Written by Piero Falci – Campaign Nonviolence September Action Organizer
Young Americans have not seen during their lifetime, public demonstrations as strong and successful as the ones pro Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War that took place in the ‘60s. The honorable exception, mainly for its extended duration, was the Occupy Movement which advocates social justice through a more balanced distribution of wealth. Regrettably, the movement wasn’t able, at least up to the present time, to bring about the desired change; inequality is a reality, and the situation keeps getting worse. It could be said that young Americans have not yet witnessed the power of nonviolent action to better their immediate status quo. As a consequence, many individuals doubt that nonviolent actions, such as public demonstrations and civil disobedience, can be effective in bringing about change. Add to this scenario a dysfunctional political system with a representative democracy that does not equally represent and a media that does not inform, and one has a recipe for the mass apathy and resignation that appears to be prevalent in our country and in many other countries of the world. It is evident that there is a lack of interest and disbelief in our world. It certainly would be nice to have more people actively engaged in the work of promoting social justice, peace and protection of the environment. We have to ask ourselves, “What can we do?”
First, it’s our responsibility to do what we can to wake up the masses and remind them of the many places in the world where, right now, nonviolent action is producing positive change. The idea that nonviolence does not work is a myth. Nonviolent action works. Period.
Second, we need to be creative and come up with initiatives where people who currently don’t do so can learn and practice how to publicly express themselves. We need to find ways to attract those “non-engaged” individuals and get them involved and active. We need to create events where those more hesitant individuals can feel safe to participate and publicly advocate for worthy causes. We need to offer non-threatening venues for the shyest among us to gather and collectively express their desire for a better world.
Enter the monthly Silent Peace Walk, an easy-to-do, non-threatening, and gentle introduction to activism.
The Silent Peace Walk is simple: people gather to walk in silence for peace. Yes, it can be considered a simple walking meditation that enhances inner peace, but it is more than that; it’s also is a way of bringing together a group of like-minded individuals who will meet regularly, work together, and build a movement. We have been leading Silent Peace Walks in our community once a month for nearly nine years, and this initiative has built connections that opened inter-faith dialogues, cross-cultural and multicultural conversations, and has helped build a culture of respect and peace in our community. Sometimes, your nonviolent action can be as simple as looking someone in the eyes and sharing a hug. That’s what we do at the beginning and closing of every Silent Peace Walk; we announce, “It’s Hug Time!” and Peace Walkers know exactly what to do. We know that there’s nothing like a good hug! You cannot give one without getting one! It brings comfort, peace and smiles. It is the expression of nonviolence. I encourage you to consider initiating a monthly Silent Peace Walk where you live, and sharing many hugs throughout your days.
Piero Falci is one of the leaders of the Silent Peace Walk movement. Their Peace Walk was included in last year’s September 2014 Week of Actions. For more information and detailed instructions on how to initiate a Silent Peace Walk please visit the website www.SilentPeaceWalk.org