Jonesboro, Arkansas, Columbine High School, an Amish Pennsylvania school and now Virginia Tech. What’s next? Whether it is another school shooting or the endless reports of suicide car bombings in the Middle East, the world is becoming a terrifying place to live. One in 10 American students currently stay home from school each day because they are simply too scared of the violence and bullying that awaits them. On top of this, youth homicide rates occur over 10 times more in the United States compared to other leading industrialized nations.
Meanwhile, our government spends about $500 billion a year building prisons while funding the military with nearly $11 million an hour for the so-called war on terror.
Let’s face it; it is time for the American government to get our priorities straight.
Unfortunately, an improvement in the government’s agenda does not usually occur overnight. That is why I have decided to join a national campaign called The Peace Alliance. Instead of getting angry at our current administration, I have become part of a collective effort to suppress the lingering threat of violence and ultimately, nuclear proliferation. As Mahatma Gandhi put it best, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
About 1,000 volunteers recently met in Washington, D.C., to attend the annual Peace Alliance conference and lobby for a bill to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peace. During Congressional meetings, I got the opportunity to speak on behalf of fellow university students in the offices of Sen. Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, both of Nevada. The message was clear: We want peace and we want it now. We can no longer sit back and accept the fact that violence is taking over humanity.
A department of peace would strengthen our foreign relations and prevent conflicts from escalating into unnecessary war, while diminishing violence in our schools and neighborhoods.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the efforts of the Peace Alliance by logging onto www.thepeacealliance.org. Become part of a movement to educate the country on conflict resolution skills and nonviolent communication. As United States citizens, it is our right and our duty to speak up for what we believe in. Doing so only takes a few minutes by calling Congress at (202) 224-3121.
Tell your senators and representatives to co-sponsor the department of peace legislation. This bill (HR 808) is not only a current necessity, but also a potential gift to our future as Americans and world citizens. At this point, it is the greatest legislative effort we could ask for.
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