NOVEMBER 2020        NUMBER 39


The Role for Understanding and Promoting Sustainable Peacebuilding

William Timpson, Robert Meroney, Del Benson and Lloyd Thomas.

Fort Collins Rotary Club

Jim Halderman, Rotary District 5450

Roy C. Bath, Fort Collins Dan Lyons Chapter of Veterans for Peace

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to educate others by promoting the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. Visit our blog and comment if you wish: www.rotarypeacebuilder.com


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Meroney@ColoState.EDU

Fair and free elections were not always automatic or guaranteed in the United States.  Freedom of speech was curtailed, and criticism of the government, congress, or the President resulted in monetary fines and imprisonment.[1]  Between 1798 to 1801 the Federalist Party under President John Adams and leadership of Alexander Hamilton passed the Alien and Sedition Acts to punish any person who shall

…write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute…  [2]

Adams and Hamilton argued the laws were appropriate because English and American courts had long punished seditious libel under common law, and the freedom of speech must be balanced with an individual’s responsibility for false statements.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drafted secretly documents opposing these acts which were submitted to the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures.  If identified, they both could have been arrested and tried for treason.  

The early divisive behavior of the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican Party validated the worry of many founding fathers that eventually political factions would tear the nation apart.  Political parties in England had led to bloody civil wars during the 17th century, so many saw parties/factions as “corrupt relics of the monarchial British system.”[3]   George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, all warned against factionalism; whereas, Thomas Jefferson felt factionalism in government was inevitable, and he wrote to Henry Lee in 1824

…men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties.   1. those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.   2. those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them cherish and consider them as the most honest & safe, altho’ not the most wise depository of the public interests…

However, Jefferson idealistically also noted in the same letter that:

“like religious differences, a difference in politics should never be permitted to enter into social intercourse, or to disturb its friendships, its charities or justice.”[4] 

Even before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, James Madison wrote the tenth of the Federalist Papers, under the name “Publius”, in which he addressed the question of how to reconcile citizens with different interests that result in factionalism.  The Paper was titled “The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection.”[5] He argued that a representative republic is the most effective form to diminish the influence of partisanship and factionalism.  He felt that a decentralized national government structure would make it

“more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried.”

George Washington described his concern about party factionalism in his Farewell Address to the Nation in 1796,[6] and in particular to the rise of a populist leader,

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty..”

Winston Churchill pointed out that

“…democracy has flourished under party government. That is to say, it has flourished so long as there is full freedom of speech, free elections and free institutions. So we must beware of a tyranny of opinion which tries to make only one side of a question the one which may be heard.  Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it [free speech] is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”… Oct 13, 1943[7]

Unfortunately, differences of opinion can often lead one to errors of confirmation bias with internal arguments like,

  • I am right; thus, (if you disagree) you are wrong,
  • I am honest and good; thus, (if you disagree) you must be bad and evil,
  • My opinions are based on religious truth; thus, (if you disagree) you must be a sinner, and
  • I am thoughtful and intelligent; thus, (if you disagree) you must be a fool.

Our concern today must be that factionalism, intolerance, and suspicion must not be allowed to endanger our rights of free expression.  At the same time, we must recognize that even the most honest and free elections may not solve all our problems and concerns. 

  • Elections do not provide black and white answers, they only support one point of view,
  • Elections do not necessarily resolve controversy, they may just extend it,
  • Elections do not assure compromise, and
  • Elections are not conclusive…there are always others in the future.

Contributing Author is a noted sinner, evil, a fool and often wrong…but, as added by the Editor, also someone who challenges others to think and rethink!


Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.  He can be reached at Delwin.Benson@ColoState.EDU

Peace starts with environmental conservation resembling trees with foundations of roots nurturing life, strong trunks to support programs, and limbs that position leaders in multiple directions.

Leaders are similar to photosynthetic processes of leaves that convert energies from air, soil and water, into growth.  Good leaders can be rated by the conservation-energy they generate, the direction of their growth, and their ability to bend with the breeze without breaking.

Selecting the best environmental presidents was easy, frustrating, and reflected coincidental dynamics of the times.  Presidents affected environmental conservation by their actions and inactions.  My short list reflects personal environmental and study of land, plants, animals, and persons as a conservationist. Political parties of each president are: Republican (R) and Democratic (D).  First and last entries are favored bookends of Presidents Roosevelt, who had different views, political parties, and legacies.

Four links to add to your thinking follow:

Theodore Roosevelt (R) is my enthusiastic first choice. He loved nature, hunted, wrote about it, led conservation movements, and was perhaps the first environmental president.  His conservation organizational leadership helped to create the first national park in the World, Yellowstone in 1872, under President Ulysses S Grant and provided a citizen and political legacy with lasting significance.

Theodore as President set aside major portions of land in the US most notably in the West and protected them in the public interest by the National Forest Service agency managing 150 national forests. That movement set the stage for lands adjacent to Forest Service lands to be set aside in 1946 by the Bureau of Land Management long after Roosevelt’s early successes. 

He created the first 18 National Monuments through the Antiquities Act, such as Muir Woods, Grand Canyon, and Devil’s Tower.  Over 50 national wildlife refuges, 4 national game preserves, and 5 national parks added to his protection of approximately 230 million acres of public land.

Richard Nixon (R) did not reflect enthusiasm for environmental matters, but many and major accomplishments were signed by him that were developing in the 1960s. The spread of influential environmental groups in the 1960s and Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 about poor environmental health prompted governments, agencies, and leaders to act on environmental concerns. Months before the first earth day in 1970, Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency which provided institutional personnel, policy, and the use of environmental impact reviews and formal integrated management statements for federal projects. It also provided environmental standards reaching into state and local environmental management policies and programs. Nixon also ushered in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Who deserves the next spot? Emma Bryce reported in The New York Times environmental blog, a rating system of what conservation organizations thought about presidents. They rated Theodore Roosevelt dominantly first with 28 points followed by Richard Nixon with 15 points and Jimmy Carter next with 13 points.  Other presidents rated, dropped to 7 points with Obama and down to 1 point for Clinton. 

Jimmy Carter (D) was environmentalist at heart and pushed Congress and the Executive Branch to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency, consolidate agencies to form the U.S. Department of Energy, and pushed through two major bills: one protected 104 million acres of land in Alaskan wilderness; and the Superfund program cleaned up close to 400 toxic sites. 

Carter asked Americans to reduce their energy use to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren. “Stewardship of the earth, not exploitation, was our role,” he believed from his roots in the Georgia soil and with his Southern Baptist soul. Did his environmental stewardship depart from the Judeo-Christian theology of “being fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen. 1:27-28)? Perhaps dominion meant sustainable conservation to Carter.

Ronald Reagan (R) signed the 1985 Farm Bill that continues today to reduce soil erosion and air pollution from marginal agricultural lands.  The bill funded programs and mangers to help wildlife living on private agricultural landscapes.  Private lands occupy about 2/3rds of the U.S. giving this legislation potential for broad implications.  Unfortunately, he also gutted the Environmental Protection Agency, fired the Superfund chief leading to an exodus of employees, and repealed the Clean Water Act.  He benefitted economically and politically when the oil embargo from middle east was lifted making oil and gasoline abundant and less expensive ushering in more consumption that “trickled down.”

Barack Obama (D) was president when climate change became a major issue and a controversy with his political opponents.  He asserted environmental attitudes and ideas in the U.S. and globally.  The polarity among political leaders increased during his years and since, making collaborative decisions about environmental policy very difficult.

Franklin Roosevelt (D) is placed in the final spot since he was not rated highly in the survey, but for me he was second only to Theodore Roosevelt.  Franklin created the “New Deal” addressing unemployment and repair of environmental damage after the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.  The Civilian Conservation Corps employed three million men over nine years to conserve land and natural resources and raised public awareness of the outdoors and active management.

Conservation groups flourished in the 1930s and helped Franklin to create the Soil Conservation Service, now called Natural Resources Conservation Service, to manage private agricultural lands after the Dust Bowl.  The most valuable bill ever created to fund, research, manage and share scientific education about wildlife conservation was the Pitman Robinson Bill in his term.  It earmarked excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment which the US Fish and Wildlife Service used to provide matching money for state wildlife agencies.

Professionalism flourished because users of the money had to do research and management, publish and share reports, and state legislators could not siphon funds from the state agency for other purposes if they used these federal dollars.  He added over one-quarter of the 411 areas in today’s national Park Service system by expanding the National Park Service with parks, monuments, national cemeteries, memorials, and military parks.  He believed that history, culture, and nature all played roles in the exceptional saga of the United states.

I share that interrelationship!


William Timpson, Ph.D. has been a professor, now retired, at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. He can be reached at william.timpson@colostate.edu.

In my 2019 book, Learning Life’s Lessons, I note that in early colonial New Zealand, as in other European societies, women were excluded from any involvement in politics. However, public opinion began to change in the latter half of the nineteenth century and inspired by the effort by activists over many years, in September of 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing colony in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. In the U.S. it would require another 27 years for the 19th Amendment to pass in 1920 and women would be allowed to vote. The following “tip” is adapted from some of my work on the principles of sustainability in promoting healthy and viable democratic systems of government.

In Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, Bill McKibben (2003) identifies Gandhi as someone who is widely revered for challenging the world to use nonviolent noncooperation as a mechanism for resistance to powerful oppressors. Yet Gandhi also represented much more. “It is no coincidence that Gandhi was also the most powerful twentieth-century spokesman for the proposition that less is more, that human satisfaction lies in respecting material limits, in opening yourself to the claims of others, in backing away from the hyper-individualism of the West” (p. 217). Are there any leaders who support sustainability, equity and social justice already in place in your community? How do we identify and unleash the leadership potential among students?

RECOMMENDATIONS: Given the changes needed for a more sustainable future that balances environmental, economic, and societal needs, we need to find leaders at every level of society and in every community, men and women, who will spearhead these changes and inspire others to follow their lead. Make a list of individuals who could lead this redirection. Identify leaders from the past who had the qualities needed today.

 In the summer of 2003, I had the opportunity to visit with Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, at the Peace House, a Belfast building that now serves as a base for various groups and projects working toward a sustainable peace in Northern Ireland. Election results continue to support the Good Friday Peace Accord.  


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns. He can be reached at ljtdat@aol.com.

For the past few weeks, over and over again we have heard, “Voting is the responsible thing to do.”  If we haven’t already done so, in 7 days, we have this responsible “thing” to do.  So today, I want to write about being “responsible” and being “helpless.”

Responsibility is defined as “being able to respond from within and doing so in accordance with one’s own and others’ expectations.”  Living in a democratic nation, we are expected to engage in voting as the “responsible thing” to do.  Yet for many reasons many of us feel “helpless” to do so.

When you were young, your responses to environmental stimuli were based upon inborn reflexes.  You reacted to sensory stimulation.  As you matured, you learned to manage and control your reactions in accordance with what you found to be pleasurable or painful.  Those reactions that you regularly repeated became unconscious habits.  Many of those habits are continued long into adulthood.  Reactivity usually becomes the standard way people function in the world.  Responding reactively sends the message that you are “helpless” to act differently…on your own.  As an adult, do you really want to send such a message?

That great Stoic Philosopher, Epicetus, wrote, “It is our attitude toward events, not the events themselves, which we can control.” When you were a teenager, you may have heard questions like, “Why can’t you be more responsible?”  Or you may have heard, “I can’t trust you with the car until you become more responsible.”  You probably became convinced that being responsible was something in which you were grossly deficient.

Many adults believe that responsibilities are the reactions or behaviors that were expected of them by someone else.  For instance, the responsibilities of walking the dog or taking out the trash, or getting good grades in school, are behaviors that fulfilled the expectations of parents and teachers.  Engaging in these responsibilities may or may not meet your own adult expectations or desires. Personal responsibility is not blame, nor is it exercising good judgment.  It is neither duties nor liabilities.  It is much more important than these.  How you choose to habitually respond, forms the foundation of your personal integrity as well as your lifestyle.  Your current mental, emotional and behavioral habits are what create your future.

Consistently reacting to external stimulation essentially makes you a victim of circumstance.  Reactivity robs you of choice.  When you consistently react to others, you give them all the power to determine how you behave.  On the other hand, consciously choosing how you want to react makes responses out of your reactions.  Responses are chosen.  Reactions are reflexive or habitual.  Being response-able is about freely choosing how you want to respond in any given situation.  Taking full responsibility is breaking the dependent, reactive habits of childhood (and victimhood).  It is exercising your freedom to respond in any way you want to any circumstance you’re in.

When I put myself in a position of being fully responsible for my choices (behavior), a wonderful thing happens…it frees you because you have no responsibility for how I choose to respond. Taking responsibility for all my attitudes, actions and choices empowers you!  It allows you to become “response-able” (able to respond).  My being able to respond to life strengthens your autonomy and allows you to consciously create your future.  I can’t blame you. I can’t blame God. I can’t blame anything or anybody.  When I assume full responsibility for my own behavior, my own despair, my own tears, my own joy, my own attainments and, I hope, my own happiness, I realize I’m no longer helpless victim. That is personal responsibility.  That is personal power!

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl describes his experiences in no less than 5 death camps during World War II.  During that time, he realized that his captors could take away his liberty, but they could not take away his freedom to respond to his situation in whatever way he chose.  Becoming response able or able to respond moves you out of the role of victim.  It is taking autonomous control of your way of being in the world.  Taking personal response-ability for all that you think, say and do, frees you to choose your own way of being in the world.  It allows you to choose new responses to old circumstances.  It allows you to re-program your unconscious habits according to your current, conscious choices.  It brings you the freedom to design and create your current lifestyle and your future.

Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”  This week, become great by choosing to vote.


Roy C. Bath has been active in the Fort Collins Rotary Peacebuilder Fellowship. He is a former Marine with combat service in Vietnam who then worked with public defenders in Colorado. He is the Coordinator of the Fort Collins Dan Lyons Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

He can be reached at royboy1947@me.com

On November 11, just after the election here in the U.S., we celebrate Veteran’s Day. As a former Marine and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I have concerns about where our elected leaders have taken us. Today, it seems to me that war permeates almost every aspect of our society. Despite the many problems we face as a nation, we continue to give 15% of our federal tax dollars to the military and roughly half of discretionary federal spending as reported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.[i] In terms of international comparisons, the U.S, spends more on the military than the next ten nations combined, as reported by the National Priorities Project.[ii] We have the military at our colleges and universities; they recruit in our schools. They recruit our youth and send them to war, declared or not.

This Armistice day, let us call on our elected leaders to rethink these priorities and renew our commitment to peace. Let us look at the COVID-19 crisis, the existential crisis facing our planet, the income inequality crisis, our health-care crisis, and our “war problem” as opportunities to create a more peaceful world. Colorado State University is home to many who have served in the Peace Corps. The Philosophy department teaches a course on peace and the University has other courses that address peace. Let’s build on what is here to further promote peace. Let us honor all the Veterans who gave their lives in war by working to create peace. It’s the decent thing to do. And let’s elect those who can support us in this direction.

Human decency demands that we do more to end war and the costs of military preparedness. I do not believe that this is a left or right issue, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democratic. Ending war and the excesses of military expenditure are really about honoring humanity, about our empathy and respect for others, trust and communication with others. Human decency is also about reverence and respect for our planet, our home, the earth and all who live upon it. Human decency demands that we work seriously to promote peace. Our children’s future depends upon it. Electing leaders who embrace this vision is essential.

The problems that we face are formidable: Are we going to have a democratically based government or an authoritarian government? Are we going to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change? Are we going to use scientific evidence to guide our response to the pandemic? Are we going to make healthcare a right?

Or are we going to continue to ignore the underemployed and the unemployed? Are we going to tackle the income inequality? Are we going to investin our youth by giving them an education that will enable them to develop their talents and abilities so that they can contribute to the overall development of our society? In short are we going to work for the betterment of our people; or will we continue to spend over a trillion dollars a year for war?

To understand the cost of war more accurately, let us take a look at the Cost of War Project at Brown University. 


The Role of Rotary in Promoting Democratic Principles Through Peacebuilding

Jim Halderman teaches court ordered, private, and prison-oriented anger management and communication skills.  A Rotarian of 29 years he is a Past District Governor, district peace committee chair, and ombudsman for District 5450. He can be reached at jimspeaker@comcast.net.

            “I have no hesitation in saying that world peace could be achieved

            and made permanent if reared on Rotary’s firm foundation of

                                    friendliness, tolerance, and usefulness”

                                                                        Paul Harris, Message to 1940 RI Convention

Recently in an unpublished paper submitted for peer review, Professor Goldstone, a sociologist, and Peter Turchin, an expert on mathematical modeling of historical societies, have concluded that the U.S. is “headed for another civil war”. The conditions for civil violence, they say, are the worst since the 19th century – in particular, the years leading up to the start of the American Civil War in 1861. The reason for this is trends that began in the 1980s.  “With regard to inequality, selfish elites and polarization have crippled the ability of the U.S. government to mount an effective response to the pandemic disease,” they write.  “This has also hampered our ability to deliver an inclusive economic relief policy and exacerbated the tensions over racial injustice.” We also currently have a stock market at an all-time high while one-half of the nation is food insecure, rent insecure, and one major auto repair away from walking.

After pages of graphs explaining their work, they do end with optimistic possibilities.  First, awareness of the issues brings potential resolutions.  Second, Goldstone believes the present has also brought out the best in some Americans.  “There’s something good in America that is still very much alive,” he said.

It is my sincere belief that Rotarians now stand in a position to be the forerunner of a positive change.  Rotary is “something good in America”.  Paul Harris began Rotary to be an alternative to the unethical business practices which had become the way of operation in Chicago.  As individuals, as communities, and as colleagues, most have endured challenging times before that ended positively.

The tools for Rotarians are extensive.  As any carpenter knows, most require training, practice, and conscious awareness.  So what is in our toolbox? Let’s start with the 4-Way Test.  

  1. Does Truth serve as the way we live at all times?  Are we comfortable calling out obvious lies we hear around us in a positive constructive manner?  Do we demand consistency of our leaders or are we OK when the lie benefits us?  Have we developed a habit of lying to avoid negative feelings? 
  • Fairness requires sensitivity to others around us.  Fairness deals with equality, justice, and consistency. 
  • The third test deals with goodwill and better friendships.  Every word we utter, action we take, or expression we make either builds our relationships or defeats a positive connection.  Do we always broadcast a positive demeanor even in front of negativity? 
  • And last, is it Beneficial to all Concerned?  If we were to take four seconds to ask ourselves these questions prior to responding to a negative event, it could positively change the outcome.

In the second drawer of our toolbox are Rotary’s Core Values of Leadership, Integrity, Service, Diversity, and Fellowship.  Rotarians are recognized for their leadership ability; they take action, and are committed to completion.  For example, Rotary is continuously recognized for the leadership and commitment shown in its efforts to eradicate polio.  Integrity was the original reason Rotary exists and remains a critical element.  “Service Above Self” is our motto and what we do.  The concept of fairness, goodwill, and beneficial to all has no limits to whom it should apply.  Rotarians are made up of great diversity throughout the Rotary world.  It is in the process of fellowship that leaders join, share ideas, and take action.

One of the newest and very exciting tools in Rotary’s toolbox as of 2017 is the relationship with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).  IEP is an independent, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress.  It quantifies and measures what works towards the development of peace.  After analyzing over 4,000 markers in 166 countries, eight pillars consistently stood out as essential to peace.  They are:

  • Well-functioning Government
    • Equitable Distribution of Resources
    • Free Flow of Information
    • Good Relations with Neighbors
    • High Levels of Human Capital
    • Acceptance of the Rights of Others
    • Low Levels of Corruption
    • Sound Business Environment

All of these function equally well on the macro or micro level.  Whether it is our neighbor next door, community, or world, all are essential to a peaceful environment.  They also point out the greatness of Rotary International’s 4-Way Test.  If we embrace this test and our core values, then these eight pillars are assumed, predictable, and automatic.  Aristotle said that a virtue is a trait of character manifested in habitual action.  Are the virtues of our magnificent toolbox always a habit with us? 

When Rotarians live to be beneficial to others, attempt to expand goodwill through better friendships, and live with integrity, they will defeat the angst and turmoil taking place in front of us. Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan mentions we all want to live as well as possible, but none of us can flourish unless we have a peaceful, cooperative social order.  And we cannot have a peaceful, cooperative social order without rules.  The moral rules, then, are simply the rules that are necessary if we are to gain the benefits of social living.  Rotary’s toolbox is filled with the most powerful moral rules.

The role, now more than ever, is for Rotarians to promote democratic principles through social living, allowing the 4-Way Test to become habit, and embracing our core values.  We must recognize our security, our peace, comes not from carrying the biggest club as someone will always find a larger one, but from the power of compassion, from love, from creating goodwill and understanding.  When taking the time to truly listen and understand another’s point of view, it is always amazing how much commonality we can discover.  As Goldstone said: “There is something good in America that’s still very much alive.”  That “good” is innate in Rotarians.  Let’s go wage peace!



See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: DECEMBER—(Timpson) A Peace Park and Peacebuilder’s Trail. JANUARY—(Timpson) Transforming Conflict. If you have ideas for future topics, please send them to any of our writer.


[1] Alien and Sedition Acts, History.com, March 2020   https://www.history.com/topics/early-us/alien-and-sedition-acts  

[2] An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/sedact.asp

[3] The Founding Fathers Feared Political Factions Would Tear the Nation Apart, History.com, March 2019  https://www.history.com/news/founding-fathers-political-parties-opinion

[4] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 10 August 1824, Founders Early Access, University of Virginia Press, 2009-2020 https://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/founders/default.xqy?keys=FOEA-print-04-02-02-4451

[5] Federalist Paper No. 10, written by James Madison in 1787 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_No._10 

[6] George Washington Farewell Address, 1796 https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

[7] 1943 October 13, Hansard, United Kingdom Parliament, Commons, Coalmining Situation, Speaking: The Prime Minister (Winston Churchill), HC Deb, volume 392, cc920-1012  http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1943/oct/13/coalmining-situation#S5CV0392P0_19431013_HOC_288

[i] See:  https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-military-forces-fy-2020-strategic-and-budget-context?gclid=Cj0KCQjw8rT8BRCbARIsALWiOvQENTxSfsyuUdX-8uYNZACxjpZaXMrE0X-pVim1lT6UedsnhBhe4wgaAtBmEALw_wcB

[ii] See: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/us-military-spending-vs-world/  



OCTOBER 2020           NUMBER 38


William Timpson, Robert Meroney, Del Benson and Lloyd Thomas.

Fort Collins Rotary Club

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to educate others by promoting the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. Visit our blog and comment if you wish: www.rotarypeacebuilder.com


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns. He can be reached at ljtdat@aol.com.

For the past few days, I have been thinking about how peace is created, developed and sustained both within ourselves and societies.  These thoughts are not new.  They have been talked about throughout history.  I hope you can find some of them useful during these stressful, uncertain times.

Back in 2005, Deepak Chopra wrote a book titled, “Peace Is The Way.”  In it he wrote about “imagine cells.”  Imagine cells are the beginnings of the metamorphosis that takes place transforming the caterpillar to a butterfly.  Out of the “biological soup” develops imagine cells that have within them the DNA information for creating the butterfly.

I like to think that imagine cells are in each of us and are the metaphorical analogy for what the individual can do to contribute to world peace.  We begin by creating our own inner peace.  When we mature as humans, we can develop personal inner peace by modifying our brain patterns by focusing on (and practicing) new thoughts, images, and language patterns.  In the book Total Life Coaching, I defined “success” as “any state of being with which you are content.”  Combining the two ideas of success and imagine cells, I think that in order for any individual, community, society or culture to be successful long-term, they must learn inner peace, they must be peacemakers, they must cope with conflict in a non-violent way, they must use the methodology of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, service, they must view every life as equally valuable as their own, and they must teach collaboration and cooperation.

To contribute to societal peace, we must relinquish our attitudes about “nationalism.”  Albert Einstein once said, “Nationalism is the cancer of humanity.”  Chopra wrote, “…nationalism, ecological abuse and religious fundamentalism are the basic blocking forces to peace.”  To me, these forces are the current dynamics that form the basis for war.

In his book, “Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You,” author, Dan Riskin, explores how all “living things are trying to [attack us], eat us, poison us, use our bodies as their homes, or have us spread their eggs.”  It seems that what we call “death” is absolutely necessary for regeneration.  Birth and death are universal life experiences.  Pablo Picasso wrote, “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”  It seems that what William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, “Life is the soul’s nursery—its training place for the destinies of eternity” is probably accurate.  Perhaps wars and disease are necessary for a new world-culture to emerge like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.  Chopra wrote: “Thank God for death.”

My own thinking: After 26 years of civil war, the people of Angola (leaders who were schooled in the Christian missionary schools) are focused not on revenge (they do not complain about past government power and control), rather on “reconciliation.”  Only through forgiveness and reconciliation can a governmental power be dissolved, thus bringing about a new and peaceful revolution which is regenerative…and “service to others” is the pathway. “The measure of life is not its duration but its donation” —Peter Marshall.

