David Hart published Doomsday Clock Closer Than Ever to Midnight: Active Nonviolence Can Still Save Us in Updates 2020-01-24 14:53:04 -0500
By David Hart, Co-Director Nonviolence International
The world is facing a series of devastating interrelated crises. Our friends at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have just updated their well known and respected Doomsday Clock. No surprise to those following the news, but their Science and Security Board has declared that we are closer than ever before to apocalypse. They are announcing this news not to freeze us in fear, but instead to offer us a chance to act while we still can. And, act we must.
The time for small ideas is over. History has proven that powerful people’s movements can make what once seemed impossible become inevitable. Again and again we have seen that when people rise up together and declare they see a path out of the darkness, the world can change in major ways.
The crises we are facing provide us with an opportunity to create real and lasting change. Below, you will see that the Bulletin rightly considers the threats of climate change and nuclear weapons to be existential threats to our very existence. True, and only part of the picture. We also face a crisis of avoidable suffering worldwide. We can and must do better. For the future and for those suffering now.
Many people may see this clock ticking closer and closer to midnight and wonder what we can do. We often seem so small and the problems seem so vast. At Nonviolence International, we proudly declare that the world can be better than it is today and it up to us to direct that change.
Nonviolence International serves as a backbone organization of the global nonviolent movement. We provide fiscal sponsorship to some of the most amazing bold, creative, hardworking nonviolent movements worldwide. And, we provide much needed resources to activists and scholars all over the world.
Our Nonviolence Training Archive is live online now built in partnership with Kurt Schock and the Rutgers International Institute for Peace. This is the world’s largest archive of training material on nonviolence. Check it out at: http://nonviolence.rutgers.edu/s/digital
Within a few months, our longtime Executive Director, Michael Beer, will be publishing his first book - an update to Gene Sharp’s seminal work The Politics of Nonviolent Action, with our friends at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. This monograph, which was blessed by Sharp, includes 346+ powerful tactics of nonviolent action. We are developing an online database that will allow activists and scholars worldwide to learn from this resource. It will be a living document that grows as friends and allies provide feedback and new ideas. You can get a preview of the online database at: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/tactics
When we say… we are Building a Global Culture of Nonviolence and Building Hope in Troubled Times… we mean it.
2020 is going to be a pivotal year for our planet and we know active nonviolence can prove once again that it is indeed a force more powerful.
Please read the post below, share it, and commit to take action now and throughout the coming year to help create a better future for all.
It is 100 seconds to midnight
Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.
To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: Closer than ever: It is 100 seconds to midnight
Date: January 23, 2020
Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.
In the nuclear realm, national leaders have ended or undermined several major arms control treaties and negotiations during the last year, creating an environment conducive to a renewed nuclear arms race, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to lowered barriers to nuclear war. Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening. US-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent.
Public awareness of the climate crisis grew over the course of 2019, largely because of mass protests by young people around the world. Just the same, governmental action on climate change still falls far short of meeting the challenge at hand. At UN climate meetings last year, national delegates made fine speeches but put forward few concrete plans to further limit the carbon dioxide emissions that are disrupting Earth’s climate. This limited political response came during a year when the effects of manmade climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice.
Continued corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision making depend has heightened the nuclear and climate threats. In the last year, many governments used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations, undermining domestic and international efforts to foster peace and protect the planet.
This situation—two major threats to human civilization, amplified by sophisticated, technology-propelled propaganda—would be serious enough if leaders around the world were focused on managing the danger and reducing the risk of catastrophe. Instead, over the last two years, we have seen influential leaders denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats—international agreements with strong verification regimes—in favor of their own narrow interests and domestic political gain. By undermining cooperative, science- and law-based approaches to managing the most urgent threats to humanity, these leaders have helped to create a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe, sooner rather than later.
Faced with this daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board today moves the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever. In so doing, board members are explicitly warning leaders and citizens around the world that the international security situation is now more dangerous than it has ever been, even at the height of the Cold War.
Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge.
The Bulletin believes that human beings can manage the dangers posed by the technology that humans create. Indeed, in the 1990s leaders in the United States and the Soviet Union took bold actions that made nuclear war markedly less likely—and as a result the Bulletin moved the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock the farthest it has been from midnight.
But given the inaction—and in too many cases counterproductive actions—of international leaders, the members of the Science and Security Board are compelled to declare a state of emergency that requires the immediate, focused, and unrelenting attention of the entire world. It is 100 seconds to midnight. The Clock continues to tick. Immediate action is required.
Much more at: https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/
David Hart published MLK Day. A trip to Richmond with our gun-toting fellow citizens in Updates 2020-01-21 16:51:07 -0500
Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International
I could have done a river clean-up on Martin Luther King Jr. day, or gone to a celebration of his life, but instead I thought the best way to honor Dr. King would be to stand up to injustice. I decided to spend the day focused on gun violence.
I went down to Richmond Virginia on January 20th, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day, to lobby and counter a pro-gun rally. At 8am, I left Arlington Virginia in a Prius with a friend from Moms Demand Action ( a group opposed to gun violence). We had intended to support counter-protesters.
I was expecting enormous pro-gun crowds and feared that parking would be difficult. But we kept driving to the capitol and found mostly empty streets with some charter buses. In a parking garage, we pulled our little car into a space between two gigantic pickup trucks. There were many such large gas-guzzling vehicles with many out-of-state license plates.
We walked to the capital and passed many police working for the State, the city of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. We talked to 2 African American men in their 30’s with big orange stickers that said “guns save lives.” We said we were going to join a lobbying event focused on the needs of people of color. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled. They said they were veterans and wanted guns to provide home security. We wandered through the streets of the capitol that were shut off to traffic. We greeted some with “Happy MLK Day”. We always got courteous responses, despite my colleague’s pussy hat and my buttons of progressive causes. We waded through crowds of men who were dressed up like soldiers and carrying semi-automatic weapons. Looks like people were really into showing off their hardware.
I was afraid that some folks would see my anti-gun button and mob us. So I kept moving, kept my eyes down and never had anyone pay us attention. People were happy to be there and everyone was polite. Luckily we didn’t see any Neo-Nazi flags and just a few confederate ones. We were surprised at the paucity of Trump stuff.
Everywhere we looked there were identical orange stickers that said “guns save lives”. It was surprising to see so few hand-made signs, although many folks wore t-shirts, hats, and jackets that had various messages. There were almost no children but quite a mix of adult ages. Also, mostly men, and overwhelmingly European American. As a veteran of hundreds of protests, I’d say there were 6 to 8 thousand people, much fewer than I anticipated. Folks did some chants of USA…and “Northam Out” but there were not many bullhorns. We took some selfies with the crowds in the background to post on our social media pages to let our friends know where we were…and then decided to get out of the crowds and go see our legislators. Unfortunately, the capitol was difficult to get to because of the crowds.
At 11am, we waited in a short line at the Pocahontas building, went through a metal detector, and headed up the stairs to cheer-up and lobby our legislators. None of the legislators were there, so we decided to thank the offices of 11 legislators who we have relationships with. Many had large groups of pro-gun advocates early in the morning, but by noon, the halls were remarkably empty despite crowds outside. Many wanted to display their guns but were not permitted in the building with them. Perhaps this is because many Americans don’t know how to lobby or don’t see its value. So yes, the rally was burdensome on the government because so many police were mobilized and paid overtime. And yes, many legislative staff stayed home. But actually the overall legislative pressure from the pro-gun crowd was modest.
