Spotlight on Nonviolence - Bruce Pearson


On this week’s Spotlight Series, Rachel had the pleasure of interviewing Program Associate and Publications Coordinator at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, Bruce Pearson. Bruce has been described as a “highly educated and skilled program and curriculum builder” and is passionate about bringing autonomy and power back into the hands of the oppressed. 

During our interview Bruce and I focused our discussion on three major themes: first, the influence of growing up in South Africa in the early 90s, second, the creative process behind designing and implementing training for nonviolence, & third, how ICNC uses Peter Ackerman’s text to campaign for civil resistance.

Bruce sees nonviolent action and civil resistance as effective tools that help to reshape society. He suggests that both of these are inevitable when people are pushed for change. Bruce aims to connect resources and people. He does this by helping to bring resources (ie. publications and videos) to people while simultaneously working with resistors to create even more resources for activists. His work with the ICNC team, collaboration with the Albert Einstein Institute, and many other nonviolent leaders has helped to create a checklist that asks a series of questions in order to assess people’s internal capabilities and understand their external realities. 

Bruce is informed by his own history growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. His familial experience during his youth remains at the core of his worldview. He reflects on his immediate family's openness in a time of great divide and notes his parent’s wedding as a memory of multifaceted unity. This discussion opened the door to acknowledge the effectiveness of including more voices in social movements. “The greater cross-section of society that exists during a social movement the more informed the social movement will be.” 

Our discussion of resistance shifted to passions. Bruce shared his love of “anything with keys and strings.” Much like in music where tension and resolution exist to create harmonies, nonviolent revolutions mimic this pattern as they grow and gain momentum. 

Bruce left me with a message of hope. Seeing the willingness of those under oppressive regimes to collaborate and develop a sense of tactical options is incredibly inspiring, he insisted. “If people in entrenched political situations see an option to improve society and bring freedoms to more people then that option can be available for all of us.”


Bruce's Profile

The Checklist to End Tyranny

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