PEACE PORRIDGE #22: 25 December 2001
   Ever since I mentioned two of central Missouri's local heros in Peace Porridge #14, I've thought of many other local people I could also have mentioned.

   Congratulations to Jean Hentzel, Kay Hegler, Angela Park, Norma Anderson, and everyone who worked on the successful petition drive for a state audit of the Rolla School District. Its nice to see that so many care about our schools and our children, and believe strongly in democracy. Thanks for all your hard work, and for your courage in taking the abuse that inevitably comes to those who speak truth to power. Here's hoping that the State Auditor's Office will be able to straighten out our School District's finances.

   Let's also thank school board member Ralph Wilkerson, one of the "three stooges" who had the effrontery to ask the school administration what they were doing with our money; and Jerry Cohen, who worked so hard for so long to get the school administration to understand the importance of being open and honest. Jerry, some people just aren't going to get it no matter how many times you explain it to them.

   Meanwhile, board president Randy Stratman has announced that he will not seek reelection, and superintendent Larry Ewing has announced that he has accepted a position elsewhere. We wish Stratman and Ewing well; and hope the school board will be more discerning about the choices it makes in the future.

   I have a theory that arrogance and deceit trickle down from the top. Our federal government has bombed Red Cross warehouses, killed over 3,500 civilians, and made hundreds of thousands homeless in an unsuccessful effort to capture one person. Our federal government by sanctioning Iraq has caused the death of 500,000 children under 5 years old, and then brazenly declared that, "We think the price is worth it." Our government has even denied Iraqi school children pencils under the reasoning that they might use the graphite to make weapons of mass destruction. With all the arrogant and deceitful attacks on children emanating from Washington, how could we possibly expect our local school district to be open and honest and put our children first?

   Yesterday I received a wonderful gift in the mail. It came in a beautifully hand decorated envelope with purple bells, green trees, and shining stars. The envelope contained the book, "Peace Roots" written by Kids For Peace at Spring Valley School in Farmington, Pennsylvania, http://www.kidsforpeace.net . It was accompanied by a short note:

       Dear Tom:

         Emmy told me about you. I am her
         niece. I thought you would enjoy this.


   The book contains some wonderful insightful writing from kindergarten through 8th grade children. Here is a sample.

         "I wish that angels would protect
         the babies and the poor."
         ---Christine Maendel, grade 3

         "Peace is not fighting with your
         big brother or sister because your
         little brothers might see you and think
         it's good to fight."
         ---Daniel Rutherford, grade 4

         "My wish is that nations won't be
         mad at each other."
         ---Marian Fischli, grade 4

         "Listening to the news each day, I
         think that the three biggest problems
         facing the world today are war,
         poverty and pollution. ...

         "All three problems are a result of
         greed, which makes people do anything
         for money, no matter how harmful. Until
         we learn to respect each other enough
         to use words instead of violence, to
         share our wealth, and to start caring
         for our environment, we will never solve
         these problems. But for this to happen,
         we must first recognize that we are all
         one family and that we share the same
         fragile planet."
         ---Derek Zimmerman, grade 6

         "Peace to me means laughter,
         singing and joy! It is not just a gap
         between times of fighting, but something
         that spreads and lives and grows."

         "Peace is forgiving and trying

         "Peace is not just a warm, cosy
         feeling you get inside. Peace is strong
         and overpowers hate."

         "Peace is something everyone wishes
         for. We all share this wish, a desire
         for peace."
         ---Ronda Maendel, grade 7

         "Perhaps the shepherds were not
         the only ones to be told the news of
         Christ's birth. Maybe the whole world
         was told simultaneously but the
         shepherds were the only ones to hear
         because they were awake and not
         thinking about styling their hair or
         worrying if their coffee pot was in
         style. Why were they unconcerned with
         these things? Because they were poor
         and did not live in luxury. ...

         "The shepherds of today are the
         poor despised people, those so-called
         common folk. Humble, simple people.
         How many 'shepherds' would the angels
         find in our country today? If Jesus
         came today, I think the angels would
         sing at a homeless shelter, a ghetto,
         a prison or a bomb shelter."
         ---Joann Johnson, grade 8

   And here is my favorite, a commentary on the following passage by Mohandas Gandhi.

         "What does it matter to the
         dead, the orphans and the
         homeless, whether the mad
         destruction is wrought in
         the name of totalitarianism,
         or in the holy name of
         liberty and democracy?"

         ---Mohandas K. Gandhi

         "When Gandhi made this statement,
         I think he meant that you can give a
         war all kinds of names and that there
         will always be some 'good' reason to
         justify a war. But when you get down
         to the bare facts of what war does, it
         does not matter what it is fought for,
         or what it apparently accomplishes
         because war kills people, leaves
         children parentless and destroys

         "Some people say that to truly
         understand war, you have to be very
         smart because it is so complicated.
         But, for the child who loses his
         parents or the mother who loses her
         baby, it's plain and simple: War kills
         people. The people who suffer war
         understand it best."
         ---Rosemarie Mommsen, grade 8

   I can't help but think how much greater our country would be, if our children were taught to write like this in every school in our nation. Perhaps the Rolla School District will choose a new superintendent who will make teaching peace, tolerance, and understanding his highest priority.

   May the angels watch over you, and turn your minds from hatred, and your hands from violence. May you realize the peace of knowing that God loves all of his children, and expects the same from each and every one of us.

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