Peace and War in the Heartland

War talk dominates media, classroom and dinner table discussion as we engage in the most controversial military policy in forty years. Regardless of political affiliations or service history, all Americans are being challenged to make informed and critical moral and political decisions about war-making and peace-making policies and obligations. Peace and War in the Heartland (PWH) produces free public events that promote personal engagement with the complex intellectual issues and moral terrain of war and peace-making.

War is conducted by and waged against human beings, so the conversation needs to move beyond numbers of troops and calendar dates to engage with universal human values. We believe that a broader and deeper public conversation about the moral landscape of war and peace-making is crucial and way past due.

PWH focuses on involving and enabling this generation's youths' participation in the public discussion. PWH is an extraordinarily timely campus-based peace-and-war education project that articulates key, critical moral and constitutional issues facing America’s draft age youth, 18-25.

PWH uses an original and highly imaginative approach to telling a complete and comprehensive story of how present moral, political and cultural conditions and challenges are rooted in the choices made by previous generations. Since every individual makes moral decisions using different information - some decisions may be grounded in historical analysis. Or influenced by political interpretation. Or compelled by religious beliefs - a series of campus-based free public events employ various communication modalities (lectures, small group discussions, panels, etc.) to address eight decision influence sources: history, politics, law, religion, science and the experience or fact of being young, a woman or a veteran.

PWH's special target is draft age youth, 18-25, though all events are open to the general public. To create and promote an intergenerational dialogue and discussion, PWH creatively links its events to a theatrical re-enactment of a mock Draft Lottery and a theatrical play linking past events with current affairs, namely, “Peace Crimes: the Minnesota 8 vs. the war.”

PWH's public events take place within the Human Village. You enter the Human Village through a pledge: To be non-judgmental. To be respectful. To listen and respond calmly, though with passion, to those who walk a different path. In the Human Village those experienced with war-making and peace-making decisions make themselves accessible and available to the young men and women who seek their experiences and truths. This includes scholars, activists, veterans, military personnel, chaplains, draft resisters, etc.

For many, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are happening "over there," and are being waged by a very small segment of volunteer soldiers who bear an extraordinary burden. Though 9/11 brought terrorist activities into the heart of America, PWH will "bring the war home" by enacting what the Selective Service System states it can put into operation at the click of a mouse, namely, a

At various campuses, In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre will make today's "virtual draft" real to draft age youths. The Lottery results indicate who will be drafted within the next several years. "Draftees" will receive a "Greetings" packet with a Report to Induction letter, a 1-A draft card, and a To Do list, that includes making a will. Then, the "draftee" will receive a "What happened to you in the war" true story written by Veterans about themselves and other veterans. This will range from nothing happened, to you got wounded, to you died in friendly fire, and so on.

The objective is to move young men and women to ask, "If the real Lottery were activated today, what would I do?" Train to kill and risk being killed? Resist and go to prison? Accept exile to a foreign country, never to return to America?

During the week of February 19, 2008 start by attending a PWH event at the U of M or Augsburg College or later at Macalester College or the UM's "Great Conversation" program or attend at home or at the office or from anywhere ... online at your computer.



The military Selective Service Draft has been activated!

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