Dr. Paul Interacting with participants during the NEISSAR’s program.

Pedagogy of Nonviolence: Students Look into Lessons of Peacemaking (Nagaland, India)

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Pedagogy of Nonviolence: Students Look into Lessons of Peacemaking (Nagaland, India)

(Original article: The Eastern Mirror, Jan. 28, 2016)

Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence based on moral, religious or spiritual principles. 

The lessons of nonviolence were the focus of two separate educational discourses in Kohima and Dimapur recently. 

Two professors from the United States were in St. Joseph College of Kohima recently on January 25 to conduct an introductory training in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation. Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita, Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, joined by his wife and fellow nonviolence co-trainer, Professor Kay Johnson-Bueno de Mesquita, instructed more than 500 students in the philosophy and principles of Dr. King, who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi.

Recalling Dr. King’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream“ speech, the two nonviolence professors outlined how everyone can realize their dreams if they follow the principles of nonviolence to address inevitable conflicts and to improve social conditions contributing to violence.

Contrary to popular misconceptions that nonviolence is for passive and timid people, Dr. Bueno de Mesquita explained that nonviolence is actually an active way of life for courageous people. King’s vision of the “beloved community” was built on equality and justice for all.

Stressing that the cornerstone of outward nonviolent social change is internal nonviolence of the spirit, known as unconditional Agape, he said “Nonviolence means not just refusing to shoot another, but also refusing to hate another.”

Citing recent research by social scientists, Prof. Paul explained that an analysis of hundreds of nonviolent social change movements over past one hundred years showed them to be twice as successful as political uprisings that resort to violence.

The session offered opportunity for interaction between students and the visiting peace professors. As future leaders and with dreams of their own, St. Joseph students were intellectually curious to learn more. Referring to the current status of race relations and gun violence in the US, students asked “If Dr. King’s dream was fully realized yet?” and “Would it be possible to establish our own Center for Nonviolence right here at St. Joseph’s College?”

As the program began with a peace song, it concluded with a rousing rendition of “We Shall Overcome” the American civil rights anthem of nonviolence. Locking arms, the inspired students joyfully raised their 500 beautiful voices chiming together in harmony and singing with conviction the refrain, “Deep in my heart, I do believe, that we shall overcome some day.”

Workshop on non-violence at NEISSR

The North East Institute of Social Science and Research (NEISSR) organized two days workshop on Non-Violence in collaboration with University of Rhode Island, USA as a build up to the Second National Peace Convention.

The workshop was animated by Dr. Paul. B. Mesquita and Kathryn Johnson – Bueno de Mesquita, School of Education and Centre for Nonviolence & Peace Studies, University of Rhode Island, USA on January 27 and the 28th.

Rev. Dr. C. P. Anto, Principal NEISSR welcomed the participants and stressed on the need of building a society which values the principles of non violence and practice it in everyday life. He expressed that it is fitting for the National Peace Convention to be preceded by a workshop on non violence. The workshop will create conducive ambience and environment for the participants as they partake in the Second National Peace Convention, he added.

Violence has been lauded as the supreme solution and consistently has been excused as acceptable behavior for human being. The tentacles of violence stretch into almost all aspects of our lives. It is in this context, the non violent principles of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., said Dr. Paul.

The two days delved into topics like definitions & myths of non violence, principles of Kingian Non Violence, Dynamics of social conflicts and Hegelian thinking. The participants were also enlightened about the life, the works and the contribution of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The workshop will be followed by the Second National Peace Convention by National Peace Movement in collaboration with Rotary International, North East Institute of Social Sciences and Research, Peace Channel, Universal Solidarity Movement and other nongovernmental organizations. The session will be from January 30 and culminate on the first of February at Hotel Acacia in Dimapur.

The main highlights of the convention are enlightening talks by experts, penal sessions on various issues, preparation for action plan for peace and conflict prevention, the peace awards and peace declaration, the organizers said.

The resource persons are Dr. Paul B. Mesquita, Niketu Iralu, PV Rajgopal, Anuradha Shankar, Dr. Jill Carr-Harris, Prof. A. Lanunungsang Ao, KJ Alphons, among other national and international personalities.

For more information on the National Peace Convention, one may contact the local organizing committee’s office. The address is Peace Channel P.B. no.3, Dimapur–Nagaland, Phone: 094362-60435; 098565-42215. Their e-mails are [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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