American Friends Service Committee
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Mayors for Peace Around the World
Louise Dunlap teaches writing, yoga, and meditation in the Boston area. A member of the Cambridge Peace Commission, she is active in struggles for affordable housing and racial justice.
As we enter the sixtieth year since the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US administration pushes for new nuclear weapons development and testing, while other countries jump on the bandwagon and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) totters. It is great news indeed that in passing its budget for 2005, the US Congress eliminated funding for the development of new nuclear weapons programs. With this action, legislators have represented millions of Americans who do not want more nuclear "solutions."
In Japan, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to honor their Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb attacks of 1945) with a vigorous, worldwide campaign to strengthen the treaty and end nuclear weapons once and for all by the year 2020. And this gives all of us a way to help. Their bold initiative -- Mayors for Peace -- musters locally-based energy in an end run around national governments. With a membership of over 600 mayors in over 100 countries, including 60 so far in the United States, the organization builds on local mayors' responsiveness to the daily life in communities. Local decision-makers are perhaps more aware of what ordinary citizens think than are national governments.
Since cities would be used as targets for nuclear weapons, mayors realize that they would have to deal with the devastation of an attack. "For us, it's not hypothetical," says London's Deputy Mayor, Jenny Jones, who joined an impressive mayors' delegation last year to lobby UN representatives -- featured in a video/DVD available to help in organizing (see below). Both the European Parliament and the US Conference of Mayors have voted to endorse the campaign.
Mayors from around the world will converge on New York City when the UN reviews the NPT in May 2005. Between now and then, the goal is to give more mayors the opportunity to join Mayors for Peace. Here's where you can help, particularly if you know your mayor or want a practical project for your local peace group.
Mayors for Peace maintains a web site with information about joining, and regional organizations can help (see Resources below). Mayor Akiba's office in Hiroshima can send a formal invitation to your mayor. But local citizen involvement is crucial. Last spring a statewide peace walk coordinated visits with six different mayors or their representatives in the Boston area. We contacted local peace groups and asked if they could plan a meeting with their mayor as our walk passed through their town. For each meeting, peace activists from the town joined walkers to make the case for nuclear disarmament. We were often a vibrant and colorful crew -- with Buddhist monks in yellow robes joined by local families with rainbow peace flags. In one case the citizen group was mostly children from an after-school project. In another, dozens of walkers and local peace activists struggled up the steps of city hall in a late-season snow storm, crowding into a wood-paneled office to warm up and hear the story of Mayors for Peace. Mayors thanked us , and my own mayor, Michael Sullivan of Cambridge, already a member, went on to gain the endorsement of the US Conference of Mayors for this campaign.
Steps for local activists:
Resources & Events: