Public meeting on the proposal to establish a
Ministry for Peace
Saturday 21 July 2007
Centre for Global Action, Wellington, New Zealand
Peace Through Unity presentation by Kate Smith
On my way to Woolworths I happened to hear a snippet of a radio interview with a US businessman who had transformed his carpet-making industry into a carbon neutral enterprise. This, to his surprise and delight, had increased profit as well as created a more open, interested and committed - and mutually supportive - relationship between all within the business and also with suppliers, clients and the neighbourhood.
The greatest obstacle and heaviest opposition had been, he said, my own as well as my staffs' resistance to change the traditional way of thinking and of doing things. But slowly his own mindset as well as that of his employees' changed, and through systematically and in detail documenting the full cycle of the production process, his industry today was walking the earth lightly, leaving no carbon footprint behind.
It is this kind of mindset which can and will bring changes to all relationships, and ensure an authentic and systemic shift can take place in the way that things are run on any level - whether country, community, organization, family - or even myself!
It is OPTU's deepest hope that the prime commitment of a new ministry of peace (whatever we decide to call it) would be to function as an instrument for bringing about this new mindset within government, within civil society and all its many different interests groups, within NGOs, as well as within us people in general, so that we can, really and truly, work together for the common good.
Since 2003 OPTU has slowly but consistently worked towards helping to establish links between local, national and international initiatives for the promotion of a culture of peace and has been using various tools to this end And we are very appreciative of the great potential of the growing campaign for ministries/departments of peace for playing a crucial role in this.
But - surely - the primary role of such ministries/departments of peace must be to enable governments and peoples join hands in the creation of a new culture - a new way of thinking! As Walter Cronkite stresses: "It is not a matter of simply getting another department of government. You're speaking of an entire philosophical revolution".
This is why OPTU has emphasized the importance of a process of community consultation in which people of all ages are asked the same questions: how could such a ministry work for them? And how would they work with this ministry? How can we together bring about a new culture - a strong, patient, kind and invincible culture of peace, anchored in the hearts of us all?
The responses to the OPTU 5-point proposal received so far are very much in favour of the introduction of conflict transformation education, not only within schools, but that it also be made available throughout the community.