The coronavirus has made it crystal clear that we stand at this time and place on the fragile threshold of moving beyond the industrial age into a new world. This time of crisis can be used to bring our nation and the world into a new relationship, hopefully stronger, more democratic and caring.
In the midst of this uncertainty, the local Veterans for Peace and other local groups still vigil nonviolently at Vance Monument to create an awareness for peace and justice. For example, local groups celebrated the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that came into force on Jan. 22. It bans the development, testing, production, manufacture and acquisition or stockpiling nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Not only “use of” but also the threat of the use are illegal. At least 61 nations signed the treaty. The United States has yet to sign it.
Let us teach peacemaking in our schools and include it in our way of life. We must develop an environment in our schools that includes the development of mind, body and heart — encouraging artistic creativity, which is one of the most important factors in enabling humans to reach their full potential.
We can advocate for courses at every level from fourth grade through college that focus on the legacy of slavery, discrimination, classism and social issues that have an ongoing impact on the lives of all of us today. We need to teach and inspire our young to create a “caring society” that has the strength and empathy to respond to such problems as we face today.
My experiences with local high school and college students here in Asheville are encouraging. I am encouraged by the intelligence and insights of the students. It gives me hope for the future, but we adults also need to educate ourselves and become informed. There is an obvious need to reinvent education, politics, economics, the media and, yes, even religion.
Once again, I encourage parents and teachers, and all citizens to focus on our future legacy to our children. We can focus on a way of life that teaches and inspires our young to create a “caring society” informed by democratic ideals — otherwise we will remain trapped in a system of power without compassion or morality, strength without empathy and uninformed citizens.
All of us may not be able to actively participate in nonviolent demonstrations or study history and social issues, but each of us can practice kindness and some form of prayer and meditation to develop an inner peace within ourselves.
Without peace at home, all the hard work, vision and hope for a functioning government and economic security will overwhelm our struggle to survive. Democracy requires a united active participation to respond to our multiple problems. This requires the practice of peace, justice, empathy and compassion* to support families, teachers, the caring profession and our neighbors. No small act of caring is wasted. (*Compassion that is not based on feeling pity for others. This involves an awareness of our shared independence and obligation to help one another.)
Let us all give thanks for these days of crisis and opportunity for the capacity to unite the human community to work for peace and justice through loving kindness in the midst of our polarized country.
— Ed Sacco