By Robert J. Burrowes
Do you think that ending human violence is impossible? Do you believe that even aiming to do so is unrealistic? Well, you might be right. But you might also be interested to know that there are a lot of people around the world who are committed to trying. And, if you think the aim is worthwhile, you could be one of them.
The most casual perusal of the media will confirm what most of us suspect: violence takes many forms and it is absolutely pervasive. But what the media might not report regularly is that there are some phenomenal people and organizations out there that are doing everything they can to tackle one or more aspects of this violence. And as they identify themselves as part of one or more worldwide networks working on violence, they acquire a fuller appreciation of what is being achieved.
Let me tell you about one such network – ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘ – which has participants in 93 countries who are committed to developing and implementing nonviolent solutions to each and every violent problem in our world. Some of these people work locally, some work nationally, some work regionally and some work globally. Some work on domestic violence, some are working to end war, some are tackling exploitation and poverty, some work on national liberation struggles and some work on one or more environmental issues. But each of them is committed to developing a way out of the violent mess in which we now find ourselves. Here are some of them.
Zaure Khizatolla lives in Kazakhstan. Motivated since a young age by her ‘mission in life’, she has sought to answer the question ‘What should I do to make the World better?’ Well, Zaure is now a mother, lawyer, poet, writer and peacemaker and in each of these roles she seeks to reduce the violence in our world. As a poet, for example, she is highly productive and among her many poems she has written 153 about love! You can read her poems here and read more about Zaure and see some photos of her here.
Enrique Ramirez Guier of Costa Rica is a biologist whose work is focused on terrestrial and marine ecology projects in Costa Rica, several other countries in Central and South America and beyond. From 2003-2008 he was Executive Director of the Tropical Science Center in Costa Rica, a not-for-profit NGO established in 1962 for natural resource management, private conservation of natural resources, environmental assessment and management planning, project development and implementation, and environmental education. His responsibilities in this position included management supervision of 5 biological preserves, including the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, which is the world’s best known, and iconic, cloud forest and home to a staggering 2.5% of world biodiversity! If you like, you can see something about this beautiful cloud forest here.
Australian Anahata Giri is a yoga and meditation teacher who remains committed to practising nonviolent parenting as part of her personal pledge to making our world nonviolent. If this sounds obvious and easy, you might find it more challenging after reading her brilliant article ‘I have never punished my child: parenting for a nonviolent world‘.
Amatus Douw from West Papua is an ambassador of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP). He is committed to the nonviolent liberation of his country from Indonesian occupation. His recent book on West Papua ‘The World’s Richest Islands of West Papua: Under International System in the 21st Century’ has just been published and can be obtained here.
Ime Bisassoni is a talented performance artist from Argentina who works all over the world. In her work she reminds us that most people grow up forgetting ‘how cute and fun it is to be a child’. They forget their own lack of hatred and ambition, what it means to ‘play a game without the idea of winning something’. Perhaps, she wonders, ‘if the world was a child’ everything would be different. ‘There would be no hunger and poverty, there would be no sadness or pain’. Do you remember the feeling of ‘happiness upon awakening’? You can see something about her remarkable efforts and read some of her poetry here.
Yunusa Badjie is from Gambia where he works as an electrical engineer at the only water and electricity company in that country. But his commitment to work towards ending violence stems from his realisation that ‘The unstable of the world have touched each and every soul directly or indirectly: no wonder if it’s not you, it is your neighbour. War everywhere violence everywhere.’
Jill Gough is national secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Cymru which works relentlessly to end all aspects of militarism in Wales and Britain. On 27 February, for example, they were part of a ‘Stop Trident’ rally and demonstration in central London involving people from across Britain resisting any replacement of the Trident Nuclear Weapons system. The support for the campaign against Trident and its replacement is, and always has been, strong in Wales. And explaining CND Cymru’s participation in a nonviolent action against the Cardiff Weapons Fair on 16 March, Jill explained that ‘Arms Fairs are crucial to the smooth-running of the arms trade. They promote weapons sales by giving arms dealers the chance to meet and greet military delegations, government officials, other arms companies and a host of individual visitors. Unsurprisingly, the guest lists for arms fairs frequently include regimes who abuse human rights, and countries actively involved in armed conflicts.’ You can read more about their great nonviolent activism on their website.
Apart from the individuals mentioned above, a large range of organisations around the world has endorsed the Nonviolence Charter too. You can see these names on the Charter website.
So have a ponder. Does violence concern you? Would you like to know more about why it happens? See ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.
And does making a commitment to join those who are working to end it feel worthwhile? If so, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘. and to consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.
The simple reality is that violence will only end when each one of us is committed to ending it. Are you?