The Peacebuilders’ Challenge

How do we build support for a more peaceful world in a country that is as divided as the United States is today? Given the events of the last months, including the violence in Charlottesville and the remarks made by President Trump in the days that followed that might seem like an impossible task.

However, in the days after the protests, two things happened that give me hope. If we combine them, we could make some progress because both of these initiatives are encouraging.

During the week, Partners Global and we at the Alliance for Peacebuilding launched Unite4Peace and Redefining Peace. to strengthen support for a more peaceful world in the days before September 21, the International Day of Peace and beyond. We created it as a partnership with Engage Simply, a leading innovator of customer engagement solutions for brands and agencies

These two comprehensive social platforms are bringing together the many global voices that support the United Nation’s International Day of Peace and TOGETHER campaign, by promoting the message that through all our efforts both local and global – Peace is possible. Visitors will learn about many different creative acts that contribute to peace around the world, and how each of us can make a difference towards positive social change.

And they will be able to share the material they find the most appealing on their favoriote social media sites with just a pair of clicks.

Second, my wife and I attended a community fun day in Warrenton VAthat was organized by the Piedmont Dispute Resolution Center, the town’s First Baptist Church, and its municipal police department. Charlottesville is nearby. In fact, we got stuck in traffic because students were heading back to UVA that same afternoon.

The fun day had the things you would expect. A few rides. Hot dogs and hamburgers, clowns, a guy on stilts, and face painting.

But it was more. The three organizations had gone out of their way to make the event at which all members of the community–black and white, young and old, immigrants and residents of long standing–would feel comfortable. And they succeeded.

The dispute resolution center had a table in which children were encouraged to make peace pinwheels. Members of the staff were available to talk about what had happened in Charlottesville and what could be done to keep something like that from happening in their small town that sits on the far western end of the Washington DC suburbs but also feels like a small southern town.

We had hoped to spend the afternoon talking about our new web sites, but it was hard to get the children and their parents away from the face painting, the rides, and the food. Still, at least a few people learned about our new web sites and said they’d visit them.

No single web site and no Saturday in a Warrenton park will make peace in the United States or around the world happen. However, if we at AfP and Partners Global do our jobs, more and more people in towns like Warrenton will learn about what organizations like ours are doing and find a way to join in.

But just not when their kids and grandkids are getting their faces painted.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Alliance for Peacebuilding or its members.

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