To start off this workshop we will see a presentation on the history of non-violence, the individuals and groups who have strongly influenced the world. In particular we will highlight the way many of the most prominent actors were inspired by the examples of previous protagonists.
The presentation is not exhaustive and many people, lesser known in certain parts of the world than in others have also made important contributions. As we carry-out this workshop over time and in different parts of the world we will expand the list to give a broader perspective to the genealogy of non-violence.
Each one of us here is potentially the next branch on the non-violence family tree.
These are some historical figures and currents of thought that appear in the family tree of the non-violent movement. To study their ideas and actions is to come into contact with the process of choosing non violence as a methodology for action. Some of the characters may not have existed in the form that reaches us, but whatever their reality, they are important as part of the chain of inspiration and models.
Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), Ancient Egypt
In the l4th century B.C. this Pharaoh led a dramatic revolution, establishing a monotheistic religion and political changes based on peace and social justice.
“If thou be industrious to procure wealth, be generous in the disposal of it. Man never is so happy as when he giveth happiness unto another."
1200 or 600 AC? in Persia, the young Zarathustra (said to be born from a virgin) began to preach that there was only one true God and saviour, Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom). This gave birth to Zorastrianism as a religion. He opened the road for our present day monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Through the Parsis he also had influence on Hinduism and Buddhism. His teachings: “Think well, do good, speak the truth”. An ethics of personal responsibility: “There is only one way to fight evil, by increasing kindness, and only one way to fight against darkness, by expanding the light. In the same way, only by broadening love and not fighting and opposing one another we can eliminate hatred and enmity.”
Jainism: Ahinsa. India
Jainism was born in India about the same period as Buddhism. It was established by Mahavira (c. 599 - 527 BC) in about 500 B.C. Mahavira like Buddha belonged to the warrior caste. Mahavira was called ‘Jina’ meaning the big winner and from this name was derived the name of the religion.
In many senses Jainism is similar to Buddhism. Both developed as a dissension to the Brahmanic philosophy that was dominant during that period in north-east India. Both share a belief in reincarnation which eventually leads to liberation. Jainism is different to Buddhism in its ascetic beliefs. Both these religions emphasize non-violence, but non-violence is the main core in Jainism.
Jain scriptures list 108 forms of violence!
Gautama Buddha, India
Born a Prince his father attempted to keep him in the Palace, away from all suffering and given to unlimited pleasure. In his youth he walked on the world where he was shocked to see so much sorrow in the form of old age, illness and death. He attempted to reach spiritual development through the known ascetic ways of the time but in failing to do so he developed the “middle path” and communicated it to his disciples.
He propounded the philosophy of non-violence, universal love and peace 2,500 years ago. Emperor Ashoka Maurya from India gave this pacifist philosophy official recognition in the 3rd century B.C. and sent Buddhist missionaries to the far-east and central Asia. For this initiative in spreading the message of peace and non-violence, he is remembered not only by Indians but by pacifists all around the globe.
King Asoka, India
His edicts, based on Ahinsa are mainly concerned with the reforms he instituted and the moral principles he recommended in his attempt to create a just and humane society. He was born in India in 304 B.C. Eight years after his coronation, Asoka's armies attacked and conquered Kalinga. The loss of life caused by battle, reprisals, deportations and the turmoil that always exists in the aftermath of war so horrified Asoka that it brought about a complete change in his personality. After the war Asoka dedicated the rest of his life trying to apply Buddhist principles to the administration of his vast empire. He had a crucial part to play in helping Buddhism to spread both throughout India and abroad. Asoka died in 232 B.C. in the thirty-eighth year of his reign.
Plato. Ancient Greece427 BC. In both the Republic and the Laws, Plato asserts not only that factionalism and civil war are the greatest dangers to the city, but also that peace obtained by the victory of one part and the destruction of its rivals is not to be preferred to social peace obtained through the friendship and cooperation of all the city’s parts. Peace for Plato is not a status quo notion, related to the interest of the privileged group, but a value that most people usually desire. He does not stand for war and the victory of one class, but for peace in social diversity.
The Talmud (Jewish Sacred text)“Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.” (This passage is also in the Koran).
