Inaugural Fall Peace Festival Gives Peace a Chance
John Lennon would have approved. Chico is definitely giving peace
a chance. And a big part of that effort is being made by the Peace
Institute of California State University, Chico, which presented
its inaugural Fall Peace Festival, Building Communities of Hope,
The festival began on a sweet note—many sweet notes, actually,
with the recital music of Weber, Brahms, and Arutiuian.
Film lovers had much to choose from as well. Philosophy professor
Dennis Rothermel presented Full Metal Jacket. Emmy award-winner
and CSU, Chico alum Kelly Candaele showed and discussed his documentary
on the life of former Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme. Palme,
educated in the United States, was a fervent peace activist throughout
his life, working against apartheid in South Africa, dictatorships
in South America, and the war in Vietnam. The final event of the
festival was the presentation of Fog of War, lead by philosophy
professor Ron Hirschbein, director of the Peace Institute.
The showcase of the festival was the lecture, “The War in
Iraq: A Moral Assessment,” given by President’s Visiting
Scholar James Sterba. A professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and
a member of the Joan B. Kroc International Peace Institute, Sterba
addressed the question “Is this preventative war a just cause?”
Sterba discussed Just War Theory, which maintains that for a war
to be just it must have both just cause and just means. He argued
that the U.S. war in Iraq is not just because Iraq did not pose
a serious threat to the United States and the Bush Administration
did not exhaust all possible alternatives before going to war. Sterba
also asserted that the way for the United States to reclaim its
moral sense is to admit that this is “the wrong war, in the
wrong place, at the wrong time.” And then we should pay reparations
to Iraq for the destruction our war and our previous policies have
caused, he said.
The following day saw a dialogue between Vietnam war combat veteran
Les Ormes and conscientious objector Tom Reed, in a session titled
“Reconciliation.” The two spoke of how they came to
their similar anti-war positions, and concluded that the important
reconciliation was not between war veterans and objectors, but between
what happened in the war and the way it has influenced how each
has lived his life.
Sterba then presented “Terrorism: What It Is, and What We
Should Be Doing About It” as part of the Humanities Center
War and Culture program.
On Friday, Hirschbein presented “A World Without Enemies:
Why Are We Killing Our Friends?” He discussed, among other
things, the transition of the American public’s response to
politicians’ dissembling—from “cognitive dissonance”
in the 1970s to what Hirschbein calls our current response—“cognitive
insolence,” a disdain for facts and reason. He cited as an
example the widespread willingness to accept the Bush Administration’s
rationale for war in Iraq in the face of evidence that it was not
based on reliable facts.
On Sunday, the musical group The Traveling Bohemians and local poets
performed works celebrating peace and reconciliation.
Hirschbein said of the festival’s variety of events, “The
Peace Institute brought rhyme and reason to the campus during its
first Annual Fall Peace Festival. It was a good start toward attaining
the institute’s goal: encouraging rigorous discussion of the
causes of war and prospects for peace.”
The Peace Festival was supported by the Office of the President,
Office of the Provost, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Department
of Philosophy, and the Hodgkin’s Lecture Fund.
The Peace Institute at CSU, Chico was founded in spring 2004 to
address the question “What are the causes of war and the prospects
for peace?” In addition to sponsoring this annual peace festival
and related events, the institute will develop an academic minor
in peace studies, provide mentoring for campus colleagues interested
in integrating peace studies into their courses, organize internships
for students, and offer resources to regional schools and community
The institute’s mission statement reads, in part, “We
intend to reach out to all those longing for a more peaceable world.
Our understanding of peacemaking is broad and inclusive. Peace is
not merely the absence of war; it ultimately involves the melioration
of poverty and injustice, expansion of human rights, and respect
for ideological and racial diversity.”
There are some things
It is important that we not forget.
I remember a United Nations report that
said one third of the world’s people
have an income of $2 a day or less.
I remember telling this
to a person I know who said
that was OK. That those people
have a different way of life than we do
and don’t mind at all
living on $2 a day.
They are used to it.
I remember that later
I wondered what
it would be like to get used to dysentery
or Dengue fever or schistomiasis. Whether
I would get used to starvation
after the death of my first child
or my second or my third.
And if some of my brothers
and sisters decided they
didn’t want to be used to it
anymore, how many of them
would have to be tortured or
shot or disappeared before
I got used to that.
And I remember that
on a winter’s day in 1989
my president decided to arrest
a drug dealer and bombed
Panama City and killed hundreds
or thousands. And I remember
that the smoke and the blood
and the tears and the screams were
just the same as in Manhattan
only the buildings were not so tall.
There are some things it is
important we not forget.