Posted by Aryeh Cohen
How do we translate our common moral commitments into action?
For argument's sake let us agree that we all believe in the dignity of every human being. That is, we believe that a person's dignity is an inalienable part of their being, to borrow a phrase from the founders. In religious terms one would say that every person was created in the image of God. This is perhaps the most forceful way of saying that each and every person's value as a person is not contingent upon anything external to that person, and that no one has a right to act in such a way as to harm that dignity, that image of God, that tzelem elohim. It is as if when one damages another's dignity one does harm to God.
Okay, let us assume that we all agree with this. How do we translate this into practice? How do we move the rhetorical statement to action—moral and legislative at once—which incorporates this understanding into the fabric of our polities, city, state and country?
The only way to get from here to there is to get into the high grass of public policy—and the highest grass of public policy is budgeting. I am not arguing, nor would I, that the budget should direct our moral choices, that the economic bottom line should be the deciding factor in whether or not a policy is good or bad. The exact opposite is what I would argue. The choices we make in our budgeting process must reflect the values which we hold most high.
Since here in California we have over the years decided that our elected representatives should have us do their work for them in the ballot process; and since in that process important questions of budget and taxation are decided, we are forced every election to weigh our votes on budget propositions on the basis of whether or not they reflect our most important values.
The bottom line is that a budget must be an ethical document. The choices of what to fund and what to cut cannot be just a matter of arithmetic, but must first of all be a matter of moral choice.
So how do we create a budget which reflects the respect of every person's being created in the Divine image?
I would suggest that we start by articulating the interlocking web of necessities which a person needs in order to be able to live with dignity in our cities. A non-exhaustive list would include, for example, a job with a living wage, decent education, housing, and health care. These needs are interlocking in that if one is missing, the whole web can fall apart. If one does not have a decent job with a living wage, then one cannot get decent housing or healthcare which impacts one's ability to get an education. If one does not have access to education, one cannot get a decent job which impacts one's ability to get access to housing or health care. And so on. (The more robust argument, for another time, would include the claim that all of these necessities enable a person not only to survive, but to flourish as a person, which is to actualize the Divine image.)
When the budget that is created does not allow for people to live in dignity, let alone flourish we have failed as a society.
It is then incumbent upon us as a society, through our government—which is the mechanism by which we handle our ability to live together—to redirect our resources such that everybody can live in dignity. To that end I would argue, we must support a robust school system and a system of higher education. We must ensure that everybody has access to health care. We must provide shelter and housing to the homeless.
In this election, one action which can bring us one step further along this path is voting for Proposition 30: The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act. The temporary (seven year) increase in income taxes for those who earn more than $250,000 a year, and 1/4 cent increase in sales tax for four years would garner the resources necessary for to continue funding our education system. The dire cuts that would ensue if Prop 30 fails—5.4 billion dollars from the Los Angeles school system and community college system; 250 million dollars from the UC and Cal State systems; 50 million dollars from mental health services and more—would cripple us morally, doom many to lives of poverty and pain, and almost certainly guarantee that California will not thrive economically in the future.
For these reasons I urge every California voter to support Proposition 30.
5.13.13 at 8:40 am | And yet, we return each year with Sisyphean. . .
5.7.13 at 7:16 pm | The Rabbinic tradition transvalued the warriors. . .
4.23.13 at 5:22 pm |
4.18.13 at 5:34 pm |
3.15.13 at 1:24 pm | Ted Cruz, the apparent supporter of rights. . .
2.15.13 at 8:39 am | The practice of democracy, the practice by which. . .
5.13.13 at 8:40 am | And yet, we return each year with Sisyphean. . . (8)
3.15.13 at 1:24 pm | Ted Cruz, the apparent supporter of rights. . . (6)
7.2.12 at 4:55 pm | Justice Roberts surprised everybody by joining. . . (3)
October 19, 2012 | 11:45 am
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
It seems that every third line in any debate or speech by any candidate or advocate of public policy is about money. About the so-called bottom line. Who can and who cannot balance a budget? Who should and who should not pay taxes and how much taxes? What can we as a State, as a Nation, as a society afford to spend money on? Defense? Education? Poverty relief? How do we make these decisions? The overwhelming talk about the bottom line has been crowding out the conversation we should be having—a conversation about values and about justice.