We thanked staffers (see photo below) for their commitments to end gun violence and talked to them about a range of issues that are important to us. Many staff didn't want us to leave..and were grateful for our encouragement. Sure enough, the legislators passed gun control measures the very next day.
As we walked back to the car, the streets were rapidly clearing by 1pm. Organizers were picking up trash and cigarette butts off the streets. This is commendable. Rather than use their guns, they used classic nonviolent tactics found in our global database, such as rallies, flags, music, stickers and banners.
Pictured Below: Barbara Wien (center) with legislative staffers
David Hart donated 2019-12-30 13:26:24 -0500
2019 was an eventful year in terms of nonviolent resistance and people power! In Sudan, people demanded the resignation of their government and the 30 year-old regime toppled. (See more about NVI’s involvement below) In Algeria, Iraq and Hong Kong, relentless protests have pressured regimes to accommodate to their demands and protests continue. Anger over specific pieces of legislation and demands for greater reform occurred in India, Bulgarians, and Indonesia. Massive protests against society's growing inequality and corruption among government officials have occurred in Honduras, Iran, Romania, France, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina. Minority groups such as West Papuans, Kashmiri's, Uighurs, indigenous peoples, Palestinians, and Sahrawis cry out for attention and change. And all around the world, nonviolent movements led by 350.org, Fridays for Future, and Extinction Rebellion, have emerged to draw attention to the severity of climate change and the fossil fuel industry's destruction of our planet.
As an organization, Nonviolence International seeks to promote nonviolent solutions by providing educational materials and training programs As a backbone organization for people power campaigns, we provide fiscal sponsorship for many groups such as the International Action Network on Small Arms, Holy Land Trust, We Are Not Numbers, and Gaza Freedom Flotilla. In addition, Control Arms, a civil society network we sponsor that seeks to implement the international Arms Trade Treaty earned a spot on the shortlist of the Peace Research Institute Oslo for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. In May, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence led a group of 45 Jewish activists from across North America to Israel-Palestine to stand in coresistance with their Palestinian and Israeli partners. Over nine days, they learned, worked, and connected with partners in the South Hebron Hills, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Givat Amal, and Lyd/Lod. And throughout 2019, our partners at Holy Land Trust have engaged in their Home Rebuilding 2019 Campaign to help Palestinians in the West Bank who have lost their homes to Israeli demolitions.
We have been working diligently to prepare our Digital Library of Nonviolent Resistance for a launch in 2020, the world's largest collection of nonviolence training materials. Collaborating with Rutgers University International Institute for Peace (IIP), this digital library provides free online access to a digital collection of training manuals and related material, such as reports on training workshops, tools, exercises, preparatory material for campaigns, and legal and direct action handouts. With its launch occurring this past November, we hope our archive can be used by educational institutions and civil society networks engaged in the training of nonviolent resistance for decades to come.
Alongside our larger organizational initiatives, Nonviolence International has continued to provide direct training and support to students and proponents of nonviolent resistance all around the world. In March of this year, our founder Mubarak Awad traveled to Israeli to teach a course on nonviolent studies at Haifa University. During his time there, he published an op-ed in The Jersusalem Post which detailed steps Palestinians and Israelis could take in the April elections to promote peace between the two groups.
At around the same time, our Executive Director Michael Beer was working tirelessly to support the nonviolent campaign in Sudan to help the country transition to a system of democratic governance after enduring ex-President Omar al-Bashir's autocratic rule for 30 years. Nonviolence International helped democratic opposition leaders by providing webinars and consultations regarding nonviolent resistance and the tactics used to succeed by such means. On at least four occasions since April when ex-President al-Bashir was removed from power, Michael Beer discussed strategies that the campaign could employ to keep up their resistance to the Transitional Military Council such as the dynamics that go into launching a successful general strike. Michael's webinars were extremely impactful, with more than 250,000 views, as the Sudanese people rewarded him and other friends and allies of Nonviolence International with a mural dedicated to them in downtown Khartoum.
With so much great work done this year, there is even more work to be done next year! We thank you for your support of our organization and hope to continue to lead the way in promoting and nonviolent culture and nonviolent resistance to solve the conflicts of our world.
David Hart published A Doctor’s Remedy for Peace: Follow the Path of Nonviolence in The Many Faces of Nonviolence 2019-12-24 11:50:30 -0500
By Connor Paul
Most people never fully experience life and death during their existence even though we all live, and eventually die. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish has certainly encountered his fair share of both states of being. An internationally renowned doctor in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Abuelaish works to help conceive and deliver life on a daily basis. As an infertility expert, his work, research, speaking appearances, conferences, and counseling regarding the conception of life are all part of his effort to provide humanity the greatest gift we receive. “Using my skills to save a life or help a patient in distress or bring a newborn into the world was what I became most excited about,” he recalls of his preliminary studies at the University of Cairo in his memoir, I Shall Not Hate. But he has also grappled with death on a personal level that few of us have ever experienced.
Born and raised in Jabalia Camp, located within the Gaza Strip of the occupied-Palestinian territories (oPt), Dr. Abuelaish witnessed the death and destruction caused by the Israeli occupation throughout most of his life. From the Six-Day War of 1967 at age twelve through the Gaza War of 2008-2009 at age fifty-three, Dr. Abuelaish saw how a path to peace based on mistrust, hostility, revenge, and political maneuvering produces cycle after cycle of violence instead of lasting results. “It seems humanity has still not learned their lesson,” he told me in our recent conversation. “Even though we are in the twenty-first century, we continue to try to solve our conflicts with wars and violence instead of working to find out their root causes.” This path of darkness taken up by both sides replaces nonviolence with coercion; coercion which directly impacts and destroys the lives of ordinary civilians.
On January 16, 2009, the violence finally touched Dr. Abuelaish and his family more tangibly than they could ever imagine. Two days before the parties signed a truce ending the Gaza War of 2008-2009, an Israeli tank fired multiple rockets at his house. Three of his daughters, Bessan (twenty-one), Mayar (fifteen), and Aya (thirteen) died instantly, as did his niece Noor (seventeen). The shelling also left his daughter, Shatha, his niece, Ghaida, and his brother, Nasser, critically injured. Innocent lives lost. A father in despair. A family overcome with grief. But just like the title of his memoir indicates, he refuses to hate.
After enduring such heartbreak, how does one prevent hate from seeping into their heart and filling them with a desire for revenge and violence? The answer lies in the emotion's corrosive abilities. Just like a cancer, it spreads throughout the body and ingrains itself deeply within, blinding those afflicted from being able to positively engage in conflict resolution. Dr. Abuelaish described the emotion of hatred to me in our recent conversation as, “a destructive, contagious, disease. It is most harmful to the one impacted by it as it is like a poison that weighs us down and prevents us from moving the dialogue forward.” Hate confines people to approach the reconciliation process from the path of darkness where ignorance, arrogance, and greed dictate the terms of negotiations. But there is a more humanistic path to achieving peace, a nonviolent path, a better path--the path of light.
