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FALL, 1999: Volume 4 Issue 3

From the Editor by Val Liveoak

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

In the Summer issue of Peace Team News, much of my focus was on the war in Kosovo/a. Now, although the NATO bombing is ended, the ethnic cleansing and fighting is nowhere near over, and the refugees, Albanian and Serb Kosovars alike, face a cold, difficult winter. Our dream of trained nonviolent, civilian peacemakers as strong and important players in the Balkans has been diminished by the “success” of the NATO campaign and the subsequent need for thousands of armed soldiers to enforce the “peace.” Yet a number of groups, Friends Peace Teams Project and our partners, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Peace Brigades International, are expanding their work. FPTP continues its development of work in the African Great Lakes Region, CPT among Native American/First Nations people in North America, and PBI in Mexico and East Timor. In his article, David Hartsough challenges us to an even larger expansion of our work. At the same time, today I received a letter from the Christian Peacemaker Teams Director, Gene Stoltzfus:

“Seven of the current thirteen full time Peacemaker Corps members are due to conclude their terms Dec. 31 of this year. Another person now in his second term will, in all likelihood, terminate at the end of the year, making for a total of eight persons who potentially could end their terms by Dec. 31, [leaving] us with only seven persons in the Christian Peacemaker Corps by the beginning of January 2000. This has major implications for the program. When the decision was made to expand the Corps to 18, that number was conditioned that at least two of the new positions were to be persons of minority background. None of the people presently considering full time work come from minority background. Are we sure that Peace Church people really want a CPT? Over this past summer we have had conversations about regional trainings in New York, Cleveland, Kansas, Houston, South Bend, Ontario and Manitoba. A steady stream of applicants for reserve duty continues to come in and there is no doubt that there will be at least 15 persons for the January training. Planning is in the works for another training in Ontario for August 2000. The inquiries about training indicate increased curiosity about active nonviolence.”

The letter goes on to point out that CPT has done well financially, and that participation in its delegations have inspired a number of people to become more active. I believe that if anything similar to David Hartsough’s vision or to that of the European Civilian Peace Service organizers such as Helga and Konrad Temple can become realities, it is important for us who are “co-dreamers” to act, and to act NOW. Each of the three groups, FPTP, CPT, and PBI, need an infusion of more committed people as well as money. How will we answer Gene Stoltzfus’ question (slightly paraphrased): Are we sure that Peace Church people really want a nonviolent alternative to military “peacemaking”?

“More and more I pray for the Prodigal Son’s brother…The first one awoke from his life of sins. As for the second one, when will he awake from his life of virtue?”

—Dom Helder Camara, 1909-1999

P.S. Our next issue of Peace Team News will come out in the Spring. In it we’d like to let folks know about volunteer opportunities, especially for the summer. If you know of a Peace Team project, especially one sponsored by a local group, Friends Church, or Friends Meeting, please let me know by the middle of January.

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