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A Culture of Peace

Foster a culture of peace from the international level to Evanston's own streets.

"We need to foster a culture of peace. I believe that the answer to violence, fundamentally, will never be a quick fix nor accomplished by reaction, but will be a product of vigilant nurturing.

"This starts at the top, with leaders who call for peace. The April 4 election in Evanston will fall on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s landmark speech drawing a connection between the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. Evanston should reclaim leadership opposing war and military spending for several reasons.

"First, there is a direct connection between the conditions that foster violence and the seemingly perpetual war we are waging. Think of what this nation could have done -- what mass transit could have been built, what roads could have been repaired, what schools could have been retrofitted, how many displaced workers retrained, with even half of the $5 trillion it is now estimated we have spent on war since 2001 and will spend before it's over. The loss of federal revenue sharing dollars, and the cash crisis of many states, is directly connected to the drain on the national economy that has occurred through our outsourced war, with questionable benefit to our security.

"Second, government sets an example. A bombing, whether so-called surgical or one that results in civilian or even friendly casualties, is at base an affirmation that the government who approved it believes that the taking of life is an acceptable solution. The stockpiling of nuclear missiles makes a statement about, and normalizes, mass destruction. I believe that these lessons are not lost on young people who grow up witnessing unprecedented thousands of homicides on TV and in movies, and who themselves may kill thousands in virtual reality as video entertainment.

"I believe that the violence we see throughout America, though much less than it was when I was young, is scarier because cable channels and the Internet, that didn't exist in more violent decades, bring disproportionate attention to more random events that create a sense of unpredictability. There is some evidence that this obsessive coverage of the most violent and bizarre crimes spawns copycats.

"Is one mayor going to change this? No. But every town must do its part. With saber-rattlers in the White House, Evanston's local response can and should be to affirm a commitment to peace.

"The police are 'officers of the peace." I believe in community policing, and constant effort to humanize our officers to the public, and vice versa. I oppose militarization of American police, in tactics or equipment, as a trend that dehumanizes and has inherent danger of escalating situations.

"We can also work locally on values education. We shouldn't be so fearful of "judging" that we fail to teach kids judgment. We need to recognize and empower elders who know that reckless violence is unacceptable. Kids aren't dumb and every child can learn. The City can partner with the schools on a curriculum that truly Teaches Peace.

"Peaceable yet challenging activity as alternative pays huge dividends. This means more than sports: scouting, chess, and endeavors that let youths create and build while sharpening mind and spirit -- from fixing a lawnmower to building playground equipment -- are invaluable. While I spent a decade advocating for peace with one of the country's more credible citizen lobbies, I also acted locally by spending thousands of hours working with youths, most of them boys. I don't believe in letting the gangs have a monopoly on supplying excitement. Expanded partnerships can let the City of Evanston promote some existing opportunities at little to no cost" -- Jeff Smith

On Feb. 28, think globally and act locally on peace. Vote for Jeff Smith for Mayor.


©2017 Jeff Smith. Paid for by in-kind contribution to Jeff Smith for Evanston. A copy of our report is or will be on file with, and available for purchase from, the Illinois State Board of Elections.
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