The City Upon the Hill is poised to set the standards for National and Global Peace

The City Upon the Hill is poised to set the standards for National and Global Peace  
By Andrew Benson Greene. Maryland. USA

           Delegates at the 2015 Peace Alliance Conference Washington Plaza Hotel DC

Through an incredible opportunity I recently had to attend the annual Peace Alliance Conference from October 16th to 20th  in the nation's capital in Washington D.C, I became sufficiently aware of two important Bills that now lay fallow on the desk of Congress and awaiting to be ratified by the congress at the Capitol Hill so that it will sow the seeds of lasting global peace and youth empowerment. They are the Youth Promise Act and the Genocide Prevention and Atrocities Act. The importance of these two Bills cannot be overemphasized in our quest to realize national and International Peace.

It is time for congress to act on these bills now much as the trust and faith put upon them by their electorates. I say this because I have been much guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. "We must always consider", John said, "that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us".

The Peace Alliance Conference at Washington Plaza Hotel October 16th to 20th brought together hundreds of Peace Builders from across the US around the world.

    At the Peace Alliance with other Peace Activist, Judy Kimmel, Dorothy J. Maver, Andrew Benson Greene including Phil Donahue - creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show, which ran from 1967 to 1996, the longest running syndicated talk show in U.S. television history.
Phil Donahue, in moderating one of the esteem panels of Guest Speakers sets the stage for us all. He opened up the discussions by providing a synopsis of  his famous documentary film  'Body of War', to decry the very notion of sending young people into war and expressed a truly valuable anti-war sentiments. Phil passionately tells the story of a young War Veteran Tomas Young, who returns from duty  from Iraqi with a devastating and severed spine and an accompanying post-traumatic stress disorder. Phil Donahue briefly describes the effect of the bullets on Tom in a passionate, compelling and heart-felt way, and shares Tom's experiences as Tom reflects his horrid experiences in combat and the high prices he paid for going into fight in the Middle East. Phil questions the rational and validity of war, which more often shatters young men and women's lives.

Whilst moderating the panel, Phil opined that  " If you gonna send kids to war, show the pain, show the harm in the harms way. All the euphemism we use; 'soldiers don't die, they fall...they fallen, and it just makes it easier to have another war. This nation is not welcoming to decent. We have people go and die at foreign battlefields to protect our way of life at the center of which is free speech and when we need it the most, we are told to shot up and sing, and it is killing our young adults and children. we are becoming a nation of war."

Andrew at the Peace Alliance Conference with  Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury

Phil Donahue, introduced one of the Guest Speakers Amb. Anwarul Chowdhury as one who "have been through the trenches". Phil said that Ambassador Chowdhury Anwarul  "does not just talk, but he actually stands up and does". Phil asked the Ambassador: “What will you like to share with this assembly of people of conscience?”
Ambassador Chowdhury, first began by sending a few accolades to Phil by saying that; "I will also add that what a wonderful contribution you have made by giving us such an inspirational documentary ‘Body of War’. I think this is a contribution to the world as a whole, it’s a contribution and a testimony against war and the effects of war...I give you my tribute and salute for this contribution."
The Ambassador goes on to say " I will echo you, by saying what a wonderful work the Peace Alliance is doing under its leadership of the Board Chair Judy Kimmel,  the President Bob Baskin , and everybody else and I will particularly mention Mathew Albracht who has been really a dynamic force in this big  movement that has been waged (if I may say), by the Peace Alliance, and I will pay tribute to you for identifying this five cornerstones of peacebuilding. Wonderful work! Wonderful work, and I think the world community has a lot to learn from this energy that you are sharing with us. And so, I am very happy to be here and very happy that this ‘Be the Movement, Take a Step for Peace’ is being launched here at the conference and this is a wonderful opportunity for me to share some words with you.

The culture of peace has been a message that we wanted to convey as the world was coming out of the cold war. Now as we’ve entered the second decade of the new millennium, we have made peace and non-violence a way of life for each one of us. When this is done and that is the only time the message of the UN will be useful, successful and meaningful to us.  And that has been my message in the UN since then in a very strong way.  In 1999 the General Assembly adopted the Program of Action on the Culture of Peace.  That I believe, is the essence of new humanity if you want to create it where peace is and where we know how to face the challenges of our lives in a peaceful and non-violent way. We can meet or resolve our problems in a non-aggressive way and that is the basic thing. If we do not ourselves believe in peace, we cannot ask for world peace. The essential message of peace is actually we may have outer diversity but there is an inner oneness in all of us. We belong to one humanity, we have to feel the sense of solidarity and a sense of oneness with the rest of the world otherwise if we are too narrowly focused on our individual objectives, and that too, reaching that objective through force, or through might, we will lead nowhere but will continue to face the kind of bitterness that we see, and which I was experiencing in this city hall meeting in Kosovo.

The Culture of Peace has been a message we wanted to convey as the world was coming out of the cold war, we thought now is the time for us to reduce military expenditure and to get the benefits of what we called the ‘peace dividend’. We thought the world has come close to a point where this military expenditure could be diverted to reduction of poverty, providing basic needs to the people’s of the world, providing health care and education to children so that they grow up as good productive citizens of the world. But again, we see as the new millennium came, as we entered the second decade of the new million worst violence are being committed and we have found that all our hopes have been dashed.

But you know, talking about peace will not make any progress unless we can and we are confident to bring the change in ourselves, change in our minds that is very important. Wealth and technology can only bring us or give us that opportunity and open up the opportunity, but to take advantage of that opportunity we need a changed mindset and that is what is intended through the Culture of Peace, where peace becomes our daily existence. So let me sort of set the scene by saying that this is what is needed and each one of us can contribute to the global movement for peace. We should not feel that we have to be a political leader, we have to win a peace prize to be a peace advocate. Each one of us in our own lives and in our own way can make the world a better place, a peaceful place, a non-violent place and it starts with ourselves, in our families, in our communities, in our nations, and we can expand, and then this change of mind set should generate a global consciousness for peace and I think that is very important that we need to think about.

Let me also add three things that I feel is very important to bear in mind.  In the present context, this is the rising extremism. In the State Department lingo, it is called violent extremism. But I believe every extremism is violent by its nature.  Extremist thoughts are violent, maybe physical or not attacking anybody, silent violence and inactive violence can cause serious damage to others. I believe that we should try to see in our lives and in our activities that we avoid any sort of extremism.

The second thing I believe is very important is to really understand that the world is increasing its militarization efforts and I will add to that also the issue of militarism as such, that militarism can resolve problems or militarization is a way of resolving problems is untrue. That is something that we need to denounce in the best and strongest possible way. And also, I will emphasize that this so-called perception of security on the basis of the power of state is something of which has no place in modern world. We should focus on what we call human security, security of each one of us. You may be the most powerful nation in the world but individually we may feel very insecure even in our own country, and that is what we are seeing in the recent development. So human security, where people are secured, people feel happy and comfortable and that is very important. And all this should lead us to feel confident that we are a global citizen. Gone are the days of those national boundaries and nation states. we have to feel like a global citizen, and that everything which happens with me or that I influence should have an effect on the rest of the world and that is very important and we should remember that very strongly. Time and era for the global citizen is here. Thank you”

Truth be told, it is evident that the eyes of all people are truly upon Congress to ratify these equally important Bills—and as a Peace Builder and peace advocate who have seen and experienced the horrendous consequences of war, I count on the representatives in Congress, the US governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, to act for the Youth of the Nation and  also set the standard for global peace just as America and its city has been destined and must be maintained as a city upon a hill — ‘constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities’
Just so you know how important Youth Promise Act is when passed in to law, will provide America’s hardest hit communities around the country with the support and funding they need to effectively address youth violence issues.
The youth are awash with great minds and to provide a platform for them will make such a significant difference, and will lure them away from the trappings of poverty and crimes that diminish their potentials and hold their dreams at bay. Andrew Greene founder B-Gifted Foundation

"The Act sets itself apart by specifically focusing on innovative, evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies, and ‘this bill ensures we are funding programs that save lives and give every young person the opportunity to meet his or her potential". The Peace Alliance

In furtherance of the merits of the Youth Promise Act is that it will ‘help engage and divert at-risk youth proactively, before they slip into cycles of violence, incarceration and despair. And, these community-based practices have been shown to reduce rates of violence more effectively and at a substantially lower cost than criminal enforcement and incarceration’.
The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act will no doubt be the cornerstone of International Peace Building and will champion peacebuilding approaches to International conflicts and atrocities prevention in hot spots through mediation, diplomacy, and effective on the ground programs through such important components like humanitarian aid, mediation and support, and a host of peace building strategies that will enhance the democratic process in fragile states and countries prone to conflicts.


In support of these important Bills, I was moved to join a plethora of Peace Activist and supporters from around the country this week as part of the annual Peace Alliance conference. We embarked upon a mission on Capitol Hill to bring our voices and articulate key messages that  our nation’s hardest hit communities deserve the support and funding they desperately need to implement youth violence prevention and intervention strategies.

As a first step, we went lobbying with congress to pass the Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention Act as well as the Youth Act and to provide the tools and training for transforming individuals, communities, and our nations to deal with conflicts and prevent violence by providing youth with innovative and creative intervention solutions to promote peace and save lives, and increase society awareness for peace building and resilient communities.

We wanted a future for the youth and urged the support of congress and representatives to endorse and support the Youth Promise Act that will totally mitigate violence amongst youth, reduce cost and bring back the vitality of our youth and their achievements. It will provide creative and innovative arenas such as in sports, arts, academic excellence, thereby diminishing the rising tide of current crimes, drugs, sentences and youthful years of wastefulness that so much erode the potentials of youth.  We want to convert these years of youth into productive ones and enable them become productive citizens. The Youth Promise Act will provide every opportunity to turn the dreams of the nation’s youth into reality.

 Lobbying in Congress with Peace Builder Sylvia Boorstein 

In support of the Youth Act and Genocide Prevention Act, the Peace Alliance hosted a 5 days events and at it’s climax, I joined hundreds of participants from across the nation, and we matched to the Capitol to reiterate the importance of passing the Bills. Earlier at the event, I was in the company of some of the  greatest minds in peacebuilding and global affairs as they push the boundaries of peace and urged us to think differently about how we approach conflicts and find peaceful solutions for some of the greatest threats that confront our societies  today including today's turbulent wars around the world

 The Peace Alliance conference attracted a gathering  of prominent global figures, grassroots practitioners and thought leaders from politics, the Law, business and society to look at the state-of-the-art of lobbying for peacebuilding and human security.

I was pleased to share my personal and professional experiences in peacebuilding from my small native country of Sierra Leone that has experienced a decade of war and recovering from it’s aftermath. I knew that war is by definition a means of violating human rights and that peace is not only a core human value, but a core human rights. I knew the devastating effects of war on youth and children and have been on all fours in over 10 years, working tirelessly to promote peace and locate resources  so that children and youth can engage in meaningful productive collaborative publishing assignments, whilst acting to rebuild the vestiges of war and its debilitating effects on the youth.

The human and financial loss of billions of Dollars is so huge, and it is so necessary to find an alternative to the Pyrrhic victory that war brings. One of the ways I believe and much of the Peace Alliance delegates do proffer the solution is to instill an international peacebuilding approach to solve conflicts efficiently and at low financial cost and less human tragedy.

My experiences at hearing the speakers and expert panels, the discussions on a range of peaceful strategies and lobbying with congress have all inspired me and helped to provide unmatched insight into advocating for global peace.

It was also great to recognize that the enthusiasm for peace in that hall of the Washington Plaza Hotel, never waned. It was equally inspirational to hear talks from some of the worlds’ most inspirational and experienced peacemakers and this sends the right signal for an end to war and intolerance, an end to youth violence and a determination for all to embrace and further international peaceful solutions to potential conflicts.

We realized that we cannot do it alone without peace loving citizens of the nation and around the world, and we call on you all peace builders to raise your voices and to help share our message to congress and representatives that youth in our communities must be made safe, peaceful and the world a better place. My experiences at the event was witnessing the light of peace and the participants truly aspiring and hoping to rapidly spread it throughout the world through the distinguished attendee from all sectors; heads of various Institutions including lawyers, religious leaders, academics, legislators, youth representatives, women leaders, and world media.

 Participants and panelists shared their thought to all the global family about the good news of peace deeply within their hearts. Mainly, they aspired to send letters to congress, meet with leaders of congress and to send and share the information about the Youth Promise Act and Genocide Prevention and Atrocities Prevention Act for peace to all the world and the youth of this generation and the future leaders of peace to playing as vital role to carry out the peaceful generations.

All the speakers have the youth of the country and the world in their hearts and believe that the true power to bring peace to this world resides upon youth. In order to cease all wars in the world, it is important that International Law should prevent wars from happening and there should be no more conflicts but only harmony among different nations and religions. When the youth support the nations for peace and the religions to become one and urge the implementation of an international convention on cessation of war and world peace, peace will become a reality.

 Just as the Representatives of the House of Congress have committed themselves to tasks of statecraft, I count on their competence, judiciousness to be suffice in critical times such as these for an action that will forever change the nation and our world. President Ronald Reagan  in his 1984 acceptance of the Republican party nomination and in his January 11, 1989, farewell speech to the nation remarked of the importance placed on those on the Capitol Hill:

...I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still....”

In 1996, President Bill Clinton declared that:..."America remains the indispensable nation" and that "there are times when America, and only America, can make a difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression"...

I believe this is the time for America to make this decision and ratify and pass the Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention Act as well as the Youth Act, and it will as the Peace Alliance puts it,  will “fundamentally change the course of our nation and world and fostering international peace”

Andrew Benson Greene

Jeanne Sauvé  Scholar, McGill University.


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