“For the sake of peace one may lie, but peace itself should never be a lie.”
Jesus Christ, Ancient Judea
Here are some of the non-violent teachings attributed to him in the writings of the Apostles
“Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Mt. 5.38-41
"If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John. 8.7
"I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness. Abdu'l-Baha
Islam & Sufism
Ibn Arabi’s doctrine is that the entire universe is His manifestation. This leads to demolition of barriers between people of one religion and the other. Thus peace, friendship and love have been at the centre of this school of sufism
Mansur Al-Hallaj (martyred in 922). exposed the psychospiritual doctrine of “two natures”.
Sufis resist the notion that religious authority should be based on titles and offices. Rather, Sufi teachers gain acceptance and support by their insights and capacity for transmission of enlightenment to their students.
The history of Sufism is filled with examples of interfaith co-operation
Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl, king of Tollan lived between the years 947 and 999 of the Christian era, one of the highest moments in the Meso-American civilization. He inspired, with his ideas and practices a culture called "Toltecayotl" or "Tolteca" that means in Nahuatl: "Learned people". Quetzalcóatl, transmitted his teachings to his people based in the rejection of human sacrifices and all forms of violence. During the period that he governed Tollan it reached the highest moment of Civilization, developing the arts and knowledge. He also developed a creative school, based on teachings of "How man becomes God" by means of different practices and disciplines, based on meditation about oneself and the service to others as well as the relationship between human life and the universe to overcome darkness and contradictions in the human being.
He went on pilgrimage to Mayan lands, where he was known by the name of Kukulkán, spreading his teachings and influence shown clearly in the main pyramid of Txitxen Itzá dedicated to the "feathered snake".
The Aztecs betrayed his teachings adoring the God Huitzilopochtli, God of War trying to destroy all vestige of the Tolteca Culture in the valley of Mexico
Laura Cereta, a Renaissance Feminist. Italy
15th century writer who stressed the emotions in a genre (criticism) long assumed to be the domain of the rational faculties only attempted to reconstruct and redefine the concept of gender, proposing mutual support of women by women and the idea of a community of women, she saw housework as a barrier to women's literary aspirations and held that “all human beings, women included, are born with the right to an education” and raised the mainstreaming of women's writing into genres and venues that were once for men only and searched for ways to give access to women to public life.
Bartolomé de Las Casas (1484-1566). Spain-Mexico
Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, dedicated his life to the defence of indigenous peoples is today seen as one of the precursors of the theory and practice of Human Rights.
A Spanish colonist, a priest, founder of a Utopian community and first Bishop of Chiapas, was a scholar, historian and 16th century human rights advocate. He has been called the Father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism
George Fox, founder of the Quakers. UK
1624 –1691. Living in a time of great social upheaval, he rebelled against the religious and political consensus by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith.
It was as early as the 1600s that Quakers began their fight against slavery, and thus the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
On Non-Violence: "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world." Quaker statement to King Charles II, 1660
"A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it. “ William Penn, 1693
Tom Paine. UK
Poverty, they suggested, is unacceptable and something that should and could be eliminated.
Paine 1737-1809 born in England, fought for American independence. His book The Rights of Man was published in UK in 1792. It was banned for its antiestablishment stance, but became a best seller. He opposed slavery and was amongst the earliest proponents of social security, universal free public education and a guaranteed minimum wage.
Mary Wollstonecraft. UK
She described the process by which parents brought their daughters up to be docile and domesticated.
She maintained that if girls were encouraged from an early age to develop their minds, it would be seen that they were rational creatures and there was no reason whatsoever for them not to be given the same opportunities as boys with regard to education and training.
Women could enter the professions and have careers just the same as men. (“A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” published during the French Revolution)
She died in childbirth (her daughter Mary Shelly then wrote Frankenstein)
Immanuel Kant. Germany
In 1795 Kant published an essay entitled "Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch." In his view the Treaty of Basel between Prussia and France, was only "the suspension of hostilities, not a peace.“
In the essay, Kant argues that it is humankind's immediate duty to solve the problem of violence and enter into the cosmopolitan ideal of a universal community of all peoples governed by the rule of law.
