"5 Ways You Can Build Peace in the U.S."

by Danielle Reiff, Professional Peacebuilder

Together, we can build a peaceful society. Let's love each other better and bridge our divides even when we disagree.

Political violence is a growing problem in the United States.

As the country becomes more polarized, we are seized with our differences and disagreements. The pandemic exacerbated our disconnection from each other. We are struggling to find common ground.

When popular grievances are strong – for example over inequality, election integrity, or inflation – , a country can be at greater risk for violence. That risk is evident today in rising hate crimes and threats against public officials such as members of Congress, judges, election workers, and school board members.

According to June 2023 polling, 17% of Americans - Democrats and Republicans alike - could justify the use of violence to coerce lawmakers. The number of Americans who support violent protests has doubled over the last decade.

When you add in that forty percent of Americans distrust the government and we have easy access to guns...

...the potential for political violence increases.

When public figures and fast-spreading disinformation promote hatred and division...

...the potential for violence increases even more.

Many American citizens and residents feel angry, fearful, and/or hopeless about the future.

Many want to help our country, but don’t know how.

At Peacebuilders, we believe that peace is possible, and it begins within ourselves and our communities. By working together to strengthen the bonds of respect, love, and trust among us, we can build our resilience against attempts to divide us.

The more we embrace and promote the values of nonviolence and unity across our traditional divides, the greater our chances of curbing political violence in the lead-up to the 2024 elections and beyond.

To help our country, I’m calling on you to be a peacebuilder.

Peacebuilders unite!

The Peacebuilders Mission

TO INSPIRE PEACE ACTION

IN OUR COMMUNITIES AND COUNTRY

A love note from Danielle...

Hello friends, I'm glad you found me!

I’ve been passionate about peace since I was young. I didn’t grow up in a peaceful home, so I have spent my life trying to figure out how to build peace around me.

First, I learned about political peace by earning a graduate degree in International Relations and Peace Studies. I went on to a twenty-year career promoting democracy, human rights, and peace around the world.

Everywhere I went, people were skeptical. They didn’t believe peace was possible. Even the Director of my graduate school’s Peace Fellowship program used to tell us that peace was an illusion. He believed political actors were always preparing for war.

When hatred and political violence surged in the United States in recent years, I gained personal perspective. In the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election, I spotted the same signs of potential violence that I had seen abroad. I didn’t want my own country to fall into the vicious cycles I had seen elsewhere. Despite feeling overwhelmed as a single working mom during the pandemic, I felt a strong urge to do something to mitigate the tensions.

When my own family members in rural Pennsylvania were promoting anti-government violence, I countered by organizing a nonviolent communication training in my hometown to help de-escalate tensions and give people a way to speak about their differences. In the wake of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, I wrote an Op-Ed urging Americans to reach out to each other despite our differences. I was appointed by the Mayor of Washington D.C. (where I live) as a Commissioner on the quasi-judicial body that hears appeals when a person’s concealed pistol carry license is revoked. Most importantly, I spent countless hours healing the traumas of my own life and finding a deep sense of peace within myself.

That’s when I realized that we all have a critical role to play in building peaceful societies. We can’t wait for other people to do the work for us – even our politicians and political parties. We all have the power to take action - and we must. It doesn't have to be difficult or overwhelming. We can start by healing ourselves, loving each other better despite our differences, and speaking out against hatred and violence in small ways. We can also serve our communities as neighbors and volunteers in local organizations.

If we all get involved in the personal and local ways, those things will eventually add up to broader social change. It will take a critical mass of Americans doing these things to shift our social norms toward universal love, but I believe we can do it. I hope you believe it too.

Speaking of beliefs, here is my favorite quote from the writings of the Baha’i Faith:

“World peace is not only possible but inevitable. Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behavior, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth.”

Peace is possible, friends, but we must take action to bring it to life. Please choose peace, and let’s build a more peaceful society together. Let's do it for our kids and beyond.

Peacebuilders unite!

With loving kindness for all,

Danielle

About Danielle Reiff


I have been a professional peacebuilder for two decades. As the word ‘peace’ increasingly appeared on my resume, I learned different peacebuilding approaches.

I specialize in supporting political transitions, having advanced democracy, human rights, and peace around the world in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.

