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:

# 45

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.

Spirituality and Healing

William M. Timpson, Lloyd Thomas 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.


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).


Above: Father Apollinaire Bangayimbaga, Ph.D. is a priest and the Rector of the University of Ngzoi. He has played a leadership role in our peacebuilding efforts for many years, insisting that “emotions have much to do with violence and war. We must learn to think clearly and not just react.”

In Burundi, East Africa, my experience with our Global Grant on promoting sustainable peace and reconciliation is that leaders in the community and church deserve much credit for helping to keep the peace during the civil war that ravaged this small impoverished nation of eleven million after independence in 1962. The legacy of colonization had weighed heavily in triggering tribal conflicts as first the Germans and then the Belgians enshrined the minority Tutsi as rulers of the majority Hutu, some 85% of the population.


A civil war was predictable when the European overlords and their military firepower left. Our Rotary supported efforts in Burundi follow sociologist Elise Boulding’s 2000 call for the study of peace in her book, Cultures of Peace (Syracuse University Press).


Achieving a sustainable peace and some reconciliation for old wounds means much more than the cessation of violence. It demands serious study. For example, those studying to become counselors and teachers are in need of understanding their own world views and cultural perspectives as well as those of their clients and students. Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices are important aspects of this cultural perspective taking. In a course developed at Colorado State University, Nathalie Kees created an environment where counselors and teachers can experience a variety of contemplative practices from many of the major world religions and spiritual traditions.

The experiential nature of this course is helpful in two ways. Students are able to experience, in a non-threatening way, some of the beliefs and practices of religious and spiritual traditions that may be very different from their own. Secondly, students can choose to incorporate various practices in their own lives and professions in whichever ways seem appropriate. Examples might include; practicing mindfulness meditation as a way of staying centered and present focused when working with clients or students, individually or in groups. Experiencing mindfulness meditations such as Buddhist Tonglen, Hindu Yoga Nidra, and Christian Centering Prayer, helps students see the universality of some of the practices and beliefs of major world religions. Mental health practitioners and teachers from various spiritual traditions serve as guest presenters and allow students to ask questions in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere. Transferring new awareness and understanding to their personal and professional lives is done through discussions, papers, and projects; drawing upon literature in the fields of counseling, teaching, religion, and spirituality.

Of course there are counter examples where religious practices in Europe and the language of peace were spun toward a military defense of the church with “just war” theories. In the Americas Spanish priests often operated in parallel with soldiers to recruit, control, exploit and convert Native peoples. In other parts of the world religious schools have indoctrinated some who then are willing to be used as suicide bombers.

For those who want to argue that humans are hard-wired for aggression, that violence is part of their DNA, we note the powerful role for learning among humans, that the “savage beasts” that cannot be trusted to lay down with the lamb can also be interpreted as a Biblical call for a peacebuilding curriculum that can tame that savage beast into a humbler, more sensitive and caring individual. In other words, what some refer to as “toxic masculinity” can be learned and unlearned.


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.

Religious and spiritual beliefs are central in the contemporary resurgence of alternative healing.  Meditation courses are being taught to healthcare professionals.  Medical schools are teaching courses in spirituality, religion and healing.  Harvard Medical School offers a course called, “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.”  Beth-Israel hospital offers nursing courses in Buddhist meditation and other eastern spiritual techniques to help “ease their patients’ mental pain of suffering and death.”  The American Psychological Association published three books in three years dealing with how religion and spirituality can be integrated into behavioral medicine and psychotherapy.  The publication, “The National Psychologist” reports that it is now becoming widely accepted “that the many forms of spirituality and religion form core belief systems that cannot be separated from individual therapy.”

As far back as January, 1999 the professional journal, “Alternative Therapies In Health and Medicine,” there appeared the following statement: “During the last 25 years there has also been a significant increase in people adopting spiritual practices including meditation, the martial arts, t’ai chi, chanting, yoga, sweat lodges, and goddess circles, all of which often induce intense spiritual experiences.  Based on these trends, one might predict that patients will report an increasing role for religious and spiritual experiences in coping with pain, illness, death, grief, recovery from substance and sexual abuse, and many other areas.”

Perhaps you and I, as well as healthcare providers, need to be aware of the effective value of spirituality in the healing of our lives.  Perhaps we need to unite behind a more understandable and universal spirituality.  Naomi Remen, in her article, “On Defining Spirit,” describes this kind of spirituality.  She writes, “The spiritual is inclusive…perhaps one might say that the spiritual is that realm of human experience which religion attempts to connect us to through religion and dogma.  Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it fails.  Religion is a bridge to the spiritual, but the spiritual lies beyond religion.”

Why is spiritual awareness and practice so important in healing?  Philosopher Tielhard deChardin once said, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience.  Rather we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.”  In order to heal ourselves more effectively and powerfully, we need to begin addressing our basic nature as human beings.  I believe that nature is fundamentally spiritual.

What helps me to arrive at this conclusion are a few hard, scientific facts.  Our bodies are mostly liquid…not solid.  On an lower level, they are mostly empty space.  If it were not so, x-rays would not be able to pass through them to create images on a photographic plate.  There are elaborate “systems” operating all the time inside our skin, about which we have little or no awareness, but which are crucial to our being alive: a digestive system; a nerve-system; a healing system; an immune system; a communication system; a vascular system; an energy system; and several others.  All of these systems usually function in an integrated and coordinated fashion.  Who’s in charge of them?  Who controls the coordination and balance of all these systems?  If not us, who?  Just because we don’t know how to operate all these systems doesn’t mean we don’t do it.  If we don’t digest our food, who does?  If we don’t fight off disease, who does?  Clearly, as living human beings, there is a lot more going on inside us than we are consciously aware of.  But we’re “doing it,” whether or not we are aware of it.  Almost all of the processes we call “life” are controlled by informational energy being transformed and used to initiate and control bodily processes.  So it’s not much of a stretch to conclude that we are each a powerful “spirit” that is in control of all the inner activities going on every second of every day.  Chardin was probably correct!

If we are essentially human spirits, it becomes no wonder that we heal best by beginning the process of increasing our spiritual awareness…awareness of our own true nature.  Following that, we can learn effective spiritual practices that have been known for centuries to be helpful in the balancing and healing of our lives.  Let’s not always wait until we are sick, in pain or dying.  Let’s get on with it today…now!


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.

Is nature merely chemical reactions, genetic mutations, and random chances acting in a soup of energy? Does the lick of a lion mean anything to the cub? Does nature have spirit or spirituality? Does spirituality mean anything beyond humans? Spirit is my favorite outcome and therefore an important word to me; what does it mean to you?

Spirituality however conveys mixed meanings ranging from religion, to supernatural, to unbelievable; what does it mean to you? Nature lives off nature and wolves eat lambs rather than dwell with lambs as it says in Isaiah of the Bible leaving one to question this aspect of spirituality. Until peace is granted by the spiritual Father in the Bible, we cannot trust the leopard with the young goat or the lion with the fattened calf or child. The cow and bear will not be peaceful together and lions and oxen will not eat straw together. Nursing children should not play in the hole of cobras and weaned children should not put hands on the adder’s den unless they expect to be bitten.

To make sustainable and peaceful acts with the land and civil actions with people, we cannot afford to wait for the day when lions will lie down with the lambs or even expect that to happen, because we spiritually believe it will happen. Instead, peace building and actions toward civility are processes that we can start by using our spirit:

  1. A positive human spirit believes better outcomes in our lives and lifetimes are possible.
  2. A vision for the future includes others especially persons who were previously in conflict or perhaps who merely were not communicating.
  3. Make plans toward agreed upon interests and missions for accomplishments.
  4. Use the spirit that you will work hard with your talents, time and treasures to achieve desired outcomes.
  5. Use the spirit that you will help others with their talents, time and treasures to achieve outcomes.
  6. Realize and step aside in good spirit and find someone else to help if you are in the way.

Make spirit work for you and those around you.  Perhaps a positive spirit will add to your spirituality!


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.

 “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.”

