The weekend of Feb. 3, over 1,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. to ask the federal government to consider creating a federal department of peace with a cabinet-level position. The attendees listened to speeches from such activists as Deepak Chopra and Michael Beckwith. In the audience was Liverpool resident Gay Montague, a former English teacher at Liverpool High School. Montague attended the conference with friend Danya Wellmon of East Syracuse. The two were the only Central New Yorkers in attendance.
"It was really inspirational," Montague said. "Almost every state was represented."
Montague is part of the Peace Alliance, a national organization committed to forming a department of peace. The organization was formed by motivational speaker Marianne Williamson, an author whose works include "Healing the Soul of America" and "The Gift of Change." Montague has long been committed to creating a more peaceful world, and the Peace Alliance is a natural fit for her.
"It's important for people to know that it's not an antiwar or anti-military organization," Montague said of the alliance. "It seeks to establish a federal department of peace with a cabinet-level appointment. We want to bring the idea of peace to the forefront. We put our energy into creating peace rather than being antiwar. There's a difference."
Montague, with Wellmon's aid, is trying to establish a chapter of the Peace Alliance in Central New York. She wants to educate people on the mission of the organization and to spark a different kind of thinking about conflict resolution.
The creation of a federal peace department is part of that new thinking. A bill has been brought forth in Congress proposing a federal department (House Resolution 808), and 60 representatives have already agreed to cosponsor the bill. In addition, 19 major cities including Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta, some of the most violent places in the country, have put their support behind the proposal.