I am also a vocal supporter of non-violence, gender equality, and the value of diversity.

I know that all people can contribute to building peace in our country.

About Danielle Reiff


I have been a professional peacebuilder for two decades. As the word ‘peace’ increasingly appeared on my resume, I learned different approaches to building peace.

I specialize in supporting political transitions, having advanced democracy, human rights, and peace around the world in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.

I am also a vocal supporter of gender equality and the value of diversity, and I know for a fact that all people can contribute to building peace in our country.

A professional peacebuilder's

journey around the globe.

A Professional Peacebuilder's journey around the globe.

As an officer with the U.S. Foreign Service for two decades, Danielle Reiff advocated for the inclusion of marginalized groups and civil society in peace and governance processes around the world. Here are a few highlights from her work.

UGANDA

During the 2006-2008 Juba peace process for northern Uganda, Danielle supported the Government of Uganda Peace Team to organize national consultations on transitional justice. The consultations were held in eleven locations nationwide and included distinct opportunities for women, ex-combatants, and children to express their views. In response to popular demand expressed during the consultations, the Government of Uganda agreed to include a truth-telling mechanism in the final peace agreement. While the Lord’s Resistance Army failed to sign the negotiated agreement, the Government unilaterally established a special court to try war crimes.

In this 2006 photo, Vincent Otti, then Deputy Chief of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), gives Sudan's then Vice President Riek Machar a list of LRA delegates to peace talks between the LRA and Government of Uganda. (Photo: Matt Brown / AFP-Getty Images)

During the period of instability caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the majority of northern Ugandans lived in camps for internally displaced persons while local government structures were disbanded. As the 2006-2008 peace talks evolved and security returned to northern Uganda, local governments needed to be re-established. In this picture, Danielle is monitoring a training of new local government officials and civil society activists on their governing roles and responsibilities under Ugandan law.

Jack Canfield, bestselling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, talks peace with Danielle Reiff.

Additional Resources for Preventing Violence and Building Peace

Additional resources for preventing violence and building peace.

COMING SOON!

Leading with Love at Home and Abroad:

A Peacebuilder's Story

We Can Still Prevent

Political Violence in America

Click here to read Danielle Reiff's TRIBLIVE Op-Ed about predicting the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capital.

Perspectives on Peace

Here's what you'll get when you join our Facebook group:

Hope that peace is possible despite the challenges around us

Understanding of the need to shift away from a zero-sum worldview to embrace consultation, dialogue, collaboration, and unity in diversity

Tips for contributing to peace in your own lives and communities

A sense of purpose and empowerment to become more active in the world

How can we build peace?

In the current political environment, it is easy to feel angry, afraid, or hopeless about the future. Indeed, political polarization, hatred, and violence have increased in the U.S. and around the world in recent years. Yet we cannot be complacent, and WE ARE NOT HELPLESS. Bringing peace to our lives, our communities, our country, and our world is not only possible, but inevitable. It is a choice we all must make.

KNOW

To contribute to peace, you must first KNOW what it is. Study yourself and the world around you to identify which attitudes and behaviors cause harm and which ones bring a sense of peace. Understand that peace is multi-faceted and seek out various perspectives.

COMMIT

The second step is to COMMIT to advancing peace in your own life and community. Research shows that commitment and focus are critical elements to achieving any long-term goal. Meaningful commitment motivates us to carry on even when it is difficult. If you want to express your commitment to peace in community, you are encouraged to post in the Vote for Love Facebook group or send a message to Danielle!

BUILD

Once you commit to it, the final step is to BUILD peace in your own life and community. This could include working to heal your own trauma, repair and deepen your relationships, and serve your community. The free guide on the Peacebuilders website provides ideas and references to quality organizations that you can use to engage in peacebuilding in the U.S.

Want to inspire everyday citizens to be the change they seek in the world?

Danielle Reiff is no stranger to public speaking, and she is a great guest on radio and podcasts.

Want to inspire everyday citizens to be the change they seek in the world?

Danielle Reiff is no stranger to public speaking and is an awesome guest speaker on radio and podcasts.

Join our community for peacebuilding insight & inspiration!

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  • Tips for building peace in your community

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  • Access to the Vote for Love Facebook group

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© 2023 All Rights Reserved Peacebuilders