British historian, Lord Acton, coined the now-famous phrase, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Yet, we still hold up “power” (and its attainment) as a virtue.  We still believe that “Winning is everything.”  Winning through the use of power and force is considered to be the best way to evolve.  What stupidity!  Usually, the oppressed, when they win power, become like the very people against whom they have rebelled.  The most powerful alternative to force, coercion and violence are the basic tenants of most religious faiths.  Love is the most powerful force in the Universe.  It is non-corrupting.  It is the ultimate peace.  It is the only necessary force for creation and evolution.  It is the only viable method and foundation for world peace.  I agree with Henry Van Dyke when he wrote, “There is only one way to get ready for immortality, and that is to love this life and live it as bravely and faithfully, and cheerfully as we can.”

I close with the thoughts Steven Levine expressed in his poem:

“In sending love to ourselves,

we send love to all.

In sending healing we are healed.

Like birth or illness or old age,

death is just another event along the way.

                                                  —From: Healing Into Life And Death

As we cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic, I hope you find the above thoughts relieving, comforting and possibly useful as you think about peace.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Meroney@ColoState.EDU

Before you can create Peace, you must agree as to what it means.  Etymology is the study of the origin or history of words, a translation of the Greek roots of “etymology” would be the “study of or sense of truth”.  Anyone interested in peace is certainly concerned about truth which must underly its use and meaning.

The historical roots of the word Peace are the Latin “pax” or the Anglo-French term “pes” which have the synonyms harmony, tranquility, serene, calmness, completeness, wholeness,  quietude, concord, amity, and almost 80 other words commonly used in English.  Antonyms for Peace might be conflict, confrontation, discord, noise, strife, trouble, and war.

In Christian tradition the word Peace is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, of the Arabic salaam.  It came into common use from about 1300 AD as a form of personal greeting.  But shalom or salaam also held wider meanings like justice, good health, safety, wellbeing, prosperity, equity, security, good fortune, and friendliness.  Peaceful behaviors require that one is kind, considerate, respectful, just, and tolerant of others’ beliefs and behaviors.  Also, historically important is that at a personal level Peace originally included the acts of reconciliation and agreement.

Not only can Peace be active between individuals and groups, it can also represent the state of personal contentment and satisfaction.  Inner peace or being at peace in one’s own mind reflects calmness, contentment, and tranquility…an absence of irritation, disturbance, or agitation.  Some would argue that it is difficult to propagate peace among others if one is not internally peaceful or satisfied with oneself. 

Sadly, there are also more negative interpretations of Peace.   Since classical times, it has been noted that peace has sometimes been achieved by the victor over the vanquished by the imposition of ruthless measures.  Peace then becomes merely the absence of different opinions, debate, or alternate beliefs. 

A picture containing cat, person, sitting, playing

Description automatically generatedAl Capp, the creator of the cartoon character Lil Abner, conceived of an alternative character or villain known as “Smilin’ Zack”, a cadaverous, outwardly peaceable mountaineer with a menacing grin and an even more menacing shotgun.[1] He preferred things “quiet” and “peaceful”. A close up

Description automatically generated(Real quiet, that is — not breathing or anything.)   He obtained peace and quiet by eliminating any bird, animal, or person who caused noise or disturbance.

Our Peacebuilders fellowship are not interested in the definition of Peace as the absence of disagreement, difference of opinions, or slavish agreement.  We hope for a world in which differences can be resolved by reconciliation, acceptance, forgiveness, and restorative justice, and we have Peace as a deliberate choice of love for one another.

Planning and Decision-making Hexagon and a Context for Learning and Actions about Civility and Peace

Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.  He can be reached at Delwin.Benson@ColoState.EDU

People have many reasons for conflicts.  Likewise, civil and peaceful solutions should bring many disciplines together to solve problems with people.  My “Planning, Policy, and Action Hexagon” that follows identifies key considerations that affect how people interact.  Providing logic or solutions for one side of the hexagon are not adequate when other sides are affected.

Decisions are made from many different factors, interests and considerations.  The hexagon represents categories for most of our reasoning.  Too often, we try to solve problems from within one of the sides rather than linking all sides into holistic problem solving. Apply learning and actions from all disciplines when you are investigating and solving problems with people. 

Multi-dimensional parameters exist from which one’s world view is formed and within which learning, teaching, leadership, communications, and behaviors must relate.  For people to civilly interact, to change, to adapt, to practice good behaviors, and to be more peaceful, their multiple life-contexts must be addressed.  The decision-making hexagon provides an illustration of multi-disciplinary parameters that should be addressed in an interdisciplinary manner when exploring problems and when finding solutions. 

Contexts of the Hexagon include:

1. The earth’s physical and biological systems without which nothing functions properly;

2. Economics (money and trade) regulates the exchange of goods and services;

3. One’s personal psychology, personality, wants, needs, coping skills, and “investment” in the issue;

4. The norms of the group, society and cultures which enable or restrict the actions of individuals and the groups;

5. Power structures through laws and political systems that protect or suppress the rights of individuals and society; and

6. Implementation logistics with benefits or barriers that are affected by technologies, skills, and administrative authorities that arenecessaryto perform desired tasks.    

More about the Hexagon

Peace builders should understand each parameter, make integrated decisions, and help others.

The earth and biosphere have physical and biological attributes and limitations that function as one living organism.  Each part of the earth is impacted by bio/physical processes in an interrelated web of life and death that is complex and dynamic.  From the standpoint of our biosphere, there is no right and wrong, only change.  We should develop a sense of ecological place within and among societies by lessening our disconnection from nature and apply pertinent and factual considerations from various ecological disciplines.  Perhaps ecology is the discipline which can most logically, but not entirely, influence positive long-term thinking since it integrates many other disciplines within the environment.  However, tensions are caused when environmental resources are not available for use.

Society uses economics (money and trade) to exchange goods and services.  Individual and group needs depend upon exchanging natural resources directly or on the products derived from bio/physical resources and human ingenuity.  Decisions about money or trade are often at the forefront of conflicts and must be considered in civil discourse when seeking peace.

Because humans are part of the earth’s living system, they are personally impacted by and cause impacts to the system.  Humans have needs for survival, security, personal expression and personal worth.  They desire use of the world’s resources and in so doing make lasting impacts.  Individuals may be optimistic or pessimistic, conservative or liberal, conservation-minded or exploiters.  Their personalities are formed by many primitive and modern experiences.  Humans can accept or reject civility and peace simply because they choose to.

Individuals form into groups and societies with unique norms and cultures.  Race, religion, ethnicity, gender, skills, professions, politics, and education are some of the linkages which help to expand or limit thinking and behavior.  Groups can encourage or suppress individual thought and action.  Actions by groups can help or hinder civility and peace.

Society functions formally through legal and political systems where heads of families, local chieftains, committee chairs, and national leaders rise to power and reflect norms or help to establish new norms.  Persons in political power protect, suppress or lead what individuals and societies can do for civility and peace.   

Within all systems of the hexagon there are logistical limitations to what can be known, expected, or acted upon about civility and peace.  In human systems, there are barriers caused by the level of individual and group skills, how opportunities are administered by leaders and whether appropriate technologies are developed and available.  Peace is not possible and civil actions are not practiced when one lacks appropriate skills, if one’s supervisor does not allow action, or if there are no known solutions at the time.

Put the Hexagon to Work

Getting everyone involved to think and act constructively as illustrated by the hexagon are the objectives for civility and peace.  Nurturing persons’ thoughtful interest and acceptable behaviors are not easy because they are impacted differently by each parameter of the hexagon.


William Timpson, Ph.D. has been a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. He can be reached at william.timpson@colostate.edu.

As disruptive and destructive as they are, wars, conflicts and health crises can create opportunities to rethink, reassess and innovate. In Northern Ireland, a number of successful efforts emerged from the European Union’s creation of a fund for initiating peace and reconciliation projects that, it was hoped, could become self-sustaining after an initial five years of seed funding. In my time there I was able to examine the peace process still holding after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended centuries of conflict and violence that began with British colonization and exploitation. We can only hope that these kinds of grass roots community efforts could be models for other nations like Burundi that are struggling to emerge from years of disruptions.

         In this photo, different neighborhoods murals of paramilitary forces, either Protestants loyal to the United Kingdom or Catholics in the I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army), define de facto security, those who may be in control behind the scenes.  
In the photo above and a short walk away from this mural is the innovative “start-up” carpentry business T.R.E.E.—Timber Recycling Eco Enterprise—that received five-year start-up funding to address three ambitious sustainable peacebuilding efforts: (1) Converting wood from building sites that was destined for the landfill and create objects for sale to the general public (e.g., toys, stools, games); (2) training young people, especially those unemployed male youth who are too often the targets for paramilitary recruiting, in “green” carpentry skills; and (3) having Protestant and Catholic youth work side-by-side and thereby “deconstruct” the hatred, stereotyping and prejudice that each had been taught about the “other.”

In another example of post-conflict innovation, the nation of South Korea has invested in structures that they believe will nurture creativity among its citizenry. Could nations like Burundi utilize a similar state investment to propel itself and its citizens in new and productive pathways out of poverty and towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy that also promotes caring and compassion for everyone?

  In this photo, Seoul’s ddp—Design Development Center—identifies the national commitment in support of synergy, initiative and innovation. Over the past 70 years, South Korea has produced the world’s fastest rise out of the poverty and destruction of war of any nation on earth to become a developed high-income country.  

In Israel and Palestine, another area of historic conflicts and violence, we see a grassroots example of sustainable peacebuilding that could also be a model for a nation like Burundi. What was once an abundant olive grove was bulldozed by Israeli military forces because of its strategic value despite the clear documentation of ownership by a Palestinian family dating to a time long before the creation of Israel itself. Now with contributions from a world-wide effort to support its new mission of promoting understanding between former enemies, in particular, the Tent of Nations can serve as a model for converting a violent past into a peace loving present.

    In this photo, the Tent of Nations represents efforts by a Palestinian family to convert its olive farm into an international center for promoting sustainable peace building across deep divides and historic enemies. Committed to “People Building Bridges” an engraved rock outside the fence proclaims that “We Refuse to be Enemies!”

Follow the Finns for innovation and inclusive prosperity

In Learning Ife’s Lessons (2019), I draw the following historical reference: The Treaty of Versailles brought an end to World War I between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on the 28th of June in 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that had sparked five years of brutal bloodshed across Europe with over 18 million dead and 23 million wounded. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make territorial concessions, and pay reparations. While some claimed that this treaty was too weak, many historians believe that its punishing terms were unsustainable and soon led to a chaos that a Hitler and the Nazis fed on to grab power on promises of returning Germany to its military greatness. Could the tragic consequences that followed in World War II have been avoided with a more inspired and sustainable treaty that recognized the interconnections between the health of the economy, society and the environment?

In our 2016 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Sustainability, my colleagues and I point out the following. “In an analysis of the successes of the Finnish people in crafting government policy that requires heavy taxes but ensures a healthy foundation for ongoing innovation, Peter Ford (2005, “Egalitarian Finland Most Competitive, too,” Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 26.) describes their collective belief: “High level education is the key to what Pekka Himanen, a brilliant young philosopher who advises the Finnish government, calls his country’s ‘virtuous circle.’ ‘When people can fulfill their potential, they become innovators…. The innovative economy is competitive and makes it possible to finance the welfare state, which is not just a cost, but a sustainable basis for the economy, producing new innovators with social protection.’ In the end, says Jorma Sipila, the Chancellor of Tampere University, Finland’s inclusive social model is its best guarantee for the future. ‘The conditions for a flourishing economy are so demanding that the state has to make social investments to raise competent people and take care of dropouts so that they carry their share of the burden.’… Marrying prosperity and social protection is the only sustainable future” (6–7).

The questions we now ask are these? How could other communities build on these models of innovation to recover from a violent past and move into a more sustainable and peaceful future?


See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: NOVEMBER—(Timpson) A Peace Park and Peacebuilder’s Trail. DECEMBER—(Timpson) Transforming Conflict.

If you have ideas for future topics, please send them to any of our writers.


[1] Smilin’ Zack was a secondary character in the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li%27l_Abner#Supporting_characters_and_villains



SEPTEMBER 2020        NUMBER 37


William Timpson, Robert Meroney, Robert Lawrence, Del Benson

and Lloyd Thomas, Fort Collins Rotary Club, and

Paul Gessler, Fort Collins Chapter of Veterans for Peace

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns. He can be reached at ljtdat@aol.com.

In the last few months, the topic of “civility” has filled our news stories, our political discussions and even our behavioral protests.  What is civility?  How is it expressed?  Of what value is it?  What does incivility mean?  How can civility be taught?  How can civil discourse contribute to the development of a civil (peaceful?) society?  Recently, such questions have been raised in response to the pandemic, to the civil unrest in our streets, even to our political discourse and our electoral processes.

 The issues around today’s civility are much more complex than politeness or good manners.  And they are not new.  Even George Washington, at age 16, wrote about civility in his 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.  His first rule was, “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”  Certainly today, respect for others remains a critical aspect of what we mean by civility.  In his book, Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy (1998) Harvard law professor, Stephen Carter, writes that “[civility is] An attitude of respect, even love, for our fellow citizens.”   Such respect is first learned through the language and behaviors exemplified by parents and teachers of children.

The acquisition of language is the result of complex learning by imitation and repetition.  It is the habitual attribution of meaning to the sounds made by parents in association with environmental events.  Learning language is a natural, human skill and all babies are born with the ability to learn it.  All children, no matter which language their parents speak, learn a language in the same way.   Research has shown that babies begin to learn language sounds even before they are born.  This means that at this stage infants can learn any language that they are exposed to. Gradually babies figure out which sounds they are hearing the most.  If what they hear is loud, angry, demeaning, humiliating, degrading, vulgar or racist, they will learn to speak in the same way using the same words.  Their discourse becomes uncivil.  Conversely, if they hear words that are

comforting, gentle, caring, encouraging, supportive and respectful…they will learn the language of civility…even love.  So “civility” can be defined as the common language for communicating respect for one another.

The capacity to engage in civil discourse exists in all human beings.  It is critical to the development of healthy interpersonal relationships and reflects our ability to connect with other human beings by verbally and non-verbally sharing our ideas, opinions and feelings.  It is essential for us to establish and maintain positive interpersonal interactions with others, thereby getting our needs met, developing our human potential, remaining safe in our environment and being able to give and receive compassionate (empathic) behavior.

Nicole Billante and Peter Sounders live in Australia.  They have co-authored a commentary in the Australian magazine, Poliev (vol. 18. no. 3), titled Why Civility Matters.  They write, “Contemporary confusion over the informal rules of social interaction goes to the heart of what it means to be a citizen in a free and open society.”  They offer three reasons why civility is essential to a democratic way of life: Civility is a moral virtue; Civility aids social cooperation; and Civility is the desirable alternative to repression.  They write, Civility is a good in and of itself: …Being civil towards others is part of being a good and moral person.  More specifically, it signals to other people our willingness to obey shared rules and to regulate our behavior so as not to undermine their well-being.”  Even Stephan Carter (above) agrees with them when he writes, “how we should treat our fellow citizens is independent of the question of how we feel like treating them.”  Our democratic values should be reflected in our civil discourse with our fellow citizens.  Values such as: “all persons are equal under the law” and should be treated that way; and in our democracy, “no one is above the law” no matter what position is held in our country.

 Billante and Sounders’ second reason for civility is its effective aid to “social cooperation.”  “…we need to be civil to each other if social life is to function efficiently and with a minimum of unnecessary conflict and disruption. …A spirit of mutual cooperation and ‘give-and-take’ enables us to get more done more efficiently than when people have to be monitored, regulated or coerced.”  We are much more creative, attain greater goals and are much more successful at keeping our freedoms when we converse and cooperate with one another in a civil manner.

Their third reason for civility is that it “is the desirable alternative to repression.”  They write that the reason we “should take civility seriously is that the self-regulation it demands of people is all that stands between us and increasing coercion by the state.”  They quote Edmund Burke who wrote in 1791, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their own disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.”  Unless we want the law or the state to intervene in our lives, we need to recognize the truth of what my father taught me: “…your freedom ends where my nose begins.”  This answers the question of how far and how well our individual liberties are to be restricted or restrained.  Billante and Sounders describe this dynamic this way: “In liberal-democratic capitalist societies, individuals legitimately pursue their own self-interest through two spheres of power—the market economy and the political system.  Both offer ways of aggregating individual interests into collectively-binding outcomes…”  Civil discourse enables people to agree on what actions result in fulfilling both individual interests and addressing “the common good” of any society.  Only in civil discourse can both be kept in balance.

Finally, I want to share a quotation from Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments,”  which he wrote in 1759: “When the happiness or misery of others depends in any respect upon our conduct,

we dare not, as self-love might suggest to us, prefer the interest of one to that of many. . . .One individual must never prefer himself so much even to any other individual as to hurt or injure that other in order to benefit himself, [even] though the benefit to the one should be much greater than the hurt or injury to the other.”   Clearly, the key to a civil society lies in not only the actions but also in the language we use while interacting with each other in ways that neither hurt nor injure any other of our fellow human beings.


Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.  He can be reached at Delwin.Benson@ColoState.EDU

Justice represents honest communications, fair behaviors, ethical treatment, peaceful outcomes, and genuine respect for people.  Justice is part individual actions and incorporated into society’s codes of conduct, laws, and practices of governments. Manners are what individuals learn at home, school, and in their communities that enable them to function with acceptable actions as part of their society. Normative behaviors are not the same for all peoples, places, and times.

Civility describes a citizen with orderly behavior. The sense of politeness arose in language during the mid-16th century.  Of course, not everyone is a citizen. Order takes many forms.  Politeness has different meanings around the world. Interacting thoughtfully with others is important and civil.

I usually equate lessons from animals and the environment with how people might behave, but justice, manners, and civility are human constructs that primitive animals have not and cannot comprehend nor help to educate humans.  Humans with advanced brains for communication, keeping records, and planning for futures are in a different category than other animals.  Humans form standards for reasoning, educating, and behavior that are communicated to others over generations.  Other animals lack this sophistication.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, acceptable actions change in space and time. Thoughtful persons continuously work to improve their actions and words that describe acceptable behaviors to others.  Societies should advance with time on this finite planet, but conflicts over land, people, and ideologies resurface over time.

History teaches about conflicts and change.  Psychology and Sociology help us to understand why. Education is our means to learn about becoming more just, mannerly, and civil. Everyone is correct from their perspectives according to Chris Maser in Resolving Environmental Conflict Second Edition. Chris Maser and Carol A. Polio (CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, 241 pp).  Managing conflicts and resolving correctness are not easy processes; thus, persons can become embroiled in debate, controversy, and conflict over their perspectives and the words used to describe them.

A fun little book by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, simplifies very complex reasons to be just, mannerly, and civil with others.  If only the world could live by these simple ideas.

  1. Share everything.
  2. Play fair.
  3. Don’t hit people.
  4. Put things back where you found them.
  6. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51KpGxyrDcL._SL500_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgDon’t take things that aren’t yours.
  7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  8. Wash your hands before you eat.
  9. Flush.
  10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  12. Take a nap every afternoon.
  13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – “LOOK.”

Justice, manners, and civility start with the willingness to “LOOK,” to seek, to understand, and to appreciate interests and needs of others. Playing fairly with others can result.

Use diplomacy before aggression to communicate human interests and the messages are heard with less conflict. Fulghum’s simple principles can be elaborated upon and applied to environments and people most everywhere if there is a willingness to try.   When in the world of conflict and opportunity, watch out for the traffic of injustice, use your manners to help each other, and hold hands in civility.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Meroney@ColoState.EDU

Robert Lawrence, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor on Political Science with an equally long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Lawrence@ColoState.EDU)

Civility should be an aspiration of individuals, groups, politicians, and nations.  It is the glue in communications that make exchange of ideas and opinions work.  It is absolutely essential for love between persons, successful diplomacy between nations, compromise among politicians, and

peace building.  Civility comes from the word civis, which in Latin means “citizen”, and it implies behavior befitting a citizen.  Civility is often proposed as the way we protect diversity as well as active disagreement in the public sphere.  So why are so many relationships among people and nations broken?   Who are those who practice “uncivil” behavior?

Civility is used by people in different ways, often it is used constructively and may be the foundation of tolerant societies, but sometimes accusations of uncivility are used as a weapon to discredit the person or group with which one disagrees.  Nobody believes they are uncivil…it is always the other guy.  But listen to the words spoken by many Democratic and Republican political leaders, proponents of different religions, Eastern and Western heads of state, or even worse, yourself!  If one pays attention carefully to the choice of words by some so-called civility protagonists, it is something more sinister–a covert demand for conformity that silences dissent.  The implication is that if you disagree with the speaker you are, by definition, promoting uncivil behavior.  Thus, such civility is often essentially a sham, bullshit, or a way to be self-righteous and paint the opponent as unrighteous and unreasonable.[1]

Sir Winston Churchill said, “Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”[2]  The mere act of disagreement to such people can be offensive and intolerable.  The other is being bigoted, stupid, or even insane, and his/her opinions seem an insult to the individual.  How can one then be pleasant when talking about race, religion, politics, etc.  without hate, violence, or destruction of peace?  It is all too easy for each side to call the other “uncivil” and claim the moral high ground.  (Here are links to two examples with opposing accusations of false civility.) [3], [4]

Throughout history many nations have acknowledged the importance of effective communication.  We should be very proud that the United States stressed from the very beginning that through the First Amendment to the US Constitution in 1791 freedom of speech is assured.  Similarly, England’s Bill of Rights in 1689 legally established the constitutional right of freedom of speech in parliament.  The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which was adopted during the French Revolution in 1789 affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right.  John Stuart Mill’s book On Liberty published in 1859, argued freedom of speech was the first in importance of the three basic liberties.   Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the United Nations states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, expression without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart such opinions through any media. 

But it was also generally recognized that such a freedom imposes responsibilities that avoid obscenity, libel, incitement to violence, the right to privacy, and dignity, i.e.…Civility.  Realistically, for people to “listen” to free speech the speaker must practice discretion, acceptance of alternative viewpoints, and respect for other’s right to speech and person, i.e… Civility.  Yet at the same time both still retain the right to identify speech they think is dangerous or wrong.   Civility should not

mean self-suppression of opinions to avoid unpleasantness.  That would be “fake civility.”

Again, civility is what allows a tolerant society to live with disagreements, but it does not mean that differences of opinion should just be unspoken or identified.   Civility is very very difficult to maintain, it takes courage and must be practiced face to face despite the possible unpleasantness of the subject matter.

Author Teresa Bejan suggests that we should instead try for “mere civility”:  the virtue of being able to disagree fundamentally with others without destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow.[5]   Civility thus requires that difficult topics be spoken in terms that express opinions without straying into expressions which are “unforgiveable.”  Again, this can be very difficult when opinions are held fervently. 

There are techniques to avoid escalation of disagreements and maintain “mere civility”, for example:

  • Avoid the use of the pronoun “you” when expressing opinions that tend to assign blame,
    • Say “Those words make me uncomfortable…” rather than “You are a bigot…”,
    • Say “Have you considered these alternatives…”  rather than “You are wrong…”,
  • Avoid flaunting “symbols” of disagreement that cause emotional responses and destroy communication before discussions even begin,
    • Confederate or Nazi flags, images of burning crosses, blackface makeup, hangman’s noose, etc. or
    • Anthems or music that denigrate the opponent positions,
  • Avoid insulting labels or abusive ad hominem arguments that demean the opponent,[6], [7]
    • Designating an opponent as a member of the law firm: Lyin’, Liddle, Sloppy, Sneaky, Crazy, Crooked and Pocahontas is not helpful, or
    • Distorting other’s names into swear words: Rep. Adam Schiff to “little Adam Shitt.”[8]
  • Practice active listening, do not interrupt, allow the other speaker to complete their thought,[9] and
  • Do not accept “uncivil”, rude, or hateful behavior in others as normal.

Finally, it is worth noting that sometimes there is no intention or effort made to establish civil discourse, arrive at compromise, or avoid confrontation.  History is full of political opponents who determine they are better served by destroying their enemy using any means available including distortion, exaggeration, emotional context, photoshopped content, fearmongering, and even

falsehood.[10]  Political campaign ads using short video clips have become endemic in every election since 1964.  Such approaches are not appropriate if the intention is to achieve harmony as opposed to victory at any cost.

So, it is important to expect various roles for “civility” in public discourse.   Politeness, courtesy, and respect are never wasted effort.  It can be the willingness to agree to disagree during

communication even when stressful and engaging to curtail one’s own immediate self-interest to allow continued conversation.

Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged the importance of tension in disagreement to achieve justice.  “I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”[11]


William Timpson, Ph.D. has been a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. He can be reached at william.timpson@colostate.edu.

In Learning Life’s Lessons (2019) I make reference to January 1892 when Ellis Island opened to immigration providing a gateway that inspired millions of immigrants to leave their ancestral homelands, emigrate to the U.S. and escape from oppressive conditions in the hope of starting a new life. While life could be very difficult, new opportunities awaited for these immigrants as Native Americans were killed, pushed aside, or restricted to reservations and prime land was given to Homesteaders from Europe.With the right leadership, expectations about civility might have helped calm the conflicts. The following “Tip” is adapted from #2 in 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation.

Johan Galtung (1969, 1988) infused peace theory, or a set of principles that guide peace thinking and peace education practices, with the concepts of negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace can be understood as the absence of direct physical violence—war, domestic violence, etc. Positive peace can be understood as conditions without indirect violence—both a lack of trust, intimidation, the presence of fear, bullying, and conditions without structural violence. Educative efforts toward positive peace seek to build new macro-structural alignments that promote capacity, prosperity and happiness for all, as well as trust in peace, trust in relationships, hope, and reflection on positive conditions that create peace. 

