Teaching Peace Through Popular Culture

Book Title: Teaching Peace Through Popular Culture

Edited by: Laura Finley (Barry University), Joanie Connors (Western New Mexico University), and Barbara Wien, (American University)

Review by: Guest Author Dr. Michael Furtado, St Mary’s in Exile Community, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Authored by scholars from a variety of disciplines, including English, Theology, Philosophy, Communications, Sociology, Humanities, and Peace Studies, this edited volume provides detailed descriptions of the many ways in which popular culture can be used to teach peace.

Chapters discuss documentary and feature films, music, television, literature, and more, providing both educators and the general public with a timely and useful tool for thinking about ways to promote peace. From popular dystopian novels like The Hunger Games to feature films like The Matrix to modern rap and hip-hop music, contributors to the book  provide not only critical analyses of the violence in popular culture but also an assessment of how the same or alternate forms can be used by peace educators.

Additionally, each chapter provides synopses and teaching ideas, as well as recommended resources. In a world that often overwhelms us with stories of death and destruction, an era in which many people feel helpless in response to human brutality, this book helps remind us that there are things we can all do both to recognize the messages of violence permeating our culture, and act instead to promote recognition of the possibility of peace.

Michael Furtado is a former school-teacher in Catholic schools in the UK and Australia. He was not a success at school in India, where he was born, and so pursued alternative paths of education that took him to London, Strathclyde and Oxford universities. From there he migrated to Australia to explore the possibility of alternative schools for marginalised children. Catholic schools account for between a quarter and a fifth of all Australian schools and so are major Australian educational providers. Michael did a Masters at the University of WA and a PhD at Queensland University, while gaining experience in post-Vatican II approaches to human development and religious education. From 1985-92 he was Education Officer (Social Justice) at Brisbane Catholic Education. Michael currently works in a social inclusion education project, called Discovering Disability and Diversity, with a colleague with a disability, Sharon Boyce.

Posted in Book reviews, Peace studies, Poetry and the arts, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Warning: this disease is contagious, deadly, and right in your own backyard

No racism.
Image by Martynas Barzda and is in the public domain.

Racism is as deadly as AIDS, as contagious as influenza, and as contemptible as human sacrifice—which indeed is what it is.

It has reached epidemic proportions in the US, and not for the first time.

As with most diseases, some groups appear to be particularly vulnerable both to becoming infected and to spreading their infections to  others;  these groups include, in frightening proportions, people responsible for the public welfare such as the police.

Even in the corporate media, and especially in the alternative media, evidence of brutal police harassment of people of color seems nearly ubitquitous:

Episcopal priest on road trip with interracial family shares harrowing story of police harassment

Police Harassment and Violence Against the Transgender Community

Undoubtedly, you are already  aware of the rash of recent incidents wherein police attacked unarmed people of color and beat and/or murdered them by one means or another—in public places or paddy wagons or jail cells.

Here are a few  recent cases you may have missed:

Walter Scott

Andres Green (15-years-old)

And here is a broad sampling of people of color killed in police custody between 2005 and 2014.

Virulent diseases can evolve into a number of different forms, and in the case of racism, forcible invasions of the vaginas of women of color are among the loathsome  manifestations of the disease.

Imagine such things happening to you or someone you love.

But also recognize that while pernicious, the disease is not irradicable.

Sometimes a single person speaking out against injustice can make a difference:

A White Woman Confronts Police Harassing a Black Man, and the Result Is Stunning

And it took just one person to start a petition that gained thousands of signatures asking  the United States Department of Justice  to take over the investigation of the death in police custody of Sandra Bland :

Take Over The Investigation Into The Death of Sandra Bland From The Waller County, Texas Police Department.

Moreover, in the wake of the long overdue and desperately needed media attention to police lethality, major group initiatives have emerged, such as Black Lives Matter. Read this article about the significance of this movement

Black Lives Matter joins a long line of protest movements that have shifted public opinion — most recently, Occupy Wall Street

Climb aboard and be part of the solution.

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology

Posted in culture of violence, Human rights, police violence, racism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


By Guest Author Tom Greening

We knew we could count on you

to continue our mission for us.

We destroyed your World Trade Center

but that was only a dramatic means

to a greater end.

We knew you rich and industrious Americans

would soon rebuild the towers

bigger and better.

Our more ambitious goal

was to expose your barbarism

behind your pretense

of practicing humanitarian justice:

We got you to reveal your depravity

and become torturers.

At Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib,

at dark sites, we seduced you

into destroying yourselves

as moral human agents.

Tom Greening was educated at Yale, the University of Vienna, and the University of Michigan. He has been a psychologist in private practice for over 50 years, and is a retired professor from Saybrook University, UCLA, and Pepperdine. He was Editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology for 35 years. He is a Fellow of five divisions of the American Psychological Association and Poet Laureate of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry.

Posted in Poetry and the arts, September 11, 2001, Torture | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

70 Years: Never Again — Hiroshima & Nagasaki Week in Massachusetts

August 5-9, 2015

This is a shortened version of a re-post of an article originally posted by Massachusetts Peace Action, which can be found at masspeaceaction.org. Re-posted with permission.

From Aquinnah to Amherst, Fall River to Watertown, and Waltham to Boston, Massachusetts residents will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United States atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and raise the call:  Never Again!  Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now!  

45 years after the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 9 nuclear weapons states have not acted on  their solemn commitment to enter into serious negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons.  Join Massachusetts Peace Action, peace groups, people of faith, youth, community groups, and all people who care about the future of humanity at events across Massachusetts  to call attention to the people’s demand for nuclear disarmament.  Attend one of the following events, or organize your own!

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Week in Massachusetts: Events Announced to Date


August 8, Leverett: The New Hibakusha, world premiere of a new documentary by Jesse Barret Mills. Told from the perspective of both survivors and experts, The New Hibakusha looks at the impact of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in a country still coping with the legacy of the first atomic bombing.  New England Peace Pagoda, 100 Cave Hill Rd., 7pm.

August 9, Amherst: Community Peace Gathering for the 70th Anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There will be songs for all to sing, perspectives on peace and prayers for peace. Sponsored by Peacebuilders of First Church Amherst and Grace Church Peace Fellowship.  All welcome. The monks and nuns of the Leverett Peace Pagoda will depart from this gathering for a prayer walk for peace  from Amherst to Northampton. First Congregational Church lawn, 165 Main Street, 1 pm to 2 pm.

CandleboatsAugust 9th, Watertown: Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki – Building a Nuclear Free World  Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment.  Film followed by vigil, testimonials and candle boat launch at Charles River Dock, Watertown Square.  Grace Vision Church, 80 Mt. Auburn St., 5:30pm

Illustration by Isabelle DeMarco

August 9, Cambridge: Peace & Planet Poetry & Art Night.  Youth-led event at Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery, 541 Massachusetts Avenue, 6pm.

August 9, Northampton: Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70th Remembrance. Readings and a talk by Dr. Andrew Larkin, Smith College, McConnell Hall 103, 7pm; candle-light floating ceremony with members of the Leverett Peace Pagoda, Boathouse on Paradise Pond, 8pm.   American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts.

70th Hiroshima

Download a Printable Flyer

Churches will ring their bells or hold other observances at 7:16 pm on August 5, the exact anniversary of the A-bomb.  The bells rung by Harvard University’s Lowell House on April 26 as part HarvardEpworthBanner.2of the Global Wave provide inspiration.   See more on the faith-based plans for Hiroshima/Nagasaki Week.

obamaSign our petition to President Obama to take action on de-alerting, no first use, global negotiations, and stopping nuclear weapons modernization.  Help us circulate it; it is available online or in paper form.

Send information on your events to info@masspeaceaction.org or submit them here.  We will publish a calendar of events across the state so that all people who seek a peaceful world will know that they are not alone!

No more Hiroshimas!

No more Nagasakis!

70 Years – Never Again!

Abolish Nuclear Weapons!

Stop Modernizing US Nuclear Weapons!

For Peace and Justice!

Read the Call to Action for Peace & Planet Summer.

Peace and Planet rally, New York, April 26The Peace & Planet mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World brought thousands of people from many countries to the streets of New York on April 26, and the Global Wave held over 100 actions around the world calling on governments to eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.   Now, let’s take the next step and raise our voices!

Join us!  Contact 617-354-2169 or info@masspeaceaction.org to connect and exchange ideas.

– Massachusetts Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments