Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

Declaration of Independence from Violence

On this day in 1776, our country's forefathers declared independence from the tyranny of the British monarchy and launched this shining example of democracy. However, somewhere along the way, the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has morphed into a society based on violence and a winner-take-all mentality. The history of our democracy is filled with one tragic period of war followed by another, with all-too-brief interludes to reload. When school children are taught about our nation's history, the focus is mainly on learning about our glorious wars. Isn't this telling our children that violence is the best, if not only, means to resolve our differences?

Certainly, if we look at the fact that the U.S. has by far the largest per capita incarceration rate in the world, one might conclude that a large portion of our population missed the part in school about how your pursuit of happiness cannot infringe on mine. But wait! That presumes that there is a teaching in school about how to live peacefully with each other! Some schools may have such a curriculum, but most do not. We teach are kids the three R's, but leave out the most important "R" - rightdoing.

So where should people learn a sense of right-and-wrong and how to be civil if not in school? Some people will learn this in their religious communities, but they are also likely to learn about "us vs. them" and the concepts of "just war" and punishment for sinning. Many will argue that children should learn how to get along from their parents. But what about children whose parents are abusive? Those children will learn how to bully to get their way or how to be submissive, and the cycle of violence continues.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the violence. Several years ago, on the eve of the second invasion of Iraq, I pulled my head out of the sand and became painfully aware of the level to which violence has spread throughout our culture. I cannot go back to ignoring it, so I'm compelled to do something about it. This Independence Day, I renew my personal Declaration of Indepence from Violence, maintaining that all people are created equal and endowed with the unalienable right to live peacefully with neighbors, both domestic and foreign.

Ted Nunn
Columbia, MD

Views: 150


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Comment by Simon Jada on July 14, 2010 at 2:40am
Sudanese people need peace.
Comment by Simon Jada on July 14, 2010 at 2:36am

Comment by Oebm Bendrah on July 5, 2010 at 10:44am
Just this morning as i listened to NPR-waking up my brain-even though the piece not war related, I had the thought that It would be great to have an NIR- National Inspiration Radio. Maybe it was that today is a holiday day, for most families and workers, and I just felt that a break from the tone of conflict and controversy and resignation and dark amusement that I hear in the reporters voices, would be great. saying thr most outrageous far out concepts of a Peaceful vsion for a new kind of world would create new thought tracks in many peoples minds and move the agenda forward. If someone can think it then it can be manifested. The place to start is here and now. Anybody got a few extra million dollars they can spare? Peace,oebm Bendrah
Comment by Tricia Idrobo on July 5, 2010 at 8:23am
Great ideas, Ted. I'll check out the wikispaces site.
Comment by Adolphus Francis Quintus Andradi on July 5, 2010 at 5:30am
It would be wonderful if all the peace sites could unite along with true and sincerely committed religious and positical leaders to pressurize all governments to get their shcool children to observe two minutes silence in remembrance of all who gave their lives trying to bring about peace, by radiating love and peace to the world. This would also make the children more aware of their commitment in bringing about peace in the world. This could also be observed in major events like the world cup matches, olympic games, musical events so that people are made aware of their commitment towards bringing about peace in the world. Everyone should be made to understand that peace is not achieved by war and the gun but by love and understaing.
Comment by Messianic2012 - Gordon on July 4, 2010 at 5:18pm
Hello Ted,i read your Declaration of Independence blog and thought the Universal Peace Federation would interest you,it is uniting political and religious leaders and renewing the United Nations,
Comment by Bill Samuel on July 4, 2010 at 5:08pm
You must understand that the means governs the ends. The USA was started in violence. It therefore is no surprise that it continues to have a violent history. As a nation, we need to repent and turn from our ways of violence. For a longer commentary, see my blog post Reflections on Independence Day at
Comment by Fran Schmidt on July 4, 2010 at 3:23pm
I also am tired of violence. That's why I write and promote peace education. Let's begin in elementary school! If anyone else is interested on getting the message out, I hope you will join me and spread the word.
Comment by Terry Mason on July 4, 2010 at 3:22pm
I'm tired of the violence, too... but inspired by so much that is happening in the world to model behaviors that are different. Challenge Day, Tariq Khamisa Foundation, Clallam Bay using Ari Cowan's program, Baltimore's Community Conferencing, Ohio Dispute Resolution... the list is practically endless. I'm so inspired by the work that so many are doing to make peacebuilding a cornerstone in our society, and for organizations like The Peace Alliance that are building grassroots support to encourage our government to make it a policy priority.

It's happening. We need to raise it up, make it known, and see the tide turn. Make it so.
Comment by DoPeace Admin on July 5, 2009 at 3:16pm
If this idea of a Declaration of Independence from Violence appeals to you, I hope you will join me in writing just such a document. I have set up a wiki site that will allow us to collaborate on writing the DIV -

On the wiki site, I've also include copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Sentiments (from the woman's suffrage movement). My hope is that we can craft a document that will provide the basis for an annual Independence Day action - something we can deliver to Congress as we lobby support for violence reduction legislation.

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