The following activity provides an opportunity for people to reflect on past, present, and future conditions of peace, thus generating positive memories, present mindfulness, and future possibilities. Outside or in a large room, ask a group to form two circles with even numbers—one inner circle, one outer circle. People should stand face to face. Ask them to introduce themselves to their partner.

Use the following series of questions and time each question (about 3 minutes each) and then rotate. “Describe a peaceful time in your life.” After 3 minutes of back and forth discussion, ask the inner or outer circle to move one, two, or three people to the left or to the right; this promotes interaction with multiple members of the circle.

Then ask: “Describe a time when there was peace in your community, your nation, or the world?”

Then ask them to fill in the blank: “I currently find peace when ____; my community finds peace when_____; the nation ____; the world ____.” Finally, ask them to fill in the blanks: “I will find peace when____; my community will find peace when _______; the nation_____; the world____.” Debrief by identifying the conditions for peace from the personal to the global level; write them on a chart. 

Conscientious Objection is a way to say no to nukes

Paul Gessler is an Air Force veteran who was stationed in Wyoming at a missile site. He is the founder of the Fort Collins Chapter of Veterans for Peace and a frequent participant in the F.C. Rotary Club’s Peacebuilder Fellowship. He refers to himself as a conscientious objector to militarism.

A demonstration of a moral wound hampering our nation was self-evident on the 75th commemoration of the 2 atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Japan August 6th and 9th, 1945. In the ensuing 75 years it can be safe to argue that the United States has leveraged two anti-communist wars, an oil war and the present war on terror in quest to have what its war lords thought of as nuclear-leveraged world dominance. What was absent from the many commemorations surrounding the events, was the lack of acknowledgment that the use of and possession of nuclear weapons has accelerated America’s decline as a world power.  Could it be time to cash in nuclear weapons and make the world safe for civility?

Nuclear weapons are like a bigoted racist overlord. As easily as the government built and leveraged these weapons for world domination over the past 75 years, we the people can demand our government leverage these weapons to broker and insure the peace.  As we abandon nuclear arsenals our leaders will be able to return to the road of democracy and functioning government.  Where once existed lies, opinion, mistrust and division, we can easily build truth, verification and civil discourse.  But it takes an acknowledgment and a renunciation of racist brainwashing and propaganda that support the war footing. Nuclear weapons are illegal according to the Nurnberg war tribunals because they fit into the category of planned genocide. Conscientious objector status is a gentle declaration against racist militarism, symbolized by nuclear weapons.  Isn’t it time to give peace a chance?

August 28th is the 92nd anniversary of the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  Idaho Senator Frank Kellogg and French diplomat Aristide Briand wrote up a document outlawing war as an instrument of National Policy after the heinous slaughter of World War I. It was eventually signed by the United States, Soviet Union, Germany, and Japan. Great Britain had their empire and did not abide to the

pact.  Kellogg-Briand became the law of the United States by a vote of 85 to 1 in the same year.  Unfortunately, the United States violated its own law and seized the 2nd World War as an opportunistic road to assert its empire, albeit illegally.

One hopeful sign coming into play before the election is making the non-accountability practiced at the pentagon, accountable to the laws of our land. This epidemic of non-accountability has brought down the curtain where the wizard of total destruction is leveraging, with false privilege and arrogance to a virus.  One proven way to counter the effects of this militaristic, deep state of denial, is conscientious objector status.  Don’t fall into the propaganda trap! 

I invite veterans and their families to vote for giving peace a chance. We heal this deep moral wound affecting our nation by being accountable to each other, because we know the moral wound is too

great for just a few to bear the burden. For our civic and political leaders, I urge shaking off the dust upon the binding covers of the Kellogg-Briand pact law and act to boldly abolish nuclear weapons. We can all opt out of this unhealthy aggression and become conscientious objectors to the madness.   Warning:  sanity, peace and reasoned thought may happen.


See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: OCTOBER—(Thomas) How peace is created. If you have ideas for future topics, please send them to any of our writers.

[1] Teresa Bejan, Is civility a sham?   https://www.ted.com/talks/teresa_bejan_is_civility_a_sham?language=en

[2] Sir Winston Churchill, Speech before U.K. Parliament on October 13, 1943, contained in Churchill By Himself, compiled and edited by Richard M. Langworth, RosettaBooks, Kindle Edition, 12 December 2013, 658 pp. 

[3] Henry Racette (2018), Pushing Back: True and False Civility, https://ricochet.com/557879/archives/pushing-back-true-and-false-civility/

[4] Chris Ladd (2018), The Tyranny of False Civility, https://www.politicalorphans.com/the-tyranny-of-false-civility/

[5] Teresa Bejan (2019), Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration, Harvard University Press, 288 pages.

[6] ZZ Packer (2018), When is ‘Civility’ a Duty, and When Is It a Trap?, New York Times Magazine, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/magazine/when-is-civility-a-duty-and-when-is-it-a-trap.html

[7] An ad hominem argument is one which uses a personal attack to replace logical argumentation unrelated to the truth of the debated issues.  This approach is generally considered a logic fallacy because it is usually irrelevant.

[8] Michael Burke (2018), Trump labs Schiff ‘little Adam Schitt’, The Hill, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/417335-trump-labels-schiff-little-adam-schitt

[9] Interruptions are permissible in a “discourse” as opposed to a “harangue.” Interruptions should be constructive and limited to questions that continue discussion, interjections that relate to the subject, or alternatives that might expand the topic.

[10] Joanna Weiss (2020), What the Lincoln Project Ad Makers Get About Voters (and What Dems Don’t), Politico Magazine, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/07/06/lincoln-project-ads-republicans-democrats-349184

[11] Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963), Letter from a Birmingham Jail,  https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_ Birmingham.html



William Timpson, Del Benson, Robert Meroney, and Lloyd Thomas, Fort Collins Rotary Club; Jim Halderman, Rotary District 5450; and Roy C. Bath, Fort Collins Dan Lyons Chapter of Veterans for Peace

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. The lead essay examines the characteristics of love—consider these qualities when you read through the other contributions and consider how we get more “love” in our discussions and race, systemic changes and peacebuilding.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist, and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

 He can be reached at ljtdat@aol.com.

Lena Tabori, publisher and founder of Welcome Enterprises, Inc., wrote, “I think growing into a loving person is a little like becoming an artist.  You start with yourself, then you learn by imitating the ‘masters’—parents, writers, film makers—and finally, with everyone else’s experiences rattling around in your head, you begin to absorb it all and find your own form.”  If Ms. Tabori is correct, all of us would become more loving if we could easily identify and imitate the people who are most loving.  What are some of their character qualities?  In what actions do they regularly engage?  Here are a few characteristics of love that have been recognized for centuries.


  • They give to others even in the midst of crises.  They give even when others are feeling a lack of some kind.  They give of themselves without complaint or resentment.
  • Non-judgmental. They accept “as is” the reality of any situation or circumstance even when others are angry and judgmental (and complaining).
  • They take caring actions and risks even when they are scared.
  • They demonstrate a peace of mind and heart even when threatened or when others are fearful.
  • They show kindness even when others are displaying hostility, aggression, or destructiveness.
  • When the majority of others are aggressively pushing to be “first” or “the winner” no matter what the cost, lovers remain cooperative and willing to collaborate instead of competitive.
  • They confront adversity with a sense of calm curiosity and desire to understand.
  • They attend to the present moment with an open heart and an open mind.  They expand and strengthen their awareness with focused attention.
  • Self-accepting. They are aware and accepting of who they really are…their talents, weaknesses, biases, attitudes and habits.
  • They enjoy being themselves and they celebrate being alive.
  • They acknowledge that everything in Life is a gift for which they very grateful.

Probably the best thing about being a loving human being is: you set an example for others to imitate and you give permission to others to be the same.

Most of us probably would like to become more loving.  If we were to pick one or two of the above characteristics and practiced them daily with focused attention for at least 21 days, they would become unconscious habits (automatic).  Thereafter, we could choose another couple of loving qualities to strengthen in ourselves.  If we followed that schedule of development, in a year’s time we would transform ourselves, our character into maximally loving human beings.  Let’s begin.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University. He can be reached at Robert.Meroney@ColoState.EDU

The death of George Floyd in Minnesota is only one additional obscene act in the name of racism, bigotry, white supremacy, and corrupt police enforcement.  Fifty-six years ago, on June 21, 1964 three civil rights workers were murdered by Mississippi law enforcement officers and KKK white supremacists in Philadelphia, Mississippi.[1] Those murdered were Michael Schwerner, James Charney and Andrew Goodman members of CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) who had gone to the site of recent attacks on blacks and arson at the local Mount Zion Church.  As they drove away, they were stopped and arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price on unclear charges possibly speeding or accusations of having set the fire themselves.

Unknown to them Schwerner had been targeted by the local KKK for his attempts to Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 2.36.58 PMregister blacks and organize a black boycott of white-owned businesses.  The local White Knights Imperial Wizard Samuel H. Bowers and Edgar Ray Killen, a Baptist Preacher, sawmill owner, and KKK member coordinated the capture of the three men, arranged to hide the CORE station wagon, directed the beating and killing of the men, and ordered their burial in an earthen dam on a KKK member’s farm.  The white victims were shot each once in the heart, the black victim was beaten, castrated, and shot three times (an autopsy found dirt in his lungs, which suggests he was buried still alive).  Eighteen men, including the Neshoba-County Sheriff who had previously shot and killed a black motorists who was getting out of a car but never prosecuted, another 25-year veteran of the Philadelphia police known for his cruelty to blacks and previously indicted in a separate civil rights case, the local Deputy Sheriff, and fifteen others who included local business owners, and supposedly honorable discharged Army, Marine and Navy service men were identified by the FBI for indictment, although it was believed many others took part.

After the three victims were buried, Deputy Sheriff Price told the group:

Well, boys, you’ve done a good job. You’ve struck a blow for the white man. Mississippi can be proud of you. You’ve let those agitating outsiders know where this state stands. Go home now and forget it. But before you go, I’m looking each one of you in the eye and telling you this: The first man who talks is dead! If anybody who knows anything about this ever opens his mouth to any outsider about it, then the rest of us are going to kill him just as dead as we killed those three sonofbitches [sic] tonight. Does everybody understand what I’m saying. The man who talks is dead, dead, dead. 

In a federal trial in 1967 seven of the men were found guilty, a dead-locked jury occurred for two of the defendants including Edgar Killen about whom a lone juror stated she “could never convict a preacher.”  Sentences ranged from three to ten years, but none served more than six years.  Four decades later on June 21, 2005 (the 41st anniversary of the crime), a state court convicted Edgar Killen on three counts of murder based on a taped conversation and additional evidence.  He was convicted of man slaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison.  He died in prison six days before his 93rd birthday on January 11, 2018.

The oil-painting shown above was prepared by Norman Rockwell for a 1965 issue of Look magazine.[2]  The painting depicts the three victims, but Deputy Price and his gun, stick and chain wielding posse were removed and represented only by menacing shadows.  Rockwell originally conceived the Murder in Mississippi as a horizontal composition to run across two pages.  The young victims would be pictured to the left and Philadelphia Deputy Price and the posse of Klansmen wielding sticks and guns on the right.

Rockwell used models to compose the painting, and the original sketches are shown below.      Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 2.35.54 PM


William Timpson, Ph.D. has been a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. What follows is an adaptation from a chapter for our 2015 book, “Conflict, Reconciliation, and Peace Education: Moving Burundi toward a Sustainable Future” (New York, NY: Routledge), I was joined by two Burundians. Elavie Ndura is now a Vice-President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Gallaudet University while Apollinaire Bangayimgaga continues his work as the Rector of the University of Ngozi. He can be reached at william.timpson@colostate.edu.

Every nation and every citizen in every nation must learn to handle their conflicts, any violence that erupts, as well as the possibilities they have for sustainable peace and development. Those countries that consistently top the charts for quality of life, economic performance and school success—e.g., the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark—have a good mix of public and private investments, equitable expenditures per student regardless of the per capita income of their communities, national health care, generous foreign aid and a limited military. The U.S., for example, scores quite low on these measures and the recent waves of protests over the killings of African-Americans highlights the consequences of a “lower quality of life.”

As one of the poorest nations on earth, Burundi scores poorly on every factor of economic and societal well-being although peace has stopped the hemorrhaging of blood and resources that characterized the forty years of civil war. Sadly, this nation must invest a sizable amount of its budget to maintaining the security necessary to preserve the peace and prevent another slide into violence.

Colonization and conflict

As the U.S. is forced to revisit the legacy of slavery, of the taking of Native lands, of the forced removal of Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War Two, and of the historic undervaluing of Hispanic farm workers that continues today, Burundians face a parallel legacy imposed by first the German and then Belgian colonizers. Historic divisions between Hutu (84% of the population), Tutsi (14%) and Twa (2%) were exploited to ensure their control and profit. Taking advantage of these tribal divisions and reinforcing them with social, economic and educational privileges kept the minority Tutsi in power and dependent on the colonizer’s advantages in weapons.



This small, impoverished, and crowded nation of nearly eleven million people, considered one of the poorest countries in the world, is now making a transition out of an historic and imposed tribalism, reinforced by the pseudoscience of racial hierarchies, as well as the forty years of civil war and violence that erupted after independence in 1962.

To the right is an artistic rendition of the unchaining of Black Africans from European colonizes that unleashed independence movements throughout the continent. Although there was much violence that accompanied these expressions, some of this must be attributed to the active competition of the superpowers during the “Cold War”.


bill painting

In 1972 these factors exploded into a horrific and violent assault as the ruling Tutsi unleashed its army, predominantly Tutsi in its make-up, on the majority Hutu population and murdered some 200,000 of their leaders, i.e., those with an education. When tensions rose again in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, civil war erupted and another 250,000 to 600,000 were killed. In addition, 800,000 were forced to flee the country, and another 150,000 displaced.

Helped by the involvement of Nelson Mandela, emerging as a leader respected throughout the world, the Arusha Peace Accord in 2000 forged an agreement between the combatants about real power sharing with required minimums for each tribal group in civic posts, the military and the police. With large numbers of both tribal members at every level of the military and police, it would be unlikely that any one faction could impose its rule on the other. It is striking to note that the U.S. military is the most integrated segment of the U.S.

In the City of Ngozi, Hutu and Tutsi leaders banded together to maintain the calm despite the bloody chaos elsewhere. This small city of approximately 21,000 became a refuge when violence erupted elsewhere and villages were burning on neighboring hillsides, the rising smoke making the nightly sunsets a hauntingly blood red. But local leaders went further and created the first private university in Burundi in 1999 just as all that violence was subsiding and dedicated it to promoting peace and reconciliation.



Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.

Peoples have historically overpowered others, claimed space, defended territories, became refuges or slaves, or were killed.  With expansions and conflicts, societies also developed systems of order to behave more “fairly.”  Laws, treaties, compacts, regulations, and ideologies change over time. Some rulings were purposefully neglected and that added to the conflicts.

We face new human realities more quickly in modern times as societies become more mobile and diverse.  Members of society need civil thoughts, words, and actions if we are ever to understand and to accept positive changes to human nature.

Current race relations in the US and world have both social and economic realities. Poor persons may poach, steal, and forcibly try to overcome their status if they must. Rich people will continue to protect what they have “earned” and learned.  Aside from bringing economic and social wellbeing to higher levels, society has the added angst and desires for reparations from how humans were treated and mistreated over time.  But where and when can a line be drawn about fair treatment…except in the present.

Current racial tensions in the US are sometimes traced to and are suggested to be caused by colonial expansion from western Europe.  However, perspective about slaves should not be relegated to skin color, nor should it be viewed as a relatively modern phenomenon.  Peoples have oppressed others over history and around the world.

My favorite read of the summer is my second read of The Silk Roads: a new history of the world by Peter Frankopan, Vintage Books, 2015. Aside from being inclusive of eastern cultures and not just western-centered as I learned in school, he also acknowledges with detail about the uses and abuses of slaves by most peoples, most everywhere, most of the time. The word “slave” came from Scandinavian movements inland who claimed people in modern Slavic regions that were sold primarily in the east and which resulted in the general term of slave.  These “Viking Rus” from the north led to the naming of Russia.  The image of “raping and pillaging” from the North Sea and Atlantic as we might have learned, is not totally correct or fair. What we know depends on what we experience, read, learn, and retain. Slaves did not come just from Europe.

Over the past 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were victims of the transatlantic slave trade according to the United Nations. Slaves also were sold to the east.


Overview of the slave trade out of Africa, 1500-1900. David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, 2010).

To commemorate the memory of the victims, the General Assembly, in its resolution 62/122 of 17 December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually.

Unfortunately, more slaves are sold currently, and skin color is only one factor.  Contemporary slavery, also known as modern slavery or neo-slavery, refers to institutional slavery that continues to occur in present-day society. Estimates of the number of slaves today range from around 21 to 46 million: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_21st_century.

Most cultures in time exploited natural resources and local peoples for necessity and survival, progress and expansion, ideologies  and beliefs, for personal gain, and to defend what they currently possessed. Peoples who stood in the way of expansion were either indentured as workers, novelties, prized possessions, sold as merchandise, or killed.  Persons of little use could not be fed when resources for the victor were limited. Local peoples sold their own and opposing tribe members to the highest bidders.

Non-human animals know this survival process well, but not the human-trafficking propensity of homo sapiens except by establishing social pecking orders among their groups.  Animals of the same species defend territories for food, shelter, space, and mating.  They avoid intruders when they can. They leave the area if the social system is too crowded. If too many try to stay together, they might run out of food or be forcibly excluded from it. Animals sometimes fight to the death when posturing (negotiation in human terms) is not working. When there is no place to flee and find resources and mates, then the animals, populations, and some species become endangered or are eliminated.

Species of animals avoid other species to prevent inbreeding and some species are the predators while others are the prey.  Those roles seldom change.  Even herbivores that eat vegetation are predatory on the plants and numbers must ideally be balanced with the production from lands and waters or the animals die.

Humans are capable to expand their ranges widely, and progressively more easily, which adds to dilemmas of peaceful and civil interactions.

Dwelling on the past and blaming others seems to serve us with few solutions.  Rather, it is up to each person, nation, and culture, to learn the principles of civil thoughts, words and deeds.

Using the Rotary 4-Way Test would seem to reduce many roadblocks that societies face for reacting civilly toward the other.

Of what we think, say and do:

  1. Is it the Truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?



Jim Halderman teaches court ordered, private, and prison-oriented anger management and communication skills.  A Rotarian of 29 years he is a Past District Governor, district peace committee chair, and ombudsman for District 5450. He can be reached at jimspeaker@comcast.net.

With responses from William Timpson (WT)

We abhor the thought, talk and sight of war, yet it remains ubiquitous.  We say, “War is hell” while spending billions of dollars to improve our skills at it.  War remains paradoxical: blood nourishes the olive branch; peace is war’s purpose; order is established through the harsh tools of disorder.  This paradox begs the question:  Is war essential in an intelligent society?  Is war innate in man?  Could there be another way to achieve the intended outcome?

(WT) Given this argument, do we need a different metaphor for addressing public protests? The President of the US has used the language of “dominance”, for example. Given that we as a nation we seem very reluctant to really look seriously at underlying inequalities in housing, schooling and wealth, do we need to use other metaphors, of “exploration” for example?

I have thought about these questions quite often since that sunny day walking along a stream.  As many twelve-year olds would do, I picked up a stone and tossed it at an object.  This day the object was a frog perched in the sun on a stone in the middle of the rushing stream.  Knowing the safest place to be was the object of my throwing intention, I did not fear for it.  And the next moment changed my life forever.  I could never go back to where I was.   I hit the frog and….killed it.   Looking at the guts of the frog scattered on the rock, I was stunned at what just happened.  An insignificant action, so it seemed, instantly took a life.  Perhaps, you would say, it was ONLY a frog’s life, but at least to the frog it was a major consequence.  For me, it was an unintended consequence that has changed me forever.

(WT) It seems obvious to me that many segments of the American culture systematically favor those with wealth leaving poor people with far fewer chances to improve their lives over what their parents had provided. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic certainly made these inequalities so clear and striking with the poor and people of color having far higher infection rates and fatalities. Seeing this and using Hardeman’s wording, I find that I can “never go back to where I was”.

There is a lot of work to be done to benefit many.  Maybe the best preparation for discussing war is having a heart at peace.  Remember, it is not necessary to change all hearts because most are already at peace.  We need only to change the hearts of a few that lead the many.  No, in an intelligent society, war is not essential.  What is essential is a discussion about the possibilities for peace with hearts that are truly at peace.

(WT) Hearing Jim’s call to “benefit many” hopefully enough of us will respond and address some of the deeper social class and racial inequities that have plagued the U.S. for far too long and are the source for so many enduring conflicts and problems.



Roy C. Bath has been active in the Fort Collins Rotary Peacebuilder Fellowship. He is a former Marine with combat service in Vietnam who then worked with public defenders in Colorado. He is the Coordinator of the Fort Collins Dan Lyons Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

He can be reached at royboy1947@me.com

Someone once said that the corona virus was like shaking a tree so hard that a lot of things fell out of it. The corona virus has shaken our planet quite hard, and has given the tree of our nation quite a shaking, and the time to see what has been shaken loose. Thanks to the time given us to examine and ponder things, some of what has fallen is now available for us all to see. One of the things we are able to see more clearly now are the “giant triplets”.

The triplets are “giant” obstacles to the promotion of peace here in the communities of America and the rest of the world. The three “giant triplets” are referred to in a speech given in 1967 by Martin Luther King:  “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”[3]

The giant triplets—racism, militarism, and extreme materialism—are closely related. The triplet of “extreme materialism” in its present form is very similar, if not synonymous with “Capitalism” as it exists in America. Many of our nation’s capitalists today and in the past, leave our nation in order to exploit other nation’s people’s labor in order to pursue even greater profit for themselves.

Many corporations don’t pay taxes at all, while funds for food stamps for those in need are cut. This is considered “necessary” by some because the food programs cost “too much”, and some of the people who get the food stamps are “gaming the system”.  People lose their homes when they commit the “crime of cancer” and are unable to pay their mortgage. In America we have inequality—extreme, obscene, and cruel. Our elected representatives and the rich get the best health care possible. Other Americans don’t go to the doctor for real physical ailments because of the cost let alone for preventative counsel. Some people have to fight for a “living” wage while others vacation in yachts. Currently, due to no fault of their own, over 40 million Americans are unemployed.

CBS News reported in January 2020:

“The gap between rich and poor in America is the worst it’s been in more than a half century. It’s a concern cited by every leading Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election, but many may not realize what it actually means.

“If a pie represented the estimated $98 trillion of household wealth in the United States, nine pieces, or 90% of the pie, would go to the wealthiest 20% in the country, according to a National Bureau Of Economic Research study of household wealth trends in the United States from 1962 to 2016. Out of those nine slices, four would go to just the top 1%.

“The upper middle class and the middle class would share one piece, or about 10%, and the lower middle class would get 0.3% of the pie. The poorest Americans, people in the bottom 20%, wouldn’t get any. On average, they are more than $6,000 in debt.”[4]

Martin Luther King noted:

“And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society… [5]

The notion of “extreme materialism” appears to be doing quite well in America.  The giant triplet of “militarism” also appears to be “alive and well” here in America.

Working with our form of capitalism in our democratic republic, under our Constitution, we spend more money on militarism than the next ten nations combined. We have a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying our planet. We are currently on pace to spend more than a trillion dollars on the maintenance of that nuclear arsenal.

“Militarism” is synonymous with war. “Sun Tzu said it best: all warfare is based on deception.” [6] We don’t have a department of “War”, we have a department of “Defense.” In America we now have “endless” wars. The war in Afghanistan is still going on after twenty years, and recently we have had other wars too. There seems to be no end in sight. Our Pentagon cannot pass an audit, and is known for its deception, bloated cost overruns, and other forms of corruption. If our Pentagon were a person, we would have sent it to prison long ago.

From the time of the founding of our nation to the present, those who are extremely well off and well connected have not had to worry about serving in a war zone if they chose not to serve. It is the poor who are used for fodder in our wars. Want to get ahead, get an education but can’t afford it?   Well, be all you can be, put your life on the line, and if you survive we’ll help you get an education, promises Uncle Sam. The debt comes later.

During the Vietnam conflict, the brunt of the casualties and deaths were suffered by the poor and the racial minorities. This brings us face to face with the giant triplet of racism.  In the 1960’s there was talk of “Black Power”. Today, in large part because of the rampant racism in America we have the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The giant triplet of racism has not been eradicated—far from it.

Martin Luther King stated: “I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear?  It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor which  has worsened over the last few years.”[7]

It seems evident that the three giants of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism have grown and prospered under our present capitalist system. The question is, have the three giants become so powerful they are “incapable of being conquered”? To shed some light on this question, let us look at a recent interview with Angela Davis, Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, that appeared on Democracy Now:

“The Industrial Revolution, which pivoted around the production of capital, was enabled by slave labor in the U.S. So, I am convinced that the ultimate eradication of racism is going to require us to move toward a more socialist organization of our economies, of our other institutions. I think we have a long way to go before we can begin to talk about an economic system that is not based on exploitation and on the super-exploitation of Black people, Latinx people and other racialized populations”. [8]

Angela Davis continues:

“But I do think we now have the conceptual means to engage in discussions, popular discussions, about capitalism. Occupy gave us new language. The notion of the prison industrial complex requires us to understand the globalization of capitalism. Anti-capitalist consciousness helps us to understand the predicament of immigrants who are barred from the U.S. by the wall that has been created by the current occupant. These conditions have been created by global capitalism. And I think this is a period in which we need to begin that process of popular education which will allow people to understand the interconnections of racism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism”.[9]

Militarism, extreme materialism, and racism are alive and well in America today. We need to educate people about all of these giant triplets since defining the problem is only half of the solution.

Our nation has overcome slavery; slavery is no longer “legal”. In America, the last time the oligarchs paid their fair share of taxes, a great middle class was born. Militarism/war, based on deceit, can be engaged by the use of “truth” as employed in Satyagraha, Gandhi’s reference for passive political resistance. This nation has made some progress in providing the promise of equality as mentioned in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

We can continue to make progress. We can and must explore the use of peace literacy as advocated by West Point graduate and Iraq veteran Paul. K. Chappell. We can and must learn how to use the method(s) of Satyagraha. We need to learn for ourselves what peace literacy and Satyagraha can do for us and our community.


In speaking to several Rotary clubs, I hear first-hand that most claim to want peace, though few believe it is possible.  That creates a dilemma for us.  I want it to be true, and I recognize the challenge of this belief system.  At this point, of course, those who don’t believe peace is possible, they are right.  Consider Henry Ford’s quote: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  It appears that so many individuals limit what is possible by their belief system.

For example, there was a time we knew the earth to be flat.  There was a time we knew the sun rotated the Earth.  There was a time we believed telephones needed to be attached to the wall.  There was a time we believed dial-up internet was a great thing.

We believe something is true when we see no other alternative, have no idea of how to make the change, and have seen a consistency in our past, as in the examples above.

Indeed, peace may be difficult to grasp, like a moving cloud.  Some believe peace is the absence of immediate violence while others define it as a feeling of security.  If someone has no water, perhaps Rotarians can get together, drill a well, add a pump and some piping, and deliver water.  Peace, on the other hand, is more vague.

Our District Peace Committee is often asked “what can we do?”  Our committee is fortunate to consist of Rotarians with a great deal of knowledge and extensive backgrounds in peace making.  Recently we completed some future planning around programs that we can offer Rotarians, their friends, families, and communities.  Our plan consists of ongoing discussion groups, speakers, and classes.

The first program will be an all-day free ZOOM event on Saturday, September 26.  Randall Butler, who has taught conflict resolution throughout the world and currently working in South Sudan, will share critical communication skills.  This event will focus on the difficulties we face in simple conversations and will be experiential by design.  More information will be coming soon with details including how to sign-up.  It will be limited to 100 maximum so you will want to stay tuned.

Jim Halderman, Chair D5450 Peace Committee



See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: SEPTEMBER— Civil Discourse as a Key to Civility; OCTOBER (Thomas) Human diversity and leadership skills for peacebuilding; OCTOBER—(Thomas) Characteristics of successful families and peacebuilders; NOVEMBER: (Timpson) The role of a peace park. If you have ideas for future topics, please send them to any of our writers.

[1] Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Chaney,_Goodman,_and_Schwerner#Masterminding_the_conspiracy

[2] Murder in Mississippi, Norman Rockwell Museum http://www.nrm.org/MT/text/MurderMississippi.html

[3] https://www.alternet.org/2015/04/riot-language-unheard-9-mlk-quotes-mainstream-media-wont cite/.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhh3CMkngkY —  “Revolution of Values,” 1967

[4] CBS NEWS January 31, 2020, 7:44 AM  How $98 trillion of household wealth in America is distributed: “It’s very depressing” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/income-inequality-in-america-how-98-trillion-of-household-wealth-is-distributed/

[5] Excerpts from King’s speech “Where Do We Go From Here?,” delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

[6] Paul K. Chappell, The Art of Waging Peace, page 87. Prospecta PressPO Box 3131 Westport Conn. 06880.  Paperback ISBN:978-1-63226-031-4

[7] — Interview with Mike Wallace, 1966

[8] June 14,2020 “Democracy Now” interview with Amy Goodman.

[9] IBID



Del Benson, William Timpson, Robert Meroney & Lloyd Thomas, Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


 Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.

Distribution and use of energy have led to human conflicts for basic food and commodities (https://www.businessinsider.com/nine-wars-that-were-fought-over-commodities-2012-8).

Climate change alters energy stored as food and other impacts such as: increased carbon dioxide; greater ocean depth and temperatures; loss of coral and the cover it provides fishes; loss of ice and food cycle alterations for polar bears; earlier and longer growing seasons that might help agriculture in Canada, but turn southwestern US into more of a Great American Desert; etc. (https://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/BioD_SAP_4.3_Letter.pdf).

People can either negotiate or fight over limited resources and climate changes alter coping mechanisms between humans and how we use natural, agricultural, and urban environments.

At the most basic level, nature provides food, fiber, and energy that humans seek, share, and fight over.  Humans can only live for three days without water.  Starvation from lack of food lasts longer but is not desired by anyone.  According to the Food Aid Foundation, 1 in 7 persons are hungry.  Climate changes can add to that dilemma, increase conflicts, and threaten peace.

The earliest hunter/gatherers exploited resources when and where they were found and often consumed mass quantities when available.  Predictability of the next meal was uncertain.  Primitives used methods to protect food including drying, mixing in animal fats, crude storage by hoisting meat in trees above predators, placing food underground with more consistent temperature regulation, and storing in primitive pots to protect food from pests.

In temperate regions, ice could be used to preserve foods, but each piece had to be found and transported. Animals might steal food supplies when they could and so would neighbors who were hungry.

Fifty to 90% of wood is used today for fuel to cook food and to heat homes.  The world’s forests were considerably more plentiful  before human expansion (https://www.eh-resources.org/the-role-of-wood-in-world-history/) and use of forests is a sustainability concern. Fuel is worth fighting for and in modern times wood also builds ships, homes, packaging, and paper products.

Much of the world is industrialized, overpopulated, uses high quantities of resources per capita, and now exploits resources for frivolity and leisure adding to conflicts and reducing peace.

The current energy fight seems to be for oil and gas which help to transport humans to desired locations and to keep homes cool with global warming and warm during harder winters.

Sharing resources equally is a peaceful suggestion, but what level of living can sustain resources?  (https://theglobalobservatory.org/2019/09/climate-change-peacebuilding-and-sustaining-peace/). Humans can talk, share, sustain, and make peace, but will we use our energies wisely?



William Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club.

The Corrymeela Community Center was founded in 1965 to aid individuals and groups who had suffered through violence and conflicts, stresses and losses in the deeply divided society of Northern Ireland, the legacy of an imperial conquest by British forces in the late 12th century. During the “Troubles” of the late twentieth century and after “Bloody Sunday” in 1972 when British troops fired on Catholics in Londonderry who were demonstrating for an end to second-class citizenship, historic prejudices, barriers and limitations. The Center at Corrymeela, then, became a safe, neutral space for all sides of this conflict to meet and discuss ways forward.

May 2020  

Fr. Apollinaire Bangayimbaga, Ph.D. is the Rector of the University of Ngozi with a big dream of creating a Center for Peace and Nature in this area where people can feel the unifying spirit of nature as they review their differences and consider what is needed to build a sustainable peace.

The University of Ngozi would like to create something similar but expand the mission to include our collective needs to not only make peace with our own selves and others but with the natural world that supports all life. In truth, the very definition of sustainability calls for this kind of integrative perspective, a focus on the interconnected health of society, the environment and the economy.

A deep connection with the natural world motivates the leaders at the University of Ngozi who want to promote new forms of cooperation through positive interdependence. The research is very clear about needing this for cooperative learning to succeed. In general, students must have a stake in each other’s success for the group experience to succeed. In order to complete a project, for example, everyone must contribute something of value, some part of the answer or final product.

Promoting peace follows a similar trajectory. Initial “peacekeeping” efforts often require a focus on separating combatants. Once the violence is contained, cooperative “peacemaking” efforts help to define the policies and practices needed to prevent conflicts from reigniting. Eventually, much more will be required for a deeper and broader “peacebuilding” effort where collective attention helps to improve communication and cooperation, critical and creative thinking, i.e., those historic, cultural and economic factors that have sparked conflict and violence in the past.

Inspire and learn through international service 

In Learning Life’s Lessons (Peace Knowledge Press, 2019) I write about the Cold War when in March of 1961 many feared the inevitability of a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It was then that President John F. Kennedy initiated the Peace Corps through an executive order, beginning a tradition of international service that inspired thousands of Americans to volunteer and learn more about people in the far reaches of the planet, especially those in poor and developing areas. Since its first days some 200,000 volunteers have now served in 139 countries.

Today the call of the Peace Corps continues to expand, now resonating more with older and more specialized volunteers. The appeal of this program over so many years provides another model for increasing global understanding in our increasingly interdependent world. Could a Center for Peace and Nature help inspire the return of the Peace corps to Burundi now that the threat of the violence that propelled their exit in 1993 has subsided and calm has returned?

In our book, 147 Practical Tips for Peace and Reconciliation (2009, Atwood Publishing), we note how peace scholar and professor, Jing Lin (2006, p. 315) has advocated for a global ethic of universal love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. She provides a constructive, optimistic critique of the very purposes of education in the United States and around the world when the daily reports of violence and conflict indicate such a clear need for increased understanding and appreciation among countries and populations.

In her co-edited book, Transforming Education for Peace, Lin (2006) argues for a paradigm shift where the teaching of love comprises the central purpose of education. Lin maintains, “I envision our future schools will shift from a mechanical, functionalistic perspective that primarily emphasizes tests and efficiency, to a constructive, transformative paradigm where students’ intellectual, moral, emotional, spiritual, and ecological abilities are developed in order to promote understanding of the world and help nurture love and respect for all human beings and nature. In all, constructing a loving world should be the central purpose of education in the twenty-first century.”

Pairing that ethic with service in the Peace Corps, for example, provides a context for reaching Lin’s vision in a realistic manner and connects peacebuilding efforts with the threats to sustainability and the earth’s limitations.

 Ask everyone to envision the ideal program, school, community, nation, or world where love, peace and sustainability serve as the foundation for education. Can Peace Corps serve that role? Can a Center for Peace and nature also serve that role? Describe the curriculum, how teaching is conducted, how people are assessed on their capacities for providing needed services as well as a commitment to love, peacebuilding and sustainability, and how the policy context and rule of law shape the containers in which cultural actors engage in everyday actions.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

An oxymoron is a rhetorical statement that is a self-contradiction to reveal a paradox. Its use goes back to Italian grammarian Maurus Servius Honoraatus (c AD400).   Examples include things like “keenly stupid”, “pointedly foolish”, “military intelligence”, “civil war”, or perhaps even “business ethics”.

Albert Allen Bartlett (1923-2013) was a distinguished emeritus professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He identified the popular economic concept of “sustainable growth” as an oxymoron, since even modest annual percentage population, energy, or resource use increases will inevitably equate to huge exponential growth over sustained periods of time.[1]

Bartlett is one among many prophetic voices that have warned of the stupidity of continued unchecked growth in population, resource use, pollution, and destruction of the environment.  Thomas Robert Malthus warned of population growth leading to possible starvation in 1798.  George Orwell proposed a society where excessive growth leads to an ant-hill like world of communism or totalitarianism in his book “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949).  Then there is “The Population Bomb” by Aldous Huxley (1960), “The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin (1968), “The Limits to Growth” sponsored by the Club of Rome (1972), “Beyond the Limits: confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future” by Meadows and Randers (1992), and even “Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update” (2004).  Almost every one of these predictions have been revisited and found the growth rates to be essentially correct in that what was or will occur.

Bartlett worried: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”   And humanities great challenge is:

“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

Sustainability and World Resources  Bartlett opposed the “cornucopian” school of thought that believe that continued progress and use of material items can be met by continued advances in technology, and that there is enough matter and energy on the earth to provide for whatever population the world reaches.  Consider that there is hardly a political regime today that does not promise and desire to achieve GDP growth rates for their countries of 3 to 8% and complain bitterly if not achieved (e.g. currently USA, 2.3%; China 7%).[2]  Bartlett pointed out that with exponential growth one can calculate the actual lifetime of resources for different growth rates.  For example, for a resource (say coal, oil, lithium, arable land, potable water, etc.) that should conservatively last 1000 years at 0% growth rate (or current rate of consumption), one will consume it all at:

  • 2% growth rate resource in 152 years,
  • 4% growth rate resource in 93 years, or
  • 6% growth rate resource in 69 years.

Because of its size and living standard, the United States has 30 to 50 times the impact on world resources as does a person in an underdeveloped country.  As pointed out by President Carter in 1977: “And in each of these decades (the 1950s and 1960s), more  oil was consumed in all of man’s previous history combined.” Or a rate of 7%/year.

Sustainability and War Sustained growth is not possible among nations without competition.  Since some resources will be limited political entities and nations will insist on their rightful “share” or even unlimited access to what they need to maintain or grow their quality of life.   There seems to be limited political interest in “altruistic” global trade and recently we have frequently heard slogans like “America First.”   Again, Bartlett wrote:

Modern warfare is extremely dependent on fossil fuels and minerals; hence, war can’t be a part of a sustainable society. The world in 2012 seems to have a deep commitment to perpetual war. In today’s wasteful and destructive environment of unceasing hostility we can have little or no hope of achieving global sustainability.   In seeking to abolish war we must remember that overpopulation is a major factor that drives people to make war.

Sustainability and Population   After examining the impacts of limitations of various resources, Bartlett returned to his main conclusion that control of population is the primary solution to avoid human social or military Armageddon.  He noted we must overcome both cultural and religious constraints that defy population control.  In his 2012 book that considers the global forecast until 2051, Jorgen Randers, University of Cambridge, concludes:

 If I could persuade you of one thing, it should be this: the world is small and fragile, and humanity is huge, dangerous, and powerful. This is a total reversal of the biblical perspective on humanity, and the way in which man has thought during most of his presence on Earth. But this is the perspective we need to take if we’re to be sure that sustainability emerges or, at least, that the world as we know it survives for a couple of hundred more years.

“Over the next 40 years, in addition to all the resource, pollution and inequity problems that we have already, humanity will run into more problems of depletion, pollution, adaptation and repair of climate damage, because we will be trying to fit an excessive amount of activity on to a small globe.”  [3]

Final Words About Growth from Albert Allan Bartlett:   Bartlett argues there is no such thing as “smart growth” instead he suggests:

Dumb growth destroys the environment.

Smart growth destroys the environment.

The difference is that smart growth

destroys the environment with good taste.

So, it’s like buying a ticket on the TITANIC.

If you’re smart you go first class

If you’re dumb you go steerage.

Either way the result is the same.[4]



Lindsey Pointer, Ph.D., a graduate of the Restorative Justice Program at Victoria University of Wellington, is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher. Her recently released book is titled: “The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools.” Lindsey writes: “I recently read an excellent booklet released by the European Forum for Restorative Justice on the intersection between restorative justice and environmental justice. For my contribution this month, I would like to share an excerpt from that publication.”

Restorative environmental justice: An introduction

By John Braithwaite, Miranda Forsyth and Deborah Cleland

We live in the Anthropocene, the era of history when humankind dominates nature, when human kindness to nature withers, especially as machine bureaucracies of production lines, commodified institutions and blitzkriegs of war machines displace organic organizations that flourished relationally through interconnections among and between human worlds and the worlds of the land and the sea. Climate change, species loss, growing and urbanizing populations, diffuse sources of pollution and predatory capitalism are all placing increased pressures on our natural and built environment, often leaving the most marginalized communities to bear the worst of the burden of environmental pollution.

Repairing harm

Restorative environmental justice is philosophically much more than a set of techniques for doing justice for the environment in a more relational and emotionally intelligent fashion, though it is that as well. It is about repairing the harm of the Anthropocene. It is about healing earth systems and healing the relationship of humans with nature and with each other. Because the relationship of human domination developed during the Anthropocene, restorative environmental justice should also be about humbling humans’ domination of nature. It is about tempering human power over earth systems and domination of the powerful over the less powerful. It seeks to advance the imperative to harness collective human power to forge a new vision of humankind as bearing a harmonious, restorative relationship with nature and with each other. It is about a humanly articulated future that is healing and relational.

This must involve a transformative mobilization of the restorative power and the restorative imagination of humankind. It involves the insight that, by being active citizens of the planet, by participating in the project of healing our natural world, we heal ourselves as humans who only have meaning and identity as part of that natural world.

Restorative environmental justice means, for example, a massive human-led reforestation of the planet and investment of human resources in seeding those renewed forests with species that have become endangered thanks to human domination. It means following the Chinese example of building ‘sponge cities’ that capture and clean every bit of run-off from the city’s paths, roads, buildings and gutters and returning some of that city water to river systems that need more water to survive. It means more circular systems of using water in agriculture that take less water from those same endangered river systems. It means more circular re-use of waste so it does not find its way into rivers. It means restorative human steering the circle of warming that links the sun to the earth — steering some of the sun’s heat to human projects of cooling the earth system.


Restorative environmental justice requires a human-led transformation of the shape of our economy, so we grow our well-being and continuously grow non-exploitative employment — not by increasing the consumption of goods, but by increasing the consumption of services. Increased consumption of health, education, care and disability services is structurally critical to shape-shifting. More teachers, nurses, child care, aged care and environmental care workers do not carbonize the atmosphere in the way more cars, coal, houses and plastic straws do.

By restoring nature through economic shape-shifting that favors growth in services over- growth in goods, we can better restore ourselves with enriched human services. The type of linking of guarantees of universal human welfare with environmental goals by leaders such as those developing the Green New Deal demonstrates a commitment to the entanglement of human and planet well-being that is at the center of restorative environmental justice. You can read the rest of the European Forum for Restorative Justice’s booklet on Restorative Environmental Justice here.



Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

For the past several weeks the world has been experiencing a pandemic of the coronavirus, COVID-19.  The psychological, social, economic and political impact on people everywhere has been devastating.  Nevertheless, I am reminded of the psychological principle: You have no influence or control over what happens to you.  You can only influence and control how you respond to what happens to you.  Certainly, we had no influence or control over COVID-19’s affects on the human race.  However, here are some of the positive aspects of, and responses to its pandemic.

Historian and Professor of History at Boston College, Heather Cox Richardson, wrote on April 12th, “As the novel coronavirus has burned its way across America, it has highlighted the searing inequality that has lurked just below the surface of the economic boom of the past generation. It has revealed that self-serving politicians are indifferent to the lives of their constituents, that racial disparities in healthcare and poverty have created a deadly caste system, and that political partisanship has become so toxic that some people would literally rather die than listen to leadership from a member of another party.

“At the same time, the pandemic has also revealed the extraordinary character of ordinary people, who have sacrificed their jobs, their personal freedoms, and even their lives to save both their neighbors and strangers they will never know. It has shown that our essential workers are not CEOs, but rather the farm workers and fishermen and janitors and teachers and postal carriers and trades people who keep society functioning. It has proved that reordering our priorities and adjusting our lives can renew the ailing planet.”

If Professor Cox’s description is accurate, then we can begin to identify and focus on some of the positive aspects the pandemic has created.

  • It has identified and highlighted the politicians who are only self-serving and indifferent to the inequality of the lifestyles of their constituents. That has influenced the choices we can make in November.
  • It revealed inequality in economic status, healthcare availability, educational opportunity and social mobility that has plagued our society for centuries. Conscious knowledge of those inequalities gives us the chance to address them once and for everyone…as a government of, by and for the people.
  • It has revealed the heroic dedication of the people working in our healthcare system. Now we are able to recognize and respect them for how they serve (and love) others.
  • It has brought out the creative adaptability of the human race. With great gratitude, we are seeing and experiencing the caring skills of human beings in how they relate to one another.
  • “Social isolation” has slowed down the frenetic activity of the human species. That has allowed the human-caused quantity of pollution to diminish around the world…in our air, oceans, drinking water and forests.  I’m sure the fish and wildlife of the world enjoy the diminution.  It makes it easier for them to survive.
  • “Staying at home” closes factories, organizations and large gatherings. It gives us more time to be with immediate family members, to let go of time pressures, to remember and engage in forgotten, rejuvenating activities.
  • It gives us time to think about the fragility of our lives, our interdependence with others and our environment, and how we might begin to heal ourselves, our relationships…and indeed, our planet.

Finally, Heather Cox Richardson wrote, “When this deadly crisis passes, we will be faced with the task of building a new era. What it will look like is ours to choose.” How will we choose to respond?


Predicting the Future Literature Robert N. Meroney

Joseph Johnson (Thomas Robert Malthus) (1798),  An Essay on the Principle of Population, St. Paul’s Church-yard, London, http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop.html  Sixth  Edition published in 1826  http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPlong.html

Essay describes how unchecked population growth is exponential while the growth of the food supply was expected to be arithmetical.  Malthus believed there were two types of “checks” that could then reduce the population, returning it to a more sustainable level. He believed there were “preventive checks” such as moral restraints (abstinence, delayed marriage until finances become balanced), and restricting marriage against persons suffering poverty and/or defects. Malthus believed in “positive checks”, which lead to ‘premature’ death: disease, starvation, war, resulting in what is called a Malthusian catastrophe. The catastrophe would return population to a lower, more “sustainable”, level.

 Aldous Huxley (1932), Brave New World,  Chatto & Windus, London, UK, 306 pp.  Satirical fiction book based on Malthusian forces, it was not scientific prophecy.  http://www.huxley.net/   or full book http://www.huxley.net/bnw/index.html

George Orwell (1949), Nineteen Eighty-Four, Secker and Warburg, London, 267 pp.

Introduces Big Brother, is watching you, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, 2+2=5, and memory hole , the book was written as his vision of what life would be like under the ant-hill like world of communism, or any other totalitarian state and the consequence of over population and limited resources.

  1. King Hubbert (1956) (June 1956). “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels”. Shell Oil Company/American Petroleum Institute. Presented before the Spring Meeting of the Southern District, American Petroleum Institute, Plaza Hotel, San Antonio, Texas, March 7–8-9, Shell Development Company, Publication No. 95, 57 pp. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._King_Hubbert#Citation

Video 1976 explaining Peak Oil concept.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImV1voi41YY

Gary Flomenhoft (2011), Hubbert’s 3 Prophecies, Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources, University of Vermont,  a video introducing Hubbert’s ideas followed by an audience discussion about modern money and resource situation and whether a different banking/credit system might be a solution.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xvAgJZ3oQA

Aldous Huxley (1960), Brave New World Revisited, Bantam Books, 116 pp.   http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/index.html   Non-fiction book where Huxley muses about what has happened…he is rather pessimistic.

Paul R. Ehrlich (1968) The Population Bomb, Sierra Club/Ballantine Books, 201 pp.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb

Garrett Hardin (1968), “The Tragedy of the Commons”. Science 162 (3859): 1243–1248. 1968. doi:10.1126/science.162.3859.1243. PMID 5699198    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons#cite_note-hardin68-3  or for a pdf to download see: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243.full.pdf  “The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental extension in morality”  Garrett Hardin

Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen (or Jorden, Jargen) Randers, William W. Behrens III, (1972), The Limits to Growth, Universe Books, 205 pp.  Funded by Volkswagen Foundation and commissioned by the Club of Rome.  The discussion of this book is available as a Wikiversity Course at: http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Limits_To_Growth  A pdf copy of the books is available at: http://www.donellameadows.org/wp content/userfiles/Limits-to-Growth-digital-scan-version.pdf

Al Bartlett (1978), Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis, Journal of Geological Education, Vol. 28, Jan. 1980, pp. 4-35.  http://www.albartlett.org/articles/art_forgotten_fundamentals_reprintings.html

Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers (1992),  Beyond the Limits: confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future, Chelsea Green, Vermont , 300 pp. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_the_Limit

Al Bartlett (2004),  The Essential Exponential! (For the Future of Our Planet), Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, ISBN 0-9758973-0-6, 291 pp.  http://www.albartlett.org/books/essential_exponential.html

Compilation of Dr. Albert Bartlett’s essays/presentations regarding the most critical issue which is threatening the Earth: “Unsustainable Population Growth”, “Expanding Consumption”, and “Declining Global Resources”.

Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows (2004), Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing Co., Vermont, 338 pp.  A site discussing this book and other resources can be found at:  https://limitstogrowthnet.wordpress.com/   also the publisher provides: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/limitspaper

Graham Turner (2008),  A Comparison of ‘The Limits to Growth’ with Thirty Years of Reality, Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED). CSIRO Working Paper Series (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)). 2008-09: 52. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.05.001. ISSN 1834-5638

Hall, Charles A. S.; John W. Day (May–June 2009). Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil. American Scientist, (Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society/State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry) 97: 230–237

Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich (2009), The Population Bomb Revisited, The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 1 (3), 63-71.  http://www.docstoc.com/docs/12166078/Population-Bomb-Revisited

Ugo Bardi. (2011), The Limits to Growth Revisited. Springer Briefs in Energy:  Energy Analysis ,  ISBN 9781441994158 (print)   http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4419-9416-5 12 chapters

Heinberg, Richard (2011), The end of growth: adapting to our new economic reality (3rd printing. ed.). Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers. ISBN 0865716951.

