By Rivera Sun
Once a year, Campaign Nonviolence invites thousands of people to light a spark of active nonviolence in communities nationwide. This spark is then nurtured and fed year-round to build a light of nonviolence that shines brightly in our world. Through classes, films, speakers, actions, and campaigns for change, this fire of nonviolence can be tended into a central hearth for a whole community, growing a life-changing force that helps humanity evolve.
One powerful example from Campaign Nonviolence’s first year occurred in the city of Wilmington, Delaware, which had been shattered by 39 gun-related homicides from 2013-14. A coalition of more than 40 organizations came together to address the situation, intentionally connecting the predominately inner-city African-American communities with the predominately white suburbs. The coalition used a two-fold, oppose-and-propose strategy: March to End Gun Violence/March for a Culture of Peace. The simultaneous messaging proved effective: the march attracted hundreds of citizens, presenting relevance, timeliness, and vision all at once.
As the march wove through the neighborhoods singing and chanting, people stepped off their porches to join in. Citizens carried banners and t-shirts on poles to represent the lives lost to gun violence. The diverse group included youth and elders, church groups, and civic organizations. A month later, many of these attendees would gather again for a forum on how to address the complex roots of structural (institutional) and physical violence in their community. Over the course of this last year, another march, workshops, forums, talks, meetings and more occurred on a monthly basis.
This month, the coalition will be taking action again, continuing to work to build a culture of peace in their community. The marches are the visible symbols of the less noticed—but deeply important—conversations, meetings, policy shifts, advocacy and outreach work. As this takes place, the interconnections between cultural, systemic, economic, political, and social violence are revealed from institutionalized racism to income inequality to the lack of nonviolent conflict resolution alternatives promoted throughout our culture.
Part of the intention of the nationwide Campaign Nonviolence movement is to connect the dots between the issues and build a culture of active nonviolence that can address these widespread problems of violence. The September Week of Actions uses the solidarity of thousands of people to light sparks in local communities. Each action is locally self-directed and organized, following the Campaign Nonviolence framework of using nonviolent actions to address war, poverty, the climate crisis, and all forms of violence. As the coalition in Wilmington, Delaware has demonstrated, a spark of an invitation can grow into sustained, year-round action that can transform our world one community at a time.
Join us for the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions Sept 20-27, 2015, to end war, poverty, the climate crisis and all forms of violence. Learn more and sign up here.Φ
Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the co-founder of the Love-In-Action Network.