by Sue Anne Morgan
January 20, 2002

Outside the AsylumOn August 9, 2001, I received a forwarded e-mail from a friend indicating that Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) had introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to create a Department of Peace.

According to the newly proposed H.R. 2459, this Cabinet-level agency would "be dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace." I was elated to hear that some Congressional energy would be spent on something so vitally important. I was overjoyed to think that an elected official was thinking so far outside the box.

The e-mail I received indicated that I could show my support for this bill by writing to my Representative encouraging support for this important initiative.

Immediately, I wrote a note to my Representative, Cynthia A. McKinney (D-Georgia). Fortunately for me, she was listed as one of the Co-Sponsors of H.R. 2459. So, my letter was one of thanks for her continuing support of international peace.

My friend, who forwarded the original e-mail, was not so fortunate. Her Representative is Bob Barr (R-Georgia). Her letter to him, in mid-August, respectfully requested his support of this crucial peace initiative.

We also both wrote to Rep. Kucinich to indicate our support and appreciation for his proposed Department of Peace. He responded to both of us on August 22, 2001 by letter. His letter explained the legislation further and expressed his appreciation for our support of H.R. 2459. I saved his letter and made a note to keep an eye on that legislation and offer my ongoing support.

Then, September 11th happened. And, the intentional creation of peace became both urgent and distant at once.

Through the end of 2001, I still held the hope that the U.S. Government could become a leader in international peace, even as we continued playing our role in the vicious cycle of international violence.

I still had hope that peace was a universal goal to which our government made a daily commitment. My hope has now moved into the past tense.

In the first week of 2002, my friend finally received a letter from Rep. Barr on the subject of the Department of Peace. The letter, in its entirety, follows:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding the establishment of a "Department of Peace."
On July 11, 2001, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced H.R. 2459 to establish a Department of Peace. The legislation has been referred to the House Committees on Government Reform, International Relations, the Judiciary, and Education and the Workforce. No further action has been taken at this time.
I think this is a nonsensical proposal, especially while we are engaged in armed conflict with the world. I support our President, military, and our Department of Defense. We do not need a "Department of Peace."
Again, thank you for contacting me. Your thoughts and comments are sincerely appreciated."

There it was in black and white. A distinguished member of Congress, an elected official, a person who represents my state in the government who represents my country to the rest of the world, spelled it out for me in black and white on official government letterhead.

...Seeking peace is "nonsensical." (So, seeking war makes sense?)

...Peace is an even more ridiculous notion "while we are engaged in armed conflict with the world." (Which comes as a great surprise to me, as I thought we were simply engaged in a war on terrorism. I wonder if the rest of the world knows about this "armed conflict" in which we are engaging them.)

...The support of peace is in direct opposition to the support of our President. (I suppose, then, that the support of peace could be listed as anti-government activity.)

..."We do not need a "Department of Peace." (I think we need it now more than ever.)

It has been said that insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over again and expecting different results. It has also been said that you cannot solve a problem with the same thought processes you used to create the problem.

If the problem is international conflict and violence, then a logical first step toward a solution should be to put some considerable thought toward international peace.

If the true insanity is repeating an ancient and habituated pattern of violence in the face of violence and expecting something other than violence, then a logical first step toward sanity should be to turn our attention toward peace.

For a brief moment in August, I felt a little less insane. My hope for peace and a different world now gone, I am retreating back into the asylum. I'll be easy to find, though. My cell is right next to Bob Barr's.

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