Login Profile
Features November 1, 2001  RSS feed

Promoting Enduring Peace

By Yael Martin
Promoting Enduring Peace By Yael Martin

"Peace is the greatest issue in the world. Let us abandon narrow nationalism. Let us encourage interchange of the peoples of different races and nations …" — Dr. Jerome Davis, Founder, Promoting Enduring Peace

Since its founding in 1952, Promoting Enduring Peace, located in Woodmont, CT, has sought ways to build friendships among people by educating them about one another’s lives and cultures. The underlying belief has always been that when people respectfully learn to know each other, they can enjoy their cultural differences and value their shared humanity. Despite the old adage that "familiarity breeds contempt," PEP has found the opposite to be true: fostering new transnational friendships has encouraged cooperation, tolerance, and person-to-person peace.

During and after the Cold War, PEP organized groups of Americans to visit the USSR to get to know "the enemy." They cruised together down the Volga and Dneiper Rivers to cheering crowds along the shores. When PEP brought Soviet citizens to the American Midwest to sail down the Mississippi on the Delta Queen, they were met with an equally warm welcome. PEP has also taken groups to Cuba, Costa Rica, China and Mongolia, leaving participants with positive, life-long memories and hope for a peaceful world.

In the coming months, PEP will be escorting groups to Cuba (in March) and to Vietnam (next summer). PEP has long held that the U.S. blockade on Cuba is unnecessary and hurtful to the people of Cuba, and serves no purpose. Currently, this is even more pronounced in light of the U.S. government’s relations with every other communist or socialist government on the planet. The summer trip to Vietnam will be cosponsored with the New Haven-Hue Sister Cities Project. This will be a people-to-people encounter focused on healing and reconciliation between our two peoples.

In 1960, PEP began bestowing the prestigious Annual Gandhi Peace Award to individuals who have contributed significantly to world peace. Recipients have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Linus Pauling, A.J. Muste, U Thant, Ceasar Chavez, Ramsey Clark, and Father Roy Bourgeois. This year, in conjunction with PEP’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on February 9, the Annual Gandhi Peace Award will be given jointly to Professor Michael True and the New England Peace Studies Association, to which Professor True has devoted so much of his teaching life. It is clear that in order to bring about a more peaceful world, young people must be given the chance to learn nonviolent means of resolving conflict, and that mutual care and cooperation must replace competition and the adversarial spirit which lead to strife and war.

Over the years, PEP has acted as a clearinghouse for materials relevant to peace issues, distributing thousands of articles free of charge to our membership and anyone who asked for them. Today, a bibliography of articles can be found on our website, <www.PEPeace.org>, and regular mailings bring news and materials to those without internet access.

As PEP approaches its fiftieth year, it is beginning a new direction. Besides continuing its traditional activities, PEP is looking forward to setting up the first of its concrete, peace-building projects: an experimental hydroponics station in central Vietnam. This station will serve as a teaching and demonstration facility for impoverished farmers in a region bereft of arable soil. The goal is to help them establish an independent, sustainable means of producing food for themselves and their families. PEP is in the process of laying the groundwork for this exchange. Expertise must be organized and transmitted, and money must be found for what promises to be a long-term collaboration between our people and the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese with whom we have spoken about this are very enthusiastic, and we are excited about the challenges that lie ahead. What better way is there to build peace than to help provide a way for people to raise their own food?

And so, as PEP enters its second half-century, it rededicates its efforts to teaching people to see themselves as part of the family of humanity who can share the world and its resources peacefully and productively. PEP will now "get its hands dirty" in new, physical, working partnerships abroad as it gives new meaning to "promoting enduring peace." We invite everyone to join us!

Promoting Enduring Peace can be contacted at 112 Beach Ave., Woodmont, CT 06460; phone: 203-878-4769; email: <office@PEPeace.org>.

Yael Martin is Executive Director of Promoting Enduring Peace.