Jorgen Randers (2012), 2052:  A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont, 392 pp.

Al Bartlett (2013 deceased), Arithmetic, Population and Energy:  Sustainability 101—a talk by Al Bartlett, a one hour lecture given more than 1,742 times to audiences exceeding 80 in the US and world-wide.  First given in 1969, and subsequently presented an average of once every 8.5 days for 36 years!  One can watch this in an entire one-hour streaming video http://old.globalpublicmedia.com/lectures/461  or in ten minute segments http://www.albartlett.org/presentations/arithmetic_population_energy_video1.html

Website to extensive list of articles and videos compiled by and about Al Bartlett.  A definitive resource about the exponential factor present in growth and its effects on population, energy, and oil production (peak oil),  http://www.albartlett.org/about_al_bartlett/about_al_bartlett.html


See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440 website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: JUNE– National elections and their influence on war and peace; JULY—(Thomas) Human diversity and leadership skills for peacebuilding; AUGUST—(Thomas) Characteristics of successful

[1] A.A. Bartlett et. Al. (2004), The Essential Exponential For the Future of Our Planet, University of Nebraska, 294 pages.  https://www.albartlett.org/books/essential_exponential.html

[2] In 2017 President Trump promised growth rates would reach 6% under his guidance, President Xi of China was proud that Between 2003 and 2019 China sustained GDP growth rates of 6.1 to 14.2%.

[3] Jorgen Randers (2012), 2062: A global forecast for the next forty years, Chelsea Green Publishing, 416 pp.  or download a pdf summary https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjeld6XgN_oAhXRKs0KHc38DWgQFjACegQIBxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cisl.cam.ac.uk%2Fresources%2Fpublication-pdfs%2Fjorgen-randers-2052-a-global-forecast-for-the-next.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1JTnCvwLfN9dZQXnHR2CkS

[4] Albert A. Bartlett (2012), The Meaning of Sustainability”, Population Media Center, Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society Education Newsletter, Volume 31, No. 1, Winter 2012, 17 pp.  https://www.populationmedia.org/2012/04/04/the-meaning-of-sustainability-by-professor-emeritus-albert-a-bartlett/




William M. Timpson, Robert Meroney, Lloyd Thomas, Jeptha Bernstein, and Del Benson Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

It was the summer of 1996 when 35-year-old Alice (not her real name) was referred to me for psychological evaluation. Alice had not spoken a single word since 1986. One of the recommendations I made was that she check out a yoga class that was a part of a nearby comprehensive wellness center. I volunteered to go with her the first time. We watched from the sidelines of the room as participants engaged in their exercises. Music by Daniel Kobialka (Greensleeves Fantasy – 1995) was quietly playing in the background. After a few moments, Alice turned to me and spoke for the first time in ten years, “That music is enough to break your heart.”

The benefits of music have been known for centuries. Harp music was played in the ancient Greek “Healing Centers.” Plato wrote, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” More recently, Barbara Crowe, past president of the National Association for Music Therapy, wrote, “Music therapy can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort — between demoralization and dignity.” The Acting Director of the Rusk Institute, Mathew Lee, has said, “Music therapy has been an invaluable tool with many of our rehabilitation patients. There is no question that the relationship of music and medicine will blossom because of the advent of previously unavailable techniques that can now show the effects of music.”

One of those “effects” Dr. Lee refers to is the idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior of war veterans. “The 20th century profession [of engaging in music therapy] formally began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.” Even today, music therapy is regularly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some other quotations about the singular benefits to be derived from the art of music: In his book, Awakenings, Dr. Oliver Sacks reports that “patients with neurological disorders who cannot talk or move are often able to sing, and sometimes even dance, to music. … music therapy also can help ease the trauma of grieving, lessen depression and provide an outlet for people who are otherwise withdrawn. …I regard music therapy as a tool of great power in many neurological disorders – Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – because of its unique capacity to organize or reorganize cerebral function when it has been damaged.”

Finally, Dr. Clive Robbins of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Clinic writes, “Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”  Incidentally, the Nordoff-Robbins Clinic “uses music therapy to help 100 handicapped children learn and to relate and communicate with others.”

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was formed in 1998 as a merger between the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT). AMTA united the music therapy profession for the first time since 1971. In 2001, the New York City Music Therapy Relief Project was initiated in response to 9/11.  Further relief efforts and projects followed with the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief Initiative, the 2007 Music Therapy Military Family Grant, the 2009 collaboration with To the Fallen Records and their foundation, and the continuation of the Returning Soldiers Grant. AMTA moved into a new era in 2010 with the publication of its first online magazine, imagine, dedicated to early childhood music therapy. The Library of Congress featured Music Therapy with presentations by Connie Tomaino, Jayne Standley, Anne Parker, Alicia Clair, and Deforia Lane. The United  Nations cited AMTA’s Disaster Relief Work and expanded the Music Compendium.  AMTA proudly established a partnership with the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation. Music  therapy clinicians were a part of the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

All of the above information makes me wonder: Can the playing of music (as well as listening to it) play a significant role in the healing and reconciliation of post-war adversaries?; should our peace building activities always include music as an effective foundation for creating peaceful relationships between all people?

Gandhi suggested “you must become the change you want to see in the world,” should all peace-makers incorporate music in their daily lives? 



Jeptha Bernstein is the Executive Director and Founder of Off the Hook Arts.

Bruce Adolphe is the Artistic Director (See www.bruceadolphe.com) Together they plan programs throughout the year. While Jeptha lives in Fort Collins, Bruce schedules time to be in Fort Collins.

April 1  Our mission at Off the Hook Arts is to provide free and low-cost music performance education for students in our community while cultivating a love of the performing arts through public concerts featuring collaborations among the arts, sciences, and humanities. Whether it’s about neuroscience, human rights, nightmares, or dinosaurs, Bruce Adolphe’s music “excites the ear and the mind.” In his work as composer, author, lecturer, and performer, he seeks to connect disparate ideas and disciplines, and to build community by exploring diverse manifestations of human creativity.  

April 2


The following excerpts from Adolphe’s book What to Listen for in the World  (Limelight Editions/Hal Leonard) are like small poems and while they are not exactly about peace-building, they are reflections or meditations on aspects of music that directly relate to its power to bring people together and by reaching the essence being human:

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Empires collapse, wars and politics are forgotten or romanticized, families are divided and lost, history is revised,

but music—ephemeral though it seems—endures. For music is thought and can be remembered.

Dictators may burn manuscripts, ban performances, and destroy recordings— but as long as someone remembers, music endures.


Empires collapse, wars and politics are forgotten or romanticized, families are divided and lost, history is revised,

but music—ephemeral though it seems—endures. For music is thought and can be remembered.

Dictators may burn manuscripts, ban performances, and destroy recordings— but as long as someone remembers, music endures.

Grief needs music. When one feels grief, there is nothing to say. At these times, even kind words sting; past and future hurt.

Music can slip by all words, dissolve past and future into the moment, release illusions, and reach the reality of the heart.


Before all language and after, in each of us are the basic truths, eternally mysterious and utterly common, from which: music.



Ralph Smith is a retired micro-biologist from Colorado State University and someone who has re-established himself as a superb nature photographer.

Photography has long been considered a form of documentation. Think of weddings, graduations, ceremonies as worthy of committing to a form of visual remembrance. Photography has also documented most of the epic events of the past two centuries, such as world wars, Twin Towers, famines, and human and animal suffering.

However, photography has been and art form, from epic landscapes to wildly creative modern creations. For me, photography is an outlet for my artistic self. True, as a former scientist, I am wedded to photography that is literal and exact, in that I want my photos to be a genuine representation of what I observed, rather than an abstract version of the scent.

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My favorite subject is the night sky. In large part, photographing the heavens, especially with an interesting foreground, like an old house, barn or barren tree, makes a stunning photo.

However, and perhaps more importantly, it reminds me of the wonderful experience of being in a place where one can observe the stars and planets free of interference from lights and traffic. There’s a peacefulness that comes from being alone on the plains or mountains in the presence of the vastness of the universe.


Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.

Sounds from birds in Spring paint the early morning and evening air with mating melodies, eerie winnowing of feathers in flight, and the percussive rat-a-tat-tats that mark mating territories. The high-pitched bugle of elk announces that Fall mating season has begun, and winter weather is near. Humans travel to hear the sounds and to see aspen leaves turn from shades of green into yellow or even pinkish-red colors if sugar April 3contents is high in the leaves.

Tiny dancing is seen with many birds during mating times with elaborate displays from foreign Birds of Paradise and Red-capped Manakins. North Americans can see with the strutting and gobbling of turkeys and sounds, displays, and dances of grouse.

Males of the animal kingdom generally communicate about their presence and interests to mate with sounds, movements, and scents. Animal behaviors warn others of the species that territories are occupied, and intruders should seek other places to breed, nest, and promote their species.

When the visible, subtle and lyrical clues in nature are not heeded by animals, then conflicts can lead to real battles with beaks, teeth, and claws that inflict harm and death.  Success from using peaceful interactions is ecologically and socially superior to having conflicts.

Animal music, dance, and scents help humans to connect with nature better also by reflecting about places and times of life or year; and, humans can use similar methods of performance to promote their civil behaviors.

Human songs, dance, and scents are universal languages that help people to be more comfortable when interacting with other humans and they are useful for building civil interactions. Granted, some modes of music, moments and scents are selectively attractive to the critics, but interesting performances are more valuable to building civility than are conflicts, violence, and wars.

Using song and dance as positive methods for peace creates beautiful messages and forms, but they also can be agents of anger, conflict, and war when directed toward negative outcomes.

Performance Lines for Peace

Songs are patriotic and anti-war.  Songs engender protest and initiate strife.

Songs can guide us toward peace and civility. Songs can tell us how to lead our life.

 Dance generates positive emotions and love. Dance stomps messages of conflict and hate.

Dance shows positive spirit and ushers in hope. Dance forwards movements before it is too late. 

Performance in nature helps to delay. Performance for people should be for good and not bad.  Performance is a way to positively say.  Performance makes us happy and delays us from sad.



Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

Mark Twain was outraged that the United States was entering the international struggle for markets by invading the Philippines in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘humanitarianism’.  From 1901, soon after his return from Europe, until his death in 1910, Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had “tens of thousands of members”. He wrote many political pamphlets for the organization. The Incident in the Philippines, posthumously published in 1924, was in response to the Moro Crater Massacre, in which six hundred Moros were killed. Many of his neglected and previously uncollected writings on anti- imperialism appeared for the first time in book form in April 41992.1

Mark Twain rewrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date) as a parody of American imperialism in the wake of the Philippine-American War. It is written in the same tune and cadence as the original Battle Hymn of the Republic. The song remained unpublished in Twain’s lifetime and did not appear in print until 1958. 1,2,3

Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date) By Mark Twain (1900)

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;

He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger’s wealth is stored; He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored; His lust is marching on.

Woe and death can turn a profit. Warfare needs a wealthy prophet!

Woe and death through war, don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps; I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps— His night is marching on.

Woe and death can make for profit. Buy a bomb and then go drop it!

War’s a racket,4 but don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal; Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel; Lo, Greed is marching on!”

Our priority is profit. Nobel prizes fail to stop it!

War’s foundation? We’ve co-op’d it! It’s war that makes men rich!

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat; Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat; O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!

Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch, With a longing in his bosom—and for others’ goods an itch.

As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich— Our god is marching on.

Woe and death can turn a profit. Warfare needs a wealthy prophet!

Woe and death through war, don’t stop it! It’s war that makes men rich!

Twain’s anti-imperialist beliefs were also mirrored in a short pacifist story title The War Prayer, which makes the point that humanism and Christianity’s preaching of love are incompatible with the conduct of war. It was refused for publication, and Twain commented that “none but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.”  It remained unpublished until 1923. 5, 6

Both The Battle Hymn of the Republic parody and The War Prayer were unpublished during Twain’s lifetime largely due to pressure from his family, who feared the materials would be considered unpatriotic and sacrilegious. Twain agreed about public reaction, and due to difficult financial problems at the end of his life, he had a family to support and did not want to be seen as a “lunatic or fanatic.

1 Twain, Mark, Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1891-1910. Louis J. Budd, ed. New York, Library of America, 1992, p 1006.

2 Music, text and background by Gary Bachlund at  http://www.bachlund.org/The_Battle_Hymn_of_the_Republic_Updated.htm

3 The Chad Mitchell Trio recorded a version of Twain’s revised song in 1968. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9C6fw9q1fo also a separate version in 2012 at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZOC3lHyG6M

4 War is a Racket. Is also a 1935 short book, by General Smedley D. Butler, a retired US Marine Corps Major General. At the time he was the most decorated war hero of the US. See Peacebuilders Newsletter Number 1.


6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Prayer



William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club.

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I had the opportunity to visit Hope Fountain Elementary, talk to an English teacher there and several classes of students. They were shy at first but older students eventually were willing to ask a few questions. One, in particular, wanted to know what advice American students would give them.

“Study hard,” I offered, “but trust yourself to think in new ways because you, your family and friends, your community, your country and the world will need all the creative help you can offer to get us out of our unsustainable practices. We will need all your help to build a sustainable peace here and elsewhere, to change our destructive attitudes and practices toward the environment and to find new models of business and financing that do not exploit others or the natural resources upon which we rely.”

“And it will involve complex challenges,” I added. “Take those bicycle taxis outside. Those young men could—should—be in school like you. Without an education, their future will be very limited. Yes, their families may need that small extra income but maybe there are other ways to accomplish both, earning some money and learning relevant skills.”

In his book, Life After Violence (Zed Books, 2009), Peter Uvin is quite clear n his research that most Burundians see the role of education as critical for the future since a life of subsistence farming is so very limited, especially as the population grows and available land shrinks.

In this class at Hope Fountain Elementary, I mentioned the idea that has surfaced in the U.S. referred to as the “Green New Deal,” that shift in thinking that would invest public monies in sustainable projects like the benefits of solar and wind power for renewable energy. I told these young people that their school studies will prepare them for what exists today but that we will need to tap their collective creative potentials for what we will need in the future.

In my 2019 book, Learning Life’s Lessons (Peace Knowledge Press), for example, I write about the New Deal legislation that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law in 1935 that included the Social Security Act. Having taken the helm of the country in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression, the Social Security Act (SSA) followed the popularity of other “New Deal” programs such as the Works Progress Administration which, for example, put artists to work on public commissions and the Civilian Conservation Corps which funded trail building in America’s parks.

These programs used public funds to put Americans back to work and inspire an economic recovery in the face of determined resistance to federal intervention by the previous Hoover Administration. Although it was initially created to combat unemployment, Social Security now functions primarily as a safety net for retirees and the disabled. The Social Security system has remained relatively unchanged since 1935.

In the 1930s, the U.S Supreme Court was lagging behind the populist wave that had propelled FDR into the White House. Reflecting a conservatism that had characterized Herbert Hoover’s presidency, the court had struck down many pieces of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. The President was himself inspired to do something radically different. He attempted to pack the court. On February 5, 1937, he sent a special message to Congress proposing legislation  granting him new powers to add additional judges to all federal courts whenever there were sitting judges age 70 or older who refused to retire. The practical effect of this proposal was  that the President would get to appoint six new Justices to the Supreme Court (and 44 judges to lower federal courts), thus instantly tipping the political balance on the Court dramatically in his favor. The debate on this proposal lasted over six months. Eventually the seven-member court was able to defeat the court-packing by rushing pieces of New Deal legislation through and ensuring that the court’s majority would uphold it.

In our 2016 book, 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability, I make reference to the new and creative thinking that Nelson Mandela brought to his presidency in South Africa. For example, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu (1997) describes in his own book, No Future Without Forgiveness, what helped to inspire the emergence of South Africa from the horrors of its brutal system of white minority rule: “The first democratically elected government of South Africa was a government of National Unity made up of members of political parties that were engaged in a life-and-death struggle. The man who headed it had been incarcerated for twenty-seven years as a dangerous terrorist. If it could happen there, surely it can happen in other places. Perhaps God chose such an unlikely place deliberately to show the world that it can be done anywhere” (p. 280).

Accepting the world the way it is may block us from seeing other and better ways forward. We can use role-plays with people to surface polarized positions, but then emphasize listening, empathy, and negotiation to find common, creative and sustainable ways to move forward. I challenged these students at Burundi’s Hope Fountain Elementary to believe that there were new and better ideas out there yet to be discovered. “Study and trust in your creative selves,” I repeated.



Lindsey Pointer, PhD in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington, is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Restorative justice practitioners place a great deal of emphasis on being strengths-based. This means identifying and supporting an individual’s assets: the positive passions, skills, interests, and connections that make him/her unique.

Taking the time to identify these strengths with participants has many benefits. It helps to combat feelings of stigmatizing shame by showing that you see the individual as a full person, not just through the lens of the one harmful event you are discussing. It also helps participants to see and appreciate their own strengths, which has a great impact on their perception of self and often positively impacts their future behavior. Knowing participant’s strengths and interests also allows for asset-based agreement ideas to emerge. How can responsible parties use their strengths to repair harm and make things right?

Often, participant strengths include creative talents such as art, writing, music, or performance. This can result in some outstanding contract items as responsible parties draw on those strengths to repair harm.

One teenage responsible party worked towards his aspiration to become a rap artist while repairing the harm from his offense. He created a 4-verse rap that encouraged others to stay out of trouble. Here’s the first verse:

When you get involved with beer, some may begin to cheer. Now dear. Under the influence you will feel fear, but you’ve gotta have the mind gear, when it comes near.

But things might begin to look sincere, put it all away with smear and dance to this snare.

Instead, let it get through to you like a spear, and shape of a sphere, but you control your own life so put it in clutch and steer.

You become sad and stare, pouring tears. But once it is all clear, it seems like that is the time everything good to you disappears.

You can struggle getting a career, can’t even be a cashier, and a lot of kids get in

trouble with the law each year.

We’ve got to form a frontier, to be at the level of premier.


Another young responsible party wrote a children’s book on chinchilla care to repair the harm from an animal abuse case. The last paragraph said:

Now you know how to care for your little fluffy ball. If you have any questions, just give your vet a call. Please love your chinny and they will love you.

These sweet gentle animals need a mommy or daddy and that can be you!

A young adult was referred for spray painting a public building with politically charged messages. One of his contract items was to express what he was trying to express through graffiti in his slam poetry. He recorded a video of himself performing his slam poem and posted it online.

A young mother struggling with guilt chose to explore her artistic talents as a way of repairing harm to herself and expressing her love for her child.

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These artistic contract items allow responsible parties to reflect on the experience, repair harm, and also grow their own strengths and talents.

Are you looking for ways to practice encouraging greater creativity in ideas for repairing harm? Check out the game Out of the Box at www.RestorativeTeachingTools.com.



See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog  www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation! If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. You can find some of our past issues at the Rotary District 5440website: https://www.rotary5440.org/sitepage/peace-building-newsletters. Future issues may explore the following: MAY– (Timpson) Interconnections between peacebuilding and climate change (sustainability); JUNE National elections and their influence on war and peace; JULY—(Thomas) Human diversity and leadership skills for peacebuilding.



William M. Timpson, Robert Meroney, Lloyd Thomas, Sharyn Selman and Del Benson, Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


Robert Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University who has written extensively on this issue of nuclear weapons

Let’s play a mind game. Think back in time and pick an actual war, any war. Now imagine you are the leader who began the war. Would you have ordered the attack if you knew for certain that 30 minutes later you, your family, and your people would all be killed. Probably not. Your logic led Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev to jointly declare “a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.” This is the sine qua non of American and Russian nuclear deterrence policy.

Always before wars made sense to some because they could be won, and there were many winners.  How then has this no-win war situation—the first in history– happened?  Because the U.S. and Russia maintain what is called the TRIAD—three separate and independent nuclear weapon delivery systems, each one of which is capable of destroying the other nation in a second strike, a counter-value attack. The key is the pre-and post-launch survivability of the nuclear weapon delivery systems.

Here is how it works. The long range jet bombers can take off with 15-minute warning, or they can be rotated on airborne alert. They carry ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) with nuclear warheads which means the bombers need not enter enemy air space. In the case of the U.S. B-2, the plane’s skin absorbs radar beams meaning that they can’t be detected by radar.

The ICBMs (Intercontinental-range Ballistic Missiles) are either kept underground in steel and concrete silos or on mobile launchers. Once launched their warheads travel at 15,000 miles an hour. The warheads are convoyed by decoys that confuse enemy radar. They will be replaced by hypersonic glide vehicles that are maneuverable and travel 10 times the speed of sound.

The most survivable components of the TRIAD are the SSBNs (Sub-Surface Ballistic Nuclear).  These nuclear powered submarines hide beneath the oceans that cover 70% of the Earth’s surface. So far ASW (anti-submarine warfare) efforts to find and sink subs has proved ineffective. The subs carry SLBMs (Sub-Launched Ballistic Missiles) that have the same survivable characteristics as the ICBMs. Fully loaded one U.S. SSBM carries 24 SLBMs, each with ten hydrogen bomb warheads.

Here is another mind game. Imagine you are an American or Russian general. How would you plan an attack which would destroy half of the opposing side’s nuclear delivery systems before launch, and the other half once they are launched? So far no one has been able to do that.   Therein lies the substance of nuclear deterrence.  To repeat Reagan and Gorbachev—the war can’t be won, and thus probably won’t be fought, unless leaders wish to commit national suicide.

The Americans and the Russians worry about a nuclear war starting because of human, mechanical, or electronic error. Therefor they both have instigated a number of measures to prevent such a catastrophe. There have been some near misses, like the Able-Archer-83 NATO exercise, and there have been a number of “broken arrow” accidents involving nuclear weapons that did not detonate.

Have we and the Russians been really smart, or really lucky, or both?


For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places; all this is but the beginning of the sufferings.

– Matthew 24:7-8

Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University

People have been predicting the “End of the World” by nuclear holocaust now for 75 years.  Less than 10% of the world’s population and less than 20% of the United States March 2020 2population were born before the end of World War II in 1945. Although most people have lived with the eminent prediction of nuclear death by prophets of doom all their lives, most have never experienced concerns about fall-out-shelters, storing civil defense supplies, periodic air raid warnings, radiation badges, or even radio disaster warnings. Is it any wonder that the public is unable to generate much enthusiasm for the subject?

People are so convinced a holocaust will happen and nothing can prevent it that post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature has become popular (especially among many youths, e.g. the Black Tide Rising series by John Ringo).1

Strikingly, some of the strongest warnings about nuclear war arose from the scientists and researchers who initiated the Nuclear bomb race. Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard drafted the letter alerting President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the dangers of Nazi Germany development of a new extremely powerful bomb in 1939. The letter resulted in the Manhattan project, the development of the nuclear bomb, and the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Yet both later declared that they regretted its development and use. 2

At the end of the war, Einstein spoke out against nuclear strikes on Japan, arguing they were unjustified and motivated by US-Soviet politicking.    Einstein was purported to say at a dinner party in 1947: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” He told Newsweek magazine in 1947 that “had I known that the 2 Germans would not succeed in developing an atomic bomb, I would have done nothing.”

Leo Szilard drafted a petition signed by 70 scientists working on the Manhattan Project in July 1945 asking President Truman to not use the bomb on civilian populations in Japan without warning but provide a demonstration elsewhere and give Japan a chance to accept terms of surrender demanded by the allies. The petition never made it through the military chain of command, was classified, and was not declassified until 1961. In reaction to the petition, the military arranged for most of the signers to lose their jobs in weapons work.3

Szilard was devastated and the rest of his life regretted being trained as a physicist. In the 1950s Szilard warned that a deliberate “doomsday device” could be constructed by surrounding a hydrogen bomb with cobalt. Cobalt has a half-life of five years, and the global fallout, would be able to clear out all human life via lethal radiation intensity.4

Similarly, their peer John Von Neumann, computer pioneer, was “absolutely” certain that there would be a nuclear war, and everyone would die. Even massive estimates of damage have not made much impact on public conscience. In 1979 a U.S. Senate report estimated that a full-scale nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, would cause death of 35 to 77 % of the population in the U.S. and 20 to 40% of the population in the Soviet Union. In 1982 the World Meteorological Organization estimated a nuclear war would quickly kill half the Earth’s population. From a high of 70,300 active atomic weapons, it is now estimated that there are about 13,800 nuclear warheads in the world (but many decommissioned weapons are simply in storage.)

