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Pacifist Coleman MCCarthy Brings Message of Peace

Berea brings notable, retired journalist and peace activist Coleman McCarthy to lecture during the annual Earl Robbins lecture series.

Coleman McCarthy, who has written for the Washington Post since 1968, is a vegan pacifist and author who has taught the history and philosophy of peacemaking since 1982. McCarthy, was invited by the Campus Christian Center to speak on the philosophy of peace making and the importance of non-violent methods in order to better serve our communities and create a safer world. Peter Aloys, a 3rd year student from Musoma, Tanzania, was given the honor of introducing Coleman McCarthy during his lecture, "How to Be a Peacemaker".

Aloys learned of McCarthy’s work while working to complete his two independent majors in international studies and peace and social justice studies. According to Peter Aloys, McCarthy has taught nonviolent methods of conflict resolution to more than 7,000 students in the courses he has taught on peace and social justice. He has written six books on social justice and is also the editor of two books of peace essays entitled: "Solutions to Violence" and “Strength Through Peace" used as textbooks in many schools. In his work as a journalist, McCarthy learned from some of the world’s leading peace activists the 3 essentials he believes are necessary in order to become a peacemaker. These principles are; a commitment to prayer, commitment to service, and a commitment to nonviolence.

During his lecture, McCarthy illustrated through lively banter and audience participation, that often we know all about those who break the peace, but not about those who have learned to make it. McCarthy believes that this is because schools, which require students to take courses such as history and trigonometry have not made the same effort to teach students the importance of peace and how to resolve conflicts non-violently. McCarthy illustrated this when showing that only one student in the audience could raise their hand when asked if they’d attended a high school that offered a course in peace studies or conflict resolution but that the majority of the students and faculty attending the convocation were required to take trig.

Coleman McCarthy admittedly took responsibility as an educator. McCarthy believes that often educators are “so busy pounding theories and ideas in your minds that we often leave you idea rich, but experience poor”. McCarthy reports that of the 116,000 schools in the United States, "all of those, beginning in the first grade ought to be teaching the basics of conflict resolution, mediation, the history and philosophy of pacifism because unless we teach peace, somebody else will teach you violence." McCarthy was very pleased at Berea’s own efforts to develop a major in Peace and Social Justice Studies. According to McCarthy there are only about 70 schools around the country that currently have a degree program in peace studies. McCarthy also applauded Berea’s efforts to provide experiential learning through the campus service learning program. “I think that is the soul of this campus,” McCarthy remarked.

Earl Robbins, a former Berea College student established this lecture series because of lessons he learned during his own experiences here at Berea College. Earl and his wife Sue funded the program through the Campus Christian Center because Robbins felt that while he attended Berea that the chapel programs were “the most stimulating, ideal building facets of the entire educational program”. Robbins’s children continue in their father's legacy with their faithful attendance to these lectures and joined students and faculty at Phelps Stokes Chapel for the afternoon convocation. Afterward a small reception was held in the Fireside Room of Draper and a Community Conversation and potluck were held in Union Church later that evening. The efforts of the Campus Christian Center to bring such an eye-opening program to this campus illustrate these words of the great Colman McCarthy. “Love is not just an emotion; it's a call to action.” Without the efforts of those to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn the importance of service, education, and how to create peace within our communities, many Berea College students would not have been able to go on to do much of the wonderful work that inspires us today.

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