What can one individual do today to take
steps toward peace? Below are a collection of ideas from forum speakers,
workshop leaders and organizers of the 16th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum.
Meanwhile, students can find many organizations on their campuses that
work on social, political, and peace/justice issues.
Be engaged and informed
• Vote! Educate yourself
on current affairs.
• Write a
letter to your senators and representatives
on behalf of hungry and poor people.
• Learn the
• Start reading
all of the news sections of a city or town newspaper. Most college and
public libraries have several to choose from, and many papers are available
from vending machines for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
• Write your
government representatives frequently and urge them to prioritize child
welfare in international affairs, specifically in the areas of HIV/AIDS,
military assistance and actions, early childhood survival, and general
invesment in children. Urge others to do the same.
Let your money talk
• Be a conscientious
consumer. Know where products come from and under what conditions they
were made available to us. For example, coffee drinkers can switch to
Fair Trade coffee.
Each cup is a reminder that the farmer who grew this coffee got a fair
price and gained access to community programs such as credit, education
• Help end
economic violence by supporting capitalism that does not exploit. At www.transfairusa.org/do/whereToBuy,
you can find many products bought at a fair price under fair working conditions
in your area, or order online at www.lwr.org/fairtrade/.
Currently in the United States, coffee, chocolate and tea are the main
• The World
Council of Churches’ "Decade to Overcome Violence" (DOV)
is the selected focus for churches in the United States in 2004. Visit
www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/english.html for ways you can be involved.
• Pick an
area of interest that contributes to a more peaceful and just world, and
"just do it."
• Form a
local group to support the activities of an organization or cause you
• Get involved
in local Restorative Justice
• Ask this
question of your religious tradition: "What is the cause of suffering?"
Then decide if that answer encourages action or passivity.
• Take international
action to prevent childhood disabilities and to protect the rights of
children. Donate your time and money to organizations such as Amnesty
International, Oxfam and UNICEF,
or an international faith-based relief organization.
• Act compassionately
and rationally. Be proactive not reactive. Get involved in causes you
Respect the environment
• Pay more attention to your
consumption patterns and the amount of waste that you are producing. Use
a travel mug instead of a disposable one; use the other side of paper;
buy recycled products; shop at thrift stores instead of buying new. And
be aware of the amount of energy used in producing the things we throw
• Urge your
state and federal representatives to support energy policies conducive
to a healthy planet – policies that support energy efficiency and
the rapid development of clean, renewable energy technologies, one that
are locally owned, if possible.
local and organic producers by shopping at farmers’ markets and
• Help decrease
the economic and environmental factors that contribute to injustice and
conflict around the globe by buying fair trade, sustainably produced goods.
Consume less and advocate for fair, livable wages for everyone, so that
as many people as possible have a real stake in peace.
• Take personal
responsibility for the environmental consequences of your lifestyle. Minimize
your energy consumption (including energy embedded in transportation,
travel and consumer choices), and support local, sustainable agriculture.
• Stay abreast
of local renewable energy action. For an inside look at one succcessful
local group, check out RENew Northfield at www.renewnorthfield.org
and subscribe to RENew Northfield’s listserv at www.northfield.org/mailman/listinfo/renew.
Get moving on campus
• Plan a Hispanic/Latino
family picnic on campus once a year. It will help students understand
the process toward peace, as they seek harmony
among cultures, and families will see the kind, friendly and just sides
our mainstream society.
• High school
and college students on five continents will pilot the Global Student
Congress in 2004. Deliberate on issues of global concern to
youth around the globe. Help create an international youth platform. See
• Send an
e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org
and learn 101 ways you can promote equity, celebrate diversity and foster
peace in our schools, communities and the world.
Reach out and touch someone
• Make friends with a Muslim
and learn about Islam from that person – from someone who knows
– not from the American media.
a country about which you know little and read all you can about its history
and culture. Having a deeper understanding of just one country other than
your own will dramatically improve your ability to consider questions
of justice from more than one perspective.
yourself about other cultures and ethnic groups. Read, travel and meet
people from other countries. Being able to put a familiar face with an
ethnic group goes a long way toward breaking down barriers and misconceptions.
Speak up, listen deeply
• Challenge conventional
thought. Challenge the administration. Challenge your professors. Challenge
your church. Challenge your peers. Challenge yourself!
• Write letters
to church leaders calling for churchwide educational dialogues between
Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
• When people
are spreading misinformation, correct it.
• Work on
systems change. Do our current practices seek to repair the harm and restore
relationships? How can we do a better job at reintegrating offenders back
into the community? How can we include victims in the process in order
to validate their experience?
• Take the
time to listen deeply and peacefully to others who are different from
you as they share their story. Do not prepare your answer while they are
telling you their experience. Experience cannot be denied; it is not "right"
or "wrong." Experience just is. Listen to it.