Part of A Retrospective Series on the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions 2014 as we approach the Week of Actions 2015.
by Rivera Sun for Campaign Nonviolence
As thousands of photos were pouring in from the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions – banners, signs, festivals, direct actions, marches, rallies, vigils; the images of ordinary, extraordinary people working to end war, poverty, and the climate crisis sent a thrill of excited recognition through the organizing team. A culture of active nonviolence was awakening!
Then we noticed the most beautiful images of all: small hands and round faces on stages, in marches, doing art, singing, and dancing. In a week of action centered on building a culture of active nonviolence, the presence of children at the Campaign Nonviolence events was potent.
Unless parents and communities take conscious action, our children are raised by default in a culture of violence, steeped in myths of violence and exposed to stories and movies in which the “good guy” picks up a weapon, kills the “bad guy” and saves the day. Video games train our children for the military recruiters who show up at our public schools, and society applauds the youth when they enlist in hopes of receiving employment skills and educational opportunities.
How often does our mass culture pause and reflect that violence does not resolve our real-life problems? The day that is saved through violence results in a tragedy for someone else. Picking up weapons often scars our youth internally, and, outside the military or the police, the use of violence usually results in serious legal and societal repercussions.
That is why, when children and youth emerged as powerful presences during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions 2014, we all celebrated the possibility of growing a culture of active nonviolence with elders, youth, parents, and children. Year round, Campaign Nonviolence works in all 50 states to support and promote alternatives to violence in our educational, cultural, political, and economical systems. During the Week of Actions and throughout the year, children and adults are introduced to the lineage of nonviolence and processes such as restorative justice, conflict resolution, constructive listening, unarmed peacekeeping skills, nonviolent communication, and much more.
The International Day of Peace kicks off the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions, and provides an opportunity to discuss both peace and the problems of war, drone use, the military-industrial complex, and violence of all kinds. In mainstream US culture, where violence is commonplace, glorified, and institutionalized through systemic oppression such as poverty, racism, mass incarceration, and destruction of the environment; promoting nonviolence is an act of radical resistance and a beautiful, creative, peaceful, sensible way of life.
We can hardly imagine a world in which every child receives K-12 nonviolence education; what will a whole culture that actively trains in peace, nonviolent action, and conflict resolution look like? Imagine three or five generations of people who learn peace before war, watch movies featuring nonviolent action instead of violent action, read fairytales and stories that draw from the global lineage of nonviolence for their inspiration, rather than humanity’s bloodier version of history.
As you look at the children around you and the youth in the photos accompanying this article, imagine what if might be like if the adults – now, today – used the tools of nonviolent action to end police brutality, mass incarceration, defunding of public schools, endless wars on terror, the surveillance state, drone warfare, abuse, hateful speech, bullying, poverty, destruction of the Earth, and so many other forms of violence that surround our daily lives.
Envision a generation of children raised to adulthood witnessing community policing, restorative justice circles, conflict resolution, public school nonviolence clubs, K-12 nonviolence education, peace, a culture of trust and respect, diplomacy and negotiation, care, compassion, substance-abuse treatment, affordable health care, economic equality, living wages, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and restoration of our ecosystems.
The incredible part of this story is that the vision is not a pipedream. The alternatives to violence are not pie-in-the-sky ideas. They are practical, explored, studied, and implemented on both small and larger scales. They are ready to be put into action nationwide. If we wanted, we could raise the next generation as a nonviolent generation. Campaign Nonviolence is already working to build the movement that could achieve such an audacious idea.
Campaign Nonviolence brings communities together to engage in the understated, yet powerful demonstration to our children: that nonviolence is an enduring force, a practical alternative to violence, and a necessary component of life-affirming change.
Thousands nationwide will be engaging in nonviolent action during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions Sept 20-27th, 2015, to end war, poverty, the climate crisis and all forms of violence. You can participate and join with others in your local community! Learn more, find a local action, or add an action here.
Author/Activist Rivera Sun is the social media director for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. She is the author of three social protest novels, The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars. She is the cohost of Occupy Radio and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. Rivera Sun lives in an earthship house in Taos, New Mexico.www.riverasun.com