Preemptive Peace: Iran

In November of 2007, I traveled to Iran with CNVC Certified Trainer Eva Rambala. Sponsored by the Cultural Society of the University of Tehran and two local NGOs, the Society for Expanding and Developing Children's Capacities and Skills, and Children of Asia, we worked with communities, organizations, and students to deepen cultures of peace and dialogue with Nonviolent Communication. While there, we connected with over 300 people from all walks of life, supporting growth and learning, planting seeds of peace to be nurtured and cultivated to inspire the hope and reconciliation that can preempt the next war. Click here to read my blog entries about this project.

 IranPreemptive Peace: IranAs I read the news each day, noticing headlines that track the escalation of conflict between Iran and the United States, I feel disheartened, frustrated, and deeply afraid that safety, security, peace, and well-being will not be achieved through force. Whether it is talk of military intervention or of economic sanctions, I feel confident that this conflict, which runs far deeper than the media conception of a rogue state yearning for nuclear weapons, cannot be effectively transcended without decision-making rooted in the compassion that can inspire creativity. Although our leaders are not taking this approach, that inspiration can come through each of us right now.

Have we learned no lessons from our involvement in Iraq? Did our sanctions against Iraq for the decade between wars do anything more than starve hundreds of thousands of civilians to death? Did our accusations of Saddam Hussein’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons, despite all evidence to the contrary, lead to anything other than disaster? Iraq today is a quagmire—caught in the midst of civil war and an international game of Risk. If the situation in Iraq is as dire as it is today, just imagine the magnitude of what war with a nation as developed and as strong as Iran would look like! It would make Iraq look like a walk in the park, and surely would spin the Middle East—indeed the world—deeper into a spiral of violence and suffering.

Imagine if, instead of further ostracizing, isolating, and demonizing the Iranian regime and Iranian people, we spent our time developing connection, and cooperation. If our efforts were aimed at reconciliation and building peaceful relations between people and between governments, including Americans, Iranians, and Israelis, by the time the materials could be enriched enough, there would be no reason to use them. Whereas the government of the United States used a preemptive war against Iraq, right now we have an incredible opportunity to peempt the violence in Iran with peace.

Rather than simply protesting this war and saying no, it’s time to check in and see how our actions are contributing to the war that is on the horizon. To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, who, during the first war Gulf War reminded us that what we do now will affect the war 10 years from now: Do we have one minute to act to prevent the next war from happening? Do we have 10 minutes? What we do right now can help contribute to building a safer, more peaceful, more equitable world.

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