Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

Mother's Standing for Peace! Mother's Day Proclamation

What brought you to care about the cause of peace? 

In the 1800's, Julia Ward Howe, original advocate for “Mother’s Day” and writer of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” nursed and tended the wounded during the civil war. She worked with the widows and orphans of soldiers on both sides of the war, and realized that the effects of the war go beyond the killing of soldiers in battle.  The devastation she witnessed called her to rise up like a phoenix though the ashes and devastation calling out for a day dedicated to peace: Mother's Day.  In her various social capacities Julia tirelessly worked for justice throughout her life. (Read more about the life of Julia Ward Howe and her work around Mother's Day here.)

What stirred the Mother or Grandmother in you to work for the great cause of peace? (Whether male or female, parent or not, the spirit of nurturing in you).  Was it a personal experience with violence?  Witnessing devastation?  Seeing so many children hurt on the news?  Whatever the impetus, please share your personal story below about what drew your interest/passion to this cause.*


"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and
commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

*Please note: The Peace Alliance may use part of your story in a future email blast.

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I stand for peace because I have seen and continue to see the abuses of men on women and children. These abuses should not be tolerated; not in the home nor in the legal system. As a mom and as a woman, I stand for my daughter's right to life and choices, as well as my own.
Nine years ago my daughter and I were brutally attacked in our home. Kidnapped and held hostage for 14 hours and then the unthinkable: taped with explosives and forced to rob the bank I managed to save our life. The aftermath was grueling. The justice system/criminal trial process-a complete re-victimization.

It would have been so easy to curl up in a proverbial ball and allow this event to paralyze me and yes, I had every reason to hate the men who did this to us and to stay angry and wounded. I could have stayed a victim and allowed it to keep holding me hostage spiritually and emotionally. But is this how I wanted to raise my daughter. Learning how to heal her own life, sorting through her own individual trauma experience, and knowing how to move through and beyond this pain for her meant she need a role model of powerful, empowered, positive recovery. I could raise her up from that point feeding her bitterness, anger, and hatred or choose peace, acceptance, mindfullness, and love. I had the biggest decision of my life to make: allow my experience to cripple us both or choose to become empowered by it.

Today I am an author(my debut memoir, Held Hostage, is now a Lifetime movie), speaker, activist and Founder/Director of Rock To Stop Violence bringing communities together for non-violence through rock & roll music, art, and fashion. Today we see the men who did this to us not as monsters, but as human beings who made a desperate choice and to them we only wish them healing in their own hearts and souls.

Living out a life filled with gratitude and joy means healing your life and being successful from the inside out. Discovering the gift in every experience I have ever had and learning to understand and not judge is, for me, a life worth living no matter what has happened along the way. In fact, it is becasue of what has happened along the way and how I have chosen to move through and beyond pain and trauma that has brought me into the light and giving me, and my daughter, our glow!

Choose to shine & be the journey!

Michelle Renee
A powerful story Michelle. Wow, that is really quite something to go through and come out of in such a beautiful way. Thank you for sharing.
At age 39, I found myself pondering life. I had been working with troubled teens in specialty schools, hearing so many stories of pain, rejection, and physical and mental abuse--both self-induced and at the hands of others. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, by the intensity of the work. I decided to take time off to engage in the practice of "A Year to Live--Living this Year as if it Were Your Last," based on the book by Stephen Levine. During that practice, I became clear that I was not going to accomplish everything I'd imagined accomplishing in my life before I "died." I began to realize that perhaps life wasn't about completion; perhaps it was about creation. So I looked for something that, if I helped move it forward in even in a small way, I could "die" feeling I had contributed something meaningful to the world. Years earlier, friends had told me about the Department of Peace campaign. I checked it out, and found it was that "something."

Now the same truth applies--even if peace doesn't happen in my life time, I feel that I can die in peace knowing I have contributed something of value to the world just by being part of the conversation.
My story probably began before I was born - how harshly /violently my grandfather treated my father; enmity between him and his brothers. WWII, the holocaust, genocide of Native Americans, bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lynchings, slavery, racism, poverty and workers incredible injustices - all filled the newsreels I saw, the books and newspapers I read as a child.

My brother pinched, raged at, choked, demeaned, tied me up, hit my face with a "dusting off" baseball, ignored and humiliated me . Later we had physical fights. As an angry child, I whipped my younger brothers without knowing why. I heard my parents shout downstairs in morning arguments; my mother screamed when my father struck her. She longed for peace, happiness and music in the family, tried to teach us, denied her own angers. Later I struck a boy friend, even later my husband and my children. My husband humiliated, ignored, punched and blackened my jaw, threatened, terrorized, tied me up and tried to murder me.

I read, heard and saw other women's and children's stories of violence, abuse, rape, slavery and more. The systematic atrocities and abuses that we of the human race commit now and have through the ages: worldwide multiple genocides, violences against women, creation of child soldiers, enslaved child prostitutes and murderers, rape as a war/genocide tactic, tortures, ages old family feuds, tribal and national conflicts, war.

The systematic training for , commitment of and acceptance of horrors included not only family, school , and government, bad science, but even churches and religion. Yet somehow there were also always some people's and groups work for peace and models of non-violent thinking and being. I finally was able to look at myself and my life through therapy, recovery, re-emergence , spiritual growth, and the best of those yearnings and whatever it is that people of all cultures call their view of what we call God.

Now in retirement, I see my purpose as promoting and building peace in whatever ways I can contribute to this necessary evolution of humanity - personally, in family, group, national and world cultures. Peace is necessary for our survival. Survival of the fittest or the strongest and most violent is an outmoded stage in human development.

All our prophets and spiritual true leaders have aimed us towards becoming loving and peaceful. We must personally and as groups give up the old ways, resolve differences and conflicts peacefully and practice living together in peace all the time. Peace is possible and as exciting if not more exciting than war.
Thank you for being brave enough to share your story Lillie! And for standing for so many new possibilities in your commitment to move beyond your past.
When I was 9 and couldn't talk my mother into divorcing my father (verbally and physically abusive), I made a commitment never to be so financially tied to any one person [that I feel I can't leave if in physical danger]. In my early 30s, that led me to make a commitment to return to college and keep going until I graduated. From that commitment arose the awareness of childhood incest and the after-effects of living in a violent home until age 18. Just a couple years into an amazing healing journey, I had been setting and reaching goals so much more quickly than I imagined possible that I thought I had to find something big, something that might even take my lifetime to accomplish. World Peace or Peace in the Middle East came to mind (I had a class that brought to my awareness what my tax dollars were funding in Israel and this became another troubling aspect of violence in my life to come to terms with). I still had a good dose of cynicism running through my central nervous system, yet I held it as possibility as I completed each quarter of classes. Before I graduated, I had started a journaling exercise with the question "Is world peace possible?" Within an hour, I knew it was, that our interconnectedness was at the core of developing a theory or action plan, and that the whole picture was beyond my capacity for comprehension or acceptance at that time. I took a hot bath to calm the shaking that had started in my body, and accepted that things would become clear to me when the time was right. I continued healing and developing my leadership and other skills and abilities. In 2005, when I read the DOP legislation, what I call "coming home tears," came to my eyes; it felt like someone had received the same feeling and sensing I had received during my journaling experience of ten years prior and expressed it in the form of this piece of legislation. Since then, I have enjoyed experiencing all of the expressions of visions of peace, of a nonviolent, empathetic societal, organizational and home life on this planet. I take heart in seeing different aspects of research I have done manifesting into form in various ways around the world, one community, one organization, one government at a time. In each instant, each one of us chooses to be or act from the beauty of their individual human essence or something else.

