Pondering a season for peace and nonviolence

April 05, 2011|By DAVID G. GORDON

Jan. 30 through April 4 was the Season for Peace and Nonviolence. During this time in 2011, a series of articles written by members of the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County discussed examples of how nonviolent acts can move mountains.  

Have lessons been learned from the acts of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.? It would appear in countries around the world their acts have fallen on deaf ears. This is so even in our own country with the sputtering economy and job loss so prevalent that this writer is surprised that we haven't experienced civil unrest.  

Does it take violent acts to accomplish results for the greater good? We live in a world where the media can bring the world into our own living rooms just moments after an event has occurred, be it the earthquake in Japan or the uprisings in Libya or Egypt.

If we didn't have the ability to become focused on events immediately, would we have the same reaction? Natural disasters such as the Japan earthquake bring together people from around the world to help. The media help to significantly shorten our response time. Events such as we are seeing in other parts of the world bring people together for a variety of reasons, but would the reaction be the same if there was a delay in hearing about the event?

The question becomes, "What could men like Gandhi and Dr. King have done to prevent these events?" Their activities in life brought about change. Had they been with us when the people in power in countries where violence is prevalent were establishing themselves, could the outcomes have been different? These are global questions that lend themselves to dialogue and thought.

Even in our own community, activities occur that give us things to consider. Men like Gandhi and Dr. King have taught us lessons on how to understand and deal with activities that bring discourse. These activities have brought together people to act in peaceful and nonviolent ways with this discourse.  

The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County was founded after the events of 9/11. The group is comprised of a number of faith-based leaders in the community, as well as laypersons who came together to create a better understanding of all faith traditions through dialogue and activities. The coalition has provided activities that take the focus away from people who come to our community solely to invoke detrimental thoughts and behavior.

Other organizations provide services for conflict resolution. The Washington County Community Mediation Center provides no-cost, conflict-resolution services. These services allow for individuals or groups to meet in a nonthreatening way to discuss and resolve their issues of conflict.  Another activity occurring in our community is the Choose Civility Initiative.  

Part of the foundation of this movement is to resolve the problem of bullying in schools. Bullying is an activity that has gotten out of hand everywhere and has had some very dire consequences.

On the positive side of activities in our community is the Character Counts Program, which is a program that has seven foundation points that discuss ways to live and be a contributing member of our community. Once again, these are all discussion points to ponder and raise questions on how we can follow in the footsteps of men like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. to make our community a better place to live. More importantly, it allows members of our community, and actually the world community, given our communications abilities, to grow to their fullest potential.

David G. Jordan is executive director of Washington County Community Action Council Inc.

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