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Heartland Global Action to Prevent War takes positive steps for peace

Saturday, September 29, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:04 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

I’m guessing that the name Global Action to Prevent War doesn’t ring a bell with many of you. No need to be embarrassed. I’d never heard of it myself until this summer, when I got a call from Earl Lubensky.

When Earl calls, I listen. He’s one of the four or five most distinguished people to come out of my hometown, Marshall. You occasionally see his name in the paper these days when he’s involved in one archaeological dig or another. That’s the avocation he took up after retiring from his career in the Foreign Service. Pursuing world peace is his longtime passion.

I attended my first (and, so far, only) meeting of the Heartland chapter of Global Action in July. I mention it now because war prevention seems especially timely, considering the two we’re fighting and the other possibilities that loom threateningly just over the horizon.

To be honest, Global Action doesn’t appear to have made much headway since its founding in 1994. In fact, the Heartland chapter may be the only one. It’s still worth calling to your attention, though, for several reasons.

At the local level, the chapter is one of 18 organizations that make up the Columbia Peace Coalition. That’s the group that sponsored the big anti-war march earlier this year. Some of its members are those hardy souls who regularly exercise their First Amendment right of petition outside the post office downtown. Professor Robin Remington is chapter president.

Internationally, the Heartland chapter is part of a coalition that includes 21 organizations that range in membership and geography from the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies in New York to the Centre for Dialogue in Melbourne, Australia, to the Peace Education Centre in Ile Ife, Nigeria and the Centro de Educación e Investigación para la Paz in Madrid, Spain. (You can learn more at the Web site, globalactionpw.org.)

Bill Wickersham, who is one of the stalwarts of the anti-war movement both locally and nationally, explained to me that the local chapter and its partners worldwide have a three-step plan.

First, to make war prevention practical by creating a capable, professional force of armed peacemakers operating under the United Nations.

This force would make possible the second step, the reduction of nations’ armed forces over 50 years or so to the minimum level required for self-defense.

Finally, and most ambitiously, through governments and non-governmental organizations such as those in the coalition, to build a culture of peace.

How could any reasonable person be against that plan? Practical-minded dreamers like Earl, Bill and their colleagues understand that lots of less-than-reasonable people have their hands on the world’s levers of power.

They also understand that picketing at the post office and marching through downtown aren’t going to influence George W. Bush and his buddy Mr. Putin. Their hope, as I understand it, is to influence people like you and me — millions of us, around the world.

Achieving a culture of peace or even the more concrete goal of preventing war may seem outside the realm of possibility. We certainly haven’t done either yet. But do you have a better alternative? I sure don’t.

George Kennedy is a former managing editor at the Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.


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