Monday, November 30, 2009

Blessed are the Peacemakers

"You don't fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water. So I'm carrying the water and trying to spray it around a little bit. Am I getting anywhere? I don't think about that." Colman McCarthy, journalist and founder of the Center for Teaching Peace.

In this quote, fire means war, and water refers to peace.

McCarthy is also referring to his efforts as a peace teacher, trying to push back the education in violence he says people are receiving. He says they watch countless murders in movies and on TV, and history classes in school talk mostly about wars and generals and those who pursue military force, rather than those who try to make peace.

For the past three decades, he has been riding his bicycle to high schools, universities and adult learning centers in the Washington, D.C., area, to teach about topics like conflict resolution, successes of non-violence, ending the death penalty, and making peace with animals.

When asked why he is often portrayed as an extremist by others, McCarthy quotes a line by one of his favorite authors, 1948 Nobel Literature Prize laureate T.S. Eliot. "In a world of fugitives, those who run in the opposite way are seen as madmen."

He also quotes Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, who voted against the entry of the United States into both World War I and World War II. "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake," she said.

The video ends with the story of the only lawmaker who voted against the current U.S. war in Afghanistan.