Thursday, August 18, 2005

Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution/Pacifism/AJMuste

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Peace by Degree/Sojourners Magazine/Washington/DC/USA/10-Aug-05/..To study peace inevitably means studying conflict and violence: the history of wars and lower-intensity struggles, especially their root causes; the ethics of the use of force; the dynamics of intractable social conflicts (such as the abortion debate in the United States); case studies of crime and law enforcement; dimensions of race, class, religion, ethnicity, and gender in disputes. It means wrestling with theories of dealing with conflict nonviolently - and often, applying those theories through an internship in the local community.

Real peace cannot survive without justice. So a student might learn about human rights, civil rights, public policy, and the intricacies of, for example, delivering humanitarian aid in a war zone without being unduly used or manipulated by any party to the conflict. Students at a Christian school will also study theology and biblical ethics as part of their program.

Among Christian colleges and universities, peace studies and conflict resolution programs have most often been found at institutions affiliated with the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Brethren, and Quaker) and the Catholic Church. The first undergraduate peace studies program was founded in 1948 at Manchester College, an Indiana institution affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. According to the Association for Conflict Resolution, for several decades most peace studies programs focused on large-scale conflict and peace issues, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

The number of programs in the United States increased noticeably during the Vietnam War (cited by some conservative critics of the field as evidence that "peace studies" is equivalent to "anti-American studies"). Beginning around 1980, programs under the rubric of "conflict resolution" (or related terms) began to emerge. During the last 15 years, a growing interest in mediation and similar skills as applied in a variety of settings - business, diplomacy, family conflict, the court system - has led to an increase or added emphasis on conflict resolution "tools," practicum within existing peace studies programs, and a multiplying of new conflict resolution and peace studies programs.

Some programs that self-describe as conflict resolution don’t engage the same range of philosophical and ethical concerns and social analysis that is addressed in classic peace studies programs. This may be because of a specific, pragmatic focus of the particular program - for example, on the use of conflict resolution in business or law settings. But it also can represent different institutional philosophies about what constitutes peace (or even what constitutes a resolved conflict), and the means for reaching this condition.

Programs at schools rooted in a pacifist church tradition or in rigorous interpretation of the Catholic social teaching of just war may have more commitment to and knowledge of the potential and efficacy of nonviolent techniques than a program that doesn’t draw on such history. One university’s program may lean heavily to theory, while another emphasizes field experience. As with all choices about what to study and where to go to college or graduate school, a person needs to consider her or his own values, goals, and interests. ...

Pacifism/Muste, AJ///VIEW FROM AFAR/Hillsboro Free Press/Hillsboro/KS/USA/10-Aug-05/…Lately, Hillsboro has become a major rest area for people crossing America in odd ways.

Every few weeks somebody bicycles, walks or rides horseback into town on their way from one coast to the other. They get their picture in the Free Press and a chance to explain their journey.

They are traveling as a memorial to a loved one, raising funds for a worthy cause, promoting peace or justice-sometimes-they just want an adventure.

When they check their road atlas, U.S. Highway 56 looks like a good way to avoid the Interstates.

Certainly, coming from the east, Hillsboro is the last outpost of civilization before the 500 miles of desolation between the Olde Town Restaurant and the foothills of the Rockies.

Coming from the west, Hillsboro is a shimmering oasis-a harbinger of the beauty and civiliza- tion existing as one proceeds east.

Stories about eccentric travelers passing through Hillsboro are not new phenomena. The town has hosted both lost souls and even "angels unawares" for a long time.

About 40 years ago Harold Wiebe, then city clerk, called me. I was a student at Tabor College.

"I have somebody here that you might want to meet. Why don't you come down right away," he said.

In his office was a disheveled man about age 30 with a back-pack. He gravely introduced himself as George Joseph Johnson and stated his mission was to walk across America to promote peace, civil rights and pay tribute to the late President Kennedy.

He had a notebook filled with official letters from governors and mayors along the way affirming his cause and even a few press clippings.

I took him to the Tabor cafeteria for a meal and promised to find lodging for the man. Mr. Wiebe seemed relieved.

George Joseph Johnson was a non-stop talker. He was from New York City. He knew the renowned Quaker pacifist A.J. Muste and was part of the Catholic Worker community.

More amazingly, he had been with UN forces in a peacekeeping mission in the Congo. Indeed there were few subjects he did not have some first-hand experience with-and no world issues on which he did not have an opinion.

That evening maybe 20 Tabor students listened to him speak with an awed reverence.

I took him to my parent's home south of town and mom and dad offered to put him up in the guest room and feed him.

Johnson spoke with such poetry and drama that he was almost hypnotic. He loved my parents-particularly my mother's cooking.

Three days later Dad took me aside and said, "You brought him here-now you get rid of him."

Dad valued verbiage up to a point-but he valued manual work even more and George Joseph Johnson was not a handy man with tools.

So I dropped him off east of Marion so he could continue his walk across America. He gave me an address in New York City where he could be contacted.

Several years later on my own quest to see America I called him in New York. I had left an unclear address where he could reach me and he had walked for hours until he found me. He was broke and I gave him a few dollars.

About four years later I was in Washington, D.C., for a conference and sleeping in some church basement with other impoverished attendees. One of the fellows was from the Catholic Worker House in New York.

"This is crazy, but do you know a fellow named George Joseph Johnson?" I asked.

"But of course. Every peace activist in New York knows him. He is a sad figure because he is totally schizophrenic. I myself have pinned him to the ground during his violent episodes."

We laughed at our common memories of the innocent charm and unintentional poetry of a crazy Irish vagabond named George Joseph Johnson.

Sometimes feeding and housing a stranger is to entertain angels. Certainly caring for the traveler is a sacred task. And in his crazy way, this man taught me about the outside world. ...


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