A reflection on the recent Rotary Peace Fellows Symposium by Rotary Club of Arlington Rotarian Jim Quick
The Rotary Peace Fellows Symposium to which our District contributed $5,000 DDF gives all indications of having been very successful.
Just under 10% of the Rotary Peace Fellows globally applied for the RPF Symposium, which was about 130 applications.  Of those, 35 were selected based on the roughly $100,000 in available funding raised for the symposium. These 35 were from all over the world, and 2 did run into complications in making it to Birmingham.  Thus, 33 RPFs made it to the symposium and the follow-on two-day International Peace Conference.
The first photo (above left) is of my Peace Major Gifts Initiative Adviser colleague Pam Akins with Rotarian Jim Roxlo, PDG who was the Rotarian co-chair of the symposium and the person Roger worked with in getting our DDF in place.
The photo above is Pam and husband Barry with three Makerere Rotary Peace Fellows from Africa at the Friday evening dinner that Sheri and I were scheduled to join, and unfortunately were unable to as you know.  Pam is a significant supporter of the Mekerere Rotary Peace Center in Ughanda, Africa. Jennifer Montgomery on the left is based in Kansas and is focused on women’s empowerment, along with Gorett based in Ughanda and their third RPF data wizzard.  Jennifer and I connected early given my career long arc of mentoring and collaborating with professional women, and still do.  Our joke at home is that each one is pre-approved by Sheri, who they all love knowing. 
Another team of RPFs is based here in Texas and focused on the issue of immigration at our southern boarder, clearly a source of disturbance within the state.  I labeled this preliminary report since Jim and Kathy, the Chula RPF co-chair of the symposium, are in the process of pulling all of the Global Grant and Peace Project ideas together with the aim of scheduling a follow-up Zoom, similar to our 4 pre-symposium Zooms, in June.
The follow-on 2-day International Peace Conference was cohosted by Rotary (Pam has posted a video of RI President Jennifer Jones speaking on her FaceBook page), by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  There was a rich civil right theme within the conference, highlighted by Rev. Dr. Bernice King’s keynote on her late father’s nonviolent strategy for overcoming injustice, as articulated in MLK Jr.’s letter from the Birmingham jail.  That letter contains the core concepts of negative peace and positive peace that are the framework for Rotary’s peace agenda post-1960s. There were speakers who buttressed Dr. B. King’s message that had been young girls committed to the nonviolent strategy, which required significant discipline and a commitment to not act in retaliation to hosing and other efforts to dipsrupt the movement.
At least one of the RPFs had prior experience in the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, founded by Peter Ackerman and Jack Duval, Jack having been quoted in the April 2006 Rotarian on the alignment of their strategic nonviolent conflict with Rotary’s peace mission in the world.  Negative Peace is of importance since the world needs roadblocks on the highway to war, which strategic deterrent forces are able to provide.  Negative peace is the absence of violent conflict and the absence of fear or threat of violence.  Also called Actual Peace, Negative Peace is necessary but not sufficient.  The primary current emphasis in Rotary is on Positive Peace, the 8 pillars of Positive Peace (breakout sessions focused on each one of the eight), and the positive pathways into the future. (We’ve lived the past once, we don’t need to relive it.)  There is no single pathway to peace but we no longer face a wilderness, which was Paul Harris’ concern in 1945 post-WWII. 
The third picture attached is of the late Rotarian John Barfield whose family emerged from Alabama, north of Birmingham, and pursued a peaceful path paved by entrepreneurship, education, and hard work in Michigan.  John’s book Starting from Scratch is a remarkable tribute to a humble man who touched millions of lives over his 90 years. With the discipline learned in the US Army and in his faith tradition, John flourished…and experienced obstacles along the way.  Life is difficult.  However, as the article says, John became a $3 billion man who gave to TRF, innoculated 500,000 children against polio, created employment opportunities for who knows how many people, and lifted the spirits of those he touched…while educating us on the finer points of the art work in The Sanford House in Arlington.
What strikes me from this reflection is the number of ways in which Rotarians and D-5790 Rotary Clubs can chose to make a positive difference in advancing Rotary’s peace mission.
  1. Find and nominate a Rotary Peace Fellow! (Our 6 D-5790 alums are more than the average District)
  2. Establish a Peace Centers Endowment within TRF! (Several Texas Rotarians have done just that)
  3. Fund a RPF for study at a Rotary Peace Center! (Texan Pam Akins does that in Africa and another Texan funds one at his UNC alma mater)
  4. Lay out a plan to fund a University Peace Chair! (That would be one good use of funds from the recent $800 million USS Cole judgment)
  5. Choose to become a Peacebuilder Club! (learn what it takes to make a difference)
Focus on the many opportunities in the white space…don’t focus on the black dot.
Imagine Rotary, Create Hope, Extend Peace –
Jim C
James Campbell Quick, PHS, Major Donor (4)
The Rotary Club of Arlington, Texas
2020-2024 District Peace Fellowship Chair
2021-2024 Peace MGI Adviser