ENGLEWOOD — Trying to help create a Department of Peace and recent events in Syria were fresh on the minds of those at the Englewood Peace Initiative Coalition meeting Thursday at the Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood.
Creating the cabinet-level Department of Peace was something first attempted as early as 1793 and continued as recently as 2001 when then-Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced a bill that would help establish the position. Kucinich reintroduced his bill every two years until 2009. He finished his last term in the beginning of 2013.
The Department of Peace would work in conjunction with the Department of State on domestic and international issues. The only provision, peace coalition organizer Sydney Crampton said, that passed was a national day of peace, which is currently observed on Sept. 21 as International Day of Peace.
“George W. Bush signed it because it was nonpartisan,” Crampton said.
Jerry Duisberg, son of the late peace coalition founder Peter Duisberg who died in June, said the purpose of the Department of Peace would be to help create a culture of peace rather than war, domestically and internationally.
“The (negative) public reaction (to participation in Syria) has more to do with (military) technology and how they thought they felt hornswoggled and disillusioned about Iraq and Afghanistan,” Duisberg said. “They thought they would be in and out shortly. It’s not a culture of peace here, they just don’t want to see soldiers further bogged down.”
Arthur Lee, a member of the coalition, said the instability in the Middle East stems from colonialism.
“I don’t think anyone wants to sit on the sidelines to see those slaughtered (in Syria),” Lee said. “The situation in the Middle East is complex. There are no natural lines (for borders) there. It’s a mess from the colonial lines that were drawn when the countries were established with little to no consideration of the backgrounds of the people.”
Crampton said the peace coalition, as part of the Southwest Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, was active in demonstrations against U.S. intervention in Syria organized in Sarasota. They were also active at Englewood Pioneer Days, where they handed out educational material.
“We’ve been working with Joyce Raby and talking about the Peace Alliance,” Crampton said.
Crampton said they’re looking into the cost of joining with the Peace Alliance. They support the Youth Promise Act, which was written by Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott. The act takes a preventative stance on youth violence with education rather than intervention.