Its not that the economic strictures of budgets or revenues are not important. We all live in a world in which the government cannot supply services—from defense to preschool—without paying for them. However, the economic voice should be neither the first nor the loudest voice in the conversation.
It seems that spokespeople (and just people) advocating for any cause are more and more frequently framing their advocacy in economic terms. “If everybody has access to preventive care the state saves money on emergency room visits.” “Preschool programs are a big factor in keeping kids off the street and out of jail—which ends up saving the country a bucketload of money.” “The death penalty costs way more than Life Without the Possibility of Parole.” We have monetized our morals.
It is not that any of these arguments are wrong per se. It is that the economic bottom line should not be the trump card in any debate over values and issues of justice. The issue should be: what is right and what is just.
This is not a new idea.
There is a law in the third century text the Mishnah (Baba Bathra 1:5) which obligates all residents of a city to pay a levy towards the building of a wall around the city. The question is asked in the discussion of this Mishnah in the sixth century Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra 7b): “How is this levy assessed?” Three different possibilities are offered: 1. Per capita. Each person is obligated to pay exactly the same amount. The bill is meted out evenly amongst the whole city. The claim here is that the obligations of the city should be distributed evenly amongst the residents of the city regardless of abiblity to pay. 2. According to the amount of money that each person has. In this argument, a richer person has more benefit from the wall than a poorer person since he has more to protect—therefore the wealthier person is assessed at a higher level. 3. According to the proximity of a given house to the wall. The closer one is to the wall, the more protection one needs and therefore assumedly one gets. Hence the closer one is to the wall, the more one pays. The Talmud, as is it’s way, does not provide us with a decision (or, more accurately, provides us with two decisions: either the second, based on the amount of money a person has, or the third based on proximity to the wall).
In the twelfth century in northern France, in the city of Dampierre, Rabbenu Tam, one of the greatest minds of the middle ages, questioned the justice of this arrangement. It would be okay if poor people who lived in closer proximity to the wall paid more than poor people who lived farther away from the wall. It would also be okay if rich people close to the wall paid more than rich people far from the wall. It would not be okay, Rabbenu Tam said, if a poor person would pay more than a rich person because the poor person lived in closer proximity to the wall.
Rabbenu Tam was not questioning the logic of the closer-farther algorithm. He was questioning the extent of its explanatory power. He was saying, in essence, that it cannot be that a poor person would have to contribute more to the city than a wealthy person. This type of regressive tax was unjust. While a rich person could afford to pay for the tax and also to buy food and obtain shelter and other necessities, it is not clear that the same is true for the poor person.
The underlying sentiment of this decision is that choices in the public realm, decisions of law and policy have to be based on a foundation of doing the right and the just. A society, to consider itself righteous, has to ground its decisions about allocations—and about sentencing, and about business practices, and about education and a myriad of other things—in the principles of: “And you shall do that which is right and good” (Deuteronomy 6:18), “So you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness” (Proverbs 2:20), “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due” (Proverbs 3:27). These are all principles which the rabbinic tradition applies in the course of discussions on economic justice issues. We would be well served in our discussions to follow in their paths.
If you read a budget closely and do not see that it follows in the ways of goodness and the paths of righteousness, but rather balances the budget without care for the suffering of the poor and marginal, the excuse of political accounting will not cover the shame of our decisions.
My new book Justice in the City: An Argument from the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism is available for purchase here.
The introduction to the book can be downloaded as a free pdf here.
September 30, 2012 | 12:33 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
September 25, 2012 | 11:28 am
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
So what else is there to say about Mitt Romney's tax returns? I would suggest that we could learn at least two things from them. First, on a personal level, it seems that Mitt and Ann Romney are very generous people. They donated $4.02 million in charity in 2011 (out of $13.7 million of income) and $3 million in 2010 (out of $21.7 million in income). If these figures are accurate (and there is no reason to doubt them) the Romneys donated almost 30 percent of their 2011 income to charity, and 14 percent of their income in 2010. That is a sizeable chunk of their income donated to charity.
