By Jean Markey-Duncan, VT Rep. Northeast Justice Council, Sisters of Mercy
The Annual Peace Pledge Ceremony, presented by the Peace and Justice Club at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont, took place September 24, 2015. This program was listed among hundreds of other events taking place across the country as part of Campaign Nonviolence’s “Week of Action”. Campaign Nonviolence has been endorsed by the Extended Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy. As a collaborative gesture, a Campaign Nonviolence table with literature describing the Movement and a listing of local opportunities for nonviolent training, was set up and staffed by the Vermont Representative to the Northeast Justice Council of the Sisters of Mercy.
In celebration of Gandhi’s 146th birthday, attendees were offered the opportunity to take the annual ‘Peace Pledge’. There are ten segments to the Pledge and each was read by an individual student speaking in his or her own unique native language.
After the Pledge, the keynote speaker, Srdja Popovic, the young Serbian activist who helped topple Slobodan Milosevic, spoke. Srdja explained, empirically, just how active nonviolence has contributed to positive lasting change as compared to armed conflict, which has only led to more armed conflict. Through strategic, well planned and goal oriented protests/events, laced with humor and rock’n’roll, he explained just how to mobilize people to create the change we wish to see in the world.
Now in his 40’s, Srdja is in demand. The Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Canvas), an independent, five person Belgrade-based NGO, has now advised activists in more than 50 countries, including India, Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, Ukraine, Georgia, Palestine, Belarus, Tunisia and Egypt. He has recently been contacted by environmental organizations such as 350.org and is currently working with such esteemed educational institutions as Harvard and Tufts University.
Mr. Popovic’s message laid out a clear path forward. His latest book titled, “Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators or Simply Change the World”, is out in paperback.