Dr. Abuelaish embraced the path of light long ago which seeks to counter hate and violence by building upon commonalities that we share across humanity. From his endless hours in the maternity ward and intimate work with human life, he notices our commonalities as early as birth. “No one can discriminate or differentiate between the cry of a newborn baby. American, Palestinian, Israeli, male, or female, their cries cannot be distinguished from one another. But even more importantly, humanity has the same reaction to a newborn’s cry. Once we hear the cry of a newborn baby, we all smile because it is the cry of new life.” But even before beginning his medical career, Dr. Abuelaish learned very early on from his own life experiences how similar we all are across our different societies, including Israelis and Palestinians. At fifteen years old, he spent the summer in Israeli working on a Jewish family farm. In his memoir, he talks about the powerful impression the family left on him by not only how kindly they treated him, but also how similar they were to his own family. While working to resolve conflicts, the path of light helps illuminate all of our shared similarities that get obscured when we fixate on our differences. When we are able to see the experiences, emotions, and values that so many of us have in common; we are able to come together to make lasting change that will better all of our societies. Dr. Abuelaish chose to construct his path of light and nonviolence on the strengthening of the solidarity that societies exhibit within the fields of healthcare, education, and the role women maintain. By building upon the shared values of these societal spheres, we will all be able to follow this path of pacifism to achieve a deeper understanding of one another’s situations, making peaceful resolutions much more obtainable in the future.
As a practitioner of medicine his whole professional career, Dr. Abuelaish sees how humanity’s shared worldview regarding the importance of healthcare can serve as a great starting point to begin constructive dialogue. Dr. Abuelaish rightfully pointed out to me that health is one of the few indiscriminatory “human equalizers” among our distinct societies. “When you go to any hospital and treat any patient there, all of them are treated equally. Treatment is not based on ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender, or name; it is based on the patient’s need and the physician’s diagnosis.” Just as doctors treat all their patients equally and humanely, we all need to learn to apply the same approach to our day-to-day interactions with each other. One of the most important aspects of good health is learning to coexist with one another in stable, peaceful, nonviolent environments. Dr. Abuelaish goes on to note, “Health is peace and peace is health. My health and my peace are linked to your health and your peace. I am not in an environment of good health and peace as long as you are not and vice versa.” More often than not though, the politics we implement on the ground, instead of the healthcare we provide, dictate and create the environments of our societies. These politics so frequently neglect the humanistic aspects of our cultures. We must learn to act based on the needs of the people, not the needs of our governments, as our fundamental needs cross borders and created shared experiences through which we can establish dialogue. “If I come to someone who is in labor and ask what is health, she would tell me a successful delivery; if I come to someone who is thirsty and ask what is health, they would tell me a drink of water; if I come to someone who is oppressed and ask what is health, they would tell me freedom.” Just like how we provide healthcare by listening to the needs of the people we strive to help; we must learn to reconcile our differences through the same measures. Once we actually listen to and acknowledge the realities of our concerns through dialogue, will we then be able to follow the path of light in our efforts to achieve peace through humanity.
Education is just as important of a tool in Dr. Abuelaish’s humanistic approach to peace as it helps eradicate the hatred and discrimination that lead us down the path of darkness. “Education enlightens the people, it gives wisdom to the people, it allows us to see things outside of the box.” He then went on to wisely point out what happened regarding the public education campaign to quit smoking. “When people began to learn that smoking was harmful, what did they do, nothing? But once they began to educate themselves as public awareness of the dangers increased, they began to stop.” The same concept can be applied to hatred as we need to understand the dangers of the emotion. It is our responsibility, as Dr. Abuelaish practices himself so often, to increase the awareness of how hatred and violence spread and to educate ourselves on their root causes. But one of the most important aspects of education is that it not only brings people together, it allows us to learn from a diversity of perspectives. “Education is the passport that enables us to travel and cross this small world, it brings people together.” When we learn together, we share knowledge and experiences that help us reconcile our differences in a proactive, nonviolent way.
But to fully embrace a humanistic approach to peace, our governments and societies need to operate at their full capacities. By this notion, Dr. Abuelaish means we must involve women to participate in the resolution of conflicts to a much greater degree as their perspective provides invaluable input which is so often missing from the discussion. “Women symbolize the humanity, the passion, the love, and life itself; yet more often than not, they are not the ones involved in the decision-making, they are not the ones who wage the war…They do not wage war yet they bear most of the consequences from it.” When we fixate on statistics and numbers from violent conflicts, we so often overlook the wife left without a husband, the mother left without a son, sisters left without brothers. Females are so often the guardians of the house, where they defend what is theirs just as staunchly as men do in wars, but by projecting the values of love and compassion. It is exactly this approach that is so often lacking in the decision making of executive offices, congresses, parliaments, and military headquarters. Dr. Abuelaish sees a quick fix to this problem. “the more we see women sitting at the table, being part of the decision-making, the world will be a better place.” As the keepers of the family unit, females are so much more in touch with humanity than men and can use their perspective and experiences to overpower the hate and vitriol that so often cloud male-led reconciliation. Women are emblematic of following the path of light and serve as an example of how we should embrace nonviolence and humanity when we attempt to foster peace.
Dr. Abuelaish has delivered so many lives into this world, endured death so close to his heart, and yet he never deviates from the path of light. The hope that radiated from his tone when we spoke shows his unique ability to find the positive in bad situations. “We always have to see the positive, and during the bad we must maximize the positive and give hope.” Even in the tragic deaths of his daughters and niece, he managed to find the light and salvage life through the establishment of his ensuing foundation, Daughters for Life. The foundation provides scholarships and awards to young girls from the Middle East who seek to empower themselves and improve their lives through education. Dr. Abuelaish keeps the positivity of his daughters alive through his foundation, just like his tireless work in the maternity ward keeps alive the many babies he delivers or his embodiment of nonviolence and dialogue keeps alive the aspirations for peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. By following the path of Dr. Abuelaish, we shed light on the path of darkness and make the road to peace much more visible and achievable.
Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.
Here’s the good news: The debate is over. 75% of US citizens believe climate change is human-caused; more than half say we have to do something and fast.
Here’s even better news: A new report shows that more than 200 cities and counties, and 12 states have committed to or already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. This means that one out of every three Americans (about 111 million Americans and 34 percent of the population) lives in a community or state that has committed to or has already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. Seventy cities are already powered by 100 percent wind and solar power. The not-so-great news is that many of the transition commitments are too little, too late.
The best news? The story doesn’t end there.
We can all pitch in to help save humanity and the planet. And I don’t mean just by planting trees or changing light bulbs. Climate action movements are exploding in numbers, actions, and impact. Groups like Youth Climate Strikes, Extinction Rebellion, #ShutDownDC, the Sunrise Movement, and more are changing the game. Join in if you haven’t already. As Extinction Rebellion reminds us: there’s room for everybody in an effort this enormous. We all make change in different ways, and we’re all needed to make all the changes we need.
Resistance is not futile. As the editor of Nonviolence News, I collect stories of climate action and climate wins. In the past month alone, the millions of people worldwide rising up in nonviolent action have propelled a number of major victories. The University of British Columbia divested $300 million in funds from fossil fuels. The world’s largest public bank ditched fossil fuels and said it would no longer invest in oil and coal. California cracked down on oil and gas fracking permits halting new drilling wells as the state prepares for a renewable energy transition. New Zealand passed a law to put the climate crisis at the front and center of all its policy considerations (the first such legislation in the world). The second-largest ferry operator on the planet is switching from diesel to batteries in preparation for a renewable transition. Re-affirming their anti-pipeline stance, Portland, Oregon city officials told Zenith Energy that they would not reverse their decision, and instead would continue to block new pipelines. Meanwhile, in Portland, Maine, the city council joined the ever-growing list endorsing the youths’ climate emergency resolution. Italy made climate change science mandatory in school. And that’s just for starters.
Is it any wonder Collins Dictionary made “climate strike” the Word of the Year?
Beyond planting trees and changing lightbulbs, here’s a list of things you can do about the climate crisis:
1. Join Greta Thunberg, Fridays for the Future, and the global Student Climate Strikes on Fridays.
2. Not a student? Join Jane Fonda’s #FireDrillFridays (civil disobedience is the latest workout fad; everybody looks good saving the planet).