A large percentage of that money went to the Mormon church, which supports political activities that I think are appalling, however, giving that large a percentage of one’s income to charities is still a laudable thing.
The second thing that we can learn is that this display of personal largesse and philanthropy reinforces the wisdom of the Rabbinic tradition which demands that poverty relief should be a function also of municipal institutions. Whereas Biblically mandated poverty relief is an individual affair—you give your charity to whichever poor person you desire—the Rabbis recognized that this was both inefficient and unfair. A poor person who lived in an agricultural area might find a very favorable ratio of poor people to assistance being distributed (tithes, gleanings, charity). However, if a poor person lived in an urban area they would probably find a less favorable ratio. If you are one of the thousands of poor people in an urban area attempting to scavenge gleanings at one of the few nearby farms—good luck.
The Rabbis' solution was the establishment of a minimum amount of food and other resources that the city had to give to every poor person who passed through its precincts (Mishnah Pe’ah 8:7). This also meant that the cities had to assess residents to contribute to the soup kitchen and the community chest to insure that enough resources were on hand to support the poor (Bavli Baba Bathra 8a-b). The Rabbis of Late Antiquity, therefore, constructed a system of taxes in order to be able to support the poor of their cities—or poor folks who happened to be travelling through their cities. This system was developed and refined over the years.
The personal philanthropy approach to poverty relief succeeds only in supporting poor people who happen to live next door to the Romneys (or the institutions that distribute their funds). By definition, the super-rich of the Romney variety, do not live next door to many of the people who need their largesse. In a recently published video recording of a speech he made at a fund raiser, Romney dismissed Americans who needed support from the government as those who believed they were “victims” and that “the government has a responsibility to take care of them” and that they believe that they are entitled to things like health care and food, etc. Finally, Romney said that these 47% of the American people will never learn to take responsibility for themselves.
The Rabbinic tradition teaches the exact opposite. The government does have an obligation to make sure people have enough food and clothing and health care and other basics. Romney’s remarks point up the fact that the obligation of society to support those who work hard but cannot feed themselves or their families, or live in situations where they cannot work to support themselves, will never be fulfilled by relying only on the generosities of the mega-rich such as the Romneys. The reason is twofold. First is the “I built it” syndrome, or in the language of Torah (Deuteronomy 8): “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God … lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied …, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, …who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’” Present wealth tends to obscure the memory of what it actually took to get there.
The second reason that we cannot rely on individual benefaction is that even with the most generous of benefactors large numbers of people will fall through the cracks by dint of geography or circumstance. The government has the reach and the bureaucracy (for good and ill) to distribute money to where it is needed. The redistribution of resources to create a more fair and just society is the raison d’etre of government.
And so we enter into this Yom Kippur, acknowledging that there are very wealthy people who are very generous. However, justice need not and cannot depend on generosity, the redistribution of resources by the government is the only guarantor of an economically just society.
I wish everybody a happy and sweet new year of peace and justice, and to those who are fasting an easy and meaningful fast.
July 2, 2012 | 4:55 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
Justice Roberts surprised everybody by joining and writing the opinion for the majority in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I want to suggest that his decision is to be appreciated by the progressive community not only for upholding the act but also for shifting the legal conversation.
The decision was a major step forward toward creating a more perfect union, toward helping to forge a society in which we all share obligations toward those who cannot fend for themselves, toward a vision of a just society which honors each and every person as being created in the tzelem elohim/the image of God. This experiment in democracy—in which we have given our trust and loyalty, and by way of which we have pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor—has taken a major stride forward in affording tens of millions of people the ability to have health insurance and thereby health care. At bottom, upholding the constitutionality of the ACA saved lives. People who otherwise might have died, will not die because they will have access to doctors, medicines and life saving treatments.
