It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peace Policy: A Matter of the Heart

Last week, on August 7, on the occasion of the 66th birthday of the age of nuclear warfare, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio spoke in Bangor, Washington, at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. His speech, as always, was a mixture of inspiration and policy prescription. And it reminded me of why I have been enthralled with the man and what he stands and fights for ever since I first heard him speak, in November 2002 in Palo Alto, California.

Kucinich’s citing of the  human heart as the place where war and death occur and where peace and life begin is beautifully poetic – and absolutely true. After that beginning and before returning briefly to the heart at the end, he recites with passion a laundry list of policy actions governments (mostly the U.S.) can and should take to eliminate the nuclear threat and generally move us forward toward a world of justice and human rights, a world of peace. Also absolutely true. BUT...

Listening to the policy prescriptions, I couldn’t help feeling something was missing. There was nothing new in that list – only a reminder that the list is still there, waiting to be tended to. What was missing, and what would really have been an inspiring call to move in a new direction, was connecting the heart to the laundry list. As it stood, they were two seemingly disjointed parts of the same speech. Much more groundbreaking would have been putting more focus on how to move the heart of humanity away from the war and death “wolf” and toward the peace and life “wolf.” (Click here for the story of the two wolves.) Unless we can do that, it will be very difficult if not impossible to make much if any progress enacting the prescriptions on that list.

This is where peace academies and ministries and departments of peace in the United States and around the world come in – helping grow a culture of peace in the heart as well as the systems and processes to support it.

You can watch a video of the speech here.


  1. My sadness is once again the opportunity to bring Vets and older Americans on board the Peace Wagon was damaged when in spite of the historical evidence that the BOMB's actually shortened the war with Japan and saved uncounted lives.

    Not only in Japan but the lands occupied by the Japanese he again choose to focus on the BOMB's and paint the US as Evil rather than the events that then and continue today to draw nations into supposedly necessary wars.

    I suggest rather than painting those who did the best they could at the time with the information available to them we simply ask WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES.

    Then focus on prevention.

  2. Thanks for this post, Mike. It reminded me of this quote, "There is nothing amazing about being rich; there is nothing amazing about being highly educated. Only when the individual has a warm heart do these attributes become worthwhile." -His Holiness the Dalai Lama.