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Marco Bicchieri

Marco Bicchieri is the son of Italian immigrants and a Political Science Graduate. After earning his bachelor’s degree he and his wife entered the Peace Corps and were sent to Honduras from 1987 to 1989 amidst a time of political and social revolution. After three years they were removed from their village in Honduras and relocated their family to New Orleans. There he worked towards his PhD and eventually the family moved to Ellensburg, WA where he continues to teach American and World history as well as the occasional Spanish class. Recently he has spearheaded a student club that focuses on giving back to the community in the aftermath of a raid on local low income communities where several members of the community were seized for deportation. The club led a demonstration in town and has raised money for the families affected by the deportations.

Interview by Tirrah Seely

May 2012

            What is peace in the home? I don’t see anything ever being without conflict. I think peace in my family would be that we listen. That we appreciate differences, and we don’t assume that we are right all the time. It is probably human nature to have a certain level of self righteousness to live everyday and think that what your doing is right and to be able to keep going. Part of peace sadly is conflict because without conflict we would never work for peace or understand the value of it. The important part is the ability to go back over conflict and create work towards reconciliation. This happens in the family in a less dramatic fashion when compared to a national or global level. One thing that is challenging is the fact that we are social animals and we have to develop social agreements of order to make things works smoothly. In the family this is difficult for children when we give them rules but what we are really trying to do is create a sense of order. This is reflected in the political world where we have legislation and governments. All actions are about power, and I tend to buy into the philosophy of Real Politic and I think that this is the philosophy that the United States has adopted as well. We live in a state that has the power to assert itself and I think we often rely on that too much.  Peace is being able to compromise in your pursuit of power. Internationally we imagine that we have peace but what we have is the absence of resource challenge and military challenge. Perhaps if we were faced with these kinds of challenges we would realize that what we have isn’t peace that that it still takes work even when there is no violent conflict. Even when you have conflict, maybe even violent conflict being able to go back and constantly listen and work to resolve it, in the family this is peace. We have to understand this to be able to move to a place of reconciliation. The key is to listen.

            I always think of pacifism as people who refuse to fight. But when I really think about it, pacifism connotes some “fight” to me; a justice centered struggle toward a goal.  On the other hand, passivity is more flight than fight:  keeping one’s head low for safety, rather than one’s head high for purpose. In Honduras there was a tremendous lack of peace, 65,000-75,000 people were killed, and the most disturbing part was living there and seeing the army committing a lot of violence. There were a lot of abductions and killings and disappearances. But this created a place for people to rise up and help in peaceful ways such as the Priests and activists.  We started a program to help educate children who were disabled in preschools and elementary and to show the educators there how to deal with situations like that because they had absolutely no idea where to start. This really showed me the power of peace in the education field because what your trying to do is tear the lid off of people’s perceptions and trying to show them different views. I try to do this with my classes every day, I try to show them different views and take them out of this isolated world that is Ellensburg so that they can grow and see that differences aren’t necessarily bad and they are not necessarily a source for conflict.