Isn’t it obvious that trying to juggle of the order of 10,000+ active nuclear warheads in the world can only statistically lead to an incident at some point? If one adds the other weapons of mass destruction like biological and chemical devices, a pessimist will argue an eventual catastrophic release is almost a certainty. Since 1950 there have been 32 nuclear weapons accidents (Broken Arrows) and 6 weapons have been lost and never recovered.5

Then there are the weapon program accidents associated with research, manufacture, transportation, and maintenance.6   Taking all this into account, John Leslie, William Poundstone, and other scientists have projected that mankind has only a 50% chance it will survive another 760 years, less than 95% chance it will survive more than 5100 years, and less than 97.5% chance of lasting more than 90,000 years.7, 8

A model for the probability of nuclear war was distributed in 2018. Given an annualized rate of incidents (accidents, 3 face-offs, terrorists) of 0.1 the probability of a nuclear war in the next century is 100%, and even for an annualized incident rate of 0.01 there is a 63.2% chance of nuclear war in a century.9

On January 23, 2020, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (BAS) which was founded by workers on the Manhattan Project in 1947 and includes 13 Nobel Laureates on the board, Ban Ki-Moon, former United Nations secretary-general, and William Perry, former US Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton and currently Chair of the BAS, announced that he had moved the Doomsday Clock setting to 100 seconds before midnight.10

It is the closest to Doomsday the Clock has ever been since 1947! They also issued these statements:

  • “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”
  • “We share a common concern over the failure of the multilateral system to address the existential threats we face. From the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, to the deadlock at nuclear disarmament talks and division at the UN Security Council — our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them the most.”
  • “On the nuclear threat, we’ve seen unprecedented brinksmanship over the past 12 months by half a dozen nations, the termination of major arms control agreements, a dizzying proliferation of nuclear weapons, and an unsettling amount of loose talk about the mistaken idea that limited nuclear warfare is somehow possible or ‘winnable.’”

If these stark predictions do not convince, perhaps the drawings produced by the cartoonist/artist Basil Wolverton for evangelist and cult leader Herbert W. Armstrong to illustrate the apocalyptic end of the world predicted in Revelations will catch your attention. Wolverton produced 16 disturbing grotesque scenes of horror and destruction in which he interpreted words of verses in Revelation as an outcome of nuclear war.

 “The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.”

– Revelation 8:7 

March 2020 3

“The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.”

– Revelation 16:10-11

March 2020 4 

When it comes to world holocaust risks, I’m pretty sure there are really only three types of people. Those who believe we’re buggering things up, those who don’t believe we’re buggering things up, and those who don’t know (and maybe don’t give a toss) either way. In a probably ill-fated attempt to remind others that we have an obligation to our children, grandchildren, and other earth inhabitants, I decided to share another “wake-up-call” essay with you all. No doubt it will go into the trash with other boring spam. Oh well.

  1. John Ringo, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ringo
  2. Jim Green, Albert Einstein on nuclear weapons, Nuclear Monitor Issue #802, Number 466, 23/04/2015 https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/802/albert-einstein-nuclear-weapons
  3. Szilard petition, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szil%C3%A1rd_petition
  4. Nuclear Holocaust, Likelihood of complete human extinction, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_holocaust#Likelihood_of_complete_human_extinction
  5. List of nuclear weapon accidents: http://www.atomicarchive.com/Almanac/Brokenarrows_static.shtml
  6. List of nuclear accidents during development: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accidents
  7. John Leslie, The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction, Routledge, London, 1996, 310 pp.
  8. William Poundstone, ‘Doomsday’ Math Says Humanity May Have Just 760 Years Left, Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, or The Doomsday Calculation: How a Formula that Predicts the Future is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe, Little, Brown Spark, 2019, 320 pages.
  9. Baum, Seth and de Neufville, Robert and Barrett, Anthony, A Model for the Probability of Nuclear War (March 8, 2018). Global Catastrophic Risk Institute Working Paper 18-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3137081 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3137081
  10. Ban Ki-Moon et al., Why the world is closer than ever to Doomsday, CNN Opinion, January 24, 2020 https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/24/opinions/doomsday-clock-emergency-moon-robinson-brown-perry


 Del Benson, Ph.D. is a Professor and wildlife specialist for Extension at Colorado State University. His work is with wildlife and recreation enterprises on private land, conservation education, hunter attitudes and behavior, public input to resource management decision making and campus environmental management.

The “Biggest of Bangs” that created our universe and planet was active for over 14 billion years.  It resulted in the cosmos and our relatively insignificant earth systems containing a climate that supports plants, animals and humans with life forms and functions that we should not take for granted today (https://www.space.com/25126-big-bang-theory.html).  Changes continue, but are relatively smaller.

A comet, around 66 million years ago that was 7 to 50 miles in diameter, plunged to earth with a Big Bang on the Yucatan Peninsula.  It sent debris into the cosmos, covered the earth with an iridium layer, disrupted climate, eliminated all non-avian dinosaurs, and about 75% of all species on earth went extinct (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died).

We know the story only from fossils and paleontology studies, because humans had not entered the animal world. Food chains in the sea and on land collapsed, tropics converted to ice, and new forms of life evolved to cope with changed environments.  Humans evolved in the new world about 66 million years ago also. Humans decided to make and use a new Big Bangs!

Unlike other forms of animals, humans can think about the future and act accordingly. They dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killing between 129,000 and 226,000 persons.  The blasts and radioactive fallout caused other injuries, illnesses, and altered landscape production, leading to human malnutrition and untold consequences for plants and animals downwind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki.

Nuclear Big Bangs effectively ended World War II, but left the world’s people with anxious fears about personal survival from nuclear destruction and radioactive fallout from bombs and accidents at nuclear power facilitates.  Nuclear Big Bangs were supposed give reason to end all wars…but did they? Nuclear uses are totally within human control unlike the other Big Bangs; thus, people must decide how to use nuclear energy, not to use it, and how they might adapt to catastrophic events that could happen.

Other animals are not able to anticipate how they will adapt to nature; rather, they must evolve with genetic and behavioral changes that fit new situations…natural selection…if they can and if time allows. The fit survives if there is time to physically adjust genetic and behavioral capabilities.  Adaptive genes are selected and passed on to others of the species to fit the new situations better.  Unadaptable genes will not survive, and life perishes. Plants and animals, prey and predators also adapt behaviorally! If consequences and adaptations are not too drastic, then life forms might continue to succeed.  Big Bangs, whether natural, nuclear, or human-caused climatic changes are not good for life as we know it.

Humans can plan ahead, and they must be thoughtful enough to prevent unnecessary, unintended and dire consequences from their actions.  “Big Bangs” remove options!  Human caused Big Bangs are dangerous.  Humans can only adapt to changes in relation to earth systems that might be unforgiving. Civil discourse, thoughtful actions, and sincerely caring about people and the planet are imperative. Listening, empathy, planning, and ethics toward lands and peoples should replace human “Big Bangs”! Nature seems to always provide important messages to learn and share…if we listen.


Lindsey Pointer, PhD in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington, is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Central to the nuclear weapon strategy of all countries that possess them is the idea of deterrence. The theory is that attacks will be deterred through the threat of catastrophic retaliation and peace and stability will arise through this awareness of mutually assured destruction. As Winston Churchill described in 1955, “Safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.”

This reasoning for possessing nuclear weapons is almost taken for granted. The deterrence reasoning is also remarkably similar to the theoretical underpinnings of the mainstream criminal justice system, which has long claimed that the threat of punishment will deter people from committing crimes. However, as I’ve described in a previous newsletter (#19), research has shown that punitive sanctions, or the threat of punitive sanctions, actually rarely lead to the decision to desist from crime.

What does work to deter violence is the cultivation of healthy relationships and the development of understanding and compassion. We see it again and again in the restorative practices field in the criminal justice system, schools, workplaces, churches, and neighborhoods. When people take the time to listen to each other, to understand each other’s perspectives and speak honestly and opening about their needs and experiences, violence decreases and peace and stability grow.

This is, of course, more difficult to achieve on an international scale, but particularly with the growth of technology that makes communication across the planet as seamless as calling your next door neighbor and more and more people traveling and getting to know other places and people, those relationships of mutual understanding and positive regard are increasingly possible.


William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. What follows is adapted from his 2009 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation, co-authored with an international group of peace scholars that included Ed Brantmeier, Nat Kees, Tom Cavanagh, Claire McGlynn and
Elavie Ndura (Madison, WI: Atwood).

In an editorial for the International Herald Tribune, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu (2008) argued for both proactive intervention and prevention “when a government is unwilling or unable to stop mass atrocities being committed within its borders?” Could this same logic and call to action be applied to the threat of catastrophe should a nuclear war be triggered?

Tutu writes: “The Universal Declaration was adopted in the aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons. World opinion came together then to say, ‘never again.’ Yet in the past six decades, we have witnessed mass atrocities committed against others across the globe. We all share a responsibility to do whatever we can to help prevent and protect one another from such violence.

The place to start is with prevention: through measures aimed in particular at building state capacity, remedying grievances, and ensuring the rule of law. My hope is that in the future, the Responsibility to Protect will be exercised not after the murder and rape of innocent people, but when community tensions and political unrest begin. It is by preventing, rather than reacting, that we can truly fulfill our shared responsibility to end the worst forms of human rights abuses.”

Could Tutu’s focus on prevention, planning, communication and cooperation be used to “reverse the doomsday clock” in its move toward midnight and disaster, i.e., when a nuclear exchange and/or climate change pushes the earth toward catastrophe?

The University of Ngozi in Burundi, East Africa has a very special, albeit tenuous, position in the world. It may be the only university with peace and reconciliation as the very first, foundational commitments in its mission followed soon thereafter with a commitment to sustainable development.

The only comparable university we know of is the University of Peace in Costa Rica. Established by a vote of the United Nations it has subsidies that the University of Ngozi (UNG) does not enjoy and that is significant. Perhaps this campus, with the clarity of its commitment to peacebuilding, can help prompt a new discussion of global security in an era of nuclear weapons.

In many ways this example parallels what happened in Japan after World War Two as it was emerging from the devastation of atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and sparking a deep national clarity about peacebuilding.

The story of the commitment to peace in Burundi is all that more remarkable because it arose out of the burning horrors of a devastating civil war raging in this already impoverished post-colonial legacy. It arose before the Arusha Peace Accords were signed, a commitment by the people of the Ngozi region to “wage war against war.”

These peacebuilders went door to door to ask for household contributions. They also got some initial funding from the Catholic Church although the founders were clear about being “ecumenical” and serving all faiths. UNG also got the use of a small campus-like space from the city of Ngozi.

VISION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NGOZI:  To train high level executives capable of understanding the problems of the different environments where they will be called upon to work and find appropriate solutions by contributing to the promotion of sustainable development for moral and human education in society.


·      Contribute to education for peace and national reconciliation.

·      Offer a hopeful future to the youth of our nation and neighboring countries.

·      Offer a bachelor’s master’s or even doctoral level training.

·      Promote applied and fundamental research in various sectors of socio-economic development.

March 2020

Describe a conflict that has impacted your school, organization, family or community. What prevention efforts and “capacity building” would have made a positive difference? What more could schools and universities do in your area to promote peacebuilding in this era of nuclear weaponry?


See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation!  If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. Future issues may explore the following: APRIL—(Meroney) The use of music and art by proponents of peace;  MAY–  (Timpson) Interconnections between peacebuilding and climate change (sustainability); JUNE— National elections and their influence on war and peace; JULY—(Thomas) Human diversity and leadership skills for peacebuilding.



William M. Timpson, Bob Meroney, Lloyd Thomas and Sharyn Salmen, Fort Collins Rotary Clubs

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties.


William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. What follows is adapted from his 2009 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation, co-authored with an international group of peace scholars that included Ed Brantmeier, Nat Kees, Tom Cavanagh, Claire McGlynn and Elavie Ndura (Madison, WI: Atwood).

In No Future Without Forgiveness, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu (1999) describes the process by which those who had committed “political crimes” or had acted “under orders” from a superior, typically within the police or other state security apparatus, could apply for amnesty from prosecution if they told the truth and asked for forgiveness. Above all, Tutu, Mandela and other leaders wanted to educate the nation and the world about the horrors of apartheid. Establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was the mechanism.

December 1 In the outskirts of Moscow, a memorial was unveiled in 2017 at the former headquarters of the secret police, the KGB, where more than 20,000 victims of Stalin’s paranoid pursuit of threats from 1937 and 1841 lay secretly buried until Russian President Vladimer Putin ordered it built in 2014. I had the opportunity to visit this site of truth, remembrance and reconciliation in 2019 on a tour with a Presbyterian Peacemaking Project. The three-sided wall has the names of these victim inscribed for all to see.



In November of 2019, I also got to witness the conflicts and tensions over immigration, smuggling and the building of a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. A delegation from Plymouth United Church of Christ in Fort Collins, Colorado wanted to see first-hand what the issues were. With respect to our focus in this newsletter on “truth and reconciliation,” there is a memorial in Nogales, Mexico, for example, that is dedicated to Jose Rodriguez, a sixteen-year old boy who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer in 2012 for throwing a rock over the border wall. Rodriguez was unarmed and hit by ten bullets in the head and back. This memorial represents a permanent call for remembrance and reconciliation. December 2

QUESTIONS: What historical events in your lifetime would benefit from something like a public “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” hearing, especially during the days that lead up to Christmas and our celebration of peace in our songs, prayers and gatherings?


Lindsey Pointer is a PhD Candidate in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington and is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Fania Davis is a leading voice on the intersection of racial and restorative justice. She is a social justice activist, civil rights trial attorney, restorative justice practitioner, and writer and scholar with a PhD in indigenous knowledge. She is also the founding director of Restorative Justice of Oakland Youth (RJOY), a ground-breaking restorative justice organization. Fania and her sister, Angela Davis, are long-time Civil Justice activists, who have done incredible work for social justice over their lifetimes (read more about them here).

Davis argues that the United States needs a Truth and Reconciliation process on violence against African Americans. I couldn’t agree with her more. I hope you enjoy her opinion piece from Yes Magazine below.


Fania Davis

I am among the millions who have experienced the shock, grief, and fury of losing someone to racial violence. When I was 15, two close friends were killed in the Birmingham Sunday School bombing carried out by white supremacists trying to terrorize the rising civil rights movement. Only six years later, my husband was shot and nearly killed by police who broke into our home, all because of our activism at the time, especially in support of the Black Panthers.

As a civil rights trial lawyer, I’ve spent much of my professional life protecting people from racial discrimination. In my early twenties, I devoted myself to organizing an international movement to defend my sister, Angela Davis, from politically motivated capital murder charges aimed at silencing her calls for racial and social justice. Early childhood experiences in the South set me on a quest for social transformation, and I’ve been a community organizer ever since, from the civil rights to the black power, women’s, anti-racial violence, peace, anti-apartheid, anti-imperialist, economic justice, political prisoner movements, and others.

After more than three decades of all the fighting, I started to feel out of balance and intuitively knew I needed more healing energies in my life. I ended up enrolling in a Ph.D. program in Indigenous Studies that allowed me to study with African healers. Today, my focus is on restorative justice, which I believe offers a way for us to collectively face this epidemic, expose its deep historical roots, and stop it.

The killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York have sparked a national outcry to end the epidemic killings of black men. Many note that even if indictments had been handed down, that wouldn’t have been enough to stop the carnage. The problem goes far beyond the actions of any police officer or department. The problem is hundreds of years old, and it is one we must take on as a nation. Truth and reconciliation processes offer the greatest hope.

Truth and reconciliation in Ferguson and beyond

A Ferguson Truth and Reconciliation process based on restorative justice (RJ) principles could not only stop the epidemic but also allow us as a nation to take a first “step on the road to reconciliation,” to borrow a phrase from the South African experience.

A restorative justice model means that youth, families, and communities directly affected by the killings—along with allies—would partner with the federal government to establish a commission. Imagine a commission that serves as a facilitator, community organizer, or Council of Elders to catalyze, guide, and support participatory, inclusive, and community-based processes.

We know from experience that a quasi-legal body of high-level experts who hold hearings, examine the evidence, and prepare findings and recommendations telling us as a nation what we need to do won’t work. We’ve had plenty of those.

To move toward a reconciled America, we have to do the work ourselves. Reconciliation is an ongoing and collective process. We must roll up our sleeves and do the messy, challenging, but hopeful work of creating transformed relationships and structures leading us into new futures. Someone like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who headed up South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, might come to Ferguson to inspire and guide us as we take the first steps on this journey.

And the impact wouldn’t be for Ferguson alone. Unfolding in hubs across the nation, a Truth and Reconciliation process could create safe public spaces for youth, families, neighbors, witnesses, and other survivors to share their stories.  Though this will happen in hubs, the truths learned and the knowledge gained would be broadly shared. Importantly, the process would also create skillfully facilitated dialogue where responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

Worldwide peace is the critical prerequisite for the survival of humanity.  We humans are facing, and fast approaching a tipping point for:

  • The warming of the planet’s climate;
  • The decrease in biodiversity;
  • The lack of fresh water worldwide;
  • Overpopulation; and
  • The use of violence to address or solve humanity’s problems

We can no longer follow the allopathic medical model for treating disease as the best method for treating the above problems.  Physician, William Osler once said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”  The allopathic medical model dictates that if we locate the “causes” of disease, we can then eliminate them using medicine, surgery or radiation.  Following this model has resulted in many breakthroughs in the successful treatments/preventatives of many illnesses/disorders.  Unfortunately, the body’s healing is left up to the patient to do after any treatment(s) have been applied.  Perhaps, we could apply the practical medical model of the ancient Chinese: The “patients” paid their health professionals as long as they remained healthy.  They stopped paying whenever they got sick.  Dr. Osler also wrote, “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.”

Our bodies have a great capacity for healing and remaining healthy, and if we “treat the patient who has the disease,” we are much more likely to heal.  There are no known illnesses from which our bodies have been able to heal spontaneously without outside intervention.  Today, medical science is finally learning how to strengthen our naturally occurring healing systems.  We are learning a lot about “spontaneous remission” and “the placebo effect” and “immunotherapy” etc.

How is all the above relevant or analogous to treating our global problems peacefully?  Thankfully, there is an organization that has been doing such research for several years.  That organization is called the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP).  [Check it out online.]  Every year IEP sends out a Positive Peace Report: Analyzing The Factors That Sustain Peace.  IEP’s report for 2019 includes a great distinction between “negative peace” and “positive peace.”  This distinction was initially made by Norwegian sociologist, Johan Galtung, “negative peace, which is the absence of violence, [the] absence of war…and positive peace, which is the integration of human society. Peace does not just mean the absence of something.  After all, an authoritarian regime could have peace.  Peace is also the presence of something.”

Negative peace can only be described as the absence of war.  A vacant city destroyed by war is extremely peaceful.  The absence of microbes, bacteria, viruses or accidents does not describe a healthy person.  That which “causes” an illness has been destroyed but may not sustainably heal the person.  Sometimes people die from the side effects of the “medicine, surgery or radiation.”  I have known patients who have done so.  War has never been curative of the problems to which it is supposed to sustainably address.  The terrible side effects of war are very long-lasting unless the creation of “positive peace” is employed after war has ended.  Lasting, sustainable peace must be created and applied to the problems stated above…without additional (new) warfare.  Healing/Health is created by the application of many lifestyle changes in the absence of microbes, viruses, bacteria and accidents.

The Institute for Economics & Peace has identified eight key factors they call Pillars, which are essential to the creation and sustaining of Positive Peace.  They are:

  • WELL-FUNCTIONING GOVERNMENT – one that delivers high-quality and civil services, engenders trust and participation, demonstrates political stability and upholds the rule of law;
  • SOUND BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT – The strength of economic conditions as well as the formal institutions that support the operation of the private sector. Business competitiveness and economic productivity are both associated with the most peaceful countries.
  • EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF RESOURCES – Peaceful countries tend to ensure equity in access to resources such as education, health, and to a lesser extent, equity in income distribution.
  • ACCEPTANCE OF THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS – Peaceful countries often have formal laws that guarantee basic human rights and freedoms, and the informal social and cultural norms that relate to behaviors of citizens.
  • GOOD RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS – Peaceful relations with other countries are as important as good relations between groups within a country. Countries with positive external relations are more peaceful and tend to be more politically stable, have better functioning governments, are regionally integrated and have lower levels of organized internal conflict.
  • FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION – Free and independent media disseminates information a way that leads to greater knowledge and helps individuals, businesses and civil society make better decisions. This leads to better outcomes and more rational responses in times of crisis.
  • HIGH LEVELS OF HUMAN CAPITAL – A skilled human capital base reflects the extent to which societies educate citizens and promote the development of knowledge, thereby improving economic productivity, care for the young, political participation and social capital.
  • LOW LEVELS OF CORRUPTION – In societies with high levels of corruption, resources are inefficiently allocated, often leading to a lack of funding for essential services and civil unrest. Low corruption can enhance confidence and trust in institutions.

Focusing your attention to creating a healthy lifestyle and engaging in those behaviors that generate that lifestyle is the first step in creating a sustainable, healthy body along with its naturally occurring healing system.  Attending to the development of positive peace and engaging in those actions, attitudes and behaviors that create such a sustainable, peaceful culture is “the critical prerequisite for the survival of humanity.”


Sharyn H. Salmen has been a health care consultant and is a is a long time Rotarian. You can contacting her at this email address: ssalmen@q.com

On a trip to Ireland in June and July of 2019, we found that different regions had different viewpoints about past conflicts. However ordinary citizens are finding agreements about the peace process still holding after more than twenty years. Various investigations have sought to determine the truth about the past “Troubles”, those years of violence after 1972 when British troops fired on a civil rights march in Londonderry killing fourteen and injuring another fourteen.

While the Good Friday Peace Accord in 1998 led to a withdrawal of British forces and a decommissioning of weapons by paramilitary forces on both sides, both Catholic affiliates with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant loyalists, efforts at reconciliation have continued. However, it seems that many are nervous about the responsibility needed to admit to violence and whether they will be exonerated or persecuted further or whether the region will be engulfed in conflict, blame and retaliation once again.

An historic milestone may have passed in May 2007 when the Reverend Ian Paisley, the firebrand Protestant preacher and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Martin McGuinness, a Sinn Féin Member of Parliament and former commander in the Irish Republican Army—the best of enemies for decades—laughed and smiled as they were sworn in as first minister and deputy first minister of a new power-sharing government. Both men have since passed away.

Coming to the truth is always difficult. In the case of armed conflicts, reconciliation requires a search for that truth along with a commitment to finding justice, practicing forgiveness and seeking accommodation. For example, in a dramatic 2010 Speech in the House of Commons, then British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized to the people of Derry in a televised speech, saying “What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.” A series of painted murals commemorates the events of 1972, allowing people to remember, learn and hopefully heal. A pedestrian Peace Bridge was built over the River Foyle and opened in 2011, linking Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods long divided by that River. A statue of two men reaching out their hands toward each other stands proudly near the downtown area. In addition, the city of Londonderry has now agreed to alternate Nationalist and Unionist mayors.

Other examples of the truth of different perspectives exist in Belfast. Tourists can take conventional taxi rides to the historic sites and hear one viewpoint or go with ex-convicts and former IRA fighters to hear a very different interpretation. The murals in different parts of the city that cover the sides of building commemorate very different heroes and events. The “peace wall” cuts through the heart of Belfast allows for ongoing public expressions of reconciliation.

On July 2, 2019, in Portrush in Northern Ireland, a strongly conservative Protestant community, we had an unplanned first-hand experience with local citizens about the prospects for reconciliation there in the context of a discussion about Brexit. Over dinner we chatted with two older women, one a Protestant and the other an ex-Catholic nun. Both had experienced the “Troubles” that started in 1972 and the 20 years of subsequent peace that followed the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. They drew on their friendship to discuss the issues and their ideas for solutions. Neither wanted conflict or hard borders anywhere between the north or south of Ireland. They wanted a unified Ireland. They desired peace and peaceful solutions. They said that it appears “only extremists want a hard border to replace the soft and cooperative one than now exists.”


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

Reconciliation, forgiveness, and truth, possibly followed by transitional justice, restorative justice, retributive justice, reparative justice, and conflict management are all intertwined and affect one another.  Some people think reconciliation and forgiveness are the same.  Some question whether it is truly possible to have reconciliation without forgiveness. Others point out that even if you achieve forgiveness, reconciliation is not guaranteed.  It is necessary to define terms, so everybody understands the dilemmas.

The word reconciliation generally means making one view compatible with another, but it can have specific meanings when applied to accounting (bank statements), theology (redemption, penance, atonement), legislative (expedite bill passage), political (repairing damaged political relationships and acceptance of the rule of law), between nations (agreement to stop hostilities and through diplomacy search for a mutually acceptable solution), and personal (reestablishment of relations or communications). The Greek word katallage is often used as a synonym and specifies an exchange of one thing for another, e.g. exchange enmity, wrath, and war with friendship, love and peace.

Forgiveness is an internal personal process; hence, it can involve a single person.  Lewis B. Smedes, who wrote the book “Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve” suggested “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner is you.” [1]  The forgiveness process may not involve the offending party at all.  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation can follow for sometimes the mental and physical injuries are too stark.  Some will forgive but expect apology, remorse, or reparations before reconciliation.

Forgiveness does not equate to forgetting.  Again, Smedes said “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past.  A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”   Ryan Howes wrote that “the process of forgiveness and reconciliation can be a long, grueling process. Making up may not be possible due to obstacles including participation by the offender. But forgiveness involves only you.” [2]

Truth is also tricky.  Truth is defined as being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original.  It is usually held to be opposite to falsehood.  Some would argue that the only sure proof of truth is passage of time.   The figure below is titled Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy (Francois Lemoyne, 1737).   Philosophers have debated the reality of truth for centuries, and various theories would suggest a) truth is relative (to language, to culture, to perception of reality), b)  truth requires consistency in all its facets, d) truth is dependent on how it is constructed (e.g. the winners write the history), e) truth is what the majority consensus agrees (thus it can change with time), f) truth is pragmatic in that it survives time and tests, g) truth reflects the agreement with some statement, and h) just saying something is true is a redundant activity.    Thus, in a forgiveness or reconciliation activity judgements about the “truth” of what participants say or feel may need to be held in abeyance.

