Category Archives: Peace

This is one of the toughest indicators to even think about, never mind write about. I’m pretty sure that the indicator I’m using on Wikipedia is outdated, inaccurate, and there’s just no way everyone is going to be happy about it. But again, it’s the only thing I’ve been able to find out there. So far. I may have some leads on a better one soon which I’m looking into.

Sports vs. Violence

PeaceI started working on this post weeks ago and had a different opening focused on gun violence in the U.S. Then this happened: a Honduran soccer player who played a couple years ago for my favorite team, Glasgow Rangers, was shot dead on his way into a mall in La Ceiba to do some Christmas shopping.

It’s not clear whether or not the murder was premeditated but Arnold Peralta had stood up to the drug gangs that currently rule Honduras before, tweeting, “Our country is facing difficult times with so many criminals killing so much, as though killing is fashionable! These sorts of people don’t deserve to be alive.” Honduras-flag

(Honduras has one of the highest murder rates per capita in the world. In 2012, with a rate of 90.4 intentional homicides per 100,000 people, it was at the top of the list of 218 countries.)

Soccer itself comes with its share of violent behavior but rarely does this involve murder. More often, the beautiful game can be an outlet for the anger, fury, angst, and frustration that can show up in life and, for whatever reason, seems to especially in young men. A few years ago, a Rangers manager commented that if it hadn’t been for the team’s 140-year-old rivalry with crosstown rivals Celtic in the 1970’s and 1980’s that the city would have fared far worse in the violence wracking Glasgow at the time. The exercise of going to the game and cheering, singing, and sometimes, yes, bemoaning your favorite team’s exploits on the field, provided a release valve and tamped down the violence in the streets. There were still a lot of brawls but there wasn’t a war.

RFCThe Rangers Charity Foundation, despite some massive financial turmoil over the past few years in the parent club, has stuck with their partnership with Unicef which runs Soccer Aid, a program to promote sports the world over. So that’s why and who I’m giving to today. RIP Arnold Peralta. UnicefThanks for your contribution to the beautiful game and for your stand against the violence.

Here’s Peralta doing what he loved most:

Thanks, Mr. Peralta, for your fighting spirit both on and off the field.

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

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Peace and Jobs

Have you ever thought that the real answer to war might just be decent jobs for those in conflict areas?

If you have (or you’ve had similar thoughts), then you’ll like bPeace, an organization dedicated to creating a million jobs in conflict areas, and active in Rwanda, Afghanistan, and El Salvador so far.

I have a special attachment to Afghanistan. I’ve written a novel set partly in Kabul, which I began just before 9/11. It’s pretty much done at this point (and I’m looking for an agent, publisher, etc…) but the country will always have a special place in my heart because of the extraordinary history, culture and people I’ve come to know. My book focuses on the very harsh conditions Afghan women are living under, but also on their resilience, resourcefulness, and fierce drive towards a better future for their children and their country. So bPeace‘s Afghan initiative, initially geared towards women but now also including men, spoke to me immediately.

bPeace pairs entrepreneurs from conflict areas with experienced business people in developed countries (and they are looking for skilled volunteers in certain areas to help “advocate” in developing these businesses if you’re interested). Here’s a small sample of some of the businesses bPeace has helped foster in Afghanistan (with the number of jobs created so far in parentheses):

  • Mobina is running two radio stations and received coaching from an Allentown, PA, journalist (28);
  • Maryam is teaching women to grow raisins (Afghanistan was once the world’s second-largest exporter!) and got a little help with packaging design from a New York graphic designer (10);
  • Nasima is working to revitalize the silk industry with new designs (the country lies along the famous Silk Road) and has partnered with a Connecticut importer to create an international market (49); and
  • Guljan’s chutney and tomato paste operation has received valuable pricing advice from a Bar Harbor, Maine, businesswoman (39).

Despite the constant barrage of negative press from all directions on this small central Asian country, bPeace is steadily showing one very effective way towards peace.

