Friday, September 22, 2006

My Recent Work with the Peace Alliance

Kucinich Couple Continues the Fight for Peace

By Ariela Zamcheck

On a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of current Ohio congressman and former Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich, set out from Oberlin College on a 10-day, 60-mile walking tour of the greater Cleveland area.

At a small gathering in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, she spoke of the motivating factors behind this “Peace Walk,” in which she plans to link the students and communities she encounters through a “combined movement of strength to advocate for environment sustainability, peace and prosperity.” The Peace Walk is Elizabeth Kucinich’s initiative to create an atmosphere of positive cross-cultural and interfaith interaction between college campuses and communities within the Greater Cleveland area.

She also hopes to garner support for a cabinet-level Department of Peace.

College senior Azadeh Pourzand, campus coordinator of the Student Peace Alliance, organized the Tuesday event and logistical details of Elizabeth’s walk. The Student Peace Alliance is a chapter of the larger nationwide group, the Peace Alliance, which was in partnership with Kucinich in organizing this march.

The Peace Alliance is an activist organization that promotes the creation of departments of peace and peace ministries in the United States and abroad. It was founded in April 2003, in conjunction with Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign and with the authorship of the Department of Peace legislation.

According to Pourzand, the Student Peace Alliance was recently initiated in order to “raise awareness on campus and create a space for students in local and urban communities to promote peace.” The group will hold its first meeting in the second week of October.

Elizabeth Kucinich said that a Department of Peace “would address violence at the local level,” dealing with issues such as domestic abuse and gang violence. She added that it would also address the international arena and would “look at threats to stability before [the instability] reaches the level of war.”

According to Kucinich, her husband began writing legislation for a Department of Peace two months prior to Sept. 11, 2001. The proposal is currently being considered in both houses of Congress. There are currently 75 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.

Her walk was partly inspired by a recent trip she took to the Middle East with her husband. While visiting mass gravesites in heavily damaged villages such as Qana in Southern Lebanon, she and her husband were “blown away by the compassion extended to [them] by relatives of bomb victims.”

“People painted as so evil and militant expressed so much love,” she said.

As the two of them traveled through Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, they were able to speak to local citizens and “get a feel for what humanity was thinking devoid of politics.” Such a local approach, she felt, could be gained from a ground-level journey around Cleveland.

At the Tuesday gathering, Elizabeth Kucinich invited every audience member to share a recent positive experience, a time of great courage or a moment when he or she felt the closest connection to humanity.

At her prompting, the mood seemed to be more that of an intimate discussion than an anonymous lecture. Elizabeth Kucinich plans to use similar techniques throughout the whole of her walk and also on her blog, called the “9-10 forum,” which explores how Americans’ aspirations and experiences have changed since 9/11. The blog was created to launch a national dialogue to reaffirm dreams dashed by the fear of terrorism, the current war and the tightening of political power that followed.

“9/11 marks two key events,” said Kucinich, “the attack on the World Trade Center, and Gandhi’s first non-violent resistance. We can take the avenue of peace or pursue a war on terror, in which we destroy our environment and our communities.”

She plans to continue on to Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, OH, and then walk back to Cleveland on Sept. 19. She will arrive in Cleveland on Sept. 21 and attend events at Case Western, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College.



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