Every year beginning January 30 many people participate in the practice of 64 Days – The Season for Peace and Nonviolence. Arun Gandhi established this event as a way to honor and celebrate the philosophies and lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The “season” begins with the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination and ends with the anniversary of King’s assassination.
Over the years many organizations and religious groups have put together curriculum with suggested daily things to think about and practice during this period.
Although I’m not inspired to follow any particular guided program, I am finding my thoughts regularly turning to the subject of peace and what it means. I do think it’s important how we walk in this world, and every day we have the opportunity to choose our words and actions. In the first week of the observation attention is often focused on being compassionate and peaceful with oneself, and that always seems like a lovely place to begin. And this, the third day of the observation, is often focused on appreciation and gratitude. I often talk about how I believe that a gratitude practice is one of the most profound gifts you can give yourself – it truly alters the perspective and helps keep you centered in your heart energy.
But the call is always there as well to bring that heart-centeredness into the world and make nonviolence and peace a tangible thing. Today I was thinking about the national Department of Peace which we have not yet created, and I was inspired to do a little research about it. And I have to say I was astonished at what I found. As early as 1793, Benjamin Rush who signed the Declaration of Independence, proposed a Department of Peace for promoting and perpetuating peace in our country. In 1925 Carrie Chapman Catt, the founder of the League of Women Voters, proposed a cabinet-level Department of Peace. In 1935 the first bill calling for a U.S. Department of Peace was introduced into the Senate; in 1943 there was another Senate call for the U.S. to become the first government in the world to have a secretary of peace. In 2001 Representative Dennis Kucinich re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace, and this bill was reintroduced in each session of Congress from 2001 through 2009. I find it disheartening that after 219 years of awareness in our national collective consciousness we haven’t yet established our Department of Peace. Sigh. I’m not naive enough to believe that the establishment of a Peace Department is a magic panacea, but honestly, wouldn’t you like to stand behind the precedent that we actually believe peace is important?
Still, we can carry the vision. And we can allow ourselves to be inspired to do what our hearts call us to. Here are some of my call-to-action suggestions:
- Contact your representatives regularly and encourage the investment in a Department of Peace
- Donate some time or money to your local domestic violence shelter
- Invest in non-competitive games for kids where cooperation rather than dominance is encouraged
- Practice and teach non-violent compassionate communication
- Leave a comment and tell me what peace practices you have, or what inspires you, or some peace resource to share. Spread the love!