On August 14, 2016, SIVIC held a forum at Pacifica institute. Interestingly enough it was held the same day when World War 2 ended and a day before India’s Independence Day. The forum had 3 speakers: Dr.Michael Nagler, Maha Elgenaidi, and Dr. Subba Rao. We would like to extend our thanks to Dr.Prasad Kaipa for moderating this wonderful event. Around 100 people attended the forum. The forum referenced many points of view in becoming nonviolent despite the unfortunate events leading up to violence in our world today.
Dr. Nagler expressed his opinion that it was not depression that caused us to go to violent acts on ourselves and others but rather, demoralization. He also included that there are two dilemmas that exists today that made society more and more demoralized; the fact that we see the world as we think it and we need to consume in order to be happy. If our views on the world are negative and we keep trying to consume fame or anything else, we will eventually become more and more inhumane or demoralized and therefore become more violent. In the end of his segment he concluded that there are 5 suggestions he has to offer that would help one start to get on the right track.
Maha Elgenaidi’s segment was more on the Muslim perspective of peace and nonviolence. She included the 7 principles from Islam that promote nonviolence and verse in the Quran that coincides with each principle. A few examples are: Human dignity is absolute, differences in people are in God’s will, and Islam respects all religions. She also incorporated laws of war in Islam. The laws dictate that only in self-defense in violence allowed, that the enemy will be treated the same as their own soldiers, the no women, children, elderly, animals and plants may be harmed, and not to kill unless it is the last choice you have. She ended her segment reminding everyone that Muslims aren’t the only ones that have to follow these laws and principle and encouraged everyone to have a second look on Muslims before accepting the mass media’s view.
Dr. Rao was the final speaker but definitely not the least. During his teen years, he was alongside Mahatma Gandhi and was even thrown in jail when he was 16. Since then, He has been one of the leading figures in nonviolence. Following Gandhi’s way, he promotes peace and nonviolence not only to others but also to oneself by opening up youth camps based on Gandhi’s teachings, travels around to teach the different paths one can take towards nonviolence and joining forums like this to inform the public about the importance of peace and nonviolence within oneself and everyone around. He advised that in order to start the process of nonviolence, one must start through the mind, body and soul. Once you have built those 3 foundations, the energy of peace and nonviolence will bounce off to people around you. Being mindful of even the air we breathe in and out may be the first step toward nonviolence.
The forum ended with a song sang and played by Beth Rose and the participants enjoyed a very delicious lunch. Many agreed that their views on nonviolence is more enhanced causing them to start on the path of peace, love, and compassion.