Why Communities of Peace? Your Life as a Love Story
(This column was printed in the Fauquier Times on 6/26/19
War and peace. Which do we prefer? And if it's peace, how do we get there? What's possible, in these days of climate change, Iran, polarity politics, and more?
Warrenton is the first official Community of Peace, as declared by Mayor George Fitch and the town council in 2002. I chose it for a few reasons, which I'll describe later.
The idea started in the US Capitol Building in 2000. I was one of 15 or so "peacemakers" who had been invited that day. The group included two representatives from the United States Institute of Peace, ambassadors, and interfaith leaders. I had initiated an event the prior year between Israelis and Palestinians that had become part of US and UN resolutions for peace.
Our input was being sought on the idea of a US Department of Peace. Did we think that a congressional resolution to that end would have a chance of passing?
Most of the representatives thought it wouldn't. It had been tried before, in the 50's. The United States Institute of Peace was the result (it's the big beautiful building on the left as you come into DC via the Roosevelt Bridge.).
I thought it was a long shot, and said so. But, I thought - why not demonstrate what could be possible, in small communities? A ground-up model, so to speak, while the top-down version played out. If the top-down version never materialized, the actual reality was the goal in any case. It would be interesting, creative, meaningful, and even fun to play out.
So, I chose Warrenton as the first (there have been about 12 others in the US, some who have done quite a bit). Some of this was instinct, some practicality. I had a part-time office here at the time, while living in Alexandria. But Warrenton was special in other ways. It had "war" in the title, even. And, it had reputedly changed hands 67 times during the civil war. That's a lot of emotional history. This kind of memory can be held in the land. Both black and white races were represented, in a state that had known slavery. And, perhaps most important of all, I could feel the love here. Why was that? And what more could be possible?
We've done quite a bit, always with the goal of helping to open one's actual experience of themselves. We've worked with about 250 children in the public and private schools, the Boys and Girls Club, scouts, homeschoolers, homeless center, etc. We've brought them to embassies, the state department, Pentagon, sponsored one to a United Nations conference on the environment. We've dedicated a peace pole and peace garden for Rady Park, initiated a complementary healing program at the hospital. We sponsored emergency planning series, interfaith events, and more.
Now, we're looking at a new stage. It has to do with love, you, and your contribution to the community. If you viewed your life as an emerging Love Story, what could this be like for you? And for the community? What are your special gifts to be shared? It's a make-it-up game in a way, but we're serious about it. If you'd like to be involved, email me at email@example.com
Gerry Eitner, President
Communities of Peace