However, the Roberts decision in my opinion also set the legal conversation about civil and human rights on a firmer moral ground. Roberts sided with the conservative wing of the court to say that the ACA was not constitutional under the commerce clause. The commerce clause, is the clause in “the Constitution [which] authorizes Congress to ‘regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.’ (Article I, sec. 8, cl. 3)” Further, and more importantly “[o]ur precedents read that to mean that Congress may regulate ‘the channels of interstate commerce,’ ‘persons or things in interstate commerce,’ and ‘those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.’” (quoting from Justice Roberts’ opinion p. 4) Roberts upheld the ACA based on Congress’s power to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” (U. S. Const., Art. I, sect. 8, cl. 1) Roberts interprets this straightforwardly that: “Put simply, Congress may tax and spend.” (Roberts’ opinion p. 5)
Roberts’ basic argument was that Congress may only regulate actual commerce and not force one to engage in commerce. Justice Ginsburg forcefully disputed that interpretation in her opinion. I am not a scholar of Constitutional Law and therefore cannot with any expertise weigh in on this dispute. Instead I want to suggest that Justice Roberts’ opinion can work to move the conversation around society’s obligations (as mediated through the State) to provide shelter, healthcare, education, adequate wages and so on, to a more appropriate legal space.
The commerce clause has served as the constitutional lever by which civil rights and environmental protections have been upheld. All these laws have assisted in perfecting our union and widening the scope of people who the law recognizes as the subjects of justice. However, this has come at a price. Each step forward must be grounded in an economic argument, (“Segregation is bad because it interferes with interstate commerce.”) as opposed to an argument grounded in principles of justice. (“Segregation is evil because it does not recognize that all people are equally created in the image of God, and all have equal worth.”) This monetization of our morals has a long history, perhaps, but my concern is the present and the way forward. As a result of this monetization of our morals we are not able to actually articulate the positions that we hold. All people should have access to health care not because it will end up saving the country money (which it apparently will) but because a basic necessity of being human is being healthy and therefore it is an obligation of the society to provide health care to the extent possible to every member of society.
Justice Roberts’ opinion firmly establishes Congress’ power to lay and collect taxes as the appropriate and legitimate mechanism to redistribute wealth in order to fulfill society’s obligations. The debate is no longer whether the Congressional authority to gather and distribute the necessary resources to live out our values is Constitutional. The debate is now only about what those values are and whether we have the political will to act on our values.
For now let us celebrate. Tomorrow we continue the struggle.
The full decision is available here.
June 13, 2012 | 9:19 am
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
Michael Walzer’s book In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible makes a slightly controversial though eminently plausible argument. The book is an interesting analysis of the politics of the Bible by a political scientist, who is not a biblical scholar, but has written an important book on the uses of the Exodus story by liberation movements (Exodus and Revolution). After all the caveats, Walzer’s central claim is that the Bible writes in the tension between being born into the covenant, and affirming the covenant or taking it on of one’s own free will. This is the central theme of the Bible, and not any specific manner of governance. There is no room, according to Walzer for politics in the Bible, since all authority ultimately rests with God. There is also no call for communal action. The Bible, according to Walzer has an anti-politics. Isaiah, for example, rails against those who would ignore the widows and the poor on their way to the Temple, yet he does not try to organize the poor or lobby the priesthood. Or when Ezekiel castigates Judah for rehearsing the sins of Sodom—the sins of hoarding their riches and not sharing them with poor—he is not looking for a legislative or political remedy—he is channeling God’s rage at injustice.
It is an interesting book, and Walzer recognizes and notes all the difficulties in making specific claims about a text whose interpretation has been contested for centuries. He notes the usefulness of the scholarly and traditional interpretive literature for understanding certain questions, but not others.
Walzer apparently reprised the gist of his argument at a YIVO conference on the demise of the historical partnership between Jews and the left. Some on the right trumpeted Walzer’s presence as a final sign that there is no basis in traditional Judaism for a politics of the left. Walzer, after all, is the long-time editor of Dissent and a social-democrat—and he is claiming that the left-Jewish alliance is as a castle on sand. Check-mate. There is no, nor has there ever been a basis for leftist politics, for social justice advocacy grounded in any traditional Jewish textual framework. The Tablet’s Adam Kirsch and Jewish Ideas Daily‘s Alex Joffe could barely contain themselves.
