Wilmington Faith and Values Port City Peace Conference

March 17th, 2014, By John Heuer

Thanks to Wilmington’s Lynn Heritage, Grandmothers for Peace, for the invitation to participate in the Wilmington Faith and Values Port City Peace Breakfast on Saturday, March 15.  It was my first visit to the Port City since 2009, when Steve Lee took Cindy Sheehan and me to dinner on our way to Cindy’s appearance at Brunswick County Community College.  Amanda Greene was a cordial hostess for the breakfast, as the WilmingtonFAVS Editor.

The Keynote speaker was my friend Sam Wazan, the Director of the Charlotte Cooperative Council and the first Muslim-American Global Trustee of the United Religions Initiative.  Sam is the author of Trapped in Four Square Miles, a fictional account of his 15 years growing up in Beirut during the civil war in Lebanon.  When it came my time to speak, representing NC Peace Action and Veterans For Peace, I told attendees that they had good reason to understand why I recommended Sam to address the Veterans For Peace National Convention in Asheville this coming July 23-27.  Sam has an uncanny ability to translate his experience growing up in a war zone to a determination to unsubscribe to the cycles of vengeance and violence, and to become a peacemaker.

Other organizations represented at the Port City Peace Breakfast included Grandmothers for Peace, YWCA of Lower Cape Fear’s Kids for Peace, Sister Cities Association of Wilmington, NC Council of Churches, New Hanover NAACP, and Peace 4 the Port.  I was especially grateful to meet my breakfast table mate, Brian Grimm, director of the documentary film Racial Taboo:  Why Black and White Americans Can’t Talk About Race.(see the film trailer at www.racialtaboo.com). 

Next stop was the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle at the Extraordinary Ventures Building in Chapel Hill.  Orange County Peace Coalition co-chair Jan Broughton, a member of EHST, invited fellow OCPC co-chair Wes Hare and me to talk about OCPC and the World Beyond War Campaign.  We screened David Swanson’s 10 minute video The Two Trillion Dollar Question, (see www.worldbeyondwar.org) and had a lively discussion.  “Was there ever a just war?”  “What about our responsibility to protect?”  “How should we respond to the crisis in Ukraine?” 

EHST members greeted Sam Winstread, noted bicycle Rider for Peace.  88 year-old Sam, a retired farmer from Person County and former WW II Marine Corps combat veteran, invited attendees to join his 7 day, 350 mile Ride for Peace from Raleigh to Lafayette Park in Washington DC. April 27—May 3rd.  This will be Sam’s 3rd annual Ride for Peace, and he will be distributing copies of David Swanson’s book War No More:  The Case for Abolition to local libraries and hosts along the route.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Monday, March 17, Herman Greene addressed the weekly meeting of Elders for Peace at Carol Woods Retirement Center in Chapel Hill.  Herman spoke on the topic of Ethical Environmental policy, and advanced the idea of Gaia (planet earth) as a living organism with which we humans have been at war in recent centuries.  Professor Greene testified to the discreditation of scientists as a community of unbiased observers of our current circumstances, and the need for political advocacy to promote social, economic and ecological justice.

NEXT STOP , Lake Junaluska, planning the 2014 Lake J Peace Conference, March 27—30, on the theme “Faith, Peace and Health,” and then to finally meet my new granddaughter, Josie, in Burnsville, NC, born March 4th, my new best reason to work for peace.