“Campaign Nonviolence” Symposium at ASCC
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
September 21st -27th was designated as the kick off week for the national movement of "Campaign Nonviolence.” Initiated by the California-based Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, Campaign Nonviolence is described as a long-term movement to bring the concept on nonviolence into the national mainstream and to build a culture of peace free from war, poverty, and the climate crisis. Backed by 150 national and local justice, peace, environmental and religious organizations, Campaign Nonviolence invited people everywhere to take a public stand against all violence and to take action for a culture of peace and nonviolence.
The American Samoa Community College hosted a Campaign Nonviolence Symposium on Tuesday, September 23, from 12:30 to 2:00 in the Lecture Hall to inform students, teachers and all those interested in "Methods of Nonviolence," and to give examples of worldwide movements that face the challenges of poverty, climate crisis and violence/oppression of all types. The symposium, presented in conjunction with the Children’s Healthy Living Project currently underway at the College’s Community & Natural Resources (CNR) division, explored the connection between economic hardship and the effects of global warming as factors linked to violence and oppression.
“To study the circumstances that foster violence, we consider our environment as a whole,” said CNR Intervention Specialist Agnes Vargo, one of the symposium organizers. “Poverty has long been recognized as a factor in violence, and as the global warming crisis only escalates over time, we believe that both the fear and the indifference that results are also factors that can lead people to behave in unhealthy ways they normally would not. Indifference and apathy, even if they don’t lead directly to violence, foster an environment where people think it’s useless to try and do something about it, which coincidentally is also how many people feel about climate change. We need to remind people that there is in fact very much that can easily be done.”
The symposium was introduced with video clips of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and other peacemakers. The guest speakers included Police Commander Sunia Va’a Sunia, who gave a sobering account of firearms smuggled into the Territory over the last decade. Samoan Studies Institute Director Okenaisa Fauolo followed, with an inspiring mini-history of the Mau movement in Samoa as an example of non-violent activism in these islands. Mrs. Florence Ainuu continued with recent statistics on child abuse in American Samoa, and Mrs. Vargo followed with a talk on the relationship between healthy living and healthy behavior. To continue the momentum, the symposium organizers invited students and community members in attendance to form action groups, and to utilize the challenge or theme of "La'a Loa," which translates as “stepping forward.”
“We envision a world with the tools to challenge the spiral of war, poverty and environmental devastation,” said Pace e Bene Director Ken Butigan, “and a world where we apply these tools to our own lives as well as our larger society. Our mission is to foster a just and peaceful world through nonviolence education, community-building, and action.” Founded in 1989 by the Franciscan Friars of California, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service is now an independent, nondenominational 501(c)3 organization. Pace e Bene’s name derives from St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, who used this phrase in their own time as a form of greeting, which translated from Italian means “Peace and all good!” Pace e Bene has offices and associates in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, New Mexico, New England, Montreal, Australia and a growing number of partners and trainers in the US and around the world.
In the same week as the symposium at ASCC, Campaign Nonviolence launched its multi-year effort with 110 nonviolent marches and rallies in cities and towns across the United States. Following the People’s Climate March in New York, on September 21 on the eve of the UN Summit on Climate Change, the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Action across the U.S. reinforced the march’s call for rapid global action to reverse the climate crisis and also underscore the connections between climate destruction, war and poverty.
For more information on Campaign Nonviolence, contact Agnes Vargo of CNR at 699-1575, or Mrs. Mona Uli at 256-1459.