3. Take to the field, like the students who disrupted the Harvard-Yale football game to demand fossil fuel divestment. You can’t play football on a dead planet, after all.
4. Stage an “oil spill” like these 40 members of Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard (FFDH) and Extinction Rebellion. They staged an oil spill in Harvard’s Science Center Plaza to call attention to the university’s complicity in the climate crisis.
5. Get in the way with city-wide street blockades like #ShutDownDC. People from an alliance of groups blockaded the banks and investment firms in the nation’s capital to protest the financing of fossil fuels, and the ways the banking industry drives the climate migration crisis while profiting from the devastation.
6. Rally the artists and paint giant murals to remind people to take action, like this skyscraper-sized Greta Thunberg mural in San Francisco.
7. No walls handy? Print out a scowling Greta and put it in the office to remind people not to use single-use plastic.
8. Crash Congress (or your city/county officials’ meetings) demanding climate legislation, climate emergency resolutions, and more. That’s what these climate justice activists did last week, protesting legislative inaction and demanding justice for people living on the front lines of the crisis.
9. Occupy the offices: Sit-ins and occupations of public officials offices are one way to take the protest to the politicians. Campaigners occupied US Senator Pelosi’s office and launched their global hunger strike just before US Thanksgiving weekend. In Oregon, 21 people were arrested while occupying the governor’s office to get her to oppose a fracked gas export terminal at Jordan Cove.
10. Organize a coal train blockade like climate activists in Ayers, Massachusetts. They made a series of multi-wave coal train blockades, one group of protesters taking up the blockade as the first group was arrested. Or rally thousands like the Germans did when they gathered between 1,000-4,000 green activists, made their way past police lines, and blocked trains at three important coal mines in eastern Germany.
11. Shut down your local fossil fuel power plant. (We’ve all got one.) New Yorkers did this dramatically a few weeks ago, scaling a smokestack and blockading the gates. In New Hampshire, 67 climate activists were arrested outside their coal power plant, calling for it to be shut down.
12. Of course, another option is to literally take back your power like this small German town that took ownership of their grid and went 100 percent renewable.
13. Like Spiderman? You could add some drama to a protest like these two kids (ages 8 and 11) who rappelled down from a bridge with climbing gear and a protest banner during COP25 in Madrid.
14. Ground the private jets. Extinction Rebellion members went for the gold: they blockaded a private jet terminal used by wealthy elites in Geneva.
15. Sail a Sinking House down the river like Extinction Rebellion did along the Thames to show solidarity with all those who have lost their homes to rising seas.
16. Clean it up. Use mops, brooms, and scrub brushes for a “clean up your act” protest like the one Extinction Rebellion used at Barclay’s Bank branches.
17. Blockade pipeline supply shipments like Washington activists did to stall the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
18. Catch the eye with a Red Brigade Funeral Procession like this one during the Black Friday climate action protests in Vancouver.
19. Tiny House Blockades: Build a tiny house in the path of the pipelines, like these Indigenous women are doing to thwart the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada.
20. Make a racket with a pots-and-pans protest. Cacerolazos – pots and pans banging protests – erupted in 12 Latin American countries last week. The media focused on government corruption and economic justice as the cause, but in many nations, including Chile and Bolivia, climate and environmental justice are included in the protesters demands.
21. Share this article. Action inspires more action. Hearing these examples – and the successes – gives us the strength to rise to the challenges we face. You can help stop the climate crisis by sharing these stories with others. (You can also connect to 30-50+ stories of nonviolence in action by signing up for Nonviolence News’ free weekly enewsletter.)
Plus! Here’s a bonus idea from friends at World Beyond War: Connect peace and climate, militarism and environmental destruction, by pressuring your local government to divest from both weapons and fossil fuels, like Charlottesville, VA, did last year, and Arlington,VA, is working on right now.
Remember: all these stories came from the Nonviolence News articles I’ve collected in just the past 30 days! These stories should give you hope, courage, and ideas for taking action. There’s so much to be done, and so much we can do! Joan Baez said that “action is the antidote to despair”. Don’t despair. Organize.
Rivera Sun, editor of Nonviolence News, the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other novels, and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent movements. www.riverasun.com
This story was produced by Metta Center for Nonviolence
And posted on Waging Nonviolence
There’s a secret to success for nonviolent movements for change: solidarity. Instead of “going it alone,” movements can amplify their message, leverage collective power, and build strength by seeking solidarity from aligned organizations and groups. Movements can also mobilize thousands of people into tangible, game-changing strategies by consciously designing solidarity actions to support their primary campaign.
Look at Oakland’s Solidarity Schools. During the 2019 Oakland Teachers Strike, a team of volunteers got involved in a much-needed solidarity action: delivering lunches to school children. In Oakland, California, 75 percent of the district’s 37,000 students relied on school lunch. Not wanting the kids to go hungry; the food bank, parents, teachers, and students worked together to organize and distribute lunches for the duration of the strike. This helped the teachers maintain their refusal to work without dividing the community over hunger issues. Solidarity efforts also included alternative schooling and child care. After several weeks, the teachers won their radical demands that ultimately benefited the entire community.
Solidarity strategies can increase the chance of success for your campaign by widening the impact of your actions. Recently in Nonviolence News, I reported on a story from Finland. Postal workers went on strike for two weeks, but their victory wasn’t won by the massive backlog of undelivered holiday packages. The clincher on their struggle occurred when the airline and transport industry workers held a solidarity (or sympathy) strike, grounding over three hundred planes and causing chaos in the capital. As the strike impacted businesses and people across the country, the head of the postal service came under fire for mishandling the postal workers’ strike. The workers won their demands, thanks to the solidarity of other transport workers.
Nonviolent struggle succeeds or fails by the rate of participation in actions that tangibly impact the ability of the power holders to conduct business-as-usual. In fact, studies show that any movement that successfully mobilizes 3.5 percent of the populace into acts of noncooperation (boycotts, strikes, walk-outs) and intervention (blockades, sit-ins, occupations) always wins their campaign. And, sometimes, success comes with even fewer people. So, scheming up those solidarity strategies makes a lot of sense for your movement.
Take Standing Rock, for example. Not everyone could leave their jobs and families, pitch a tent in freezing weather, and take a physical stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, in North Dakota. But all of us could support the legal fund, organize supply caravans, and (perhaps most importantly) take action against the 17-plus banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Across the country and around the world, the protests outside of bank branches gave those of us horrified by the scenes of police repression at Standing Rock a way to turn outrage into action. We held signs. We delivered petitions and confronted bank managers. We organized our friends and colleagues to move our money and close our accounts. This put powerful pressure on the banks, forcing some to pull out of the DAPL project. While the pipeline at Standing Rock moved forward, a cascade of other fossil fuel projects lost their funding both in the United States and around the world. Also, the efforts during the Standing Rock campaign gave a boost to other fossil fuel divestment campaigns, leading to a ripple effect of institutional divestment. With greater mobilization around the solidarity strategy of moving our money out of the banks, we might have been able to defeat that pipeline project entirely.
The successes of the early U.S. labor movement relied heavily on solidarity and their solidarity actions were breath-taking in scope and generosity. To use just one of hundreds of examples, during the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Bill Haywood and others organized massive support for the striking women. The solidarity efforts included relief committees, soup kitchens, food distribution stations, volunteer doctors, and weekly benefits for strikers. The list of demands was translated into over 50 languages for the multi-national immigrant workers. The most dramatic of solidarity actions was arranging for several hundred children of striking workers to go to supporters’ homes in New York City. This kept the children safe, housed, and fed while their mothers faced arrests, evictions, reduced income, and beatings for participating in the strike.
