City Lights: Peace might have a chance

So "2001: A Space Odyssey" got it wrong.

That was one of my impressions from talking with Fran Faraz, the Golden West College professor who co-organized the fifth annual Peace Conference to be held Friday on campus.

I called Faraz, who coordinates the event every year with fellow professor Paul Tayyar, to get a glimpse into her mindset a few days before the conference began. This year, as in the past, Golden West will host a half dozen speakers who give talks on different aspects of peace: politics, education, civil resistance, the environment and more.

The theme this year is "A Better Tomorrow: Making Peace a Global Reality in the 21st Century." Considering all the developments in the world since Jan. 1, 2000, that sounds like a steep hill to climb.

Still, when I asked Faraz if she had seen any hopeful signs in the new century, the first one she pointed to was technology — particularly Facebook and Twitter, which she said allow people to network and empathize more easily than ever.

In other words, HAL is no longer the enemy.

"I think the 21st century is going to offer us a lot more opportunities to achieve things nonviolently," Faraz said. "Now that we have access to technology that understands the power of negotiation, of communication, the power of technology that connects people around the world together so that they can work on a common cause … these are amazing opportunities out there for people to become citizens of the world."

Faraz and Tayyar, who co-advise the campus' Peace, Mind & Body Club, hardly rank as idealists. Both believe in peace as an individual journey, rather than a destination the entire world will someday reach.

Still, when Golden West's Student Center fills up Friday morning, as it has in the past, the organizers hope to inspire those present to take more action — whether it's for a national or global charity or just in Huntington Beach.

With the Peace, Mind & Body Club, Faraz has brought students to cook at homeless shelters and to deliver baskets to Colette's Children's Home. Tayyar has his English students read Leo Tolstoy's essays on nonviolence and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," among other pacifist writings.

"I think one of my biggest jobs is to create a platform where my students have an awareness of what's going on," Tayyar said.

Fair enough. And if at least one tweet emanates from the Student Center on Friday, he may have done his job.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

If You Go

What: Annual Peace Conference

Where: Golden West College Student Center, 15744 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach

When: 8:30 to 5 p.m. Friday

Cost: $30 general admission ($35 at the door); $10 for students ($15 at the door)

Information: (714) 895-8261 or

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