Teaching Peace

Colman McCarthy believes in “strength through peace.” So much so that he left his job as a columnist for the Washington Post to expand his Center for Teaching Peace to spread the wisdom of adopting peace studies at high schools and colleges around the country. There are now 300 peace programs in place, offering majors, minors, and concentration (degree programs) at 300 colleges and universities, including Notre Dame, Colgate and Syracuse.

When Mr. McCarthy started his project to spread peace studies for students, only Manchester College in Indiana had a peace program in its curriculum. He personally teaches courses as eight colleges and schools such as Georgetown, American and Catholic Universities in Washington, D.C.

It is truly remarkable how much of the nation’s resources goes to preparing for war and the trivial amount devoted to preventing war or settling the conflicts before they erupt into violence. Half of the U.S. government’s entire operating budget goes for military expenditures, thirteen years after the demise of the Soviet Union from internal corruption. We have military bases in over 100 countries. Our political rulers want to do something about Islamic madrassahs to make their teaching more peaceful in other lands, yet they rarely speak, spotlight or support peace education in this country.

During the past 20 years, in countries posing no threat to the United States, U.S. troops have been numerous, McCarthy says, with the loss of many innocent civilians. U.S. corporations are the biggest arms exporters in the world, using billions of direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies to inflate their profits.

To anyone who questions the need for peace studies, McCarthy says: “All I ask of these snappy-talking realists is to tune out of the blather of militarism and consider the successes of nonviolence. Since 1936, six brutal or corrupt governments have been driven from powerónot by violence but by organized nonviolent resistance: in Poland, the Philippines, Chile, South Africa, Yugoslavia and Georgia.” He may soon add Ukraine to his list.

The necessity to start with the very young, given today’s relentless and violent entertainment games and TV programs beamed into their minds, is a priority for him. His teachings of non-violence “covers a lot of ground: family violence, schoolyard violence and eventually governmental violence.” In one of his two books on the subject titled Solutions to Violence and Strength Through Peace: The Ideas and People of Nonviolence, he wants to inspire children with stories about Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jane Addams, Albert Einstein, Jeannette Rankin, and Sojourner Truth.

“Unless we teach our children peace,” he says, “someone else will teach them violence.” Certainly, former West Point professor David Grossman agrees with the latter point. So much that he authored a book about television and video violence, channeled to children around the clock, calling it Teaching Our Children to Kill.

The mass media gravitates regularly to stories about violence, except the daily corporate-induced violence like toxics and unsafe products and workplaces. In part, they are reflecting their ways to jolt people into watching their programs. But they leave almost no space or time for people like Colman McCarthy who are trying to build a culture of peace through education. Peace is very exciting to people who have known war.

We should try more of the former before getting bogged down more in the latter.

To obtain more information about the Center for Teaching Peace, please write to:

            Center for Teaching Peace
            4501 Van Ness St. NW
            Washington, DC 20016

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