After learning that Costa Rica did not have an army, Rita Marie Johnson moved from the United States to Costa Rica over 15 years ago with the mission of strengthening its peace model. Now she serves as director of the Rasur Foundation, which she founded in 1997 to implement peace education in Costa Rica.
In 2006, Rita Marie wrote a Ministry for Peace initiative that was embraced by Costa Rica. Consequently she was authorized by the Vice President of Costa Rica to represent the country at the 2007 Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments for Peace which took place in Japan. Upon her request, the Costa Rican government agreed to host the 2009 Summit of the Global Alliance, and in response on passed a bill making Costa Rica the 3rd country in the world to have a ministry for Peace institutionalized in their central government.
Johnson served the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica from 1999-2002. In 2000, she published a book inspired by the poem Rasur, written by Roberto Brenes Mesén in 1946, that predicted Costa Rica would become a model of peace. Her book, The Return of Rasur: The story that holds the answer to education in our time, led to writing and producing the musical entitled Rasur. This musical was decreed a cultural event of national interest by the President of Costa Rica and was the largest original musical ever produced in Costa Rica.
In 2002, Johnson discovered a powerful synergy between two methods, HeartMath for “feeling peace” and Nonviolent Communication for “speaking peace,” This combination, now known as BePeace, inspired her to found the Academy for Peace of Costa Rica with the aim of citizens practicing and passing this skill from generation to generation. The Academy won the Changemakers Innovation Award: Building a More Ethical Society, chosen from 79 projects in 32 countries. The Ministry of Education has now decided to implement BePeace in the national school system. The new Thriving in Unity program includes BePeace as one of the options for achieving the “peace program” benchmark.
As an international peacemaker, Johnson has presented BePeace workshops in eight states in the USA as well as Canada, Europe and Central America and for the UN University for Peace. In November 2006, she completed a speaking tour in Japan on Costa Rica as a model of peace. In July 2007, she served on the plenary panel “Women of Power” at the International Women’s Peace Conference in Dallas. In September 2007, she was the keynote speaker for the World Day of Prayer at Unity Village, Missouri. In April 2008 and MArch 2009, she participated as a key thought partner in creating the National Peace Academy of the USA at Case Western Reserve University.
In addition Rita Marie helped introduce the UN-sponsored educational campaign, The Season for Nonviolence, to Costa Rica, which is now sponsored by government ministries every year. In 2002, she purchased a 2-acre property as headquarters for the Rasur Foundation. The people who live and work there strive to practice BePeace in every moment so that an authentic culture of peace can be experienced. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you feel sad when you witness the suffering caused by violence and wonder how to resolve this worldwide problem? Creating a countrywide model of peace is possibly the most powerful means for inspiring humanity to put an end to violence. Costa Rica is fertile ground for this as its citizens have identified with peace since they abolished the army in 1948. It is the only country in the world with no army and no defense arrangement.
It was this national love for peace that drew me to Costa Rica, where I founded the Academy for Peace. We aim to strengthen the social and emotional intelligence of Costa Rican citizens so that Costa Rica can model nonviolence at every level of society.
Although peace begins with each of us, if we don’t have clarity on how to develop it, most of us fall short in our attempts to achieve it. When I learned how to “feel peace” from a workshop with the Institute of HeartMath and how to “speak peace” from a Nonviolent Communication course with Marshall Rosenberg, my life began to reflect peace far more consistently. Now through the unique combination of these two methods, called BePeace, individuals who yearn to model peace can make rapid progress toward this lofty goal.
If you resonate with the idea of a national model of peace supported by government infrastructure and grassroots peace skills, I invite you to engage with us in any way that feeds that hope. By fueling this vision with our mutual passion for peace, together we can make a change that can inspire the world.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Rita Marie Johnson
Passing the skills of “feeling peace” and
from generation to generation.