banner-52
lefthomeaboutpastarchiveright

Ending Violence

Tackling the 'Impossible'

Robert J Burrowes

Whenever, in ordinary circumstances, the subject of violence comes up, most people throw up their hands in horror and comment along the lines that it is 'in our genes', 'nothing can be done about it' or other words that reflect the powerlessness that most people feel around violence.

It is true that violence is virtually ubiquitous, has a near-infinite variety of manifestations and, at its most grotesque (as nuclear war or run-away climate catastrophe), even threatens human extinction in the near-term.

Nevertheless, anyone who pays attention to the subject of violence in any detail soon discovers that plenty of people are interested in tackling this problem, even if it is 'impossible'. Moreover, of course, at least some people recognize that while we must tackle each manifestation of violence, understanding the cause of violence is imperative if we are to successfully tackle its many manifestations at their source. To do all of this effectively, however, is a team effort. And hopefully, one day, this team will include all of us.

In the meantime, let me start by telling you a little about some of the people who are already working to end violence by tackling one or more of its many manifestations. These individuals are part of a worldwide network set up to focus on ending violence—'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'—and they have signed a pledge to do so.

Concerned about US government threats to Iran and Venezuela, several Charter signatories were part of one or both recent peace delegations to Iran and Venezuela respectively. These delegations were designed to open more lines of communication and to demonstrate solidarity with those who do not submit to US hegemony.

The 28-member US peace delegation to Iran from 25 February to 6 March 2019 included long-term nonviolent activists Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and David Hartsough. Unfortunately for David, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist and director of Peace workers, his trip didn't go as planned. If you would like to read a compelling account of his time in Iran with some wonderful Iranians, while learning something about what it means to be on the wrong end of US sanctions, you will find it here: 'An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran' [1]. Glad you got the lifesaving medical treatment from our Iranian friends that you needed David, despite the sanctions! And it is a tragedy that Iran has recently suffered even more, as a result of the devastating floods that have hit the country, with the sanctions cruelly denying them vital emergency assistance. See 'Stop the ongoing U.S. economic terrorism against Iran and help its people!'[2]

In relation to Venezuela, a 13-member peace and solidarity delegation from North America landed in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend of 9-10 March 2019. The delegation included leaders of antiwar groups from the US and Canada and, once again, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of 'Popular Resistance' and 'Clearing the Fog' podcasts. You can read an account of this delegation's findings in Kevin and Margaret's highly informative report 'Venezuela: US Imperialism Is Based On Lies And Threats'.[3]

Another initiative to support Venezuelans was outlined in the article 'A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat a US Military Invasion of Venezuela'.[4]

Traveling widely to witness and demonstrate solidarity with those on the receiving end of US military violence, another long-term nonviolent activist, Kathy Kelly, recently wrote an article pointing out that 'Every War Is a War against Children' [5] in which she evocatively documented examples of what this means for those children living in the war zones we call Yemen and Afghanistan. In an earlier article, Kathy questioned the morality of those corporations—such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon—that profit from the killing their weapons inflict. See 'Can We Divest from Weapons Dealers?'[6]

Environmental journalist Robert Hunziker continues to fearlessly research and truthfully document the ongoing assaults that humans are inflicting on Earth's biosphere. In his most recent article 'The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems' [7], Robert straightforwardly explains the content of a recent interview of Dr. Peter Wadhams, the world's leading Arctic scientist. Robert notes that 'Currently, the Arctic is heating up about 4 times faster than the rest of the planet... the temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics is dropping precipitously... thus, driving the jet streams less... creating meandering jet streams... in turn, producing extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in mid-latitudes where most of the world's food is grown.' Robert also notes that the study of ancient ice cores by a team from the British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham found 'major reductions in sea ice in the Arctic' which will crank up (via temperature amplification as a result of no Arctic sea ice) Greenland regional temperatures 'by 16°C in less than a decade' with horrific implications for life on Earth. Thank you, Robert, for reporting what the corporate media won't touch and even many activists find too terrifying to seriously contemplate.

In Chile, Pía Figueroa continues her heavy involvement in efforts to network those committed to peace and nonviolence and to develop media channels that report the truth. Pía reports that 'Pressenza International Press Agency', which celebrated its tenth anniversary last November 'in more than 40 places of the world', continues to advance its contribution 'with a journalism focused on peace and nonviolence, to a world in which all human beings have a place and their rights are fully respected, in a framework of disarmed and demilitarized societies, capable of re-establishing the ecological balance through governments of real and participatory democracy.'

