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'Tis the season for peace

| March 3, 2010 8:00 PM

International Women's Day is March 8.

IWD began in March of 1911 and was focused on equality. A 1910 conference in Denmark on working women had crested a wave of international discussions on women's right to vote - suggested by British Member of Parliament John Stuart Mill - and cemented when New Zealand became the first to grant it in 1893.

We've come a long way, baby.

Now that most (but far from all) share equal rights, IWD has broadened its focus. Rights are vital, but without a peaceful environment in which to exercise them, they mean less. So Peace Coeur d'Alene and Diakonia of North Idaho have chosen to focus their IWD celebration Sunday on peace.

Peace at home, peace among nations. Peace within and without. Perhaps because traditionally women remain the primary homemakers and are hardwired to nurture, women have historically tended to advocate for peace.

I recently saw a documentary, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" - an amazing story of Liberian women. Beginning with one and then thousands of women of all ages, Christian and Muslim, gently ended the bloody civil war that killed more than 200,000 people in 2003. They began by refusing cooking and other services to their men, until arms were laid down. Continuing with nonviolent but enduring protest - and culminating in a literal blockade keeping male peace talk attendees in a building until they could agree - these women forced resolution. Their efforts led to Africa's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Peace shouldn't need a season, but it has one. "64 Days of Peace" kicked off on Martin Luther King Day and lasts through April 4. Begun by Mahatma Gandhi's grandson in 1998 on the 50th anniversary of his grandfather's assassination, the tradition honors the two men and their purposes. The idea is to practice 64 ways and 64 days for peace.

Local human rights champion Rev. Marian Breckenridge and the Center for Spiritual Living are celebrating with lectures and stories at the Unity Church in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesdays in March at 7 p.m. She will also lead human rights discussions on the same days at noon at the Human Rights Education Institute.

"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching." - Mohandas Gandhi

Sholeh Patrick, J.D., is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at sholehjo@hotmail.com.