We receive many positive proposals for peace from friends and readers of the Sunflower and our wagingpeace.org web site. I want to share some of them from time to time with a broader audience in the hope that they may spark your ideas and actions. Here is one from Janie, a mother in Philadelphia. She begins by observing that “the world seems to be falling apart” and notes that the format of international meetings hardly changes and the results are generally minimal. “What are we to do?” she asks.
She answers her question this way: “When things don’t work out with a child, a new tactic is in order, and various tactics are attempted until the right one surfaces and the final breakthrough is accomplished.” Based on her experience, she makes the following proposal:
“Why doesn’t someone initiate at the next world conference for anything (nuclear disarmament, environment, peace in the Middle East, etc.) that each representative brings to the meeting a grandchild (under the age of about 7 years) and if no grandchild fits this category then a grandniece/nephew or any child that one is extremely fond of?”
“I think the results would be alarming, surprising,” she writes. “Representatives to these meetings come with their egos, agendas, power, etc. No wonder nothing much is achieved. Get some children in there and what will happen right off the bat is that no one’s heart remains with quite the same hardness and impenetrability. The egos become a little less, the feeling of nationalism decreases a notch. My religion, your religion doesn’t quite hold the power it had. Why? Because the hearts of children have the power, tremendous power to melt the heart, anyone’s heart.”
She concludes: “So that’s my contribution to conflict resolution, the peace process, disarmament put the future generations before these people, put their very own loved ones, vulnerable ones, sweet and innocent ones in their face and maybe things could get moving to secure a world that they deserve. I am so very serious about this. Is it not worth a try?”
Of course, it is worth a try. We need leaders who think and act as if they are in the very presence of future generations. We need leaders who are able to shift their thinking and actions from representing powerful corporate interests to representing people and particularly the children who, after all, are the future. We need leaders who, like the native Americans, think of the seventh generation in the future when they make decisions.
The problem, of course, is how to get a great idea like Janie’s implemented. It seems clear that it would change the tone and tenor of international meetings concerned with peace, disarmament, human rights, the environment, etc. It is difficult to move entrenched leaders, particularly those that seem indebted to vested interests. Perhaps the best way to implement an idea like this is for the children themselves to make their voices heard and to demand a seat at the table.
I encourage you to talk this idea over with friends and family, including your children and grandchildren. Perhaps we should withhold our votes from leaders who do not make decisions as if in the presence of future generations and who would not be willing to bring children into the halls of government and to international meetings to determine whether it is possible to live in peace with our planet and each other.
*David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.