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

Eco-soldiers and Green Battalions

The connections between keeping the peace, climate change and economic well-being might not seem obvious at first glance. But we are beginning to see that they may be far more connected than previous conventional wisdom foresaw. Certainly, as humanity’s demand for natural resources increases, this puts more pressure on countries to ensure that those valuable resources are well-protected.

And globally, militaries and other security forces are suddenly finding themselves in an interesting and unusual new position. i.e., “protector” of water, timber, and other natural resources, from illegal plundering. In essence, these new “eco-soldiers” are protecting their national interests as the world wakes up to the both the environmental and economic value of these resources.

One example of this is happening in Nicaragua, (which isn’t exactly a country unused to conflict) where soldiers more accustomed to hunting down drug runners, are finding themselves tracking down illegal loggers instead, and even planting trees.

From the article linked above: ” ‘Since 2006, we are losing $200m (£126m) a year in lost agro-production due to climate change,’ says Dr Paul Oquist, who is President Daniel Ortega’s adviser for national development policies and representative to world climate change forums…. So, he says, ‘Nicaragua is not waiting for the global community’ to act on climate change.”

What I also love about this program is that besides the admirable efforts against global warming, the soldiers are actually also gaining an appreciation for the natural world and enjoy the benefits of being outside surrounded by nature. They are also gaining some skills along the way and after they have served their terms in the military, this will pay off in educated and interested potential forestry students. It’s a win-win-win situation, well, except for the loggers.

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

Peace in Surprising Places

I’ve been gradually updating my numbers in the New Year but noticed that my peace numbers (from the Global Peace Index page on Wikipedia) are all up to date (Iceland, New Zealand, and Japan lead the way, while Sudan, Iraq and Somalia hold the bottom posts) so I wanted to focus on something a little different.

I came across a TED talk yesterday, Why I chose a gun, given by Peter van Uhm, the Netherlands’ chief of defense. It’s a terrific talk and presents a fascinating and cogent explanation of how a strong national defense actually preserves peace.

But going even further, a really terrific example of people in uniform committed to and working towards peace is the non-profit organization, Spirit of America, which helps fund development projects initiated by U.S. military personnel overseas, with donations. These have included everything from procuring sewing machines for Afghan women in Kandahar to helping the Navy SEALS help a child with a life-threatening tumor get medical treatment.

Sometimes the people who we would least expect to be promoting peace are actually the ones who are the most passionate about it. I know lots of people will disagree with this but if you can put aside the media hype both ways and look a little deeper, what you find may surprise you.

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

Peace

This is definitely one of the toughest indicators to even think about, never mind write about. The indicator I’m using, which is on Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_index) is, I’m pretty sure, outdated, inaccurate, and there’s just no way everyone is going to be happy about it. But again, it’s the only thing I’ve been able to find out there.

How do we achieve peace? Lots of people have lots of theories, and, to be completely honest, no one has come up with the perfect solution yet. (If you have, please let me know.)

The problem with attaining peace is that, despite much protest in support of it, sometimes I think human beings really, deep down, find it boring and would much rather continue on in the rambunctious way they always have. I think we’re a bit afraid of peace because, when all the excitement of war is done, well, there’s a lot of hard work and clean-up afterwards. Witness the unrest and the Middle East — lots of people out still protesting, lots of trash lining the streets, lots of talk, not much happening at the top levels for real change, which is going to require a massive amount of work.

But the problem of getting peaceful is not something anyone on the planet can ignore. Not with several thousand nuclear weapons hanging around and a few not-too-stable countries (i.e., North Korea and Iran) adamant about their right to blow up other sovereign nations in their immediate neighborhood and possibly further away.

But how do you promote peace? Is it economic? Certain very wealthy Persian Gulf countries seem to indicate otherwise.

I’ve been extremely saddened to see the new-born country of South Sudan almost immediately riven with violence in the form of brutal cattle raids between tribes. This has been going on for centuries and apparently, is seen as just a part of normal life. How do we make peace the norm, and consign violence to the history books once and for all? Or is that even possible?

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC