Colman McCarthy leads peace discussion among students
Colman McCarthy, a former Washington Post columnist, nationally acclaimed peace advocate and the creator of Peace Studies classes, visited Blair yesterday to discuss the importance of nonviolence and peace education.
McCarthy visited classrooms in order to encourage students to sign up for Peace Studies. He also visited current Peace Studies classes. There he promoted free thinking and discussion among students, offered historical insight regarding the importance of peace and urged students to pursue political and social action.
McCarthy advocated an end to everything violent; from domestic violence to the "war on animals" to violence-based advertising to football, which he says are indicative of a violent society. "Every place you go you see violence. The schools reflect it. We graduate people who are… peace illiterate," he said.
Peace Studies should be required for students in the same way Algebra is, according to McCarthy. He says that though changing the world through nonviolent activism is difficult, it is important for students to start by simplifying their own lives. "What are you doing to disrupt your own lives?" for the cause of peace, McCarthy asked students during a seventh period Peace Studies class.
According to McCarthy, this involves not eating meat, not using alcohol, establishing peaceful home environments and consumers making sure their money goes to corporations promoting peace. "Do we have any ethical right to cause suffering to another living being? How can you be for peace when you do violence to your own body?" McCarthy asked students regarding meat and alcohol consumption.
When McCarthy visited classes, he offered students $100 if they could identify six people whose name he provided. The first three were two civil war generals and a boxer, all of whom were easily identified by the class. The latter three were peace activists, one of whom was a Congresswoman and one of whom was a Nobel laureate, none of whom could be described by the students. "No one ever gets this quiz. I've never lost it. I've been to the elite schools. I can always count on American education," McCarthy wryly told the classes, adding that, "if this was a peace-promoting society, every hand would have gone up."
The questions McCarthy asked led senior Stephanie Paul to speculate about the outcome of McCarthy's quiz. "We live in a society that teaches violence," she said.
Senior Edra Brisbane was also stimulated by the class discussion. "It took a war to educate people about [the realities of joining] the military," she said.
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