– Brené Brown

I love this definition of spirituality from Brené Brown. To me, spirituality is rooted in a deep awareness of our interconnectedness. Restorative practices are powerful because they provide a genuine experience of that connection. Acknowledgment and nurturing of our innate connection is at the root of the restorative philosophy and drives the restorative social movement. This excerpt from the forthcoming Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools explains more.

Excerpt from The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools: Games, Activities, and Simulations for Understanding Restorative Justice Practices Forthcoming March 2020

The restorative practices field has experienced immense growth in recent decades. What began as an effort towards criminal justice reform has since expanded into a social movement dedicated to making restorative practices integral to everyday life and moving families, schools, communities, and society towards more peaceable ways of interacting. As Christopher Marshall explains, this restorative social movement has the broad aim of the “creation of interpersonal relationships and societal institutions that foster human dignity, equality, freedom, mutual respect, democratic engagement and collaborative governance.”[1]

The vision of a restorative community involves the regular and widespread use of restorative practices that build relationships, provide a sense of fairness and justice, and facilitate healing. It also involves going about basic community functions in a way that nurtures “just relations,” or relationships characterized by mutual respect, care and dignity[2] and honors our innate connection to one another. In describing the philosophical grounding of restorative practices, Howard Zehr makes a connection between the beliefs and practices of restorative justice and the concept of shalom.[3] Shalom is often translated as “peace,” but actually implies a broader vision that emphasizes “right” or “just” relationships between individuals, between groups, between people and the earth, and between people and the divine. It emphasizes the connectedness of all things and provides a helpful philosophical basis for the expansion of restorative practices into other areas of social life. Davis draws on the southern African concept of ubuntu in her description of the restorative ethos.[4] Ubuntu means “a person is a person through their relationships” and speaks to humans’ connection to each other, as well as to the natural world. Restorative communities are those which embrace and encourage this awareness of our interconnectedness.



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: February—Coping with Stress; March—Nuclear Weapons, Use, Probabilities and History.

[1] Christopher Marshall, “The Evolution and Meaning of the Restorative City Ideal: An Introductory Essay,” (unpublished, Victoria University of Wellington, 2016).

[2] Jennifer J. Llewellyn and Brenda Morrison, “Deepening the Relational Ecology of Restorative Justice,” The International Journal of Restorative Justice 1, no. 3 (2018): 346–47.

[3] Howard Zehr, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Herald Press, 1990), 268.

[4] Davis, The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice, 18.

Coping with Stress

William M. Timpson, Lloyd Thomas 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.


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).

During war and its aftermath, there is always a need for helping people deal with the associated stresses as well as with a need for healing, both physically and emotionally. One essential step is to look honestly at all the repercussions of violence, no matter how troubling or sensitive the issue. While calls to “Support Our Troops” were repeated regularly at rallies and in editorials, it is not clear what the implications are for this kind of appeal when “our troops” are involved in violations of the Geneva Convention or violence back home, for example. Every culture must help their service men and women deal with the stresses of their experiences and navigate the challenges they face, especially when they return home with mental and emotional needs.

Feb pic In Burundi, East Africa, our Global Grant focuses on promoting sustainable peace, reconciliation and development. For one of the poorest nations on earth, emerging from colonization and civil war, there still remains a constant stress from the daily threats of theft, disorder, assault, and such, less the larger impacts of war and more the nagging community impact of conflict. Ex-combatants, in particular, represent a population that has often been traumatized yet lacks the education needed to acclimate back into civilian life.

 Know that sophisticated communication skills and high levels of emotional intelligence can help in processing information like what appeared in an article for The New York Times on January 13, 2008. According to Sontag and Alvarez there were 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment—along with a range of other problems including alcohol abuse and family troubles—contributed to these tragedies. Volatile emotions then mix with violence and self-destructive tendencies to produce an explosive, deadly concoction. Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killings. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

According to Sontag and Alvarez, about a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain. A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq. And the rest were acquaintances or strangers, among them Noah P. Gamez, 21, who was breaking into a car at a Tucson motel when an Iraq combat veteran, also 21, caught him, shot him dead and then killed himself outside San Diego with one of several guns found in his car.

Add to this the alarming number of suicides among enlisted and returning veterans. According to the Times On-Line for October 3, 2008, “More American military veterans have been committing suicide than US soldiers have been dying in Iraq. . . At least 6,256 US veterans took their lives in 2005, at an average of 17 a day, according to figures broadcast last night. Former servicemen are more than twice as likely than the rest of the population to commit suicide. Such statistics compare to the total of 3,863 American military deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 — an average of 2.4 a day, according to the website ICasualties.org. The rate of suicides among veterans prompted claims that the US was suffering from a “mental health epidemic”—often linked to post-traumatic stress.”

Note how troubling it is to read the graphic details about the human stories that underlie these statistics. It is no surprise that the proponents of a particular war do not like to see this kind of information made public. Yet it is in the public arena that democracy must play out. We must develop the skills needed to honestly face the realities that put stress on everyone. We must also provide the support services that some need to cope with the stresses in their lives.


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.

Identify your habitual coping mechanisms for handling stress.  Here is a list of negative (and often unconscious) coping mechanisms.  Following this list is a large selection of positive coping methods you may want to substitute for the negative ones.  Feel free to add to the list.

ARNOLD BENNETT: “Worry [stress] is evidence of an ill-controlled brain; it is merely a stupid waste of time in unpleasantness.  If men and women practiced mental calisthenics as they do physical calisthenics, they would purge their brains of this foolishness.”

ALCOHOL: Drinking to change your mood.  Considering alcohol use a “friend” with whom you can “let down” and relax. Drinking to feel “in” with others.

DENIAL: Pretending nothing is wrong. Lying. Ignoring any problem or the stressful problem.

DRUGS: Abusing coffee, aspirin, street drugs or prescription medications. Smoking pot. Taking tranquilizers.

EATING: Eating beyond the point of satisfaction.  Using food to address issues other than hunger, e.g. boredom, anxiety, comfort, etc. Binge eating.  Always going on a diet.

FAULT-FINDING: Having a judgmental attitude. Complaining. Criticizing self, others and the situation. Blaming. Prejudice and hatred.

ILLNESS: Developing headaches, nervous stomach, back problems, major illness. Seeking caring through having something physically wrong with you.  Becoming accident prone.

INDULGING: Staying up late. Sleeping in. Buying things on impulse. Buying things you don’t really need.  Wasting time.

PASSIVITY: Hoping things will get better. Wishing without taking action. Procrastinating.  Waiting around for a “lucky break.”

REVENGE: Getting even.  Being sarcastic. Talking mean or insulting. Bullying.  Violent acting out.

STUBBORNNESS: Being rigid and demanding your own way.  Refusing to be “wrong” or refusing to acknowledge when you make mistakes.

TANTRUMS: Yelling, moping, pouting, swearing. Driving recklessly. Raging when frustrated.

TOBACCO: Smoking to relieve tension or boredom. Smoking to be “in” with others. Smoking to feel “grown-up.”

WITHDRAWAL: Avoiding the situation(s). Skipping school or work. Keeping your feelings and thoughts to yourself. Engaging in the “silent treatment.” Escaping to your own room (isolation).

WORRYING: Fretting over things that aren’t happening. Anticipating the worst. Thinking about all the negative events that could happen, but probably won’t.

Instructions for your clients.  Can you identify your favorite negative coping mechanism(s)?  Any of the above may work temporarily for you.  But used over a long time, they can destroy your goals, your relationships, your hopes and dreams, your lifestyle…even your life.


Naturally, there are hundreds of coping methods that are positive in nature and do not exact the heavy toll as do negative copers. Here are a few positive coping mechanisms, listed under the categories of mental, physical, spiritual, interpersonal, family, and diversions. If you want to manage your stress better, pick one or two from each category and practice them until they become “automatic.”


IMAGINATION:  Looking for humor in your life. Anticipating the future. Daydreaming.  Using fantasy or visualization of fun, enjoyment and pleasure. In your mind, creating your desired future.

LIFE PLANNING: Setting clear goals for yourself. Planning for the future and designing strategies for achieving those goals and plans.

ORGANIZING: Taking charge of a project. Taking charge (responsibility) for your life. Making order and not letting things “pile up.”

PROBLEM-SOLVING: Solving problems by yourself. Seeking outside help when you need it.  Resolving things or situations which you habitually tolerate (“zapping your tolerations”). Tackling problems “head on.”

RE-DEFINING: Explore other possible points of view. Look for the positive in every situation.  Define the present moment as “perfect,” or the “way it should be.” Define a problem as a challenge or opportunity for a new experience or the development of a new skill.

MANAGE YOUR TIME: Practice prioritizing. “Work smarter, not harder.” Delegate your weaknesses to others. Discover and exercise your strengths. Consistently           seek more efficient and effective ways to accomplish what you want. Plan for time to relax, enjoy yourself, and engage in fun activities.


BIOFEEDBACK: Learn to listen to the feelings and sensations your body sends you. Come to really know your physical limitations and, if you must exceed them, do it very slowly and cautiously.

EXERCISE: Pursue physical fitness. Jog, swim, dance, walk. Take weight-training and regular cardiovascular exercise at a local health club.  Fit regular exercise into every day.

NOURISHMENT: Eat only when hungry. Stop eating when satisfied. Eat nourishing food for your health. Avoid junk food and all unnecessary drugs (including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and THC).  Take a vitamin/mineral/dietary fiber supplement.

RELAXATION:  Practice tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body (isometric exercises). Take a warm bath.  Learn the relaxation response and practice it regularly. Listen to soothing music. Design a part of your environment to reflect peacefulness, security and tranquility.  Go into that special place when         you want to relax.

SELF-CARE: Energize your work and play. Treat yourself as you would treat a loved child or pet.  Strive for self-improvement for the joy of it, and not necessarily to meet some standard or criteria set by others. Give to yourself some of your favorite things and experiences.

STRETCHING: Take short stretch breaks throughout your day. Learn stretching exercises.

BREATHE: Practice breathing exercises, deeply, abdominally and fully.  Learn breath control exercises (e.g. panting, holding, timing, etc.).


COMMITMENT: Involve yourself in a worthy cause. Volunteer some of your time. Invest yourself in a meaningful way. Serve or do someone else a favor. Persist in gaining self-knowledge, growth, goal-attainment and self-improvement.

FAITH: Find meaning and purpose for your life. Create a personal mission statement. Trust the process of life. Generate and nourish hope for your future. Believe in yourself.

PRAY: Count your blessings. Give thanks. Develop an “attitude of gratitude.” Pray for others. Share or confess those things about which you feel guilty. Ask for  forgiveness. Practice meditation. Learn mindfulness.

SURRENDER: Let go of your problems. Learn to accept the current situation “as is.” What exists at the moment…IS! Keep in mind that everything changes. Allow yourself to “float on the river of life.”

VALUING: Give attention to what you find most valuable. Set priorities. Be consistent. Focus on the present moment. Spend your time and energy in ways that meet your values and standards. Use and control your own impulses. Develop your own, accurate belief system.

WORSHIP: Share your values, beliefs and feelings with others. Put your faith into action. Celebrate life within a “community of caring.” Honor your “higher    power.” Recognize the forces operating in the world over which you have no control.


AFFIRMATION: Believe in yourself and trust others as well. Give yourself lots of encouragement and positive, self-affirming statements. Give lots of “positive strokes” to others as well. Attend to and notice the positive characteristics and qualities you have and the actions you take. Reward yourself.

ASSERTIVENESS: Display and state your needs and wants. Learn to ask directly for what you want. Say “no” with kindness. Be firm in communicating your feelings, thoughts and opinions.  

CONTACT: Make new friends. Be a friend to others. Touch each other mentally, emotionally, physically, affectionately and gently. Really listen to others and respond from your understanding of their expressed point of view.

SELF-EXPRESSION: Show your feelings. Move your body freely. Exercise and demonstrate your skills and talents. Share your deepest thoughts, feelings and wishes.  Be yourself.