These tangible forms of solidarity can mean the difference between success and failure. Showing support for the cause with demonstrations can also boost morale and determination. Just this past week, cacerolazos (pots-and-pans banging protests) erupted in twelve Latin and South American countries, including Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador. The united demonstration was organized to acknowledge the shared struggles of the people against widespread economic inequality, corrupt governments, and violence against Indigenous populations. Organizers even distributed a cacerolazo app – in case you weren’t by your kitchen, you could join in with a cellphone simulation.
Occasionally, solidarity actions up the ante on issues, and connect immediate crises to the underlying causes. In the wake of the massive Australian bushfires, citizens chose to do more than send blankets and meals to those who lost their homes. Rejecting the “sending thoughts and prayers” rhetoric of the politicians, Australians organized solidarity sit-downs to demand disaster relief and climate action. In this way, they went beyond simply calling for relief while ignoring the root cause: they connected the fires to global warming, and the human-made climate crisis.
For movement organizers, thinking about solidarity strategies ahead of time can improve your organizing. Who are the people who can stand up for your cause? What allies can’t be arrested, but would love to help organize relief efforts for those who can? What sectors of society could engage in solidarity strikes or walk-outs to broaden your impact? Who can demonstrate to boost the morale of those taking direct action? What groups align with your cause and could have a direct impact on your power holders? What could those groups do to pressure them?
These are important questions for all of us to ask. Get creative with the answers. Solidarity comes in a million shapes and sizes, and it can be the secret to success.
Sparking Change: How Movements Pass On InspirationOur new website is already connecting us to new friends and movement leaders. Well-known author and movement leader Rivera Sun shares the important piece below.Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice.Find out more about her at: http://www.riverasun.com/about/ and let us know what you think about this vital issue. What gives you inspiration in these difficult times?
Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Resistance is a continuum. Nonviolent movements arise amidst the efforts of many other struggles. The knowledge of how to organize for change is a global legacy passed between movements and generations of activists through lineages of inspiration that stretch through hundreds of years. (The first recorded strike happened in 1170 BC when Egyptian pyramid builders refused to work until they were paid; they’ve been happening much the same way ever since.) We learn from one another both directly and indirectly. We mimic creative tactics. We replicate strategies. We learn from mistakes. We are emboldened by others’ courage.
I collect 30-50 stories of nonviolence in action each week for Nonviolence News, a news round-up that shows how people around the globe are making change. In the news articles, I often notice clear examples of knowledge-sharing and inspiration passing between global movements.
Wunseidel, Germany’s 2014 involuntary walkathon pledged money to social justice causes for every alt-right marcher that showed up for the march, thereby making them fundraise for causes they hate. This inspired a similar action in Portland, OR, that raised $36,000 for immigrants’ rights groups during a mass rally for the alt-right. Recently, Hong Kong protesters deliberately organized a 28-mile human chain inspired by the 1989 Baltic Way – a human chain involving 2.2 million people that stretched hundreds of kilometers across Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. They even named it the Hong Kong Way. When migrant rescue boat captain Carola Rackete was arrested for saving lives, the crew of a second ship, the Alex,was inspired to defy the law as well.
While the Internet has aided this phenomenon, the way ideas leap from one movement to the next is not new. Throughout history – albeit at a slightly slower pace – this has occurred. The word “boycott,” for example, was coined in 1880 when Irish tenants launched a campaign of social ostracizing against Captain Charles Boycott for his role in brutal evictions. Within six weeks, newspapers as far away as New York City were using the term. A few years later, as the term continued to rise into popular usage, guess which student in Britain was reading the British newspaper reports on the Irish and other struggles? A young guy named Mohandas K. Gandhi.
This was far from Gandhi’s only inspiration as he mobilized mass strikes, boycotts, and civil disobedience in the struggle for India’s independence from British rule. He was both highly innovative and a deep thinker and strategist. He clearly learned from the struggles of his time. He drew ideas for nonviolent action and philosophy from a wide range of global writers and thinkers, both Eastern and Western. His unique stamp would have, in its own turn, global impact.
Some of this was spontaneous – but much of it occurred through direct connection. African-Americans, for example, had a long and well-documented exchange with both Gandhi and his successors. Letters and essays on nonviolent struggle were published in African-American newspapers and journals.
In the early 1950s, Rev. James Lawson traveled to India just after Gandhi’s assassination to deepen his study of nonviolent resistance. Upon his return, he became one of the foremost strategic architects of the US Civil Rights Movement. In later years, he has worked with numerous labor justice and other movements. He has also taught countless organizers throughout his long life and emphasizes the importance of training and study to movement success.
Movements share tactics and strategies, and they also share artistic themes. When I wrote my novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, using the dandelion as a symbol of resistance, numerous readers wrote to me about its use by movements as disparate as Norway’s resistance to joining the European Union, the United States’ 1970s Movement for a New Society, the recent Black Lives Matter Movement, and even the global climate justice movement. Like its namesake, it’s a symbol that continues to pop up all over the place.
Music, art, slogans, and imagery circulate between movements in innumerable ways. To highlight one example, the iconic song of the Civil Rights Movement, We Shall Overcome, has had many incarnations. The first version was written in 1900 by African-American Rev. Joseph Tidley under the name, I’ll Overcome Some Day. This version was well-known throughout the labor movement of that decade. A second version, I Will Overcome, was sung in a 1945 cigar workers strike in Charleston, South Carolina. Pete Seeger and Zilphia Horton (music director of the Highlander Center) included this version in a book of folk songs they published. It was rekindled within the Civil Rights Movement at the Highlander Center. Guy Carawan is credited with selecting it as the closing song of a training attended by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. From there, they and many other folksingers helped to popularize it in the movement.
There are dangers with superficially mimicking movements, however. One of the assessments of the Arab Spring uprisings is that later movements failed because they learned largely from watching television and Internet footage of Tunisia and Egypt’s mass demonstrations. Replicating only the mass street protests, movements in other countries failed to see – and use – the strikes, boycotts, and mass noncooperation campaigns that had effectively eroded the regimes’ power in the first two countries. When protesters flooded the streets in subsequent countries, the brutal repression of police and military was able to crush the movements because other strategies – especially economic resistance – that could have been shifted to had not been developed.
Some important aspects of struggle – such as organizational infrastructure, widespread training programs, acts of noncooperation, and covert resistance – tend not to be as visible to people from the outside. Studying nonviolent movements helps to illuminate these aspects beyond what we see in the news.
It is undeniable that media coverage of movements helps to inspire subsequent uprisings. The Arab Spring is cited as one of the main inspirations for the Occupy protests in the United States. The Occupy protests launched in New York City in September 2011, in part because of an Adbusters Magazinecall-to-action. Within two weeks, 951 Occupy encampments had sprung up across 82 countries, 600 in the United States . . . and a new phrase had entered movement organizing circles: multi-nodal actions. In a country with the geographic expanse of the United States, the notion – while not new – was a revelation for many. Instead of organizing people to go to big city demonstrations, actions in every city and town were organized.
In the United States, this tactical approach has been replicated continuously since the Occupy protests of 2011. The 2017 Women’s March, for example, mobilized one million people in the streets of DC and another 2.7 million across 500 other locations. One out of every 100 Americans participated in either the Women’s March or the Sister Marches (as the multi-nodal actions were called). This multi-nodal organizing approach also lies at the heart of the Student Climate Strikes, which organize weekly student walkouts and days of larger mobilizations.
