Musician Steven Tyler, actor Joaquin Phoenix, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and other members of Congress came to Lisner Auditorium Monday night to lobby for the creation of a Department of Peace in front of an eclectic crowd of 200 people.
The star-studded event was the culmination of three days of lobbying by the Peace Alliance for “808,” a bill sponsored by Kucinich that calls for the creation of a Department of Peace. The bill, which was introduced for the fourth time in the U.S. House of Representatives Monday night, would create a department that would advise the president on peaceful solutions to domestic and international violence.
Phoenix, who attended the annual “Department of Peace Conference” last year, said that he was “incredibly motivated and inspired” by the movement.
“I have to say ‘fuck yeah,'” said Phoenix, who won a Golden Globe award for the movie “Walk the Line” in which he portrayed the late singer and songwriter Johnny Cash.
“I’m just really excited about today and what has been going on the last couple of days,” Phoenix said during the event.
He then introduced Tyler, lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith. Tyler explained how Peace Alliance Founder and Chair Marianne Williamson convinced him to perform at the event.
“I get a call from Marianne and she tells me what she is doing,” said Tyler, who was vacationing in Maui, Hawaii, when he received the call. “She said, ‘The road with no obstacles probably leads to nowhere.’ That was the end of my vacation.”
Tyler, who was accompanied by pianist and guitarist Russ Irwin, sang three of his hit songs including “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Pink,” and “Dream On.” Kucinich echoed the message of Tyler’s song, “Dream On.”
“Believe it can happen,” said Kucinich, who has announced his candidacy for president in 2008. “It starts right here and now. We can transform the world with peace.”
The event, which was not sponsored by GW and only received minimal advertisement on campus, had about 20 students present and filled the auditorium to about a quarter of its capacity.
Shortly before the show, event officials persuaded passing GW students, including junior Sabreen Alikhan, to come in and fill the seats.
“I would have been interested in the peace conference anyway (if I had known),” Alikhan said. “However, Phoenix and Tyler were a nice bonus.”
In addition to advising the U.S. president on peaceful solutions to violence, the proposed “Department of Peace” would create “violence-protection” programs to fight domestic violence and establish the “U.S. Peace Academy,” which would be devoted to the study and research of peace, according the Peace Alliance Web site.