World Service Corps: Imagine
Jesus asked us to.
Mahatma Ghandi showed us how to.
The late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. described to us his legendary vision of a peaceful society.
Even Beatle, John Lenin, sang to us words asking us to imagine peace, and lately his widow, Yoko Ono, distributed thousands of small white buttons bearing the words “IMAGINE PEACE” on them. I am wearing one, as I write. I wear it everyday.
But I do not have to imagine peace anymore. I recently learned of an organization called Peoples Lobby sponsoring citizen-initiated World Service Corps Congressional Proposals. They have proposed legislation that were our congress to enact it would surely bring about world peace. It does not depend on bombs, tanks, guns and bullets. It does depend on the good hearts of the American people.
Their proposed bill would establish, progressively, in ten years a core of volunteer Americans who would serve for two years in organizations like:
The Peace Corps
Habitat for Humanity
Doctors Sans Borders
International Rescue Committee
State Conservation Corps
After two years volunteers would receive money for a four-year college education in Community and State Colleges and Universities, or the equivalent for a family member, or the equivalent for a scholarship or donation, or the equivalent in an IRA or Health Care account.
The way it was explained to me, amongst its many service projects would be the building and equipping of state of the art schools along the Palestine-Israeli border and other areas of unrest. These schools would house students from both Palestine and Israel or either side of any border, political or cultural. Growing up together, young people would learn to live together in peace.
Imagine if The World Service Corps had existed at the end of World War I in Versailles when that punitive treaty was conjured up and subsequently enacted. If instead of humiliation and economic hardship, the German People would have come to know Americans and Europeans as the kind of people who would volunteer their time in service towards their fellow human beings, would the only offer they had for National or personal pride at the hands of a demented dictator been so warmly welcome? Would the Second World War in Europe have been fought?
Imagine if in 1948 instead of equipping the infant state of Israel with bombs, guns, tanks and bullets to defend herself, we had flooded her and Palestine with World Service Corps Volunteers helping constructively, building that border school, and teaching peace. Would the Middle East and the United States be in the sorry state they are today?
You ask how I know this would work. I know it would work because I know that getting to know one’s neighbors whether across the lawn or across the sea is the best way to learn peace. I know because after my Jewish sister married an Iraqi Muslim, he became part of my family and still is forty two years later though my sister’s 1982 death did them part. The international students this couple lived amongst were frequently invited for parties. I learned that these people of all colors, all religions, all nationalities and all cultures were as much like me as my fellow Americans are.
This lesson was reinforced in my teaching career. Working in diverse populations to begin with, my assignment frequently brought me in contact with foreign exchange students. Though that was many years ago, I am still in contact with many of these friends.
When asked in the past what restorative justice I would ask for George Bush, the man I hold most responsible for my son Nick’s 2004 murder in Iraq, I have asked that he be compelled to administer and fund an international exchange citizen program much like the exchange student programs I experienced as a teacher. Perhaps if we just put the president in the World Service Corps he would learn to shed his xenophobia and love his neighbors from that experience.
Since I’ve learned of the Americas World Service Corps vision of peace, it’s not so hard to imagine peace any more.
Hey Folks, won’t you just give peace a chance!!!
Michael Berg, August 1, 2006
Father of Nick Berg
Green Party Candidate for Congress – Delaware