Something, however, is seriously off here. It is true that the hard-line Yiddishist/Bundist/secularist/anti-religious/communist left is dead or breathing its last. (The Yiddishist wing was recently given an entertaining eulogy by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle.) However, this left never made any claims at all on the tradition. It laid claim to the folk and culture and opposed the tradition. Over the past thirty years or so, a different Jewish left has formed. Inspired by the civil rights movement, by the way that Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically, this movement embraces the textual tradition (even if, at times, in a non-traditional way).
Here is where the punditocracy of the right has missed the point. The Bible is not “the tradition.” The Bible becomes traditional only with the advent of Rabbinic Judaism and textuality—Mishnah, the Talmuds, and following. This is where the tradition also becomes political. It is in Rabbinic literature that the courts demand that employers follow the path of the righteous; the city assesses its residents to support the poor and to create a wide ranging social safety net; the king is imagined as having to stand trial by the court; that there is an obligation to dissent and protest against wrongdoing, and on and on. Walzer of course knows this. He edited the multi-volume The Jewish Political Tradition after all, and in In God’s Shadow he consistently distinguishes between the Biblical and the Rabbinic.
The contemporary Jewish social-justice movement is in this sense a rabbinic movement. The texts that inform the actions of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Jewish World Watch, American Jewish World Service, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Uri L’tzedek (among others) are rabbinic texts or texts that are understood within a rabbinic framework. From the rote and often meaningless use of the phrase “tikkun olam” to the thoughtful volumes produced by Jill Jacobs, Eliot Dorff, Shmuley Yanklowitz, or my own book (in which the phrase tikkun olam does not appear), the Jewish social justice movement is grounded in Rabbinic texts and concepts. The authors in the previous sentence span the denominations as do the people involved in the movements in the sentence before that. It is telling that in the cheerleading for the demise of the Jewish left no ink was spent on the current Jewish left. The progressive movements in the United States and Israel working for social justice are neither dead nor dying, nor are these movements single-mindedly focussed on Israel/Palestine. Jewish Social justice organizations are currently engaged in campaigns around domestic workers rights, hotel workers rights, living wage and ethical consumerism, criminal justice (death penalty and solitary confinement), housing and homelessness, and immigration among others.
If some of the folks in attendance at the YIVO conference had looked outside a bit they might have seen that what they hoped to present as a desert, is actually a garden in bloom.
May 23, 2012 | 6:16 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
Now that the election season is heating up, once again the question will be asked, what does the Jewish community want? How will they vote? What will they base their choice on? If you listen to the polls, the pundits and the politicians (and many of the putative spokespeople for the Jewish community) the answer is simple: Israel. However, the question needs to be asked: is this the right answer? What should Jews care about, as Jews?
If by being Jewish one means connecting oneself to the wisdom of the Jewish tradition one would find that Jews who put social and economic justice at the heart of their concerns are tapping a deep vein. When God informs Abraham that God is going to destroy Sodom, Abraham challenges God: “Will the judge of all the world not do justice?” Speaking of Sodom, the prophet Ezekiel understood their sin as “She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility; yet she did not support the poor and the needy.” Jeremiah channels God saying: “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,” from which Maimonides, the great 12th century Spanish Jewish philosopher and jurist, understood that the true goal of the religious and philosophical path—beyond even knowing whatever it is that one can know about God—is to practice love and righteousness and justice in the world.
It is the Rabbis who move from the hortatory to the practical. In the third century mishnah, and the later Talmuds, the Rabbis move beyond the individual obligations of charity—whether demanding that the corner of the field be left over, or helping one’s fellow when she falls on hard times—and establish poverty relief as a political obligation to be fulfilled by cities and gathered by assessment. Every poor person who lives in, or even passes through a city must be supplied with two meals a day, a place and provisions for sleeping and shelter. As a matter of fact, residency in a town is itself described in terms of obligations towards others. When one lives in a town for certain period of time (3, 6, 9, 12 months) one must take on various levels of obligation towards other residents and the town itself.