December 3

Some would also argue that Facts should be used to define Truth.  Facts are important to me as a scientist/engineer.  Some are verifiable by scientific experiment, others are documented by unimpeachable records, sources, artifacts, or producible evidence.  Concerning facts, I think there are different kinds.

  • There are facts that are “true” and “matter.”  These facts are the kind you are a fool if you ignore, and ignorance can kill you.  Gravity is a FACT, ignoring it is stupid.
  • There are facts that are “true” but enforcing or emphasizing them doesn’t necessarily lead to goodwill, better friendships or beneficial results.  A child’s painting may be both ugly and unskilled (TRUE) , but telling him/her so doesn’t help anything.
  • There are facts that are “true”, but others just don’t care and will not act upon their reality.  Sometimes the refusal to accept some facts can be related to religion, culture, politics, or just plain stubbornness.    People who become entranced with evil cult or political leaders (Warren Jeffs, L. Ron Hubbard, Charles Manson, Sun Myung Moon, Ayn Rand, Jim Jones, Hugo Chavez or Adolph Hitler), people who have a sick child and are convinced some alternative medicine is the cure, people who are committed “foodies” (anti-GMO, anti-meat, etc.),  are immune to considering possible alternatives.
  • There are facts that are “true”. but people have agendas that overwhelm one reality in favor of another.   Achieving their own “truth” is more important than contradicting an inconvenient falsehood.

There are also “facts” which are stated without attribution or reference, so I follow a fact-check model to consider a) the source of the information, b) the supporting evidence for the information both historical and logical, c) the moral position that the opinions or ideas hold, and d) the position about the information taken by other people I respect.  I find these four filters to be very helpful in deciding whether to accept or reject facts/opinions proposed by others.

The Process of Reconciliation may have different models, i) mutual forgiveness combined with agreement on corrections or ii) restoration of mutual respect with restoration of rules of law and behavior.  In both cases some level of trust is required between parties.  Reconciliation is an interpersonal joint process where dialogue with the offender is necessary.  Typically, there is an exchange of views, expressions of hurt, and active listening on both sides. There may or may not be forgiveness, expressions of remorse, reparations, and hugs all around.  Consequences of the reconciliation process may vary.[3] Participants in a formal reconciliation process may often have different expectations.[4] Proponents of T&R Commissions must work to include reparations for victims, formal apologies, indications of remorse, and a chance for a new beginning.  Critics of  T&R Commissions claim that the process can allow crimes against humanity and genocide to go unpunished, promote impunity among rulers, traumatize victims, and provide only selective justice.[5] Hence, T&R Commissions must be prepared to encourage true and honest communication, universal participation, and build trust that bridges barriers of suspicion ,

Despite the admitted confusion and difficulties, there is no question that forgiveness is the correct medicine for individual health, and reconciliation among the parties involved based on a joint or even partial understanding of truth will lead toward peace and better solutions to discord than acrimony, war, and continued hate.


See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation!  If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. Future issues may explore the following: January—Spirituality and Healing; February—Coping with Stress; March—Nuclear Weapons, Use, Probabilities and History.

[1] Lewis B. Smedes, ThD (1921-2002), Professor of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of 15 books.

[2] Ryan Howes (2013), Forgiveness: Fact and Fiction, Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-therapy/201303/forgiveness-vs-reconciliation

[3] Colleen Murphy (2007), Political Reconciliation, the Rule of Law, and Genocide, The European Legacy, Vol. 12, No. 7, pp. 853-865.

[4] Joanne Laucius (2017), The meaning of reconciliation: ‘We’re not anywhere near that word called forward. We’re not even on the first syllable’, Ottawa Citizen, Postmedia Network, https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-meaning-of-reconciliation

[5] Some see Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as a “weak-minded establishmentarian alternative to the real task of justice and structural change.” Crying peace when there is no peace.



William M. Timpson, Bob Meroney, Lloyd Thomas, Del Benson, Sharyn and Larry Salmen, Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. See the end of this newsletter for more details about this project and the authors.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is a Rotarian and an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

When one looks for the key to peace building, it is important to search for every available resource and talent among mankind.  Hence, the questions arise:

  • Do women have a special perspective, motivation, or insight to bring to the peace building process?
  • What unique ways have women contributed to peace building?
  • Are there successes in peace building directly attributable to women initiatives or perspectives?
  • What has been women representation among World Nations, National, and Social Issues?

I have been reading about early women peace advocates going back into the 1800s.  These women were all about action, and some were prepared to risk scorn, humiliation, ridicule, and hate to stand up for their principles.

One woman who stood out was Jane Addams (1860-1935) who was active in women’s suffrage, was a settlement activist (founder of Chicago’s Hull House, and an advocate of world peace.[1]  She was the first woman to receive an honorary Master of Arts from Yale University, was co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Like Mark Twain she opposed the Spanish American War, fought against the annexation of the Philippines, and became the national chairman of the Woman’s Peace Party in 1915, presided over the International Congress of Women in the Hauge in 1915 and later become the head of a commission to end World War I.  She was also president of the International Committee of Women for a Permanent Peace, which eventually become the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).  In 1917 she became a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA.  When she refused to back down on her criticism of World War I she was often denounced as a traitor and unpatriotic.  She was accused of being a radical, Communist influenced, and unfeminine. But her refusal to be cowed was eventually rewarded by the Nobel Prize, and she gave her share of the award to the WILPF.

When the Norwegian Nobel Committee finally acknowledged the work of Jane Addams, she was ill and unable to go to the ceremony or present a Nobel lecture.  Indeed, on the day of the award, she was admitted to a Baltimore hospital, and after 4 years of failing health died.  Strangely, her co-recipient in 1931 was Nicholas Murray Butler, who had strongly denounced those, like Addams, who had opposed the first world war.

But Professor Halvdan Koht,[2] who gave the presentation speech for Addams, remarked “She held fast to the ideal of peace even during the difficult hours when other considerations and interests obscured it from her compatriots and drove them into conflict.” “Even when her views were at odds with public opinion, she never gave in, and in the end, she regained the place of honors she had had before in the hearts of her people.”   Koht spoke of how women represent “the highest and purest moral standards of society,” acknowledged the special role of women peacemakers whose had “that love, that warm maternal feeling which renders murder and war so hateful to every woman.” “Jane Addams combines all the best feminine qualities which will help us to develop peace on earth.”

Walter Lippman sad “she was not only good, but great”.[3]

Sadly, the work of heroic women have often gone unacknowledged in the rush to honor male leaders in an admittedly male chauvinistic world.  Even the Nobel Peace Prize Chairman, Jörgen Lövland, when referring to activists of the peace movement in 1904 spoke of “the men who had done this work.”[4]  Out of 107 individuals awarded the peace prize since 1901, 17 to date have been awarded to women.  But the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate was female, Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when awarded the 2014 Peace Prize.

We can only acknowledge and praise the leadership of such women.


Tracey Emslie is a retired journalist with an MFA in Creative nonfiction from Goucher College and a long-time Rotarian.

 Some twenty years ago, two of my male relatives were discussing the then hot issue of whether or not women should be “allowed” to participate in combat.  I listened without comment as each agreed with every point the other raised. Their confident conclusion at the end of a very long hour was that physical, social and psychological factors made the answer a patent, “Of course not.”  At that point, I asked them if they would be interested in what an actual woman had to say on that.  They honest-to-gosh chuckled.  I paused.

“All other things being equal, you could not force me to pull a trigger on another woman’s husband or son.” They nodded, visibly pleased at this verification of their view of traditional female roles. “But threaten my children and I would mow down scores without a qualm.” They stared at me. “Put women in charge of defense. End of problem.”

The upper body strength necessary to wield a sword or longbow has been unnecessary for military victory for centuries.  Nor do we send massed lines of men bearing muskets charging at each other like two rams about to clash their skulls together.  The most important factor in modern military leadership is the ability to develop, coordinate, and implement cutting-edge technology in unexpected, preferably invisible, and hopefully beneficial ways.

The Air Force graduated its first class of “Multi-Domain Warfare Officers” on October 9th.  Embracing Isaac Asimov’s theory that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent, these twenty-seven creative, highly intelligent individuals integrate land, air, sea, underwater, space, and cyber technologies to coordinate unorthodox solutions to extreme problems; ideally, without blowing anything up.

The highest score in the class was earned by a young woman.



Sharyn H. Salmen has been a health care consultant. Larry Salmen has helped support business success with technology and systems integration. The following is an excerpt of a longer essay. you can read by contacting Sharyn Salmen (ssalmen@q.com). She and her husband, Larry Salmen (lsalmen@q.com), are both long-time Rotarians.

Two women peace activists in Northern Ireland helped lead a grassroots effort at a peaceful resolution of the “Troubles,” the bloody period that was sparked in 1972 when British troops fired on civilians marching for civil rights and did not end until 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. This movement disproved the popular assessment that the violence here was “intractable” and beyond resolution given the legacy of British colonization and subjugation, the four plus centuries of oppressive controls, humiliation and violent suppression of native Catholic dissent. These women essentially pronounced to the men and to the world, “Boys, your 400 years of bombs and bullets have not worked to bring peace. We need a new inclusive and nonviolent way forward that will get us past this historic but constructed Catholic and Protestant divide. Continued violence will only deepen those wounds.”

Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams were awarded 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions toward building a popular peace movement. Maguire had three nieces die when an alleged IRA combatant was shot and killed by police in Belfast and his car had swerved into a crowded sidewalk. Maguire declared then and there that her “ordinary life” was over and that she would from then on be completely dedicated to an effort to change the future direction of Northern Ireland.

Betty Williams happened to see this tragedy. She herself is the child of a mixed marriage—her father, a butcher, was a Protestant and her mother, a housewife, was Catholic. She remained committed to the possibilities of building effective interfaith coalitions. Together they defied history and helped forge a new way forward that would stand forever as a beacon of possibility for every community that has struggled with conflict and violence.

Together with others, these two women helped organize and lead weekly marches to “liberate” public parks for all citizens to enjoy, regardless of their religious affiliation or cultural background. Although those first Sunday marches of Catholics and Protestants, mostly women, were small, the word spread and their numbers grew as the media took notice of the anger that some residents hurled at them for daring to “invade” their neighborhoods.  Maguire and Williams and their allies had the audacity to want to reclaim public spaces long segregated by religious background, social class and political allegiances. For her part, Maguire always remained convinced that the most effective way to end the violence was not through violence but through re-education.  Later, she and her allies in would adopt a more global agenda, addressing an array of social and political issues from around the world.

Maguire’s philosophy

In a speech at Santa Clara University, Maguire spoke about Gandhi’s contributions to peace and its call for activism. In fact, he called it a daring, creative and courageous way of living, a hope for the future. Gandhi rejected violence in favor of love and truth, dialogue and reconciliation. As a pacifist herself, insisted that violence is never justified and there are always alternatives to force and threat of force. In keeping with these beliefs and values, she has also called for the abolition of all armies and the establishment of a multi-national community of unarmed peacekeepers in their stead.

In her 2010 book, The Vision of Peace: Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland, she draws on essays and letters to discuss the connections between her political activities and her faith. “Hope for the future depends on each of us taking non-violence into our hearts and minds and developing new and imaginative structures which are non-violent and life-giving for all… Some people will argue that this is too idealistic. I believe it is very realistic… We can rejoice and celebrate today because we are living in a miraculous time. Everything is changing and everything is possible.”


 William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. What follows is adapted from his 2009 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation, co-authored with an international group of peace scholars that included Ed Brantmeier, Nat Kees, Tom Cavanagh, Claire McGlynn and Elavie Ndura (Madison, WI: Atwood).

“So often in our educational systems, the canon of women’s history has to be recovered by each new generation of scholars. Nathalie Kees insists that this has “definitely been true for me as I have searched for female role models of peace. I have only recently been introduced to one of the founding mothers of the peace movement, Peace Pilgrim. Born Mildred Norman on July 18, 1908, she took the name Peace Pilgrim in her mid-forties.

After many years of physical, spiritual, and emotional preparation, she began walking across the United States in 1953, without possessions or money, ‘until mankind learns the way of peace.’ From 1953 until her death in 1981, she walked across the United States seven times on pilgrimages for peace. She chose not to eat until food was offered to her or sleep until shelter was provided. Her message was simple, ‘Here is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love’” (Peace Pilgrim, Steps Toward Inner Peace).

“Peace Pilgrim’s writings have been maintained by the “Friends of Peace Pilgrim” and are available free of charge from this group. A documentary of her life entitled, Peace Pilgrim: An American Sage Who Walked Her Talk, provides an excellent 60-minute introduction to her life and work and is also available, along with other videos and books of her life’s work, from the Friends of Peace Pilgrim, P.O Box 2207, Shelton, CT 06484, (203) 926-1581, or at http://www.peacepilgrim.org.  “After viewing these materials, reflect on the following: What world events happened during Peace Pilgrim’s formative years between 1908 and 1953 that influenced her decision to walk for peace? What kinds of physical, spiritual, and emotional preparations did it take for her to get ready to walk?

“One decision Peace Pilgrim made was to completely balance her needs and wants. She believed there was nothing she needed that she didn’t have and that you couldn’t give her anything she didn’t need. If you gave her anything, even something as small as a postage stamp, that she didn’t need, she felt that it would be a burden to her. She decided to ‘live simply so that others could simply live.’ Ask yourself: How balanced are the wants and needs of your life? How do our choices affect the lives of others in the world? How is everyone interconnected? Although Peace Pilgrim’s life may seem extraordinary, she considered herself a very ordinary person. How might her actions inspire you (32-33)?” 


Del Benson, Ph.D. Dr. Benson is Professor at Colorado State University.  He learned about management of people and nature in Canada, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America, and the US now offering 6 Online graduate courses about policy, communications, management, and sustainability.

I am afraid of losing my head to discuss gender and peace from my role of linking nature to human nurturing processes of living civilly together; however, I accept challenges. Female black widow spiders and praying mantis are known for biting off heads and consuming males after copulation. Those are very poor negotiating skills, but they foster female genetic “leadership.”

Female nurturing, wisdom, and training are found in elk and elephant groups, dogs and cats closer to us, and with primate and people populations. Most persons were raised and taught at home by females who possess unique roles with gestation (making us), parturition (delivering us), nutrition (feeding us) and to a major extent, negotiation (helping us to navigate within family, friends, and society). Our teachers in early grades were mostly females, then numbers trended towards more men later.

It is easy to find example of women who made big impacts on science, health, animals, and civility:

·      Madame Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and two prizes in fields of physics and chemistry (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1903/marie-curie/biographical/),

·      Rachel Carson exposed impact of chemicals on US environments, wrote “Silent Spring” to inform us, and fostered environment movements of the 1960s: (https://www.rachelcarson.org/),

·      Jane Goodall studied and wrote about chimpanzees and encouraged lower impact tourism in Africa (https://www.biography.com/scientist/jane-goodall), and

·      Nadia Murad was the last woman to win The Nobel Peace Prize, 2018 along with a man, “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict” (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2018/summary/).

The last example is a good reason to not isolate women’s accomplishments.  Men contribute also.  The goal should be gender inclusive dialog and civil actions.  Women should be at tables of deliberation sharing their contributions.  In some fields female representation is excellent, in others it is not. University training in the sciences, including my fields of natural resources, had prominent women leaders historically and currently, but initially few females entered and stayed in the profession. Now females are about half of university classes, do very well, but still represent fewer than expected roles in advanced positions of leadership.

Why do women slip away or why are they less represented as leaders in some fields? I’ve worked with many successful women of leadership and negotiation in my professions, yet stereotypes exist about women’s abilities to negotiate  (https://www.negotiations.com/articles/gender-interaction/).   Each gender has limitations and can learn to be better at civil discourse and interactions. The Rotary Leadership Institute training that I participated in this weekend was for men and women.  We were treated equally with empathy for the needs of both genders.  That is true leadership. Unlike nature and animals, humans can get preemptive help to become better leaders, followers, negotiators, builders of civil discourse and just outcomes, peaceful interactions, and better nurturers.


Lindsey Pointer is a PhD Candidate in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington and is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Working in the Restorative Justice field, I am often surrounded by incredible women peacemakers. While I have also worked with some highly-skilled male facilitators, women far outnumber men in the restorative justice field, so as a result, the majority of my colleagues, mentors, and bosses have been women. I feel very fortunate to have so many female role models in my work and I have learned so much from their restorative approach to leadership. I would like to highlight the leadership approach of one of these women in particular, my boss when I worked at Longmont Community Justice Partnership from 2014-2015, Kathleen McGoey. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from Kathleen’s restorative management approach.

Lesson one: Always make time for relationships.

My first interview with Kathleen was from the living room of my apartment in China. It was 4am for me and I was equal parts excited and nervous. Kathleen asked all of the questions she needed to ask (about my prior experience, testing my Spanish proficiency, assessing my understanding of restorative justice), but still we spent nearly half of the interview laughing about the challenges of living abroad, how much I missed cheese, and what I would be eating when I got back to the US. This pattern continued through every meeting we ever had. The work always got done and done well, but plenty of time was made to laugh together, to check in about our lives, and offer support. Every meeting with the whole staff began with a connection circle in which each staff member answered a relationship-building question. The staff takes turns facilitating those circles.

Above all else, restorative practices prioritize the building and maintaining of relationships. We all have a want and a need to feel belonging and the only way to accomplish that is through opportunities for genuine connection. Furthermore, positive interpersonal relationships are a major influence on behavior. Research has shown that when we feel connected, heard, and appreciated at work, productivity increases. It is always worth the time to spend fifteen minutes laughing about cheese before you get down to business.

Lesson two: See and encourage individual passions.

Restorative practices place a great deal of emphasis on being strengths-based. This means identifying and supporting an individual’s assets: the positive passions, skills, interests, and connections that make him/her unique.

In any job, there are certain tasks that must be done, but beyond those tasks, there is normally some flexibility. So much of workplace satisfaction comes from giving individuals the opportunity to use their unique skills and pursue their passions through their job. In my case, this looked like Kathleen assigning me training development tasks and helping me to become a better trainer through feedback, encouragement, and new opportunities. I spent extra time in conferences both as a facilitator and community member and wrote case studies and proposals for us to present at conferences. These extra pieces often spilled into evenings and weekends, but ultimately fueled my enthusiasm and energy for the rest of the work.

Lesson three: Establish a productive way for staff to deal with conflict and remain open to feedback.

Within the toolbox of restorative practices is a conversation model called the restorative conversation. This is a way of addressing one-on-one conflict that focusses on the impacts and what can be done to make things right moving forward. As an organization, we trained volunteers in this method so that they would have a restorative way to resolves disputes among themselves over unreturned phone calls or differences in facilitation styles. The restorative conversation is also encouraged as a way for staff to deal with conflict and all members of the staff are training in the model.

During the first training that Kathleen and I delivered as co-trainers, I was thrown off when she introduced herself as the lead trainer because it didn’t fit with the training dynamic we had discussed before. I have always been shy and soft-spoken so I work hard to establish myself as a confident leader at the beginning of trainings and presentations. When it was my turn to introduce myself next, I felt out of the flow. The training went well, but still, throughout the weekend the introduction was sitting heavily with me. When Kathleen and I sat down the following week to debrief the training, I brought it up. I asked her permission to share something from the training that was sitting heavily with me and explained the introduction. I shared how much I enjoyed training together and how excited I was to be moving into the role and I also shared how I had been impacted by the introduction, how it had confused me and shaken my confidence. Kathleen listened attentively and showed that she heard me. She explained the thoughts that had been going through her head at the beginning of the training and the nervousness she had experienced. Together, we formed a plan for how introductions would happen the next time we trained together and she followed through. After the next training we ran together, she made time to check in with me to see if the introductions felt good. Because we had a tool for dealing with conflict, I didn’t have to let the feeling fester, we were able to hear each other and form and commit to a plan to make things better.

Lesson four: Listen and show you are listening.

About a month before Christmas, Kathleen facilitated the connection circle at our regular staff meeting and asked the question “How do you like to be appreciated?” One staff member mentioned that she likes to be included in things, in making plans. Another said she just likes to hear a genuine, heart-felt thank you. I said that I am very verbal, so I like to hear that I am appreciated. I shared that I still had a voicemail that Kathleen had sent me after a busy week, saying she appreciated all of my hard work, saved on my phone so that I could listed to it from time to time. I thought it was a great connection circle question, but didn’t think much more about it until Christmas came around a few weeks later. When each of us opened our present from Kathleen, we found a message of appreciation in the way we had said we most liked to receive it. In my case, I opened a small box to find a note that said “Check your email.” When I checked my email, there was a voicemail from Kathleen sharing how much she appreciated me!

Active listening is a pillar of restorative practices. Facilitators are taught to show that they are listening in the moment through eye contact, body language, questions, and reflective statements. Real listening though, goes beyond the moment.

Lesson five: Create experiences of connection and appreciation. 

On my last day of work before moving to New Zealand, the staff was all together doing a New Year’s purge and cleaning of the house. At the end of the day, Kathleen gathered us together for a final staff meeting before my departure. She opened the connection circle and invited each person to share a favorite memory of working with me or something they really loved about me. I cried throughout the entire circle hearing the wonderful things everyone had to say. I felt so seen and loved. I also had the opportunity to share my favorite memories and the things I love about each of the people in the circle. All the things that you want to say to the people you are close to, but so often never get the chance to say. As a goodbye gift to me, the team gave me the space to hear and say it all. Reflecting back on that circle, I am more and more struck by how lucky I am to have had that experience. So few people ever really get the chance to feel so seen. And yet, that is what we are all craving: that feeling of being a seen and adored individual within a supportive and interconnected whole. The more that we can learn to create these experiences for each other, the more we will learn to live in peace with one another. Kathleen provides a great model of how a leader can bring the values, the principles, and the tools of restorative practices into our daily lives.


In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. The Rotary Foundation has six priority areas: (1) Peacebuilding and conflict prevention; (2) Fighting disease; (3) Providing clean water; (4) Saving mothers and children; (5) Supporting education; and (6) Growing local economies. It has been argued by staff at Rotary International (RI) that long with promoting peace, “sustainability” is another cross-cutting priority that connects with all the others. RI has directed efforts in these six areas to enhance local and global impact and staff indicate that their most successful and sustainable projects and activities tend to fall within these areas: See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities

If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation!  If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. Future issues may explore the following: December–The role of a truth and reconciliation commission as in South Africa; January—Spirituality and Healing; February—Coping with Stress; March—Nuclear Weapons, Use, Probabilities and History.










[1] Jane Addams, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Addams

[2] Professor Halvdan Koht (1873 – 1965) was a Norwegian historian and politician, founding member of the Norwegian Peace Association and a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

[3] Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was an American writer, reporter, and political commentator.  Lippman won two Pulitzer prizes, and is considered by some to be the “Father of Modern Journalism.”

[4] Irwin Abrams (1997),  Heroines of peace – the nine Nobel women, 1901-1992, NobelPrize.org. Nobel Medial AB 2019 13 October 2019. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/themes/heroines-of-peace-the-nine-nobel-women



William M. Timpson, Bob Meroney, Lloyd Thomas, Del Benson, Sharyn and Larry Salmen, Fort Collins Rotary Club

Lindsey Pointer, 2017 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship Recipient

In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. See the end of this newsletter for more details about this project and the authors.


Robert N. Meroney, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Wind Engineering with a long career at Colorado State University.

One of the consequences of war and conflict is the terrible expenditure of national and world wealth on actions that cost far more than is typically ever redeemed by a war’s conflict.  One could ask:  What are the positive advantages of deliberately deciding to avoid war not only in terms of lives and the environment but in terms of alternative use of the financing of war?

Public access to defense department budget information is imperfect and incomplete.  The scale of spending is so large it is hard to grasp.  Understanding is further limited by secrecy, faulty accounting, and the deferral of current costs.[1]  The US General Accounting Office (GAO) has commented about the department of Defense (DOS) budgets that it could not provide a serious audit of the DOD because “serious financial management problems at the DOD that made its financial statements unauditable.”[2]  A comprehensive audit of DOD was attempted in 2018 by

six separate private, third-party accounting consultants, but the audit ended and was deemed incomplete due to deficient accounting practices in the department. [3]

Additionally disturbing is that most of the costs of our wars are based on domestic (60%) and foreign borrowing (40%); hence, our children and grandchildren will be paying for our inability to govern, negotiate, and compromise.

I prepared a spread sheet that looks at statistics (as available) on the costs of war from 2001 – 2019, and what could be done with just the wealth expended on US military infrastructure and war.  In summary, we have effectively spent more than $5.9 trillion up to now on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.  This is a cost of about $274 billion/year for 18 years (or cost per American taxpayer of $23,386/year).[4]

What if we had invested this money instead of spending it on very questionable conflicts?  Just to give you an idea of what you could do with $274 billion/year we could do all the following every year:

  • Pay for 50% of all college tuition for 1.9 million college students,
  • Build a 4-lane highway clear across the United States from one coast to the other,
  • Build 750 public schools,
  • Build 125 research grade hospitals (1.5 million sq. ft, 500 beds each), and
  • Build 1000 community libraries throughout the United States.

