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Welcome to this celebration of peace and peace-makers 

By: Wally Myers

Here we are in the same building as last year; yet it’s not the same place.  Last year this building was in a red state; but now it’s blue.  Barely blue; but none-the-less blue. 

Here we are at the same time as last year; yet it’s not the same season.  The direction of the country has changed.  We are accelerating to a better future, fairer, less provocative.  We created a vision of peace, of inclusion, of appreciation.  We chose a person who best embodied our values and we won, won a monumental victory.  We did this. 

When the world trembled in fear, praying that America would come to our senses; we did.  As a citizen of the world I want to thank you; a vast majority of the world thanks you, because they were relying on us to turn away from blindness, fear, and anger; and we did.  Last year we were an international disgrace; but now we are a model of ethical progress. 

We are moving in the right direction, the Peace Action direction, on nuclear arms, and arms merchants, on military spending, torture and diplomacy.  We have changed direction.  We celebrate the peace movement and all of its organizations and all of its people.  Remember, politians are riding on our shoulders.  The cheers of the world are giving thanks through them for our efforts.

We are here to celebrate each other, the peacemakers. Following Gandhi’s advice we must be peacemakers ourselves if we want to see peace in the world.   What is called for now is less about fighting against war and more about cooperating for peace.  The practice is to replace arrogance with openness, bias with understanding, and malice with compassion; be the peace. And we are. 

When we control our anger when others cannot, when we look through an adversary’s eyes and feel their pain, when we seek to defuse a tense situation; then we are peacemakers.  And we do.

To all you peacemakers out there, we celebrate.

This passage from the “Book of Changes” the ancient Chinese I Ching expresses where we are and where we’re going.  It’s called Continuing: Success now comes through long-standing objectives, traditions, and enduring values.  Apply just enough consistent force to affect the situation.  The movement turns into a new beginning.

Our movement turns to build a culture of peace, one heart at a time, a culture where war is off the table.  This requires a new worldview and that requires education.  An education that recognizes that war starts in the mind and is rationalized by the mind.  We are going to undercut the war mentality.  The glory of war is a lie, and we will expose it.  The justification by force is barbaric, and we will confront it.  The blindness of hate is destructive, and we will denounce it.  It was too easy to start these recent wars. 

So we must take the lessons of peace to the universities all the way to the elementary schools, to the churches, to the unions.  And we are.

The doors of power are open.  We have done the street work.  Now is the time to enter those halls and speak truth to make our vision of peace come true.  Do not be discouraged by the lack of urgency and energy of protest when we confronted war.  For now is the time of reform, of consistent and well analyzed force to empower peace. 

By organizing our communities, by training our advocates, by educating our children we will build a culture of peace.  Because we must.