The stories continue: global labor movements; women’s suffrage movements in the UK and US; Indigenous solidarity movements around the globe; intersectional movements of the 70s and 80s; anti-globalization protests at major trade conferences that shared tactical philosophies; environmental movements that adapted blockades and tree-sits from forest protection to blocking pipelines; and so much more. Each one of these examples deserves a full article. Both contemporary and historical strands of learning and inspiring can be traced through movements.
The circulation of texts, books, and manuals on nonviolent struggle has played a major role in the ways movements share tactics and strategies. The works of M.K. Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gene Sharp have had global impacts. The advent of the Internet made accessing knowledge and following contemporary movements even more common. Current campaigns seem to draw knowledge from a wide variety of sources, including traditional cultural references, organized training programs, current and recent movements, previous campaigns in their history, and local innovation.
In collecting and circulating the weekly Nonviolence News, one of my goals is to help light the sparks between people working for change. By reading about creative actions, wise strategies, and courageous resistance, we can learn from the endeavors of our fellow human beings. The more we learn, the more the sparks of inspiration lead to robust, strategic, and powerful movements for change.
Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns. www.riverasun.com
How cool is this? Mural in Sudan thanking supporters.
As some of you may know, Nonviolence International has been collaborating closely with brave nonviolent activists working in Sudan. We just received this amazing photo of a mural that was recently completed. We are told this is at the crossroads of major roads that connect Khartoum North with Omdurman in Sudan.
The mural displays the names of friends and allies who have supported the nonviolent movements in Sudan during their time of crisis. You will see the names of:
Michael Beer - Executive Director of Nonviolence International.
Stephen Zunes - Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco with a concentration in strategic nonviolence. Long time supporter and colleague of NI.
Michael Nagler - President of the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education, and Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Long time support of NI.
Stephanie Van Hook - Executive Director of the Metta Center.
Steve Williamson - Human rights activist and educator.
Walter Turner - Host of Radio, KPFK, about Africa and the African Diaspora.
Pramila Jayapal - Washington State representative in Congress and Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.
Michael Beer and NI provided support for the people of Sudan by
- Offering webinars on nonviolent resistance seen by 350,000 people.
- Spoke at major Sudan protests in Washington, DC.
- Provided expert testimony for a Congressional briefing on Sudan,
- Provided daily coaching for some of the mediators from May through July.
- Raising humanitarian funds for the nonviolent resistance.
We have co-founded a new Sudanese network called Madania. This is a network of Sudanese educators who want to promote civic education in Sudan. After being under a dictator for 30 years, many people don’t know how to participate in their own governance. Madania will be mapping the extent of civic education (human rights, nonviolence, voter, political party, etc) efforts in Sudan, begin creating networks of Sudanese civic educators, and provide a vehicle on the internet for mass education on citizen empowerment. Please support us monthly as we continue our Sudanese solidarity work.
We thank the Sudanese for creating and sharing this beautiful mural and for the deep and lasting impact their brave, creative, and constructive witness has had on all of us.
In these challenging times, the Sudanese people inspire us to keep focused on the much needed transformation in our own society.
Mubarak Awad welcomes new NVI Interns
Today, we had a blast when our founder, Mubarak Awad, came to the office to welcome our inspiring new NVI Interns.
Prof. Awad spoke to our team in DC and to our awesome colleagues in NYC via Skype. Seemed all sides enjoyed time together.
Powerful reflections on a lifetime of bold, beautiful, nonviolent activism and the challenges we face today.
The conversation was enhanced by insightful questions from emerging leaders who will take this vision into an uncertain future. To secure their future on a peaceful, just, environmental sane planet, we believe nonviolence must expand rapidly.
Photos below show same moment from two different perspectives.
For those who want a deeper look into his strategic thinking on the power of nonviolence in even the world's most challenging conflicts, please check out this article on Nonviolent Resistance in the Occupied Territories.
If you or someone you know is interested in interning at Nonviolence International, please visit our Internship page.
To join us in supporting this vital work, please donate here.
Nonviolence International's Founder Mubarak Awad wrote this important article on: "Nonviolent Resistance: A Strategy for the Occupied Territories."
We are posting now because sadly it remains all too relevant today.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence
Nonviolence International Says Goodbye to Our Spring 2019 Interns!
From test driving a Tesla to listening to a presentation about peace education in Indonesia, there was rarely a slow day around the office this spring with our three interns, Kimberly Baggelaar, Jillian Maulella, and Emily Mattioli. As we get ready to send off these three exceptional young women, we want to take the time to reflect on all they’ve contributed to our mission.
Our interns joined us at an exciting time around the office, at the conjunction of our 30th anniversary and continued process of renewal. We enjoyed sharing with them what our office has accomplished in the past three decades, while looking forward to being even more impactful in the future. Each intern had invaluable insights regarding the renewal process, offering their talents to better serve the organization. Kimberly remembers the renewal meetings sharing, “NI cares about our experience as interns, but went even further to value our opinions about the organization as a whole. We were welcomed into meetings about the renewal of the organization and given the opportunity to contribute.”
Kimberly Baggelaar is a graduating senior at American University this semester. She studies International Relations with an emphasis on Identity, Race, Gender and Culture. Her work at NI is predominantly composed of creating and maintaining the educational archives, which provide information for activists and organizers on different peace building topics. She also regularly attends rallies and protests for peace in DC. She hopes to continue work in the field of peace education after graduation. Inspiring Kimmy to apply to Nonviolence International was one of her professors, and prominent peace activist Colman McCarthy.
Emily Mattioli is also a graduating senior at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. She finished her senior year with us in D.C., and is double majoring in Creative Writing and International Studies. While working at NI, Emily has interviewed our partners and affiliates to learn their stories. In the next couple of months, we will be putting her work up on our website and social medias, so you can learn more about the work we support and are inspired by.
“Having the opportunity to talk to our partners, while intimidating, was an incredible experience. I feel fortunate to have been able to meet so many groups and individuals that are furthering their mission through nonviolent action. From discussing the Arms Trade Treaty, to what big money in politics looks like, I had the opportunity to research many different issues and hear about them from people who are actively doing work to resolve them.”
Emily has also stayed connected to peace efforts regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which she was introduced to last semester while studying in the Middle East. After visiting Bethlehem, Emily met Sami Awad, leader of Holy Land Trust, a partner organization. After an inspiring speech about the role of healing and nonviolence in the conflict, Sami recommended the internship at Nonviolence International to Emily who applied shortly after. Since working at NI’s D.C. office, Emily has been able to reconnect and work with Holy Land Trust and meet Mubarak Awad, Nonviolence International’s founder and a Palestinian Peace Activist. She has also had the opportunity to attend events across the city discussing ways to resolve this difficult conflict.
Jillian Maulella is a rising senior at James Madison University. She's currently pursuing a degree in International Affairs, with a concentration in International Relations, and an Art History minor. Here at the office, Jillian spends the majority of her time working on the Nonviolent Methods Database, which includes over 300 nonviolent methods and tactics. After graduation, Jillian hopes to further explore the nonprofit world here in D.C. Upon deciding to come to D.C. Jillian knew that she wanted to intern at a nonprofit that was passionate about what they do. Reflecting on this past semester Jillian states, "I feel like my time at nonviolence international has been very valuable. I've learned so much about the nonprofit field and really feel like I am making a difference."
