2 October 2019 Sunium hosted its first online panel discussion to celebrate the International Day of Non-Violence. Global Youth Leaders from locations such as Ukraine, the Maldives, India, and Kurdistan were brought together to reflect on the nature of violence, the meaning of non-violence philosophy and share their personal experiences as peace ambassadors.
Destruction at every level
To kick off the debate, the panelists reflected on violence as such: Where does it come from? What does it mean? All the panelists agreed on common ground – that violence originates from injustice as one of the fundamental causes: ”it comes from the experiences people had in the previous times, from the frustration they have developed and the injustices that they have faced.”
An educator from India, Natasha also reflected on Gandhi’s teachings: “I relate to his words, If you want to see the change in the world, be that change; the way to invite those values is not to bring up weaponries, not to be violent, rather use your words! Whatever injustice you’re fighting for, you can change the situation rather than disrupt everything and hurt people.” Moreover, violence brings destruction at various levels, not just to humans, or property, but also to the overall societal development for generations to come.
Power of one
Even though non-violence is often criticised for its meekness and submissiveness, the panelists believe in the importance of pursuing the non-violent philosophy. Sometimes the violent one seems to hold the upper hand by creating fear and ‘holding power’. We need to admit: the differences, as well as conflicts, will not cease to exists, however, we need to sort it out via non-violent ways, and that comes down to a mindset change. Even one click or post on social media can have a positive impact on changing the perception of trying to understand the other.
Moreover, responsibility is not only for us to act, but we also have the same responsibility for inaction. If there is at least one person who is doing the right thing, it has a big impact on reducing bad conformity. It derives not from the number, not from how big the group is, but it’s uniformity. Moderator Roman says: “When people conform, they know they’re right, but they do the wrong thing because of the pressure.” Overall, everything starts with people and ends with people, it is important to keep raising awareness and carry out the message of non-violence.
Talking about the power of a single person, Solin, a young activist from Kurdistan inspired people with her reflection: “In Iraq, we struggle a lot. The violence against women is on an alarming scale. I’ve been working hard to build bridges between the two genders and break the stereotypes, e.g. working as a mechanic, fixing cars, a place where women should not belong.” Bringing inspiration from other cultures, Solin decided to fight the stigma and show the true power of being a woman.
TV presenter and activist Mazin elaborates on the importance of women empowerment: “I volunteer at an NGO, where we provide free training and help single moms by taking care of their children while they study.” In such a way, women are not isolated from society and can keep developing their personal and professional skill sets. However, Mazin reflects, feminism would not help in dealing with non-violence since we cannot justify violence by gender. Both men and women can be violent even though some believe that it’s in “men’s nature to be wild.”
There are many different interpretations and approaches to the issues discussed during the panel. The only way we can foster and grow together is by continuous discussions that bring us together and align our paths towards sustainable peace.
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