Oct. 16, 2009: Community college teachers weigh in on peace, by Susan Sutton

October 16, 2009 by

As she looks back on raising her now-grown children, Cathy Forshee notes, “I must have done something right.” The economic instructor at Cloud County Community College says her kids “grew up with a total acceptance of others. In the things they said to and about their peers, adults, authority figures – and their behavior as well.

“My own kids were never aggressive toward others,” she says. “One of the keys, I think, is that we did so many things as a family – including going to church on Sunday. That was our routine.

“Also, we ate meals at the table – not just at special occasions. Lunch may have been a little on-the-fly at times, but every breakfast and dinner was eaten sitting down as a family around the table. That’s how my husband and I communicated with the kids; we found out about their day and they found out what was going on in our lives.”

Through her prism of economics, Cathy sees much of the violence in our society as related to the economy. “We’re surrounded by media advertising. We’ve become obsessed with acquiring things we don’t really need, and then rent storage facilities in which we stash the things we don’t have room for. Our society is addicted to consumerism and this addiction has negatively changed the way we live and treat others.”

Jonathan Wild, an English instructor at CCCC, talks about peace through the prism of music: “I think the re-mastering of the Beatles albums has been a very positive thing. ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ ‘All You Need is Love;’ both are great tunes and I’m encouraged to think that a whole new generation is being introduced to the Beatles and recognizing the timeliness of the band’s music and peaceful musical messages. Those tunes will never go out of style.”

Recalling the death last month of Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, Jon speaks for many of his generation when he says, “Peter, Paul and Mary started the Peace Movement. Theirs were the faces of peace. Call it folk music or peace music, PP&M inspired a generation with their messages and sent tens of thousands of young people into music stores to buy their albums.

“‘Blowin’ in the Wind,’ ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone?’ ‘If I Had a Hammer’ — those tunes are relevant today when it comes to spreading a message of peace. They haven’t become quaint or gone out of style.”

Another thought that should remain very much in style is brought up by English department chair, Brenton Phillips: “In a world that spends trillions on weaponry and training for killing, it is vital that we remember that war should be a last resort, that countries should adhere to the Just War Doctrine developed through history and put into concrete form by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.”

Brenton concludes, “We should also be wise to remember William Golding’s theme in ‘Lord of the Flies,’ that the defects of society are caused by the defects in the individual; and John Knowles’s theme in ‘A Separate Peace,’ that ‘wars are caused by ignorance in the human heart.’”

— Susan Sutton, who compiled this information, is dean of Humanities and Social-Behavioral Sciences at Cloud County Community College. She is also a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.

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