Kant believed that peace could be gradually extended. The first step was for States to become Republican. As a second step, all Republican States would join a federation. One day, this federation would embrace all States of the earth.
He is considered to be the inspiration for the creation of the League of Nations as the way to end all wars.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), US
US essayist, poet, and practical philosopher, renowned for having lived the doctrines of Transcendentalism (that was amongst other things concerned with the end of slavery) as recorded in his masterwork, Walden (1854), and for having been a vigorous advocate of civil liberties, as evidenced in the essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849). “One has a moral obligation to refuse to cooperate with an unjust social system.”
Leon Tolstoy (1828 –1910), Russia
He was a Russian novelist, reformer, pacifist and moral thinker, notable for his ideas on non-violent resistance. He was born into the aristocracy but renounced its privileges.
Tolstoy's Christian beliefs were based on the Sermon on the Mount, and particularly on the comment about turning your cheek, which he saw as a justification of pacifism. These beliefs came out of a middle aged crisis that began with a depression so severe that if he saw a rope it made him think of hanging himself, and he had to hide his guns to stop himself committing suicide.
Yet out of this depression came his radical and very original new ideas about Christianity. He believed that a Christian should look inside his or her own heart to find inner happiness rather than looking outward toward the church or state. His belief in non-violence when facing oppression is another distinct attribute of his philosophy. By directly influencing Mohandas Gandhi with this idea Tolstoy has had a huge influence on the non-violent resistance movement to this day. He believed that the aristocracy was a burden on the poor, and that the only solution to how we live together is through anarchy. He also opposed private property and the institution of marriage and valued the ideals of chastity and sexual abstinence.
In one of his letters, Tolstoy noted that Thoreau had about written Civil Disobedience fifty years previously. He claims to have been influenced by the Quakers and the anti-slavery movement in the United States.
The Moriori. Chatham Islands, New Zealand
As a small and precarious population, Moriori embraced a pacifist culture that rigidly avoided warfare, substituting it with dispute resolution in the form of ritual fighting and conciliation. The ban on warfare and cannibalism is attributed to their ancestor Nunuku-whenua.
Today, in spite of the difficulties and genocide that Moriori faced, with unrelenting stoicism and peaceful resignation, Moriori are enjoying a renaissance, both on Rekohu (their island) and in mainland New Zealand
Mohandas K Gandhi (1869 - 1948), India
In 1889 Gandhi went to England to study law, and was graduated from the Inner Temple of London. While he was in England, a number of vegetarian friends who formed his support group persuaded Gandhi to study Indian religions and literature.
When he returned to India, however, he could not find a job; so he accepted an offer to go to South Africa. He was hired to serve as a lawyer to a rich Indian merchant who had settled there. While travelling in South Africa to his place of employment, Gandhi was madly mistreated by the white officials of the railway company because of his skin colour. As a result of this incident, Gandhi began to think about the treatment of minorities and what could be done to improve the situation. In those days, apartheid, or racial segregation, was the law and policy of the government of South Africa. So after Gandhi settled his employer's legal matters, he began to organize the Indian community to demand their civil rights.
During his 20 years in South Africa, Gandhi developed his principles of non-violent resistance. He led this struggle in non-violent confrontations with the government. The rules of non-violent resistance that he laid down are:
1. No hitting back (no retaliation),
2. Endure personal pain and suffering, even death,
3. Express love and forgiveness toward the oppressor, and
4. Harbour no intent to harm or humiliate the oppressor, but rather a desire to settle (reconcile) differences.
After gaining many civil rights reforms, Gandhi left South Africa and returned to India in 1914. At first he travelled widely in the country to see for himself the conditions in which the poor lived, and to learn from them the ways in which he could help.
Then he began to protest the British government's rule over India. He supported the farmers of the Champaran district in their fight against the British landlords who were their oppressors. He won a fair settlement and a good price for the farmer's produce. He successfully mediated a labour dispute in the textile industry in the city of Ahmedabad. When the district of Bardoli refused to pay what they considered unfair taxes, Gandhi encouraged other districts to do the same in support, believing that this would overthrow the British government. However, when some of his supporters rioted and killed 22 policemen in Chauri-Chaura, Gandhi called off the rebellion. He felt personally responsible for the killings, and he did not want to kill the British to achieve peace and justice for his people. He believed that killing to get what you want was wrong, and he chose to fail, rather than achieve independence for India. He continued to stand by his principles of non-violence, and earned the title of Mahatma - "The Great Soul."
