Peace is no longer a utopian ideal, says Peace in the City director Ella Matheson, who explores the idea of a government department focused solely on promoting peace and harmony
A national conversation is emerging on a new architecture of peace.
The paradigm shift is this: we are beginning to understand our commonality and the connections that bind us together more than ever before. This is beyond national boundaries, politics of the left or politics of the right, beyond language, religion, culture and spirituality, we are one people. We are human beings.
The conversation is about a new story, the possibility of a United Kingdom Peace Department with a cabinet-level office to advise the prime minister on securing enlightened dialogue to elevate, articulate, investigate and facilitate non-violent strategic solutions to domestic and international conflict with a foundation of contemplative inner work.
Peace is not simply the absence of war. Peace is the presence of social justice, the environment and economics of wellbeing – it is the business of government.
“Peace is not simply the absence of war. Peace is the presence of social justice, the environment and economics of wellbeing.”
Last year, as a participant of the peace ambassadors training with James O’Dea, author of Cultivating Peace, the seeds were sown. The work of The Peace Alliance to establish a United States Department of Peace inspired me, in its alignment to many of my core values, particularly in developing a new peace narrative. Peace is embedded within my cultural heritage, growing up with the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement. Peace and social justice are in my DNA.
Clearly, contemporary parallels exist to those challenges of the last century. For example, Ferguson and Gaza continue to make headline news. We live in a world where a woman could be sentenced to death for her choice of religion, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion. Where ‘others’ at the intersection of race, sex and class – black people, women, differently-abled people, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, and intersex people – are often kept from their full rights of citizenship. This we cannot allow, we are all brave and beautiful people.
Furthermore, how can we expect airport, airlines and border security staff to prevent British teenagers travelling to join Isis, without also addressing domestic economic, environmental and social inhibitors to peace? Cultivating peace is about the preservation of diversity within unity; a co-creation of authentic feminine and masculine power.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated,” wrote Dr Martin Luther King Jr in a sermon on peace in 1967. “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
Peace must be created at multi-dimensional levels, a simultaneous story played out on the microcosmic and the macrocosmic world stage.
A Peace Department could continue the conversation and implement the following examples:
– Implement UN Resolution 1325 on the key role played by women in the wide spectrum of peace-building work.
– Support our armed forces via complementary approaches to ending violence.
– Implement the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace to safeguard human rights and enhance the security of people and their communities.
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A petition to establish a United Kingdom Department of Peace has been launched by Peace in the City. It’s an idea whose time has come, and a response to current economic, political, environmental and social injustice. The science of peace-building has significantly expanded over the last 40 years, creating previously unavailable tools for inner work which lead to evidence-based methodologies for dismantling violence and the design of a more beautiful world.
The greatest challenge remains the perceived sense of futility or insignificance in the face of economic, environmental and social crises.
“The pressing need of this century is that we find a way to harness the power of a nonviolent heart,” said The Peace Alliance co-founder Marianne Williamson in a speech in support of Ministry of Peace in 2003.
Peace is no longer a utopian ideal. What else is possible for the evolutionary development of humanity? We must be pioneers of the possible, with practical effective tools which illuminate contemporary approaches and perspectives of contemplative inner work for developing infrastructures of peace.
Sign the petition calling for a UK Peace Department