CREATE BOUNDARIES:  Set your own standards and boundaries and let other people know what they are. Accept others’ boundaries. Drop some commitments when you have too many.  Under-promise and over-deliver.

NETWORKING: Share desires, projects and interests with others. Ask for support from family, friends and acquaintances. Invite others to become involved with            you and your activities.


BALANCING: Balance the time you spend alone/with your family/at work or school, with your interactions with family and friends. Accept your friends and family members for who they are now, and realize that nobody is perfect all the time. We all have our faults and weaknesses.

CONFLICT-RESOLUTION:  Learn conflict-resolving skills which lead to “win-win”    solutions.  Intend your conflicts to result in everyone getting what they want. Forgive easily and readily.

BUILD ESTEEM: Attend to the positive qualities of yourself and those of your family members.  Acknowledge out loud, the things you like or appreciate in your family members. Focus on personal and family strengths.

FLEXIBILITY: Be willing to take on new family roles and responsibilities. Become well-versed in many family activities and roles. Remain open to change.  Be spontaneous.

LINKING: Develop friendships with other families. Make use of the personal and organizational resources available in your community.

TOGETHERNESS: Take time to be together, play together, and share time with each other.  Build family traditions. Always express heartfelt affection for one another.  Limit TV-watching and video-game playing.


GETAWAYS:  Spend time alone.  Daydream.  See a movie. Listen to music. Designate a “special place” in which to be alone.  Go on a vacation.

HOBBIES: Write, paint, remodel, create something, garden, plan and develop “projects,” engage in sports, learn to play a musical instrument, sing.  Engage in activities unrelated to your usual ones.

LEARNING: Take a special class. Read. Join a club. Surf the Internet. Make learning new things a priority. Never stop acquiring new knowledge.

MUSIC: Play your own instrument. Sing. Dance. Join an orchestra or choral group. Listen to music. Take music lessons.

PLAY: Learn new, non-competitive games. Play them with friends or family members.  Go out with friends.  Develop a playful attitude.  Don’t take things so seriously.         Find humor in situations.  Laugh regularly.  Go for walks, runs, and dances.

WORK:  Engage in meaningful work.  Go after accomplishments. Tackle a project unrelated to your usual activity.  Keep your mind and body occupied with enjoyable activities. Volunteer.  Join a service club.  Assist a friend or neighbor in one of their projects.


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.

To overcome stress of an attack, you can fire your internal organs as does the sea cucumber or sacrifice your own life to protect the colony as does Malaysian Soldier Ants using violent muscle contractions that releases poison from fluid-filled glands. Humans have been known to expel body fluids to ward off an attack and to commit suicide in defense of their positions, but those are not generally acceptable stress reduction mechanisms for most situations.

You could change color as will cuttlefish or make seasonal plumage changes as will ptarmigan to blend into their environments. Dressing in camouflage for sneaking up on wildlife during outdoor activities, wearing smart business attire for the board room, and avoiding the “tourist look” in foreign countries generally improves your chances of fitting in appropriately and lessening unnecessary stress.

Humans and wildlife can avoid stress temporarily using three primary behaviors: hiding, fleeing, and fighting which logically are best used in that order.  When used in the reverse order–fighting, fleeing, hiding–conflict is inevitable and outcomes are risky. One cannot fight, run, and hide forever, so learning how to face reality and to cope civilly is the key.

Coping mechanisms can be healthy if used to address real problems, opportunities or dilemmas or they can become the problem and destructive if used as addictive substitutes for realistic behaviors. For example, eating is necessary to survive, and an elk might have its head down and feign eating to not appear frightened by predators, even though the elk are alert and ready to run if necessary. However, if eating becomes a compulsion when stressed, then weight gain and addiction to food or beverage can lead to new stressors.  We can see this issue in personal lives and amongst family pets.

Procrastination is a commonly used and abused coping mechanism delaying some projects while allowing work on others; however, if every project is delayed and work is not accomplished on time because of procrastination, then productivity suffers, and stress increases.

Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund, included the Defense Mechanisms below and how humans use them to falsify reality.  Apply these to situations that you encounter in life, work, and in the news.  If you watched the Presidential Impeachment trials, then perhaps you can recognize many of these in those proceedings.