The rabbis unpacked the Levitical verse: “For it is to Me that the Israelites are servants: they are My servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt.” They interpreted “they are My servants and not servants to servants.” The central act of Divine intervention in the world is seen by one of the greatest Talmudic Sages as a prooftext that workers cannot be forced to work against their will.
I could go on. Social and economic justice issues are the heart and soul of the Jewish tradition, from Isaiah to the Rabbis of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (of all denominations) who spoke in favor of, and some who demanded, that workers be afforded the ability to organize and have the protections of collective bargaining.
So why is it that when a politician wants to reach out to the Jewish community she goes to AIPAC, or he goes on a trip to Israel? Most American Jews live in the very cities which were devastated by the economic collapse and are being victimized by the monetizing of our morals (in which the economic bottom line always trumps the ethical bottom line). Most American Jews feel the call of the tradition to create cities wherein justice lies. The thinking that the American Jewish vote should be swayed only by a candidate’s policies on Israel is made all the more absurd by the lack of any real daylight between the policies of Democrats and Republicans on Israel. As a community we should demand that when politicians speak about Jewish issues, they speak about the issues that really matter to us, issues of social and economic justice.
I will give Jeremiah the last word (channeling God, of course) : “And seek the well-being of the city to which I have exiled you, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its peace you shall find peace.”
March 31, 2012 | 10:16 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
There is something of a surprising campaign which has taken hold on Facebook which has also garnered some attention in the press. Two Israelis, Roni Edry and Michal Tamir added a poster to their Facebook profile with this statement in bold colors: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We ♥ you.” Within days there were tens of thousands of “likes” on Facebook, messages from around the world, a new Facebook page and even hundreds of positive responses from Iran.
What to make of all this? All the messages seem rather sappy and simplistic. “We ♥ you” is not a foreign policy. It is not a negotiating position. It is not even an obvious claim on justice or morality. It is strange.
It does, however, have resonance in its simplicity. This counterpoint to the bombast of Iranian, Israeli and American leaders is stark in the very minimalism of its claims. There is a rather strong denial of what French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas calls the “ontology of war” in these statements. The ontology of war is the understanding that peace comes at the end of a narrative which includes victory over the enemy. Peace, then is one stage in an ongoing process of war. Inevitably, peace will also be followed by war, since the peace is only assured by victory. Peace which does not partake of this narrative, peace which is a response to the Other, makes one vulnerable.
The longer message from the Pushpin Mehina folks includes this: “For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don t even know you.” This revealing of vulnerability, I would like to believe, is what Levinas has in mind when he claims that the only possible way that one might engage with a stranger, with another person is to respond to them—since they are beyond our grasp.
The initial rhetoric of this simple statement veers towards the familiar language of violence and then reverses course and turns towards an entirely differently path. “I’m not afraid of you” can be said in a menacing or threatening manner. The following sentences (“I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you”) reframe this sentence as a Levinasian response. I approach you with my vulnerability. I do not know who you are. I cannot categorize you, define you, totalize you, name you “enemy.” I can only reach out to you with a declaration of my openness to you.
There has already been a demonstration of several hundred Israelis in Tel Aviv with signs similar to the ones posted on Facebook. In political terms, it becomes harder and harder for a leader to be belligerent when his people are saying they don’t war a war.
There might be larger implications here. Nobody knows if this movement will have legs. Nobody knows if a war can be avoided, or delayed. However, it is obvious that there are ways of trying to make peace which have not been tried. This movement should be a rebuke to those of us who doubted the power of democratic action. This campaign raises the possibility that peacemaking is not the sole province of professional peacemakers and diplomats, heads of state and generals. This movement raises the possibility that we should be training ourselves to be peacemakers in new and creative ways. Ways that we have not yet dreamed of. Ways that we should obligate ourselves to start dreaming up, and acting on.