Colman McCarthy does not believe that students should be complacent, but should stand up for what they believe in. “Don’t agonize, organize.”
Colman McCarthy does not believe in homework.
“I tell my students, don’t spend your time on another research paper with footnotes, and research your life.”
And Colman McCarthy does not believe in war.
“Because of war, our money is being squandered, and you will leave college with two things, a diploma and a pile of debt.”
But what Colman McCarthy does believe in, is peace.
“He’s passionate about the issue of non-violence and peace,” said Candy Fox, who brought McCarthy in to speak to her class earlier Thursday.
“As a journalist I saw so much of the world’s misery,” he said. “I saw so much direct and indirect violence that I decided to try to be a solution driven person.”
If someone had listened to McCarthy speak 20 years ago, or if they had asked him if he believed that peace could be taught or if it could be learned, they would have received a very different response than if they were to ask today.
But after living the life of a journalist for many years, especially through the ’60s and ’70s, he witnessed and realized many things that he knew could not just be addressed by writing.
He needed to take action.
McCarthy, who spoke at Castleton State College on Feb. 10, is an American journalist who began his career in 1969 at the Washington Post.
“My biggest accomplishment in life? Marrying a gorgeous, sparkling nurse who I have been married to for 44 years,” said McCarthy, displaying a wide grin on his face.
“Ooooh, in my career you mean? Well, I was hired by the Washington Post right out of college. Most of the time, journalists have to start off at a small town newspaper first and work their way up . but I didn’t and this was a big accomplishment.”
McCarthy has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and many other prestigious magazines. He has also written multiple books, and is currently teaching seven different classes at six different schools in the Washington area.
At the Castleton Soundings event, he addressed the importance of teaching peace in schools and how in the American education system, it is generally non-existent.
“How many of you have taking a peace course or conflict resolution in school?” he asked the audience.
One or two hands slowly rose.
“How many of you have taken algebra?”
Countless hands go up.
“Now I understand that some people might like algebra . but most people don’t. And if you do, well, then that’s just weird. But I guess we need weird people, it makes us diverse.”
Although pretty unconventional, there are about 70 colleges with programs in peace studies and about 250 with minors or concentrations in peace studies.
McCarthy noted that in the fall of last year he visited Middlebury College and gave a similar speech to the one he gave at Castleton. Now, there is a student-led campaign underway to get a peace program at Middlebury.
“Unless we teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence,” McCarthy said.
Meanwhile a petition, started by Castleton Senior Kevin Fleury, circulated the auditorium ushering student support for a peace studies program here at Castleton.
It appeared that through just one lecture on peace, that students have been moved to take action.