  • Denial: claiming/believing that what is true is actually false.
  • Displacement: redirecting emotions to a substitute target.
  • Intellectualization: taking an objective viewpoint.
  • Projection: attributing uncomfortable feelings to others.
  • Rationalization: creating false but credible justifications.
  • Reaction Formation: overacting in the opposite way to the fear.
  • Regression: going back to acting as a child.
  • Repression: pushing uncomfortable thoughts into the subconscious.
  • Sublimation: redirecting ‘wrong’ urges into socially acceptable actions.

Stress needs to be addressed rationally. It cannot be avoided forever. Face it directly with civil actions.


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.

Factual Synopsis: While suffering from extreme stress related to his school, work, and relationship, Micah drank to the point of severe intoxication in his dorm room. While intoxicated, he broke his window attempting to illegally access a balcony, was extremely aggressive towards a neighbor and volatile with Residential Advisors (RAs), and ultimately tried to jump out the window. Police were called and took him to the station for a mental health assessment.

Narrative: Micah told the co-facilitator and me that he takes pride in his ability to do it all. Before this incident, Micah was working 35 hours per week at two jobs on top of being a full-time student studying architecture. During the pre-conference meeting, Micah described that on a normal day, he would go to classes, get done at about 3pm, go to work, work until 11pm, eat dinner, and then start his homework, leaving him only a couple hours to sleep before he got up to do it all again. When it felt like he was losing control of something, like when his grades started to slip, he would respond by piling more on. He was good at his jobs. His manager at the supermarket promoted him and gave him more hours, so when school wasn’t going well, he threw himself into more work. He was operating like this for a while, on very little sleep, ignoring the issues with his school work and piling more on to not deal with it when he found out his long distance girlfriend cheated on him. Micah described it as a sort of breaking point. Once his personal life was in shambles too, he just couldn’t take it.

To deal with the stress, Micah started drinking. He drank a few bottles of wine alone in his room. He attempted to reach out to a friend to talk, but she was busy with school work, so he continued to drink. Eventually, he tried to get out on the balcony by crawling through his window and in the process, accidentally put his head through the glass. At that point, he went down to tell the RA on duty (Beth) about the broken glass. Beth could immediately see that Micah was not doing well. He was angry with his next door neighbor and was screaming at him. What followed was over an hour of emotional volatility with Micah screaming, crying, and disclosing information about his girlfriend who had cheated. Paul and Beth were unable to get Micah to settle down or go to sleep so fearing for his safety and the safety of others eventually called the Hall Manager and the police.

The police initially decided that Micah wasn’t a threat and started to leave. One of the RAs (John) was then alone in the room alone with Micah when all the sudden he stood up, looked out the window and said, “John, I’m going to jump out this window and there is nothing you can do to stop me.” John called out for the police who came into the room and after a physical struggle, were eventually able to handcuff Micah and take him to the station for a mental health assessment.

Micah was given a room outside of the hall to stay in and temporarily banned from the hall while arrangements were made for the restorative justice meeting. He was also instructed to begin meeting regularly with the Student Support Coordinator (Jenny). Jenny helped Micah to get extensions for his assignments from his professors so that he was able to take some time to recover from the breakdown.

Throughout the pre-conference and conference, it was clear that Micah has some more serious mental health issues that contributed to his inability to adequately track the conversation and his manic behavior. Mental health concerns can add a difficult component to restorative justice because the process is not therapy and cannot provide the full services that the offender needs. What is important is to remember that behavior communicates needs. In this case, Micah’s breakdown signals a need for greater emotional and well-being support through regular meetings with a counselor. Therefore, when we talked about what needed to happen next to repair the harms and make things right, the first thing that was suggested was for Micah to get the counselling support required in order to not have a breakdown like this again. He ended up agreeing to a weekly meeting with a counselor in addition to the weekly meeting with the Jenny, the Student Support Coordinator, and expressed that both of these meetings would be very helpful.