Since attending the Media Forum organized in the city of Chongqing, China, by CCTV+ and CGTN, in October last year, Pía has been busy organizing the upcoming Latinamerican Humanist Forum in Santiago with the objective of 'Building Convergences', as its slogan points out. It will be held on 10-12 May with the participation of many grassroots and social organizations involved in more than twenty networks of nonviolent action and inspired by the European Humanist Forum that took place in Madrid, Spain, in May 2018.

Anwar A. Khan was born into 'a liberal Muslim family in Bangladesh'. As a 16-year-old college student, he participated in the 'Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which resulted in horrendous loss of life, genocide against Bangladesh's intelligentsia and systematic rapes.' He writes regularly in his spare time and recently wrote an article highlighting the adverse impact of the lack of infrastructure under which many impoverished countries suffer, given the way in which the global economy functions to exploit them. In the article, he describes an inferno that started on the night of 20 February 2019 in a building at Chawkbazar, a 300-year-old Dhaka neighbourhood, 'where chemicals for making deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored'. The fire 'quickly spread to four nearby buildings where many people were trapped. Hundreds of firefighters rushed to the scene but traffic jams in the narrow streets held them up. It took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control....' The horrific inferno claimed about 100 lives and more were injured. For the full account, see 'After Nimtali, now Chawkbazar inferno hell, a crisis of humanity'.[8]

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is volunteer Director of The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) but he is also actively engaged in the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation. As he evocatively noted in a recent Easter reflection: 'This is the tenth Easter I celebrate after returning to Palestine in 2008. When we native Christian Palestinians have a few moments to meditate and reflect in this season, we reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a manger here and was crucified for being the first revolutionary Palestinian to push for caring for the sick and the poor.'

'We reflect on the real message of Jesus, a message of love and coexistence. The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a better future.'

'We are hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 150,000 years ago, humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passage way to Western Asia and then the rest of the world. 12,000 years ago, this area became the center of development for agriculture (the Fertile Crescent). This was where we humans first domesticated animals like goats and donkeys and plants like wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils. This transformation allowed our ancestors time to evolve what we now call "civilization". Hence, the first writings, the first music, and art, and the first thoughts of deities. From our Aramaic alphabet came the Latin, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and much of our current Palestinian Arabic is still Aramaic words.'

Finally, we are deeply saddened to report the passing of Tom Shea, a long-time stalwart in the struggle for a better world and one of the original team of individuals who launched 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' [9] on 11 November 2011.

While diminished by the passing of Tom, the Ground Zero Centre for Nonviolent Action continues 'to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action.' You can read about their ongoing efforts on their website, Ground Zero,[10] which also features a 'Current Action Alert: Stop the "Low-Yield" Trident Warhead!'

Each of the individuals mentioned above is part of the ongoing and steadily expanding effort to end the violence in our world. They refuse to accept that violence cannot be ended, and each has chosen to focus on working to end one or more manifestations of violence, according to their particular interests. If you would like to join these people, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'.[9]

If your own interest is campaigning on a peace, climate, environment or social justice issue, consider doing it strategically. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.[11]

If your focus is a defense or liberation struggle being undertaken by a national group, consider enhancing its strategic impact. See Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.[12]

It may be that ending human violence is impossible, as many believe. But there are a great number of people around the world who do not accept this and who are struggling, relentlessly, to end violence before it ends us. What about you? ooo

Reference :
1.      https://www.friendsjournal.org/us-sanctions-iran/
2.      https://transnational.live/2019/04/15/stop-the-ongoing-u-s-economic-terrorism-against-iran-and-help-its-people/
3.      https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-us-imperialism-is-based-on-lies-and-threats/
4.      https://www.pressenza.com/2019/02/a-nonviolent-strategy-to-defeat-a-us-military-invasion-of-venezuela/
5.      https://www.transcend.org/tms/2019/04/every-war-is-a-war-against-children/
6.      https://www.transcend.org/tms/2019/03/can-we-divest-from-weapons-dealers/
7.      https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/the-blue-ocean-event-and-collapsing-ecosystems/
8.      https://dailyasianage.com/news/168079/after-nimtali-now-chawkbazar-inferno-hell-a-crisis-of-humanity
9.      https://thepeoplesnonviolence charter.wordpress.com/
10.   https://www.gzcenter.org/
11.   https://nonviolentstrategy.word press.com/
12.   https://nonviolentliberationstrategy. wordpress.com/

[Robert J Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' His website is http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com/.

[email protected]

Back to Home Page

Frontier
Vol. 52, No. 8, Aug 25 - 31, 2019