Robots in Hood River & Music in Yamhill: The future of Peace

"I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective
end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root
of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion
of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All
this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest
flows naturally."  September 23, 1979. Archbishop Oscar Romero


Peace, like many of the issues that we organize around, is currently shrouded in questions and sparking an exciting new phase of strategizing and discussions.

  • Economists are asking: “Where is the conversation about the trillions spent on war as our economy collapses around us?  Aren’t the same companies that bottomed out Wall Street also the ones benefiting from these wars?”
  • Immigrant organizations are asking: “How are immigrants and those who see the military as an avenue toward citizenship invited into the peace movement?”
  • Working class organizations are asking: “How can we attain peace when war is waged for economic domination of those in power?  War makes them richer and more powerful and us poorer in every way.”
  • ROP is asking: “How do we build a peace movement that looks to those who are most vulnerable to the military as movement leaders?

Hard, hard questions.  What questions would you add? One question I’ve been asking myself — What if the soldiers came out as the main organizers against the war? This video from Iraq Veterans Against the War is a powerful display of a peace movement led by veterans that addresses the root causes of war. You have to watch this video, it is 4 minutes long and it is a fantastic truth, incredible and moving.

Fortunately, the next two months bring you multiple opportunities to gather with the tried-and-true peace movers and the non-traditional peace movement – scientists, people of color led organizations and immigrants who have direct experience with war – to reflect on these questions and develop next steps:

Challenging Robotic Warfare and Social Control Conference, April 16-19, Hood River.

It’s not Star Wars. Insitu has built unmanned aircraft that were originally intended for scientific research have been refashioned as drone warriors and spy devices for use in war and domestic survelance.  ROP member group, Columbia River Fellowship for Peace, ROP and others are hosting the conference to discuss this new phase of war and our strategy.

Oregon Peace Strategy Gathering, May 21, Portland.  Email for details.

While the Oregon-based peace movement has evolved, the traditional peace community still does not reflect the rich diversity of peaceful efforts taking place throughout our state.  At this gathering we will reflect on the current state of the peace movement, strengthen relationships between diverse groups, evaluate and advance organizing strategies that broaden the traditional peace movement, and explore what it would mean to ground our peace work in racial and economic justice. Hosting organizations for this strategy session include: ROP, American Friends Service Committee, Oregon Action, PCUN and Community Alliance of Lane County and the Center for Intercultural Organizing.

You are still the public face against the wars

While we delve into deep conversations together, it’s energizing to see that in the face of these challenges and questions, ROP members are not resting on their laurels.  That same dedication that enabled you and other ROP members to be part of the great consciousness change that occurred toward the Iraq War, is still present and inspiring. Here are a few of the activities being led by Human Dignity Groups and our allies:

  • In response to the anniversary of the Iraq War, Citizens for Peace and Justice in Southern Oregon have a rally scheduled in solidarity with rallies around the world. Afterward Peace House will lead a forum, "Moving Beyond Us/Them Thinking."  This forum, in the style of a dialogue cafe, will address how "us/them" thinking, in individuals and on the part of a nation contributes to strained relations, social disharmony and, ultimately, war.
  • Oregon Peaceworker: Peace Visioning and Strategy is crucial. Or Peaceworks is willing to travel to you to facilitate a Peace Visioning conversation.
  • Yamhill Valley Peacemakers is focused on a Peace Through Music program in 2010, including an original song by a local community member, a daylong music fest, movie showings and youth engagement activities. They are breaking new ground in finding ways to bring the community toward peace!
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