Restorative justice cannot operate without access to other resources to help fulfill the needs that so often fuel crime. The gift of restorative justice is that the process is able to surface those needs so that they can be addressed and so that the response to the crime or rule violation does not cause further harm. In Micah’s case, if this incident had happened last year before the University began using Restorative Justice, Micah would have been immediately evicted from the Residential Hall with no further contact or support. He would have been cut off from his community of friends, would not have the encouragement or structure to pursue counselling, and would need to find a new place to live. With the overwhelm Micah was already facing, my guess is that these added stressors would have resulted in a downward spiral and further breakdowns.

We see this so often in the mainstream justice system. An offender commits a crime to fulfill a need (whether that is for food, or safety, or mental health support, or clothing for an interview, or respect) and often the crime is a last resort and signals that parts of the person’s life are in serious disarray. Instead of relieving the stressors that led to the crime by working to identify the needs behind the behavior, the criminal justice system often just adds to the stress with fines, curfews, loss of privileges or incarceration. Rather than finding a way to redress the harm, further harm is caused.

Instead, in Micah’s case, he was provided with a different place to live near his friends, but away from the room with the window that could access the balcony, he decided to leave both jobs and focus on his school work, he began attending weekly counselling and support meetings to get the help he needs, and he has committed to giving back positively to the residential hall.


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: March—Nuclear Weapons, Use, Probabilities and History.


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. 

The rationale used for incarceration is often that by putting someone behind bars, we will keep that person from committing further offences and therefore ensure the safety of the wider community. Sometimes this is done as a response to violent offenses, but many people are incarcerated for nonviolent offences, especially drug-related charges. Additionally, many young people are locked up for many years, even far into their adult lives, despite studies that have shown that most people age out of crime. This is similar in some respects to the idea of preemptive war. The community fears that committing one crime (even if it was not a violent crime or a crime committed by a teenager) may indicate that a person is likely to cause additional harm to others in the future, so we lock them up to avoid that chance.

However, this preemptive severe punishment comes with a cost.

Looking specifically at the case of incarcerated youth, most states spend more than $100,000 per year on a single young person’s confinement (Justice Policy Institute). On top of those direct costs of incarceration, there is a loss of future earnings for confined youth, which translates into a loss of future government tax revenue. Additionally, incarcerated youth are more likely to later rely on Medicaid and other social services. Once incarcerated young people also have a very high rate of recidivism, meaning that taxpayers will likely continue to pay for their confinement for a large portion of the rest of their lives.

So what are the offenses pushing us to confine these youth at great public cost? Over 60 percent of youth are confined for nonviolent offenses (Coalition of Juvenile Justice). The majority of youth being put behind bars are not being put there because they pose a violent treat to community safety. More often, these are nonviolent offenses, often tied to needs arising from poverty, substance abuse, or untreated mental illness. 60-70% of youth in confinement have a mental disorder and 25-50 percent have a significant substance abuse disorder often co-occurring with mental disorders (Coalition of Juvenile Justice). Choosing to incarcerate these young people impacts their ability to live at home, build a positive social support network, attend and succeed in school, and work productively in the community.

Instead, needlessly confining young people results in harm to youth, fails to protect public safety and wastes taxpayer money.

So if incarceration isn’t the answer, what does work to improve youth outcomes?

According to the Council of State Governments, the most effective programs are ones that identify and address the key needs that drive youth’s delinquent behaviors. This involves getting to know the individual and identifying the specific needs that he or she is attempting to meet through crime, including assessing mental health and substance use treatment needs. Additionally, the most effective programs match youth to services based on their strengths. An emphasis on assets and strengths promotes resiliency and encourages pro-social behavior. Along with this emphasis on strengths, is an integration of individual support networks into the process. Outcomes are improved when the family is engaged.

Programs and practices such as Restorative Justice are arising to fill this gap, responding to the needs of the individual and emphasizing strengths and support networks. These program are both more effective in terms of reducing recidivism, responding to victim needs, and increasing community safety, and also place far less of a burden of cost on the community.

We are faced with the choice to transition to a system that is more effective and less costly, a system that has already been tried and proved at large scales by countries such as New Zealand.