Who We Are
LEPOCO is a non-profit citizens group of more than 500 members, primarily in the Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania. Founded in 1965 to oppose the war in Vietnam, LEPOCO’s concerns have broadened to include a range of problems that threaten peace and our planet.
LEPOCO members share a vision that we can build a safer and more just world. Gathering strength from our diversity, we work together and as individuals for nonviolent changes, starting in our own community.
Where We Stand
There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.
– Howard Zinn
Since the war in Vietnam, LEPOCO members have opposed U.S. military intervention in many countries, including, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
We have also supported those working nonviolently for change, often in opposition to U.S. government policy, in countries like South Africa, Colombia, Israel and Palestine, and Haiti.
Our country’s face in the world is too often a military one. U.S. troops are present in over 150 of the 196 nations of the world.
The real threats in our world are poverty, disease, violence, pollution, global warming, hatred and ignorance. Compassion and cooperation are more effective than guns and missiles in addressing these threats. We seek a U.S. foreign policy committed to the well-being of and self-determination for all the world’s peoples. We seek non-exploitative economic agreements, an end to U.S. arms sales, forgiveness of debt for poor countries, an end to alliances with repressive governments and international engagements based on mutual respect.
Citizen-to-citizen efforts play an important role in building peace. LEPOCO members have participated in accompaniment, delegations providing a buffer from war and violence, and delivery of humanitarian aid in symbolic protest of embargoes.
A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our nation’s wealth is increasingly used to feed the military adventures described above; to build more fantastical weapons like the Star Wars systems; and to create a fortress “homeland security.” This leaves our cities and communities, states and federal agencies, and those needing assistance world-wide competing for the remaining shrinking resources.
This cannot continue. The greatest profiteers are the weapons industries and military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Peace conversion on a massive scale in specific industries and in our larger economy is long overdue.
Nuclear disarmament is also long overdue. As the country that invented, first used nuclear bombs (and depleted uranium weapons), and still has the largest nuclear weapons arsenal, the United States should take the lead in the nuclear disarmament race. The inherent danger and the threat of “loose nukes” make this a priority. U.S. compliance with existing international treaties would be an important step toward nuclear and general disarmament.
Terrorism is only the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war.
– Arundhati Roy
While September 11, 2001 brought the horrible reality of terror to our shores, many parts of the world have had all too much experience with terror — the terror of the atomic bomb, the terror of the suicide bomber, the terror of landmines, the terror of disease and starvation.
We honor those who have stood for “peaceful tomorrows” and we believe that wars, preemptive violence, and the bluster of empire will not diminish terror, but indeed perpetuate it. An international legal framework seeking prevention and justice (not vengeance) should be used against all those who act to terrorize.
We need to move beyond the fear of communism that so warped our country’s actions for decades, not to a new paralyzing fear of terrorism, but to a place of openness, compassion and sharing with the world.
The troubling moves to curtail civil liberties need to be reversed.
The poisoning of our environment is a growing catastrophe. The waste from nuclear and chemical production worldwide (the military being a prime source) threaten our health and that of future generations. Clean-up of these wastes and drastic cuts in their production must be a greater national and international priority.
The threat of global warming is being felt around the world with dire consequences for everyone, but island populations, arctic regions and the poor are suffering more. Fossil fuels must be left in the ground and alternative energy sources given immediate priority.
The environmental concerns we face — from over-development to animal extinction, from rain forest destruction to oil spills, from habitat loss to global warming — demand our creativity and thoughtful action. Every person and organization needs to reduce consumption and support technologies that mimic enviro-cycling, acknowledging the realities of our finite world. We can build a society in which industrial production, agriculture and transportation sustain rather than destroy the earth. We can respect the creatures with whom we share this planet, knowing that we are interdependent in ways yet to be discovered.
Our economy should place people ahead of profit and encourage democracy in the workplace as well as the community.
The downward spiral of the world economy, seeking ever lowest wages and the weakest regulations, benefits only the world’s wealthiest elite. The spiral must be reversed and the global economy structured to close the gap between rich and poor, and to benefit workers, consumers and the environment.
Important government programs should be financially supported by all, but especially by those best able to pay. We support our community institutions — public schools, libraries, public transportation, and public parks. Health care and decent housing need to be available and affordable for all. We want our institutions and cultural community centers to be places that value peace, justice and everyone’s ideas more than submission to authority, nationalism and corporate power.
We oppose patriarchal structures that deny authenticity to women and hide violence against them. We support women and men who practice nurturance, sensitivity, and compassion with their assertive voice.
We celebrate the witness and work of Black Lives Matter. We honor the contribution of all races and cultures. We support the struggles of indigenous peoples, African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Arab Americans, Jews, the GLBT community, and all those seeking a voice in a world that is not always welcoming.
What We Do
LEPOCO works to build a just society and a peaceful world through nonviolent action. Activities and programs occur as need dictates and the interest of our membership allows. Current offerings, open to interested members of the public, include:
Newsletters and E-mail updates: LEPOCO’s regular newsletter and weekly e-mail updates keep our members informed of upcoming activities and report on our work and issues of concern.
Peace Camp: Young people (ages 5-14), teens, and adults are invited to participate in this week of stories, games, music and crafts each July.
Information Programs: LEPOCO presents expert speakers, study groups, nonviolence training, a monthly film series and informal “Potluck and Politics” sessions for our members and the community.
Outreach: LEPOCO members welcome the opportunity to make presentations at schools, churches and community gatherings. We staff information tables at local festivals and conferences.
Singers: The LEPOCO Peace Singers welcome new members as they prepare to perform for group functions and community programs.
Interest Groups: LEPOCO has several active Interest groups. Currently they include the Americas Solidarity Group, the Stop the Wars Committee, the Lehigh Valley Committee Against State Killing, and the Stop the Wars Committee.
Public Actions: LEPOCO members engage in leafleting, vigils, demonstrations and civil disobedience to focus attention on crucial issues. We organize buses and car pools to national demonstrations. We participate in the annual Nazareth-to-Bethlehem Christmas Peace Pilgrimage.
Resource Center: The Peace Center offers literature on issues important to LEPOCO, including information for young people with questions about draft registration and military recruitment. There is a specialized collection of books and videos available for loan. The Center also has a large collection of buttons, bumper stickers, cards and booklets for sale. During the winter holiday season we sell international fair trade crafts.
Networking: While LEPOCO is a locally autonomous organization, we do cooperate with regional and national groups including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, United for Peace and Justice, and the War Resisters League.
How We Function
LEPOCO is run by its members, whose dues, contribution and fundraising projects are the primary source of the organization’s finances.
In addition to an annual meeting and dinner in March, monthly action meetings — in which all members are invited to participate — are held to discuss positions on issues, transact business and direct the day-to-day activities of the group. An elected steering committee provides continuity between meetings.
Our Peace Center office at 313 West Fourth Street, (southside) Bethlehem, PA 18015, (610) 691-8730, is staffed and open weekdays.
No organization can be more than the people who comprise it. If you’re in the Lehigh Valley area and concerned about the issues LEPOCO addresses, we’d like to hear from you.
No organization can be more than the people who comprise it. Like NPR and Reader Supported News, LEPOCO programs reach far beyond its membership. By becoming a sustaining member, you help make it possible to continue this important peace work.