During the second World War, the Moslem League broke from Gandhi and demanded that India be divided into two countries - one mostly Moslem and one mostly Hindu. Since every city, town and village had mixed populations of many religions and sects, Gandhi did not agree with their position. He felt that this division would lead to war, and in 1947, when the British divided the country into India and Pakistan, his prediction came true.
During this time of civil war, Gandhi resided in the state of Bengal, in Eastern India. He brought peace to that part of the country. He then went to Delhi and accomplished the same thing there, after which he planned to move to the newly created country of Pakistan and plead for peace. But on January 30, 1948, his peaceful mission ended. He was assassinated by a fanatic he had helped free from British rule.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan - Pakistan
Islam’s great Non-Violent hero. A deeply pious Muslim, tolerant and liberal, the Frontier Gandhi was a staunch Congressman and a Gandhian all his life
He opposed the India-Pakistan partition. Badshah Khan, as was also known, was a model of non-violence in a society dominated by violence; his unswerving faith and obvious bravery led to immense respect.
Because of his principles Badshah Khan was repeatedly imprisoned by both the British and Pakistani governments. He spent 33 years in prisons.
In Britain and the United States they worked for decades to win equality in voting rights, first through calm persuasion and, when that failed, through civil disobedience, a tactic that protesters would adopt later. They broke street lamps, cut telephone lines and slashed museum paintings. One suffragist threw herself under the king’s horse during a race and was killed.
In March 1913, 5,000 women staged a suffrage pageant in Washington, withstanding a mob's attacks until cavalry troops intervened. "Nothing less than riots," was an associated press correspondent's description.
Eight months later in London, a protest at parliament became "black Friday," which a historian described as "a battle between the police and not the unemployed, the homeless or the destitute -- but middle- and upper-class women of all ages." Not all agreed with the escalation or the Pankhurst style of leadership and a number of members left the group in 1907 with Despard, Edith How Martyn, Teresa Hillington-Greig, Octavia Lewin, and Caroline Hodgeson to form another militant, but this time non-violent, organisation: the Women 's Freedom League which engaged in acts of civil disobedience.
Aldo Capitini, Italy
He was during Mussolini reign very active in covert, anti-fascism propaganda among the youth of central Italy. He wrote a book where he stressed the infinite potentialities inherent in any layman, since a great experience of liberation may start from an interior process, although oppressed by a negative society; a characteristic statement of this period is : "God is not truth, God is to choose". Although he did not belong to any political party, his life became an example among the Italian anti-fascists, He observed that “the fundamental question is not the knowledge of the method but to have the will, to be open to the spirit of non-violence”.
In 1961 he launched a peace march, (at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis) Perugia – Assisi (28 km). For the first time the march collected together all eminent friends of peace, although coming from very different ideologies (philosophers as n. Bobbio and a. Calogero were his close friends). This event started an Italian tradition: the peace march was reiterated several times (twice in 1999) as the most important national peace action.
Albert Einstein, Switzerland/US
Einstein believed in non-violence and opposed World War I. As he put it, "a moral attitude to life, love of justice and knowledge, and a desire for personal independence influenced me." Thus, he supported Jews and their desire for a homeland in Palestine, not as a political state, but as a place where Jews could develop their culture and share the land with their neighbours.
Martin Luther King, US
Martin Luther King, Jr. came from a hard-working, honest and well-educated middle-class family. He studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi during his student days, and realized that Gandhi’s methods of non-violent resistance were the correct tools to use to gain civil rights for poor minorities. To those who accused him of causing trouble, King replied that the downtrodden and mistreated people can only get justice and peace by agitating non-violently until their grievances were redressed.
The Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-1956 gave the Reverend King his first chance to practice non-violent resistance to unjust laws. Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat in the bus to a white passenger, which was required by the law in the south at that time. For this she was arrested and summoned to court. The black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama decided to boycott the buses for one day. This boycott proved to be so successful that they continued it. They refused to ride the buses at all until they were given what they considered to be civil rights under the law. All they asked for was courteous treatment from the bus drivers, seating in the buses to follow an orderly pattern. That included white people in the front and blacks in the back of the bus, and jobs for black drivers, especially on the bus routes populated by minority citizens.
Dr. King was named the leader of this boycott. During the 382-day ordeal, he succeeded in getting his people to walk, ride mules or bikes, and to car-pool, but never to ride the bus to work, school or play. During this time, Dr. King was harassed, imprisoned, and humiliated. His home was even bombed, but he never retaliated physically. He taught his followers to use peace, not violence, to win their battles. The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, finally heard the case, and decided that the cause was just. The buses of Montgomery were finally integrated.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1964.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Rosa Parks. US
Rosa Parks, a black seamstress and civil rights activist, refused to give up her seat in the bus to a white passenger, which was required by the law in the south at that time. For this she was arrested and summoned to court. The black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama decided to boycott the buses for one day, launching in this way ML King’s campaign. She was awarded de Congressional Gold Medal.
Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, Northern Ireland
The two women led marches in which Protestants and Catholics walked together in demonstrations for peace and against violence. Williams and Corrigan "have shown us what ordinary people can do to promote peace." They had the courage to take the first step. "They did so in the name of humanity and love of their neighbour; someone had to start forgiving. ... Love of one's neighbour is one of the foundation stones of the humanism on which our western civilisation is built." It is vitally important that it "should shine forth when hatred and revenge threaten to dominate." Theirs was "a courageous unselfish act that proved an inspiration to thousands, that lit a light in the darkness..." Nobel Peace Prize 1967.
Patrice Lumumba, Congo
Independence speech: “…We are going to put an end to suppression of free thought and see to it that all our citizens enjoy to the full the fundamental liberties foreseen in the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
We are going to do away with all discrimination of every variety and assure for each and all the position to which human dignity, work, and dedication entitles him.
We are going to rule not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and the will….”
Bertrand Russell. UK
1872–1970 Influential British mathematician, philosopher, and logician. Example of non-religious peace campaigner.
Dismissed from Trinity College and imprisoned for five months as a result of anti-war protests. Appointment at City College New York revoked following public protests. Dismissed from Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania, also due to his anti-war activities.
Organised the first Pugwash Conference. Founding President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Imprisoned for the last time aged 89 for one week in connection with anti-nuclear protests.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma
The sources of her inspiration were Mahatma Gandhi, about whom she had learned when her mother was the ambassador to India, and her father, Aung San, the leader in Burma's struggle for liberation. She was only two when he was assassinated, but she had made his life a centre of her studies. From Gandhi she drew her commitment to non-violence, from her father the understanding that leadership was a duty and that one can only lead in humility and with the confidence and respect of the people to be led. Both were examples for her of independence and modesty, and Aung San represented what was called "a profound simplicity" (Nobel Peace Prize speech). At the ceremony for Aung San Suu Kyi in December 1991, she was still being held in detention by the military dictatorship in Myanmar (Burma) and could only be represented by her two sons, her husband and her picture facing the audience.
The National league for democracy was formed, with Suu Kyi as general secretary. It promoted a policy of non-violence and civil disobedience. Defying a ban, Suu Kyi made a speech-making tour throughout the country to large audiences.
Suu kyi continued to campaign despite harassment, arrests and killings by soldiers. She was prohibited from standing for election.
There was a famous incident in Irawaddy delta when Suu Kyi courageously walked toward soldiers’ rifles aiming at her. She was placed under house arrest, without charge or trial. Despite her detention her party won the elections with 82% of parliamentary seats. The military Junta refused to recognise the results.
She was granted 1990 Rafto human rights prize and was the winner of 1991 Nobel peace prize.
“If you are feeling helpless, help someone”
At present she is an elected Member of Parliament but she continues her struggle for Democracy.
Shirin Ebadi, Iran
“As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety.
Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilised unless the rights of women and children are respected. In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence. It is fundamental to her view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favours enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict.” (Nobel Peace Prize speech)
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana
Inspired by Gandhi’s teachings adopted the philosophy of Positive Action on the principle of non-violence.
In 1957 he made Ghana the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to win independence from European colonial rule.
He used it as a platform to lead to the total emancipation of Africa from colonial rule, and also to campaign for a political union of the newly independent states and the integration of their economies.
Although his rule has been criticised as authoritarian and undemocratic he was aware that his socialist project had many enemies abroad, (at the peak of the Cold War) and he survived 5 assassination attempts. He is still considered one of the great leaders of the Pan African Movement
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Russia
Leader and president of the USSR 1985–91. He attempted to revive the faltering Soviet economy through economic reforms (perestroika) and liberalise society and politics through glasnost (openness) and competition in elections, and to halt the arms race abroad through arms reduction agreements with the USA. He pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan and allowed the Soviet-bloc states in central Europe greater autonomy, a move which soon led to the break-up of the USSR and end of the Cold War. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1990 for promoting greater openness in the USSR and helping to end the Cold War. He launched with other Peace Prize winners the “Decade of Peace and Non Violence for the children of the world” programme for the first 10 years of the new millennium to be dedicated to Education for Non Violence, now run by UNESCO.
The Mandela conundrum
Nelson Mandela is the undisputed great leader of the African liberation. He abandoned non-violence in the face of his people’s massacres in favour of a campaign of sabotage and armed struggle.
During his prison years he refused offers of release if he renounced violence on the grounds that only free people can freely enter into contracts. By doing this he applied the non-violent principle of passive resistance.
Not to pay homage to him is to let one of the greatest struggles of the world go unrecognised. He represents the conundrum faced by all those who are being violently oppressed.
Paradoxically his campaign added International Pressure to the arsenal of the methodology of non-violence
Rigoberta Menchú, Guatemala
It was announced in October 1992 that the Nobel Peace prize would go to Rigoberta Menchú, a Mayan Indian of Guatemala "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples."
That Menchú did not turn to violence, but to political and social work for her people is the reason why she received the prize. She became an active member of the Committee for Campesino Unity and then helped found the Revolutionary Christians. Menchú explained that "we understood revolutionary in the real meaning of the word 'transformation.' If I had chosen the armed struggle, I would be in the mountains now." Although she has admitted her book contains some events later proven to be not true, the Nobel committee accepted it as a true representation of the lives of Guatemalan Indians, if not her real biography.
Silo: Mario Rodriguez Cobos, Argentina
An Argentinean thinker and writer who, as a response to the violence around the world and especially the military dictatorships of South America, launched a non-violence movement in his hometown of Mendoza. Throughout the sixties his thinking developed to the point where the first public exposition of his work was made in 1969 in a location called Punta de Vacas in the Andes mountain range with a speech called “The Healing of Suffering”. His message: “Carry peace in yourself and carry it to others”.
This movement has developed since with expressions in the political, social and cultural fields through the formation in many countries of:
World without Wars and without Violence: working for the end of wars, nuclear weapons and all other forms of violence (launched the World March for Peace and nonviolence)
The Convergence of Cultures, bringing together different cultures, ethnic groups and lifestyles
The Centre of Humanist Studies: adding academic work about the methodology of Non-violence
The Humanist Party working for real rather than purely formal democracy, human rights, an economic model for social justice and the environment.
The Community for human development dealing with the implementation of educational and cultural activities
Each of these organisms bases their activities on the principles of non-violence and anti-discrimination. Today, the philosophy of this Movement is known by the name New or Universalist Humanism and can be distilled down to two primary principles:
1. Solidarity - Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
2. Coherence - Think, feel and act in the same way.
The Humanist Attitude
• Placing the human being, rather than money or power, as the central value
• Affirming the equality of all human beings
• Recognising personal and cultural diversity, rejecting any form of discrimination
• The continuous development of human knowledge beyond absolute truths and dogmas.
• Sustaining freedom of ideas and beliefs
• Rejecting violence in all its forms.
Silo’s Message was launched in 2003 to express a profound spirituality capable of moving towards personal and social non-violent transformation, with freedom of interpretation and association.