Now repeat these expenditures 18 times!  Note, this is not the cost for the entire US defense budget/year, just the cost for the active wars being fought!

For just the DOD budget in FY2019 the Pentagon requested $957 billion (this does not include Homeland Security, Veterans Administration, interest on the DOD generated debt, etc.).  Of this $69 billion is for current war funding (overseas contingency operations, OCO), and another $26.1 billion for OCO support.[5]  In total the OCO budget since 2001 has been $2 trillion to pay for the war on terror.[6]  Military spending makes up nearly 16-20% of the entire federal spending and half of discretionary spending.  The United States spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined.

Screen Shot 2020-02-10 at 2.35.32 PM

Let’s keep it simple.  Look at just one item of hardware in the military budget.  The cost of one F-35 military jet is $90 million.  The cost of an elementary school, a middle school, or a high school average $15 million, $30 million, or $45 million, respectively.    Thus, for the price of one disposable jet plane we could have six new elementary schools, three middle schools, or two high schools to improve our children’s education.  Given the purpose of an F-35 military jet is primarily air-to-air combat, and that no nation has fought an extended “dog fight” since 1992, one could argue this expenditure for the F-35 is a waste of money.[7]  Since the 1990s it is estimated that the development of the F-35 alone has cost a total of $1.5 trillion.[8]

Some point to the military-industry complex as an important component of the nation’s economy and wealth.  But military spending is not necessarily the best way to create jobs.  A University of Massachusetts study found $1 billion in defense spending created about 11,000 jobs, but the same $1 billion spent on infrastructure would create nearly 20,000 jobs, or on education would create 27,000 jobs.[9]

Finally, several economic analyses have shown that current military expenditures cannot be sustained, and that the costs endanger the integrity of the American economy. [10],[11]  Military spending is a major component of public debt, and it deprives funds from other important components of the economy like infrastructure, health, education, and climate change.   Military spending burdens negatively affected economic growth in the short run and long run.  If these funds were redirected from the essentially unproductive military sector to productive civilian spending positive national growth would occur.  Sadly, it is clear that over a 20-year period, a 1% increase in military spending will decrease a country’s economic growth by 9%.[12],[13],[14]

A recent survey of 170 works on the impact of military expenditure on economic growth finds that most studies since the end of the cold war provide increasingly strong evidence of an overall negative effect of military expenditure on economic growth.  The survey concludes:

“What does seem increasingly clear is that military expenditure does in general come at an economic cost. The lesson might be that if one wants to have any hope of becoming (militarily) strong, one should invest in one’s economy. Once states are economically strong, too much is at stake to risk in war. States may also gain security by becoming important to the world economy, with the major powers protecting them from attack because of the impact any attack would have on the world economy, and thus on them. The best way to security may be through economic growth.”[15]


Most expensive US Military Fighters currently in use: https://financesonline.com/top-10-most-expensive-military-planes-manufactured-in-america/  The following costs do not include total development costs.  For example, the F-35 as the largest and most expensive military program ever is estimated to cost US $1.508 trillion through 2070.

  1. FA-18 Hornet $94 million      1480    $139 billion
  2. EA-18G Growler $102 million    600      $  61 billion
  3. V-22 Osprey $118 million    58        $ 6.8 billion
  4. F-35 Lightning II $122 million    2663    $325 billion
  5. E-2D Adv Hawkeye $232 million    26        $ 6.0 billion
  6. VH-71 Kestrel $241 million    9          $ 2.2 billion
  7. P-8A Poseidon $290 million    106      $  31 billion
  8. C17A Globemaster III $328 million 279      $  92 billion
  9. F-22 Raptor $350 million    187      $ 5.5 billion
  10. B-2 Spirit $737 million    21        5 billion                                                                          Total:   $744 billion just for procurement[16]



Sharyn H. Salmen has been a health care consultant. Larry Salmen has helped support business success with technology and systems integration. The following is an excerpt of a longer essay you can read by contacting Sharyn Salmen (ssalmen@q.com) or Larry Salmen (lsalmen@q.com)

Great Britain ruled the whole of Ireland for 632 years 1169-1801. The costs of the violence in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles,” in particular, were unquestionably high. From “Bloody Sunday” in 1972 when fourteen protesters in Derry were killed and seventeen were wounded by British soldiers until 1998 when the Good Friday Peace agreement was signed, more than 3,600 people lost their lives. The costs in normal economic terms were similarly high. Now add in the fear, threats, and intimidation to the destruction of property from the bombing. The “disincentives” for economic development are obvious.

British costs for maintaining their military presence was also enormous. In 1993 those estimates came to more than $592 million. Now factor in the costs for prisons and other detention centers. Between 1974 and 1992 more than 7,000 Irish were detained in the North by British authorities using the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). In the three-year period between 1987 and 1990 more than 86,000 people were “examined” for more than an hour at ports and airport. Consider the loss of productivity!

However, historic hierarchies created by invasion, conquest, war and weapons privileged Protestants and loyalists to the United Kingdom. For example, Catholic men are 2.2 times more likely to be unemployed as Protestant men while the corresponding figure for women is 1.8 times. Northern Ireland Catholic men have the highest unemployment rate of any group in the UK, while Northern Ireland’s Protestants have the second lowest.

The conflict in Northern Ireland period damaged its economy generally and, more specifically,

its ship-building and linen industries which found cheaper labor and fewer regulations in other parts of the world, primarily southeast Asia. In Northern Ireland, over 30% of the workforce is directly employed in the public sector, compared with under 20% in Britain or the Republic. The Northern regional government is heavily subsidized by London, another often overlooked cost of war and conquest. For example, Northern Ireland is heavily dependent on direct British subsidy for its employment, with an extraordinarily high proportion of jobs being in security fields like prisons, probation, the police etc. One in ten Protestant men now works in these fields. In truth, this economic subsidy is much more of a drain on the UK Treasury than the cost of keeping the Army there. The total cost of the military presence was £405.6 million ($592.2 million) in 1993 – just 1.7% of the total UK defense budget.

In summary, then, we can see the range of costs for the violence in Northern Ireland, from loss of life to over 50,000 injured and the medical care required for treating them, from reduced productivity because of the fear and violence to the negative impacts that stem from widespread discrimination against the Irish, from the costs of maintaining a military presence to the subsidies required to keep the economy afloat, from the costs of incarceration for those detained as well as for those who work as police and prison guards. 


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach with a long history of writing regular columns.

When we are not combatants in an active war, we usually think that the only “costs” of war are monetary, injury or “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD). If we haven’t been directly involved in a war, we rarely consider the many other mental, emotional and social consequences that are a direct result such violent conflict.

In The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Con. Daryl J. Callahan writes: “More US military service members have been deployed since 9/11 than in the previous 40 years. A greater number of these deployed service members are surviving, which has increased the incidence of combat-related mental health disorders among veterans of ‘The Long War.’ The societal cost of caring for veterans with such disorders is expected to surpass that of the Global War on Terror, which is estimated at $600 billion. Because the prospect of stopping all deployment is remote, standardized prevention and treatment methods must be used to eliminate these ‘invisible wounds of war.’”

Con. Callahan goes on to write: “Ironically, it is only since the inclusion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the DSM-III in 1980 (2) that the field of traumatic stress has blossomed and been subsequently underpinned by a major body of neuroscience and clinical research.  Despite the slow development of interest into the long-term consequences of the traumatic stress of war, many of the developments in mental health care in the 20th century emerged from the innovations demanded by the need to deal more effectively with the flood of mental casualties amongst the combatants of World Wars I and II. The model of community psychiatry was adapted from the model of forward psychiatry developed by the military to deal with acute combat stress reactions; this model was underpinned by the principles of the provision of early treatment close to the battle front with the expectancy of recovery and return to service (1). Crisis intervention, group therapy and therapeutic communities were innovations that evolved out of the military medical corps (8).

Some recent quotations from the media depict the impact of war on mental health: “We are living in a state of constant fear” (in Iraq); “War takes a toll on Iraqi mental health”; “War trauma leaves physical mark”; “War is hell… it has an impact on the people who take part that never heals”; “War is terrible and beyond the understanding and experience of most people”; “A generation has grown up knowing only war” (7).

The often-unconscious and enduring impact of war is one of the driving forces of history. Yet these terrible costs and the lessons learned by psychiatry tend to be forgotten.  Wars have had an important part in psychiatric history in a number of ways. It was the psychological impact of the world wars in the form of shell shock that supported the effectiveness of psychological interventions during the first half of the 20th century. It was the recognition of a proportion of the population not suitable for army recruitment during the Second World War that spurred the setting up of the National Institute of Mental Health in USA.

We know however, war adversely affects combatants and non-combatants alike.  Some of the psychological and social “side effects” of a war include: early death; lifelong disability; stress-related illnesses; depression and anxiety experienced by friends and loved ones (including children); extended rehabilitation; increased suicide rates; homelessness; domestic and sexual violence; addiction to drugs/alcohol; malnutrition, joblessness; death of relatives or caregivers, economic hardships, geographic displacement, and continuous disruptions of daily living…to name a few. Clearly, the terror and horror spread by the violence of war disrupts lives and severs relationships and families, leaving individuals and communities mentally, physically and emotionally distressed.  Tragically, it is these psychological costs that can lead to cycles of violence, both within the communities that have been at war and between nations seeking revenge and reparation.

Recently many studies of the impact that war has not only on the soldiers, but also on non-combatants as well.  Examples of such studies include:

“Disasters and mental health” World Psychiatry (WPA). 2015 Oct; 14: 351–353. (1); the World Bank report “Mental health and conflicts – Conceptual framework and approaches” (2); the United Nations (UN) book “Trauma interventions in war and peace: prevention, practice and policy” (3); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) document “The state of the world’s children – Childhood under threat” (4); the book “Trauma and the role of mental health in post conflict recovery” (5) and a chapter on “War and mental health in Africa” in the WPA book “Essentials of clinical psychiatry for sub-Saharan Africa” (6).


  1. Lopez-Ibor JJ, Christodoulou G, Maj M, et al., editors. Disasters and mental health.Chichester: Wiley; 2005.
  2. Baingana F. Fannon I. Thomas R. Mental health and conflicts – Conceptual framework and approaches.Washington: World Bank; 2005.
  3. Green BL, Friedman MJ, de Jong JTVM, et al., editors. Trauma interventions in war and peace: prevention, practice and policy.New York: Kluwer/Plenum; 2003.
  4. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) The state of the world’s children – Childhood under threat.New York: UNICEF; 2005.
  5. Mollica RF. Guerra R. Bhasin R, et al. Trauma and the role of mental health in the post-conflict recovery. Book of best practices.Boston: Harvard Programme in Refugee Trauma; 2004.
  6. Musisi S. War and mental health in Africa. In: Njenga F, Acuda W, Patel V, editors. Essentials of clinical psychiatry for sub-Saharan Africa.Milan: Masson; 2005. pp. 216–220.
  7. Ghosh N. Mohit A. Murthy SR. Mental health promotion in post-conflict countries. J Roy Soc Promot Health. 2004;124:268–270.
  8. Kroll J. Posttraumatic symptoms and the complexity of response to trauma. JAMA. 2003;290:667–670.



William M. Timpson, Ph.D. is a professor at Colorado State University in its School of Education and a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club. What follows is adapted from his 2009 book, 147 Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation, co-authored with an international group of peace scholars that included Ed Brantmeier, Nat Kees, Tom Cavanagh, Claire McGlynn and Elavie Ndura (Madison, WI: Atwood).

The costs of war as summarized by Meroney above, challenge us to think differently about peace, to consider all those aspects that would lessen the threats of war and promote other ways to resolve conflicts. Linda Groff (2002), for example, positions the need for “peace thinking” on multiple, interdependent levels in order to actualize a peaceful world. This model includes Galtung’s (1969, 1988) distinction of negative and positive peace. It also adds the level of integrated peace—holistic and systemic conceptions of what peace could look like among cultural groups, between the human and non-human world, and peace that holistically integrates outer forms of peace and inner forms of peace.

The benefit of using Groff’s conceptual model for thinking about peace is that it adds the more complex “integrated peace” dimension and it includes vital foci on feminist, intercultural, planetary, and inner peace.

Groff’s model (2002) delineates seven central concepts in peace thinking:

  1. War Prevention (Negative Peace)
    1. Peace as Absence of War
    2. Peace as Balance of Forces in the International System
  1. Structural Conditions for Peace (Positive Peace)
    1. Peace as no war and no structural violence on macro levels
    2. Peace as no war and no structural violence on micro levels (Community, Family, Feminist Peace)
  1. Peace Thinking that Stresses Holistic, Complex Systems (Integrated Peace)
    1. Intercultural Peace (peace among cultural groups)
    2. Holistic Gaia Peace (Peace within the human world and with the environment).
    3. Holistic Inner and Outer Peace (Includes all 6 types of peace and adds inner peace as essential condition) (7-8).

Rotary International has now partnered with the Institute for Economics and Peace “to help address the root causes of conflict and create conditions that foster peace.” With the title of the Rotary Positive Peace Academy, a free online learning platform has been created that “includes modules and interactive tools to teach users how to apply new peacebuilding methods and mobilize communities to address the underlying causes of conflict.” The costs of war and the benefits of investing in education and other human services are central to these analyses.

For more information see: https://www.rotary.org/en/institute-economics-and-peace

The Institute Institute for Economics and Peace has developed “an innovative methodology to calculate the economic impact of violence to the economy. It does this by calculating 13 different types of violence related spending at the national level, and applying a multiplier effect to account for the lingering influence of violence and fear. There are immediate and obvious examples of the impact of violence to the economy, like hospital fees, or security costs, and there are also more subtle long term impacts, such as a shift to more defensive spending by individuals, businesses and governments.”

For more information see: http://economicsandpeace.org/research/#economics-of-peace


Del Benson, Ph.D. Dr. Benson is Professor at Colorado State University.  He learned about management of people and nature in Canada, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America, and the US now offering 6 Online graduate courses about policy, communications, management, and sustainability.  Awards were received from The Wildlife Society (5), Rocky Mountain Center on the Environment, Colorado Wildlife Federation, CSU Extension and Service Learning, International Hunter Education Association, and Rotary for programs, presentations, publications, and citizen-based organizational activities including The Wildlife Society Writing Award in 2019 for his essays about the environment and peace building.

Environments and humans are similar: they are never the same; they are dynamic; they have times of disturbance and times of healing; outcomes are not repeated exactly. The age of dinosaurs ended with no more dinosaurs; after the ice age there are no more mammoths and cave bears; human settlements beyond the original 13 colonies in the US left no passenger pigeons, and bison are relegated to specially protected areas.

The Circle of Life will be one theme for this essay because it is often used to describe nature and was popularized in The Lion King movies, plays, and music. Unfortunately, the Lion King soundtrack left us with a catchy phrase, Hakuna Matata, that neither nature nor humans can live up to, so that is the second theme. Hakuna Matata lyrics read: “It means no worries. For the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy-Hakuna Matata!”

I enjoyed the songs, movies, plays, and sentiments but environments and people are not problem free, and the circle of life is a convenient phrase that lacks accuracy. People and environments evolved over time by adaptive genetic and behavioral survival mechanisms to overcome the many problems and opportunities faced on a changing planet. Circles are better than straight lines to show interactions, interventions, and outcomes with nature and humans; but circles, humans, and environments are not clean drawings with neat outcomes. Visualize circles as scratchy spheres with lines drawn out and in around the circle, representing variability and change.

With humans, locating one spot on the circle at one point in time might represent minimal conflict, peace, utopia, and perhaps even Hakuna Matata. Another location on the circle is the battle royal with dynamic changes over time and costly outcomes to humans and enviornments because peoples decided that they wanted to get into or out of their situations. Likely, after battles, positions on the circle can be found that represent peace-building and civility again, but not for long perhaps.

Persons in the US are friends with England now after fighting battles against them to gain national independence. After World War II the US helped to rebuild Western Europe and Japan who we battled. Viet Nam is now a place for US tourism and business after a time of war. We find that conflicts can be minimized and new friends can be made amongst persons who were taught earlier to dislike their enemies.

Some lines of variability on the circle are deep with positive or negative vectors showing that peace or war persists over time while other sites have short periods of constant behaviors. If we want the outcome of peace and are opposed to war, then we need to focus on building and maintaining effective strategies, coalitions, and training for peaceful coexistence. Forming the United Nations did not stop war. Diplomats, state departments, peace and reconciliation commissions, world banks, and Rotarians have not stopped conflicts from happening; but knowing that, humans must try, and to try even harder.

Stopping war seems too onerous for mere humans when institutions have failed; however, if our personal impacts are all that we can influence, then well done and that is not insignificant. Cooperating to induce civil engagements, agreements and positive behaviors are causes worthy of more attention and will be where this essay ends and where future words must begin.

Rather than disputing battles, focus on civil human behaviors that will lead to fewer battles starting with self, home, family, friends, school, work, and society! Civility means being polite, courteous, reasonable, respectful, kind, and mannerly. Using civility means the application of empathy, care, and respect; having positive codes of conduct and fostering positive attributes in others. If problem free and mannerly is our philosophy, then Hakuna Matata might result.

But then, life is not problem free, so it needs our added energy…Hakuna Matata!


Lindsey Pointer is a PhD Candidate in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington and is a past recipient of the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. She works as a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and researcher.

Incarceration is expensive, both in terms of tax payer dollars, and also in terms of the vast potential that is lost in an individual’s life when we put them behind bars. Over the holidays, a police officer who referred a restorative justice case I facilitated several years ago sent me the message below from the offender (Tyler[17]). In the years since his process, Tyler has fulfilled his goal of becoming a Physician Assistant and has had a child. All of the progress in his life and the ways he has been able to give back to the community would have been lost if he had been put behind bars.

Hi Officer Peters,

Just was thinking back on the last couple years and wanted to reach out and say thank you again for how you handled my case with restorative justice. I realize things could have been much much different and I am very thankful this holiday season for the vote of confidence and grace that you extended to me. Lesson learned, and all has been on the up and up since then.

I hope the holidays find you and your family well, and thanks again for being such a great example of service in our community.

Best, Tyler

Tyler’s story offers a powerful example of how a felony-level offence can be handled effectively through restorative justice alone, removing the costs and negative impact of incarceration. You can read the entire case study here. Below is an excerpt that demonstrates the different restorative justice made in the life of this one man.

Criminal Charges Pending: Felony Possession and Forgery

Factual Synopsis: A 26-year-old male working at a medical clinic wrote prescriptions for himself for oxycodone, forging a doctor’s signature and prescription number. He wrote and filled prescriptions for oxycodone for about 8 months.

An Excerpt from Tyler’s Story….

In the weeks following the confession, Tyler had hired a lawyer. He did so at the advice of a friend who told him, “It isn’t a question of if you’ll go to prison, it is for how long. And it isn’t a question of if you’ll be in financial ruin from fines, it is how bad of ruin it will be.” Feeling scared, Tyler hired a lawyer. After Tyler confessed to Dr. Hay and Madeline what he had done, both Dr. Hay and Madeline called and texted Tyler most days to see how he was doing. They expressed that they were worried about him and wanted to make sure he knew they cared about him and was getting the help he needed. After Tyler hired the lawyer, he was advised to no longer communicate with Dr. Hay or Madeline, so he stopped returning texts and calls. Madeline and Dr. Hay both shared that the lack of communication was one of the most hurtful parts of the entire encounter. When they learned that Tyler had hired a lawyer, they began to feel defensive. Dr. Hay and Amy expressed that they were worried because Dr. Hay’s physician prescription number and signature had been used, and they weren’t sure if this could be turned against them. Madeline also worried that somehow this could be turned against the clinic, and also felt hurt that her care was not reciprocated. When Dr. Hay, Amy and Madeline had the chance to express these feelings in the Restorative Justice conference, Tyler apologized repeatedly and shared that he had only been thinking about his fear and not about how hiring a lawyer would come across to them.

The conflict and hurt around the hiring of a lawyer sheds light on how this case might have turned out if it was sent to the traditional court system. Tyler would have done everything in his power to minimize the amount of time he would be spending in prison and the financial impact on him and his wife. This would have been battled out in court, with the two sides instructed not to speak to each other, with attempts to shift the blame. Would his relationship with his wife have survived the courts, fines, and prison time? In the fight, would he be able to find the network of supportive relationships he needs to overcome his struggle with addiction? Would he have the freedom to prioritize treatment? Would court, prison, and labels change the way Tyler sees himself?

When we came to the assets portion of the Restorative Justice conference, when the co-facilitator shared strengths and passions Tyler has that can help him to repair the harms from the incident, Madeline, Dr. Hay, and Amy all had their own strengths and positive qualities to add. The message was clear: the circle of people cared about and supported Tyler, they saw him for the good person he is, and were there to help him make things right.

For Tyler’s contract to repair the harms, he will be spending hours volunteering at the free clinic for the uninsured and underinsured that Dr. Hay and Amy run two days every week. At Officer Peter’s suggestion, Tyler will also spend some time volunteering at the local Youth Center, doing outdoor activities with youth who often face their own struggles coping in a positive way with family trauma. Tyler will also be helping Madeline with a couple projects for the clinic that he can complete remotely in order to take something off her plate. Finally, Tyler has committed to pursuing counseling for addiction and to forming a treatment plan that will help him recognize addiction as a life-long struggle and form strategies for using his network of support when times are difficult.

To read the entire case study, visit: https://lindseypointer.com/2015/09/04/is-restorative-justice-effective-for-felony-level-crimes/


In these newsletters of the Rotary District Peacebuilders, we want to invite readers for contributions and ideas, suggestions and possibilities for our efforts to promote the foundational skills for promoting peace, i.e., nonviolent conflict resolution, improved communication and cooperation, successful negotiation and mediation as well as the critical and creative thinking that can help communities move through obstacles and difficulties. The Rotary Foundation has six priority areas: (1) Promoting peace; (2) Fighting disease; (3) Providing clean water; (4) Saving mothers and children; (5) Supporting education; and (6) Growing local economies. It has been argued by staff at Rotary International (RI) that long with promoting peace, “sustainability” is another cross-cutting priority that connects with all the others. RI has directed efforts in these six areas to enhance local and global impact and staff indicate that their most successful and sustainable projects and activities tend to fall within these areas: See the RI website: https://my.rotary.org/en/learning-reference/about-rotary/our-priorities

If you would you like to respond to one of the pieces in this newsletter, check out our blog www.rotarypeacebuilder.com and join the conversation!  If you would like to contribute to a future newsletter, visit www.rotarypeacebuilder.com/submit/. Future issues are looking at the following: October—Costs of war? Lost Alternatives in Lives, Families, Wealth and the Environment due to War and Conflicts? November—Educating for Peace at Every Level: Cooperation, Communication, Critical and Creative Thinking?

[1] S. Aftergood, The Costs of War: Obstacles to Public Understanding, November 14, 2018, Cost of War Project, Brown University, 7 pp.  https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2018/costs-war-obstacles-public-understanding

[2] GAO press release, U.S. Governments 2013 Financial Report Reflects Continuing Financial Management and Fiscal Challenges, Washington D.C., February 27, 2014.  https://www.gao.gov/about/press-center/press-releases/challenges_governments2013financial_report.htm

[3] Inspector General, U.S. Dept. of Defense, Understanding the Results of the Audit of the DoD FY 2018 Financial Statements, January 8, 2019. https://fas.org/man/eprint/dodig-audit.pdf

[4] N.C. Crawford, US Budgetary Costs of the Post 9-11 Wars through FY2019, November 14, 2018, Costs of War Project, Brown University, 13 pp.   https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2018/Crawford_Costs%20of%20War%20Estimates%20Through%20FY2019%20.pdf

[5] K. Amadeo, US Military Budget, Its Components, Challenges and Growth, The Balance, April 22, 2019.  https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-military-budget-components-challenges-growth-3306320

[6] A trillion is a million million.  If you go back a trillion seconds, it would be about 30,000 BC.  $1 trillion would pay for a $1 million salary a day for nearly 3000 years.

[7] Dogfight, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogfight

[8] Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II

[9] R. Pollin & H. Garrett-Peltier (2011), The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 12 pp.

[10] K. Amadeo, Militarism, Its History, and Its Impact on the Economy, The Balance, August 30, 2019.  https://www.thebalance.com/militarism-definition-history-impact-4685060

[11] Paul Kennedy (1989), The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, argues that great nations tend to steadily overextend themselves with repeated conflicts and become militarily top-heavy for a weakening economic base.


[12] P. Hiller, The Effects of Military Spending on Economic Growth, Peace Science Digest, https://peacesciencedigest.org/effects-military-spending-economic-growth/

[13] d’Agostino, G., Dunne, J. P., & Pieroni, L. (2017). Does military spending matter for long-run growth?. Defence and Peace Economics, 1-8.

[14] M.A. Khalid, et. al, (2015) The Impact of Military Spending on Economic Growth:  Evidence from the US Economy, Res J. Finance and Accounting, Vol. 6, NO.7, 9 pp.

[15] J.P. Dunne & N. Tian (2013), Military expenditure and economic growth:  A survey, The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 5-11.

[16] Research Development Test & Evaluation (RDT&E), Military Construction (MILCON), and operations and sustainment is likely to multiply this number by 5, or a total of $3.72 trillion.

[17] All names and some identifying detains have been chanced.