Ashland, Oregon Starts Campaign for City Culture of Peace Commission
an article by David Wick, CPI-Ashland, Pathways to Peace
“Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those we believe in”
Peacebuilding and the Culture of Peace have held my focused
engagement since the early 1980’s and the questions often revolve
around how to take action which is impactful and sustainable? My
colleague, futurist and Pathways to Peace Director Willis Harman,
said in his book Global Mind Change, “Throughout history, the
really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from
the dictates of governments and the results of battles but through
vast numbers of people changing their minds - sometimes only a
little bit.” Additionally Harman says, “…it is largely a matter of
people recalling that no matter how powerful the economic or
political or even military institution it persists because it has
legitimacy, and that legitimacy comes from the perceptions of
people. People give legitimacy and they can take it away. A
challenge to legitimacy is probably the most powerful force for
change to be found in history.”
The Peace Wall in Ashland
click on photo to enlarge
One hundred seventy five people gathered on September 21, 2013
for Ashland, Oregon’s International Day of Peace, Feast for Peace.
The CPI-Ashland (Culture of Peace Initiative – Ashland) organizers
committed to follow-up with concrete actions to help expand the
Culture of Peace in Ashland. With the mantra “Be the City you want
to see”, on Peace Day 2014, Feast for Peace, they highlighted a plan
for a formal City of Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (www.cpi-ashland.org).
On October 21st, 2014 a CPI-Ashland contingent presented the
citizen’s request for a Culture of Peace Commission to the Ashland
City Council. As stated in my presentation, “This is one of those
historic moments that will further put Ashland ‘on the map’ as a
well-run and innovative city, and as an additional draw for tourism.
There are hundreds of cities in the US and around the world that are
aware of the action that we are taking now in Ashland, Oregon and
await our model on how we create this commission. This is because
cities are the real societal structural level where the Culture of Peace
‘rubber meets the road.’ It is the city that has the reach, authority,
responsibility and influence to set the positive tone, direction, and
example for so many, many people.”
In preparation for the City Council meeting we put together a
packet of documents and distributed them to the mayor and each
Councilor, were interviewed on a local radio program, ran a full
page newspaper ad with an open letter to the City Council listing
the names of 240 supporters, and created buttons saying, “Support
an Ashland Culture of Peace Commission” for everyone to wear.
We did get their attention, and we are scheduled to meet with the
Council in a more detailed Study Session on February 2, 2015. We
were also prepared to go to the city initiative process if we get
blocked. However, in our October 31st follow-up meeting we took
stock and said, STOP. We are taking “old system actions” of winners
and losers that will create resistance and not inspire the broad
based City - Community ownership needed for co-creating the
Culture of Peace. This is about changing perception and mind-set
through inspiration, education, and motivation, and a new officially
recognized City entity with consultative status is being considered
by our team. We must be flexible, and able to shift our own
perceptions to help mid-wife the Culture of Peace.
Question(s) related to this article:
What is a culture of peace city, and how does one become one?
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LATEST READER COMMENT:
I believe that the development of a network of culture of peace cities can be a decisive factor in the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace based on a profound reform of the United Nations system. The following are excerpts from my book World Peace through the Town Hall.
My experience working in the United Nations system for ten years and observing it closely for seven years since my retirement makes me optimistic that the UN system is capable of managing a transition to the culture of peace. The various specialized agencies that deal with health care, education, food and agriculture, science, communication, not to mention technical questions such as aviation, shipping, atomic energy, etc. are staffed by a capable international secretariat with experience in the day-to-day management of global issues. The UN General Assembly, as well as the international assemblies of other agencies such as the General Conference of UNESCO, provide important forums. Even the Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which are now in the hands of a few powerful states and used to support their culture of war could play important roles in the transition to a culture of peace if they were transformed under control of "we the peoples" instead of the state.
For the reasons given throughout this book, a global network of local authorities is the best chance for an international political force independent of the nation-state that could take responsibility for the United Nations and direct it towards a culture of peace.
In summary, the cause of the United Nations seems hopeless for a culture of peace as long as it is under the control of the nation-states of the world with their culture of war.
Without being able to predict a precise date, we can expect within the next few decades that the American Empire and the globalized economy associated with it will crash as did the world economy in 1929 and the Soviet economy in 1989.
A global crash sets the stage for two possible political solutions which are diametrically opposite. One is a strengthening of the culture of war at the level of the state into fascism which was the predominant reaction in the 1930's. . ...more.