cropped-PeaceWeek_logo2.jpgThe following Delaware Voice column was published by the Wilmington News-Journal on Sept. 9. It is available online here

By Michaelena de Jesus, Rachel Livingston & Boyd Sorenson

People say that real, lasting peace is impossible. They say, “Just look at human history with wars, violence, injustice, conflicts, winners and losers. How can the message and benefits of peace survive faced with constant violence, terrorism and threats of war?”

Cynics say that the “protection industry,” military, police, criminal justice world and prison system, have overwhelming economic and political power. Perversely, they say “non-peace” is in “our” best economic interests.

Jobs are at stake.

Yet people are uniting to demand peaceful behavior from our families, communities and governments. In Delaware, for the first time, people throughout the state will celebrate the benefits of peace for an entire week, Sept. 18 to 25. Peace Week Delaware has more than 30 events statewide and more than 100 volunteers, sponsors and funders. The work to bring Peace Week to Delaware is forming stronger coalitions to build a culture of peace in our state and our world.

You can join us.

A change of attitude, that a culture of peace is possible, benefits us all. Peace and peaceful actions make sense because peacemaking is our number one strategy to overcome fear and violence. If we adjust our mindset and actions, we can make peace possible now.

Consider the benefits of peace and peacemaking: We will rely on love and understanding rather than fear and separation. We will reduce suffering and loss caused by violence. We will educate our children to use alternatives to violence for conflict resolution. We will seek reconciliation rather than separation and revenge.

With our children and neighbors, we must learn to talk, listen, understand, and act for peace as the default alternative to violence. We must preach the blessings and practices of peace from our pulpits. We must demand that our governments act in ways that support peace. Real social and economic justice depend on this.

And there is a Peace Dividend. A peaceful world, nation, state and community will spend fewer resources on the protection industry. Shift economic resources from prisons and punishment to jobs and programs that produce opportunities for all people. Create a culture that benefits from the best of us all.

Real peace, right now, is more than idealistic lip service. Our digital world is an asset to people and groups that are peace builders. New connections – like those being built by Peace Week Delaware – allow peacemaking to serve people as never before with peace education, peace programs and peace networking. Our grassroots coalitions and combined advocacy will better compete with the many forms of violence that dominate our culture.

Along with our neighbors, those who we know and those who we have yet to meet, we are committed to promoting the actions and blessings of peace that will lead us to a better society. “Neighbors joining together to build peace in the First State” is the theme for Peace Week Delaware.

Michaelena de Jesus is a mother of two boys, full time optician and community leader of a peace movement called 302GunsDown. Rachel Livingston is the Minister of Social Action at Mother African United Church and worked for the Delaware Repeal Project. Boyd Sorenson is a retired businessman and peace advocate who lives in Yorklyn.