Friends of OAV, Frank Islam and Ed Crego, are featured in Huffington Post’s Impact Section.
Can Non-Violence Still Work In a Violent World?
On January 19, people in the United States and around the world celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who used nonviolence to advance civil and human rights.
The question arises — after the tragic shootings at Charlie Hebdo and other horrendous events in dictatorial nation-states over the past few months — whether non-violence can still work in an extremely violent world.
The answer is yes but peace must be forged first.
In response to the Hebdo massacre, numerous cartoonists and columnists used the old phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” in their respective drawings and words.
We agree that the pen is mightier than the sword. But that is only true as long as those with swords are able to protect the rights and lives of those with pens against wanton killers.
The pen works wonders in a civilized society. It is a fragile instrument, however, to employ against terrorists and despots who accept no legal rules or social conventions and will use any means to destroy those whom they hate.
That is why, in describing the necessary roles for the United States in the world in our book Renewing the American Dream, we stated, “Having the ability to be a peacekeeper is essential to the future of the human race.”
This is not an assertion made by war-mongers or security sycophants. It is the assessment of two realists and advocates for peace.
Frank Islam is on the advisory board of the U.S. Institute for Peace — an organization devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflict around the globe. Frank also just received the Martin Luther King Legacy Award for International Service.
Given our predispositions, we both would like to see all dangerous differences and disputes resolved in a nonviolent manner. The hard truth is this is absolutely impossible to do with those who wage war on humanity and decency and are unwilling to negotiate on anything.
Force and other means will be required in order to create the necessary conditions for nonviolence to come into play as a viable tool. Those conditions are: a state of peace, the rule of law, a democratic or participative society and responsible officials in positions of power with the character and courage to recognize inequities and to correct them.
When these conditions exist, non-violence becomes the best weapon in the arsenal for meaningful social change and progress. We have been fortunate to see the extremely positive results that can be achieved through nonviolence by those two champions of nonviolence Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Follow Frank & Ed’s blogs on Huffington Post.