A Dialogue for Peace and Justice

November 10, 2001

Chris (Newlon) speaking - wide angle. A community-wide forum took place on Saturday, November 10 in downtown Durham. Four speakers presented their different perspectives and current thoughts on peace and justice, followed by 30 minutes of facilitated conversation in small groups, and a regrouping to share. In addition to being a venue for education, we had an opportunity to build bridges and meet people in a variety of area organizations. The speakers were Patrick O'Neill, Catholic Worker; Donna Hicks, Episcopalian Peace Fellowship; Chris Newlon, progressive realist; and Rudolf Zarzar, Professor of Political Science, Elon College.

We will have several follow-up events which we'll list on the Triangle Peace Calendar. We have already had topical video showings on November 18, December 2, and December 16. On January 6, we'll have a fourth video showing: as before, several videos will be shown, focusing on US foreign policy. Last time (Dec. 16), we finised watching an October M.I.T. talk by Noam Chomsky and saw a talk by Michael Parenti. We'll decide as a group what we will see this time; if you have any relevant videos, please bring them.

A press release is available, as is a flyer describing the event (you can choose from a file with one flyer per page, or a file with two flyers per page).

Photos taken during the forum are now online. Also, a video of the evening was made; contact Dilip if you would like a copy (at cost).

Sponsors and Donors

The event was co-sponsored by NC Society for Ethical Culture, Triangle Vegetarian Society, NC Peace Action, Peace 1st, US Servas, Durham Friends Meeting (Quakers), Local Spiritual of the Baha'is of Durham City, Jain Study Center of NC, Wake County Greens, Orange County Greens, Durham People's Alliance, and St. Philip's Episcopal Church.

Thank you to the following donors who provided food for the event: Cosmic Cantina (vegan burritos), Ninth Street Bakery (Jam Dots), and Neomonde's (Hummus and Pita Bread).


We estimate that 100-120 people attended. We received 23 completed evaluation surveys; thanks to Donna Hughes of TVS for analyzing the data. The bottom line is that people seem to have really liked the event, verified by followup email and conversations, and that they want to have more such events.

Moderated discussion in small groups.For example, of all the people answering, 100% said that they would be interested in an event like this happening again, 100% said this web page is a convenient source to get more information, and about 3/4 said they would come to a regular event where videos of relevance were shown. People were very positive about the lecture-conversation format (83% positive) and content (80% positive). People wished that the event had lasted longer, and said that they really enjoyed the group conversations.

Information on Speakers and Table Summaries

Below are biographies of the four speakers, a short abstract of what each was planning on talking about, and a pointer for each to a transcript of what was presented. In addition, there is a page devoted to summaries of the dialogue at individual tables; summaries will continue to be added as they are received.

"What's a Pacifist to Do?" by Patrick O'Neill
Patrick O'Neill; click for a larger picture Patrick O'Neill has been a peace and justice advocate in North Carolina for over twenty years. He and his wife, Mary Rider, are cofounders of St. Martin House, a Catholic community that provides hospitality to women and children in crisis, and works in numerous peace and justice arenas. Patrick has been helping to facilitate a state-wide peace rally on Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday weekend in Raleigh this coming January. He has spent more than two years in jail and federal prison for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in opposition to U.S. militarism. Part-time freelance writer, Patrick is 45 years old and the father of six children. After clarifying that pacifism and nonviolence don't equate to non-action, Patrick will describe his views that pacifism is not only morally imperative, but pragmatic and the only way to approach the current world crisis constructively, in fact offering us our only hope for survival in the nuclear age.

"Reflections of a Struggling Pacifist: Peace is the Way, but How Do I Get There?" by Donna Hicks
Donna Hicks; click for a larger picture. Donna Hicks is the new coordinator of the Peace Initiatives Network of the Episcopal Diocese of NC, and convenes the Middle East Interest Group of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, a geographically dispersed group which focuses mainly on Israel/Palestine and Iraq. Working with the Community of the Cross of Nails, she is soon to be coordinating with peace fellowships and other reconciliation groups. Donna has travelled to Palestine/Israel five times since 1991, the last time in 1999 as part of a Christian Peacemaker team, and to Iraq in 2000 as part of an interfaith delegation. Before her Dec. 1998 retirement, she was a child support enforcement agent for 30 years at the Durham County Department of Social Services. Donna will share her personal chronicle as a "struggling pacifist" on the journey to finding peace and justice after the terrible events of September 11th. Read Donna's speech.

"A Progressive Realist's View: Why War may be Necessary for Long- Term Peace and Justice" by Chris Newlon
Chris Newlon; click for a larger picture. Chris Newlon has been sympathetic to and supportive of progressive causes for over 30 years, from protesting the Vietnam war to the promotion of human rights and environmental causes. A progressive realist, he is not an activist, but believes he represents the type of person that progressives must keep involved if we are going to achieve objectives of world peace and justice. Like all Americans, he was deeply shocked and saddened by the events of September 11th and has been searching for understanding and ways to be constructively engaged. A great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and a strong believer in non-violence as a way of life, Chris will articulate why war may, unfortunately, be an appropriate response to the threats currently facing the United States. He will describe why he believes the alternatives to war that are commonly promoted by progressives today are both inadequate and, in many cases, counterproductive to achieving long-term peace and justice. Finally, he will describe the messages and approaches that he believes progressives should accent that would help transform this tragic event into the opening of a door to a more peaceful and just future, rather than a descent into increasing violence and insecurity. Read Chris's speech.

"Achieving Peace in the Middle East: A Just Peace or A Dictated Peace?" by Rudolf (Rudy) T Zarzar
Rudolf (Rudy) T Zarzar Rudolf (Rudy) T Zarzar is Elon University Professor of Political Science, where he has a thirty-year history of teaching on Middle East conflict and politics. He is Director of the Peace Studies minor at Elon University and has served as visiting professor at Bethlehem University and UNC-Greensboro. An American citizen since 1972, Rudy is a Lebanese-born Palestinian and Past President of both the North Carolina Political Association and the NC Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. His research interests include international terrorism, fundamentalism in the Arab World, and democratization in the third world. He has recently published papers about Egyptian fundamentalism, has a forthcoming book chapter about Hamas, and has written a booklet entitled, "Ten Myths About the Arab- Israeli Conflict". Rudy will talk from his experience about the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the critical importance of its resolution to achieve peace and justice, reflecting on a range of possible "solutions". Read Rudy's speech.