There is so much to miss about these interns. Kimberly, Jillian, and Emily are deeply committed, have creative insightful ideas, and share their growing wisdom with us. Our frequent interactions are particularly meaningful to me these days when we have many reasons to worry about the future. These emerging leaders show us again and again that their generation is claiming the power to heal and repair the world. We have left them several interlocking crises including our addiction to violence, climate change, and a rigged and brutal economic system. Through their daily actions they demonstrate the capacity to fix what we have broken. Not to mention our Taco Tuesday tradition. NI cares about our interns and hopes that they will remember their time here with us as they continue their careers, and lead their generation into a future of nonviolence.
If you or someone you know is interested in interning at Nonviolence International, please visit our Internship page. To join us in supporting these young leaders in nonviolent action and growth opportunities, donate here.
David Hart donated 2019-12-29 07:25:14 -0500
David Hart donated 2019-12-29 06:58:32 -0500
The Many Faces of Nonviolence
by Emily Mattio
In April 2018, twelve women in red cloaks and white bonnets stood behind California State Treasurer John Chiang, voicelessly embodying the handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel of a future where women’s rights are nonexistent. These costumed protesters, among many others, gathered in support of Chiang’s announcement that he would circulate a petition to direct part of California’s state budget to end rape backlog and begin testing approximately 13,000 untouched rape kits. Out of the many survivors of sexual assault, only some go through these invasive examinations to help prosecute their attackers. However, many of these kits remain untested, which prevents thousands of survivors from building a strong legal case. Chiang’s call to action, inspired by these powerful protesters, is a step towards justice.
Among the crusaders was Chelsea Byers, who was asked to not only organize, but also to speak at the press conference. She founded her organization, the Campaign to Abolish Statutes of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault (CASOL), after observing the power of grassroots movements and hearing survivors’ stories firsthand. Its message is simple and straightforward: it is time for every state across the nation to eradicate statutes of limitations (SOLs) for rape and sexual assault.
SOLs restrict the amount of time between a crime and the ability to charge someone for it. SOLs for rape and sexual assault ignore the holistic knowledge that we now have about survivors of such crimes, along with recent technological developments that make it easier to identify and prosecute perpetrators. This prevents survivors from speaking their truth and bringing their attacker to justice once they are emotionally and physically ready to do so.
Due to societal stigma, a broken justice system, and the severe emotional and/or physical trauma that results from an sexual violence, many victims choose not to report their attackers. SOLs don’t take these factors into account, and instead gives victims a time limit to come forward. It disregards the fact that the time provided by the SOLs might not be sufficient for the victims to heal and prepare to report their attacker. Chelsea Byers has heard this story countless times. A specific instance that came to Byers’ mind concerns a nurse in the Midwest, whose daughter was sexually assaulted but unable to prosecute her attacker once she felt ready to speak with law enforcement officers. This mother now works with CASOL to rally her community behind this issue.
CASOL is in the process of publishing an advocacy toolkit and organizing an advisory committee to combat SOLs on sexual crimes. The toolkit will compile relevant information that will make it easier to share ideas, give advice on how to influence local legislation, and run meetings/campaigns. Additionally, CASOL will start an advisory committee to represent different communities across the country in order to build a stronger support system, decentralize efforts while maintaining a central body, and address intersectionality. In the meantime, CASOL continues to support active campaigns in five different states. As the movement grows, CASOL hopes to grow with it, offering solutions and resources for any problems that arise.
CASOL also offers Nonviolent Direct Action Training (NVDA), which plays a large role in the organization’s activities. NDVA puts power back into the hands of a survivor by providing them with effective tools to rise up against injustice. Byers believed that a legislative approach alone would miss the greater movement-building opportunity inherent in this cause. Investing in building capacity for nonviolent action is the best way to create a large base of people power, which then puts pressure on lawmakers to change legislation.
Byers argues that everyone, not just survivors, should be working to abolish SOLs for sexual assault. Movements such as CASOL and #MeToo demonstrate that our current criminal justice system cannot adequately address sexual violence. While CASOL cannot change the past, it provides survivors with tools that will empower and motivate them to advocate for a future where individuals are able to come forward once they are ready. Nonviolence International is proud to be partners with such an incredible organization that is making significant strides in using nonviolent action to support the rights of survivors. We are grateful for the opportunity to tell their story.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence
by Emily Mattioli
Surrounded by thousands of people, an activist named Renaldo Pearson stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang, “the only thing we did right was the day we started to fight.” One of the thousands was Tania Maduro. She had stepped out of her Connecticut home in April 2016 to take part in the largest American civil disobedience action of the 21st century. It was a march from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., followed by a weeklong protest led by Democracy Spring demanding the removal of big money from politics and the expansion and protection of voting rights.
99 Rise, one of Nonviolence International’s former partners, created Democracy Spring to address problems that are keeping democracy in the United States from thriving. As a grassroots social movement, it uses civil resistance demonstrations to bring attention to voter suppression and the outsized influence of big money in politics. Maduro joined this movement in 2016 after learning about the extent of the issue.
Very few bills get passed in Congress without some input from wealthy donors and their lobbyists. And politicians have good reason to listen. The Washington Post found that better-financed candidates win elections 91% of the time. Through demonstrations, marches, and advocacy, Democracy Spring brings the issue into the public view so that the people will demand greater regulation of money in politics.
Another obstacle that Democracy Spring addresses is voter suppression. While Maduro was initially motivated to end corporate corruption, she soon experienced the threat to voting rights first-hand. She lived out of state due to her work for Democracy Spring, but she went back to her home state of Connecticut to vote in the 2016 primaries. However, officials turned her away, saying that she was ineligible because she did not vote in the last election. Voters laws vary by state, but nearly all of them disproportionately make it harder for minority populations to vote.
The 2018 Midterm Election is one of the most recent displays of voter suppression. The Center for American Progress documented many barriers, from strict registration laws to administrative mistakes, that kept thousands of minority voters and college students from casting a ballot. Similar to Maduro’s experience, many Ohio citizens couldn’t vote because they had not made it to the polls for the previous two elections. These discrepancies, and many more, make voting more difficult for specific populations in the United States, creating unrepresentative election outcomes.
Maduro contends that one of the greatest challenges to rallying people behind these causes is that the discussion surrounding them is very academic, leaving many without the vocabulary or understanding on how to address the injustice. This is one of the reasons why nonviolent direct action is an important tool for the movement. NVDA is unique because it is accessible to everyone and will help the conversation to become more prevalent. Both big money in politics and voter suppression threaten American democracy. While partisan divisions may seem insurmountable, this is something that all Americans can come together on. Nonviolence International supports 99 Rise’s and Democracy Spring’s efforts to enforce a democracy where money does not corrupt and every citizen has an equal opportunity to vote.
Follow Tania Maduro on Facebook to keep up with the Pro-Democracy Movement.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence
by Emily Mattioli
In the autumn of 2011, different colored camping tents scattered the grassy area of Washington D.C.’s popular McPherson Square. These tents varied in sizes, as the smaller ones were used for sleeping while some larger ones were utilized as kitchens, storage areas, libraries, and meeting places. The individuals who organized and lived in this ‘tent city’ were part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement fighting for economic justice. One man who spent multiple days and nights in McPherson Square was former Nonviolence International (NI) employee, Andrew Batcher.
Batcher joined the team at NI after completing his Master’s in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations at the School for International Training (SIT), a Vermont-based educational institution that trains individuals to become successful global leaders and citizens. Batcher already possessed a great deal of knowledge about the many ideas and theories surrounding nonviolent action and movement building, so he enrolled in SIT to supplement his learning with hands-on experience. SIT provided Batcher with the necessary training and skill-building tools that would assist him in becoming an effective activist and a great addition to the Nonviolence International team.
