Striving for Peace: Roots of Chage

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For the Media

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 facts.
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 and health.
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 commodities available.

Get involved
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 believe in.
Get involved in local Restorative Justice efforts.
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 believe in.

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 away.
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.
Support local and organic producers by shopping at farmers’ markets and food co-ops.
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 of
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 http://games.soe.umich.edu/gsc/.
Send an e-mail message to 101tools@tolerance.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.
Choose 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.
Educate 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.