I'm still exploring the possibility there might be a master plan or formula in my free time, yet, for this year, it is this simple: making the best choices I can in each moment, intending to contribute toward peace, joy and more of us living to our highest human potential (hello--there's a lot of work to be done to shift human consciousness!) (and exploring what a better choice might be in the future when it wasn't one of my better moments).
It was during the Vietnam (undeclared) War, I think around the time of the My Lai massacre, that a vivid, live television image was shown. A naked little girl came running up the street trying to escape from our airborne spraying of napalm. Her skin was melted from the burning and it was all falling off of her. I don't know how many excruciating minutes or hours before she died of her burns. How many others suffered like this? How long would we remain callous?

I had children and she could have been mine. What could, should, and would I do to prevent a repeat of such horror?

Sally for peace
Following the death of my son in Vietnam in 1968, I knew that I had to do something to counter the outrageous violence, unaware of what what that could possibly be. While participating in local peace activity, someone said, "You need to be more public with your response." Hearing that Vietnam Veteran, John Kerry, was in town, I found a way to contact him. He asked me to join his press conference in D.C., to announce the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) demonstration, to be held on the Mall, in Washington. With my three young daughters, I joined the week-long protest, for my mother lived nearby, in MD. My children baked cookies for the the 1000 vets, and I was able to be present for Kerry's passionate speech against the war, in a Senate Hearing. As we drove from D.C. to return to Boston, my youngest daughter, age 10, said, "Wow! I feel like I have 1,000 brothers now!"

A little later, on a church grant, I was able to create "Gold Star Parents for Amnesty" for Vietnam War Resisters, Deserters, and Vets with Bad Papers, as a way to empower other parents across the nation who had lost their sons in the war, by advocating for Amnesty, a legal forgetting of what the government may have unjustly done, and which had been granted 37 times in U.S. history.

Following that project I was invited to join in the strategy proposed by Randy Forsberg in her "Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race", to Freeze the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons. Our group was able to gain the support, through citizen action, of our MA Congressional delegation, for adoption of a Resolution in the House, for a Freeze, which was followed by a Freeze-voter campaign in 7 states.

When I heard Kucinich on NPR's "Market Place" in 2001, talking about Department of Peace legislation, I was ecstatic. I was about to attend the Unitarian Universalist Annual General Assembly in Quebec City, and knew that there was a way to draw the attention of 4,000 delegates to this legislation in a Plenary session. An "Act of Immediate Witness" was the procedure which a friend and I followed, and it was adopted. As it turned out, we learned several years later, that it became the basis for UUA endorsement of the Peace Alliance. We later launched the MA Campaign through the Social Action Community in our church, understanding the absolute need for civic activism in advocacy for the legislation. A Department of Peace and passage of the Youth Promise Act will provide those structures of support required, for the thousands of effective peacebuilding programs across the country, which will continue to build a culture of peace, and change the kind of power we use in the world.
Pat--how amazing to hear your story. I can't believe we've worked together so long and I never knew so much of this. What a gift you are! Thank you for sharing your story hear and everywhere as you be the light you are!
I second what Wendy said, it adds so much to hear your story Pat. Thank you!
I grew up in the 50's and 60' parents were divorced when I was 8.there was alot of violence and emotional and psychological abuse. I remember the air raid drills as a young child,and hearing about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.I read the book,"Hiroshima" I read"on the BEach" I watched "DR STRangelove" I remember the Cuban crisis.I was a senior in high school. I remember Kennedy's assasination,Robert's,MLk's John Lennon.I remember watergate,Iran Contra Affair,and the REagan years.I remember the Bush years.all of them.I saw our country change form one with values to be proud of to a country whose motivation was greed and power,and lust for oil. And I knw taht we now have weapons of Mass DEstruction that could obliterate everything on this planet 100 times over. THis is why I work for peace. In 2008 I changed my party to democrat and worked on Obamas campaign. I read his books,and investigsted the empathy movement. Peace is the only way to save mankind and the world for my kids and grandkdis>


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