In 1992 when the Nobel Peace Prize went to 33-year-old Guatemalan indigenous Rigoberta Menchu Tum, I was living in Alta Vera Paz (Upper True Peace), surrounded by Mayans who had suffered the most by far from a 30-year-old civil war. When I brought filmed clips of her receiving the award in Oslo to villages without TV, the impression I saw on people's faces was unforgettable. Nonetheless it took four more years before that long war was ended in December 1996. The Nobel Prize encouraged indigenous Guatemala that peace was possible because "The World" had honored one of their own using nonviolent means as a key player.
The billions spent by Uncle Sam on maintaining a nuclear arsenal is greasing many palms in the United States today. These dollars are a major reason champions for a non-nuclear-arms world are going to have tough sledding right here in southwestern Pennsylvania, where not a few of those dollars contribute to the local economy. A counterbalance is needed. The Ridgeway Center is one. Another is the Thomas Merton Center, which proved its mettle during the G-20 peace march. Not having access to Uncle Sam's deep pockets, the center is bringing to town on Nov. 1 Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the sponsor of a federal Department of Peace (HR 808), which would fund nonviolent responses to conflicts rather than the threat of the nuclear hammer.
"I will accept this award as a call to action," President Obama said on receiving news of the Nobel Prize. "This award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity." That certainly includes Rep. Kucinich, Pittsburgh's Molly Rush and those associated with the Thomas Merton Center. For information about the dinner honoring Mr. Kucinich, go to thomasmertoncenter.org.
REV. BERNARD SURVIL