Department of Peace

 by Ed O’Rourke


House Resolution 1673 in the 108th Congress called for a cabinet level Department of Peace.  The most eloquent justification comes from the text of the bill:

“It is the sacred duty of the people of the United States to receive the living truths of our founding documents and to think anew to develop institutions that permit the unfolding of the highest moral principles in this Nation and around the world.  During the course of the 20th century, more than 100,000,000 people perished in wars, and now, at the dawn of the 21st century, violence seems to be an overwhelming theme in the world, encompassing personal, group, national, and international conflict, extending to the production of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction which have been developed for use in land, air, sea and in space.

“Such conflict is often a reflection of the human condition without questioning whether the structures of thought, word, deed which the people of the Untied States have inherited are any longer sufficient for the maintenance, growth, and survival of the United States and the world….

“We are in a new millennium, and the time has come to review age-old challenges with the new thinking wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence, but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of human awareness, of respect, trust, and integrity; wherein we all may tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions which impel or compel violence at a personal group, or national level toward developing a new understanding of, and a commitment to, compassion and love, in order to create a ‘shining city on a hill’, the light of which is the light of nations.”

Highlights of the bill include the following:

1)      Sponsor country and regional conflict prevention and dispute initiatives, draw on expertise from around the world to develop plans and programs for addressing the root sources of conflict in troubled areas.

2)      Provide for the training of all U.S. personnel who administer post conflict reconstruction and demobilization in war torn societies.

3)      Work with educators to equip students to become skilled in achieving peace through reflection and facilitate instruction in ways of peaceful conflict resolution.

4)      Create and establish a Peace Academy which shall (A) be modeled after the military academies; (B) provide a 4 year course of instruction in peace education, after which graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international conflict resolution.

5)      Develop new approaches for dealing with gun violence.

6)      Develop new programs that relate to the societal challenges of school violence, racial or ethnic violence and violence against gays and lesbians.

7)      Make policy recommendations the Attorney General regarding civil rights and labor laws.

8)      Develop policies that address domestic violence to include spousal abuse, child abuse and mistreatment of the elderly.

9)      Develop policies to address violence against animals.

10)  Develop policies to address the problem of violence in prisons.

Why have a new department?  Is there any great reason why the State Department could not perform most of these tasks?  The proposed Department of Peace would deal with both domestic and international violence.  Specialized needs call for a specialized agency as in the cases of the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.   Conflict resolution is only a small part of what the State Department does.  Our embassies deal with visa applications, commercial treaties, propaganda and spying (intelligence).  The new agency would aggressively resolve conflict in the early stages.

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Centiesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year), stated, “…true peace is never simply the result of military victory, but rather implies both the removal of the causes of war and genuine reconciliation between peoples.” HR 1673 is a step in this direction.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee is one of the sponsors of HR 1673.  For more background, go to: or call Kathy at 713-443-9938.  Let your congressman and senators know your feelings on this legislation.

Give peace a chance.