A cluster of San Diego Affiliates joined several hundred people at the USD Peace and Justice Auditorium October 6 & 7 to reflect on this topic.
Maria Stephan of the Institute for Peace gave a splendid opening talk on “The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence.” She reminded us of the many under-reported examples of effective social change through nonviolent movements around the world in recent years. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana gave the closing talk, “Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace.” He heads the Vatican’s Human Development office, which includes the Justice and Peace outreach initiative encouraged by Pope Francis. This event follows up on a Vatican session held a year ago, also organized by Maryknoll and Pax Christi co-president Marie Dennis. Sandwiched between the two public talks was an all-day seminar for some 15 Catholic theologians and peace activists with an equal number of military officers, most of them faculty members (or retired from) teaching ethics at Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. Fr. Bill Headley and I participated in the whole event.
Ken Butigan, connected with Pace e Bene (http://www.paceebene.org/), gave a lively and inspiring talk on Campaign Nonviolence. He said violence causes racism, poverty and war. We need to say no to violence and respect our adversary as a loving person in God’s eyes. He uses the acronym CLARA when dealing with conflict:
We then watched a TED talk on nonviolence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w), by Erica Cenoweth, in which she said nonviolence has been shown to be more effective in campaigns for change in governments than violence. Civil resistance works.
Ken advocated the following key practices: training in nonviolence, working with a community of likeminded people for mutual support, and action (keeping nonviolence in mind during any interactions).
We concluded the morning with one-on-one role-play taking pro and con positions on controversial issues—gun control, environmental issues, etc. Each person had the opportunity to try both sides. A common feedback was that the confrontations were stressful but the CLARA method of conflict resolution was helpful. Denny Duffel of the Seattle Chapter of Pax Christi USA (and organizer of this Workshop) encouraged us to prayerfully consider signing the Vow of Nonviolence, part of our packet of handouts. (https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/)
After lunch, as part of Campaign Nonviolence, many participants marched from the St. Joseph Parish social hall to St. James Cathedral (about 2 miles,) advocating for nonviolence and a ban on nuclear weapons.
I didn’t march, but I did sign the Vow of Nonviolence and am sending it to:
Pax Christi, Seattle Chapter
958 16th Ave. East
Seattle, WA 98112
Creating scapegoats is something societies do over and over again to keep from addressing real fears and injustices. It never really solves any problem, but just continues the cycle of violence, covering it up with a thin disguise, a lie of legitimacy.
Jesus calls us to expose the lie by witnessing to the truth. What truth, you might ask. Pilate asked the same question, even though Jesus has just given him the answer:
The Chandler–Isacksens run the Be the Change Project in Reno, Nevada. They live in voluntary poverty, grow lots of food, serve in their community, are war-tax resistors, and attempt to live their lives in alignment with their values. They attend the Reno Friends Meeting and have frequent contact with the Reno Affiliates. (See two previous articles in the NSFA: July/Aug 2015, p. 5, and Sept/Oct 2014, p. 6.)
We reached the Dakota Access Pipe Line construction site at about noon on September 27th. This was an hour after prayers and reminders from native leaders at the frontline camp and after driving 30 dusty miles over empty North Dakota back roads. The front line camp is just a mile up from the large Oceti Sakowin camp, home to a couple thousand people while we were there. “We have many warriors with us today who will protect the elders, the women, the children. Remember, this is a nonviolent action.”
One hundred packed vehicles made it to the action that day: overflowing pickup trucks with masked youth from the Red Warrior camp (those willing to get arrested and in it for the long-haul) sitting alongside gray-haired elders holding signs that say “Protect the Water,” horse trailers with horses, license plates from across the country, our family in a rental car getting dustier by the mile.
Nonviolence is the theme of Pope Francis’s Peace Message.
Pope Francis recognized the 50th annual World Peace Day, January 1, by sending us the first Catholic document on nonviolence, entitled: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.
Francis’s concise and readable seven-page message has sections on:
Find Pope Francis’s document on nonviolence at Vatican.va or with additional resources at usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/world-day-of-peace.cfm .