself.
Imagine a culture of peace as the foundation and expectation at all levels of American society and within all institutions. Imagine people having everyday skills for resolving issues and making decisions that promote mutual wellbeing. What would such a peace culture look like? Would we even call it peace or something else, since has for so long has been known mostly as the cessation of violence rather than a generative action of its own.
It’s time that we describe the peace we need and begin to embark on pathways towards it.
Across the United States, numerous groups and organizations are actively engaged in peace work. Using distinct models and tools, their achievements are advancing peace amid surging conflict and violence. The collective impact of this work shows that a peace culture is a dynamic and complex set of emerging relationships, but that it is within our grasp. Now is the time for us to gather across this great, varied network of people committed to peace and collaborate on establishing a sustainable working vision for the generation of a peace culture. Collaborating across independent networks and proven practices into synchronicity at national and regional levels requires (1) sharing of successes, and (2) examination of patterns. Throughout this project, we will be able to discern which approaches can be paired with others to achieve even greater impact.
The Parliament of World Religions meets this August 2023 in Chicago under the theme of human rights and its global ethic. Drawing thousands of participants from across the continent and the globe, the Parliament is a profound symbol at which to gather peace and nonviolent groups to design a convening of peace movements at the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta on November 3-4, 2023. The King Center offers perhaps the most appropriate venue to for the next iteration of networking peace work to emerge. That emergence invites the imagination to envision creating templates for regional convenings, new research collaboratives, cross-pollination of concepts, skills and resources, and appropriate infrastructure for ongoing movement support. To fulfill the hopes for the November convening, we invite those active in peace, trust, and nonviolence work from every sector of society to join us in designing the event. The November convening will be a place where we discern together the shared intentionality that purposely connects the varied and committed work underway by so many. Our hearts burn for a better world. Let's name it as best we can and promote it enthusiastically.
A design group convened by Cure Violence Global (CVG.org) and faith leaders is meeting regularly to flesh out what a colocation of the peace convening with the Parliament might involve. CVG utilizes a public health to understand violence and how it is disarmed. Faith, religious, and spiritual leaders bring a variety of tools, rituals, and insights into making the world hole. The design group knows the Parliament is already leaning into a world of nonviolence arising from a generative peace culture. Our collaboration on the November convening the weekend before the Parliament will allow those of us attending it to bring news of the convening to a wide assortment of people who will be reflecting and engaged in envisioning a peace culture and facing the challenges resisting its emergence. Together we can envision significant national and international work to reset the human imagination in the immediate future.
The project has a working title of: “Beyond Violence: Creating a Culture of Peace.” Peace comes because we expect it to be the norm. By creating this working group, we are naming the future we all desire.
The following groups have participated in the design conversations for this project.
- Anti-Defamation League
- Community Peacemaker Teams
- Cure Violence Global
- Faith Action Network of Washington
- Florida Council of Churches
- Institute for Strategic Dialogue
- International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism
- Mediators Beyond Borders
- Meta Peace Team
- National Council of Churches
- Nonviolent Peace Force
- Pax Christi Michigan
- Pax Christi USA
- Police to Peace
- Portland Peace Team
- Search for Common Ground
- The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement Seattle University
- The Trust Network
- and other individuals.and other individuals.