According to Batcher, the height of his work at NI occurred after the Occupy D.C. protesters removed their tents from McPherson Square. Although they had left their main protest site, the Occupy D.C. Movement as a whole still had a driven and passionate base. Organizers used this momentum to transform the movement, which they now called Occupy 2.0. Various leaders took charge of different projects that they believed would be valuable to the movement. Batcher worked with a team to create the D.C. Learning Collective, which partnered with schools to support student-led movements.
During his time with the Learning Collective, it wasn’t uncommon for Batcher to observe the emergence of strong movements, relationships, and leaders. One of Batcher’s favorite memories from working with the D.C. Learning Collective occurred when he witnessed a group of high school students stand up for their right to protest. Commonly, when students take part in protests or walk-outs for a certain cause, they will stop if they are reprimanded by the school’s administration. Batcher was pleased when he saw a group of students stick to their principles even when faced with an official reprimand. Frustrated over the negative treatment of their immigrant teachers, this group of students organized a school walkout. As a result, the administration suspended the organizers and held a school assembly that attempted to justify their negative behavior and dismiss student concerns. Batcher was even more pleased when he saw that the community sided with these fearless’ students actions.
According to Batcher, society has improved in several areas due to the Occupy D.C. movement. The underlying theme of all these changes is the same: the conversation has changed. While no legislature has been passed to address the concerns of the millions who protested in Occupy movements around the country, it has become more acceptable to talk about things that may have been taboo prior to movement, such as criticizing capitalism.
After his work with the Occupy D.C. movement and the Learning Collective, Batcher continue his activist efforts by protesting against various extremist groups in the United States. While nonviolence is not always the first thought for others partaking in these movements, Batcher has used nonviolent tactics that he strengthened during his time at NI in order to achieve impressive victories. When asked to reflect on his time at NI, Batcher responded, “It’s important to challenge the stigma of movements and activists, because the stigma prevents people from joining. I think Nonviolence International does a really good job at that.”
Our organization is proud to be tied to Andrew Batcher, the work he has accomplished at NI, and what he has gone on to do in his own life. As Nonviolence International celebrates its thirty years of impressive history, we also celebrate Andrew Batcher.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Asna Husin
by Emily Mattioli
Before leaving Indonesia to attend college in the United States, Dr. Asna Husin was guided by one simple thought: “peace is a part of your life from the beginning until now.” Growing up in the predominately Muslim Indonesian province of Aceh, she learned about other religions through her education, but never met people of a different faith from her own. In her early years, the only non-Acehnese she met were the few Chinese who resided in the local market, Kembang Tanjung in Sigli. Until one Ramadan, her grandfather took her to Medan, the third largest city in Indonesia, and Husin found herself playing with Christian children.
In Medan, it wasn’t only the children who got along. Community members of many different faiths and ethnicities coexisted. They attended each other’s weddings and supported one another when they were suffering from grief and loss. On religious holidays, no matter which religion tradition they belonged to, people baked each other cakes and celebrated in each other’s homes. During her stay at her aunt’s house in Medan, Husin witnessed Christians deliver a cake to her house and partake in traditions customary for the end of Ramadan. Later, her aunt did the same for the Christian family during the Christmas season. This experience, along with the Islamic education that instilled in her a desire for mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue, left a positive mark on Husin’s life. She leaned into this desire upon coming to the United States in 1990 to pursue her graduate education.
Husin received a Fulbright Scholarship for her master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, then earned a PhD in Religious Studies at Columbia University. She went on to serve as a fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, while simultaneously teaching Islamic Civilization at the State University of New York. Upon completing her fellowship at Columbia, Husin worked as the Director of Women’s Programs for the World Conference on Religion and Peace, where she helped organize the World Women Assembly in Jordan. In 2000, Husin returned to Banda Aceh, Indonesia to resume her teaching position at the Ar-Raniry State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN; now known as Ar-Raniry State Islamic University), while establishing the ‘Peace Education Program’ (PPD) as an independent affiliate of Nonviolence International.
When Husin moved back to Indonesia, the country was in the midst of a civil war. In their efforts to fight the indigenous Aceh Freedom Fighters (GAM), the military put the province under martial law. Husin risked being caught in the middle of the conflict as she advocated for peace education and nonviolent conflict resolution. It was difficult, even dangerous, but “with the help of God and the commitment of many good people,” she recalls, “we were able to fulfill our tasks and excel in our peace work.” A large part of this work was creating educational materials for the peace education courses.
Husin gathered people for support and built a team to work on educational manuals for use in public high schools and private Islamic academies (dayah or pesantren) throughout Aceh. She and her team pushed textbooks that guided the courses and trainings taught on peace. The first edition was a peace education manual intended for high schools. While brief compared to later versions, it did a wonderful job of “combining Islamic universal values and international principles, Acehnese peace mechanisms and recognized global norms.” This initial success led to a request for a more detailed peace education manual for the private Islamic boarding schools (dayah). The first two books compliment each other and later inspired a third, more comprehensive manual on Islamic Ethics (Akhlaq) designed for use in the Acehnese government and private high schools.
The later editions of the Ulama peace book and the Akhlaq manual focus on active and joyful learning, concentrating on peace, and “learning by doing” and “playing for learning” techniques. The student-trainees learn and experience conflict while trying to find a peaceful solution applicable to real life. They also study basic theory about conflict, its root causes and ways to manage it. The two major manuals cover subjects ranging from issues of structural and institutional violence, to active and passive peace; managing anger to elevating poverty; human rights and communal responsibilities; and good leadership to communal civility. More than vague concepts, the books and courses offered conceptual knowledge and taught practical skills on how to live harmoniously.
In order to “revive the age-old Islmanic peace tradition for the benefit of our modern era,” Husin and her team injected traditional Islamic learning into the manuals. This undoubtedly helped to win the support of the many Islamic schools that still use these manuals in their curriculum today. Over the eleven years of implementing the project, Husin and her team trained over one thousand teachers from across Aceh, who in turn taught over 70,000 public high school students and the young Ulama in Islamic boarding schools about nonviolent methods for resolving conflict. Furthermore, Husin succeeded in securing uninterrupted international funding to support the program’s activities from a wide range of respected agencies and organizations.
Husin’s determination prevailed despite the many barriers she had to overcome operating a peace program amidst the dangers that engulfed Aceh at the time. Murders, robberies and extortions, abductions, and arsons were common. An inspiration for Husin in these times was her faith. In her own words, “the core of Islam is peace.” She reflected on one of the names for God, ‘Provider of Peace’ (al-Salam), emphasizing that “Muslims seek peace because they want to become closer to God as the source and provider of true peace and human security.”
Interfaith dialogue continued to be a driving force in her work as she persisted in teaching about peace in Indonesia. While she had originally appealed to Muslim educators to accept the program she was establishing, it wasn’t long before Christians in the community began taking an interest in her work. Christians joined in peace education classes at one school in Southeast Aceh, even though the materials reflect the conception of peace from an Islamic perspective. When Husin went to visit this school she asked the young Christians about their experience, they responded, “We love this class. We have a lot of fun. The materials and teachers discuss our religion in a very respectful manner.” The class succeeded in promoting peace not just because of its teachings, but in how it brought different people together.
Dr. Asna Husin currently serves as a senior researcher at Nonviolence International in Washington, D.C., working on cultural resources for Islamic peace building. There are still ways that Husin would like to see her society grow, but she is grateful for how far the community that she calls home has come. Nonviolence International is proud to continue supporting Husin as she completes research on Cultural Resources for Islamic Peace Building, and the History of Indonesian Muslim Communities in America.
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