Toward Peace and Justice: August 2012
Peace is not a destination; it is a way of living, a way of treating every other person, community, and nation with dignity and respect. In our work for peace, the American Friends Service Committee fosters compassionate truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation across the sharp edges of conflict. We bring people together across geography, race, ethnicity, religion, and class using many tools—the arts, interfaith dialogue, nonviolent activism, and advocacy. And we work tirelessly for the just economic and social conditions that make peace possible.
Our experience shows that trauma healing for individuals and reconciliation for communities are the foundations for lasting peace in regions haunted by conflict. Indonesia—a nation with over 300 ethnic groups among its 300 million people— has been racked by interreligious and ethnic violence since the late 1990s. To heal these wounds, AFSC helped Christian and Muslim young people create a Peace Torch to celebrate Indonesia’s diversity and reignite their communities’ commitment to peace and tolerance.
Here at home, we have promoted Christian-Muslim dialogues by co-hosting interfaith gatherings, using film screenings, shared meals, education, and dialogue to build understanding.
In our work with immigrant communities in the U.S., AFSC saw the hardships created when workers are denied wages they are owed legally. Employers falsify time sheets, refuse to pay overtime, and sometimes outright refuse to pay – affecting workers who can least afford to lose their paychecks and whose immigration status may make them fearful of reporting these flagrant violations of labor law.
AFSC played a key role in passing the nation’s first countywide wage-theft legislation in Miami, in 2010. Workers have collected more than $1 million from hundreds of those claims so far. AFSC remains hard at work for wage justice in communities from Miami, to Durham, N.H., to Stockton, Calif.
In Afghanistan, the site of our country’s longest war, the casualties continue to mount even as the conflict slips from the headlines. We are committed to reminding the public of the ongoing human cost of this war that began 11 years ago. Our traveling art exhibit, Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan, continues to tour the nation. It’s currently in Providence, R.I. and has visited 30 communities. In Massachusetts, we’re working to pass a statewide ballot measure, “Fund Our Communities, Not War.”
Thank you for your help as we continue to build peace person by person, community by community. You can learn more online about our recent work with fostering peace in communities.
Yours in peace,