June 13th marked the 100 Day Countdown to the International Day of Peace on September 21, and community groups, churches, schools, and businesses around the world prepare to celebrate with a day of peace and unity. For 2015, the theme is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.”
But then, we received news that nine African-American church members in South Carolina, USA, were massacred in an act of racial hatred. The terrorist displayed the confederate flag of the United States Civil war. This act follows a series of police incidents and deaths of black youth in the United States.
Now, this year’s theme for the International Day of Peace has even greater and deeper meaning, for the United States – and for the world.
First, let’s take a look at history in terms of “core principles and values.”
The US Civil War is usually discussed in terms of states’ rights, economics, or the abolition of slavery. Let’s look at a facet that is seldom taught: The US Civil War in terms of the difference in peoples’ core principles and values.
In 1776, the Constitution of the United States promised “liberty, justice, and equality for all.” The USA, like many other countries, has struggled to fulfill this promise to all people, but these are the core values and principles of the nation.
In 1861, when southern states revolted and the confederacy was formed, its Vice President Alexander Stephens clearly articulated core values and principles that are opposite.
“Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. . . Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”1
It is unbelievable to me that in 2015, the official display of the confederate flag is still even being debated! And, it’s frightening that it is still hung proudly in many homes in the United States.
What can we do, now?
Sentiments of sympathy for the South Carolina victims are not enough. The situation calls for international and national dialogue about the core principles and values that you want to implement in your life, in your family, in your community, in your country, and with other people in the world.
It’s time to search your soul and talk to others. Do you REALLY believe in “liberty, justice, and equality for all?” How do you feel about other races, other nationalities, other religions, or a different sexual orientation?
This year, rather than signing peace songs, open up this dialog and give true meaning to the International Day of Peace and “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.”
This is Peace in Action!
I thank my father, Mr. Alfred E. Talley, who researched and provided Alexander Stephens’ cornerstone statement of principles for this article, and for teaching me to stand up for my principles.
- Alexander Stephens, Cornerstone Speech, Savannah; Georgia, March 21, 1861. http://civilwarcauses.org/stephans.htm
About the Author: Patricia Ann Talley, MBA is Executive Director of the Peace in Action Collaborative Education Group, based in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico, and the managing editor of this publication. She is a specialist in international marketing and communications. Originally from Southfield, Michigan, she and her husband Bill Tucker have lived and worked in Mexico for over 18 years. Both serve as advisors to the International Cities of Peace and the World Peace Prayer Society.