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You write that you want PEACE.
You shout for PEACE, march for PEACE.

Me too.
So what is PEACE?

A cat curled on the sunny window sill
is at PEACE. Is that it?

A multinational corporation with factories in Latin America
lobbies the US government to keep the PEACE. Is that it?

No, you say. PEACE is not sleep.
PEACE is not armed repression.

Good. Then what is PEACE?

PEACE, you say, is stopping injustice,
stopping exploitation of the poor,
stopping corporate greed,

stopping deforestation,
stopping genetic engineering,
stopping offshore oil drilling,

and stopping many many other practices
that have become policy
in the capitalist world.

So PEACE stops many things.
But what does it start?

It stops the wrong and unjust, you say,
and starts the right and just.

Ok. Then PEACE is a change of policy:
good policy instead of bad.

But how do we agree which policies are good
and which are bad?

Deep in their hearts, you say,
everyone knows good from bad.

Ah, so good people all know the same good and never disagree.
And anyone who disagrees is bad?

No, you say, sometimes people oppose good ideas
because they just don't know enough.

So anyone who disagrees is either bad or ignorant?
This means that we live in a world
of Good Guys and Bad Guys again,

and a world of smart people who know
and dummies who don't.
You must feel very lucky to be one of the good and smart ones.

Don't be an ass, you say.
I never called people dummies.
I believe people can learn what is good.

That's reassuring. So if some of the population disagrees
out of badness or ignorance
and opposes our choice of good policies,

then what should we, as PEACEmakers, do?
Should we educate them to agree?
And what if they still disagree?

Should we silence their opposition to us?
Should we divert their attention and lull them to sleep?
Should we use armed force to implement our good policies?

We should use any means necessary, you say, to protect our gains
and ensure the progress of PEACE.

Very interesting. And once the good policies are in place,
what if some people want them changed?

Should we silence them too?
Should we divert their attention and lull them to sleep?
Should we use armed repression to keep the PEACE?

Difficult choices might be necessary, you say,
for the sake of creating a new world of PEACE.

I see. But if PEACE is acceptance of a specified set of policies,
then every political front, rightwing and leftwing, can call their policies "good"
and call the implementation of those policies "PEACE".

And all the PEACEmakers will be at war.
All fighting for PEACE.
Maybe PEACE means something else.



I propose that PEACE is found in the the right to participation,
the right of all to engage in the decisions that affect them;

that PEACE is not the name of a policy we must be forced
to agree to for our own good,

but is the name of a process for creating policies together
even when we disagree;

that PEACE starts a respect for dissent
and a hope to build assent through compromise,
through a new promise together,

born of the creative push and pull of negotiation,
yielding a new policy which integrates dissenting voices
rather than incinerating them;

that PEACE starts coordination, community,
productivity, invention, and love;

and that the right of all to participate
—left or right, right or wrong,
smart or senseless, dark or light, rich or poor—

is the start of PEACE.

© 2003 John Clay