A Second Season of Peace on Earth

Refuse to gossip. Look beyond stereotypes and prejudices. Drive with
care and patience. These are just three of the ways you can participate
in the Season for Nonviolence, a celebration established in 1998 to
honor the lives and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.

Conceived by Gandhi’s grandson Arun and organized by the Evanston,
Illinois-based Association for Global New Thought, the Season for
Nonviolence is an annual event beginning January 30, the date of
Gandhi’s assassination, and ending on April 4, the anniversary of
King’s murder. During those 64 days, participants work to spread the
message of nonviolence through their own actions and by influencing the
actions of others.

“Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King had a similar way of saying
‘We must be the change,'” says Sydney Salt, national task force
coordinator for the Season of Nonviolence. “With this event, it is our
purpose to create awareness of how a person can practice nonviolence in
his or her own life. It’s not just about honoring those who are working
to make peace, but also about actually taking the action in your own
hands and doing your part to live a nonviolent life.”

The Season for Nonviolence began in 1998, with an opening ceremony
at the United Nations and observances in 115 U.S. cities and 10
countries around the world. It has been steadily growing since then.
Participating is simple, Salt says. Any person can get involved, and it
doesn’t have to cost anything. Organizers have developed the “64 Ways
and Days” campaign–a list of how to observe a different aspect of
nonviolence during each day of the season–plus a version geared toward
families, as well as a family pledge for nonviolence.

Among the ways the Season of Nonviolence was celebrated last year:

– PeaceQuest 2001. A two-day youth summit designed to introduce Denver teens to the principles of nonviolence.

– Peace Tables. In Napa, California, a community potluck honoring
people who are working for peace as part of their daily lives.

– A Peaceful Community for Every Living Thing. A Clarence, New York,
elementary school program established to guide children through the
Season, highlighting daily nonviolent actions.

Perhaps because the world is now tangled in war, interest in this
year’s events is running especially high. “We weren’t positive that it
would work out this way, but now more than ever, people are committed
to developing creative ways to educate the public about what
nonviolence is,” says Eiesha Mason, director of community outreach
ministry for Agape Church, a Los Angeles church led by one of the
founders of the Association for Global New Thought, the Rev. Dr.
Michael Beckwith.

During this turbulent time, Beckwith says, visionary leaders are
needed to step forward and help point the world toward nonviolent
solutions to complicated problems. “Though what is currently going on
in the world appears to be very negative and destructive, something
else is also being born: A new vision of peace and nonviolence, a new
vision of society. We have to describe for the world what this new
society will look like. What we currently have in the United States is
a president saying, ‘We are going to root out terrorism and keep
shopping.’ That is not a vision to me. We need truly visionary leaders
who can help direct the inner strength of the people.”

“People are desperate for a change,” Eisha Mason adds. “We are
literate in the culture of violence in this society, but we are
illiterate in the culture of nonviolence. In this day and age, it takes
incredible courage to practice nonviolence–much more courage than it
takes to shoot a gun or explode a bomb.”

For more information on the Season for Nonviolence, visit their Web site at Season for Nonviolence

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