1) 15th Annual International Nonviolence Summer Institute at University of Rhode Island, U.S.
Freedom from hate begins with the right understanding. As the participants of the training came from different countries and all walks of life, I have the opportunity throughout the two weeks to get a true look at what is happening at each part of the world. Even though globalization and technology have bridged the geographical distance, my understanding of the world is not wider than my neighborhood and my comfort zone. Conversing and listening deeply to the stories each participant share during the training made me realize that everyone is facing the same challenges. Whether it is civils wars, corruption, extremist groups, poverty, etc., these are the sufferings that almost all nations face. Despite the differences in languages, religions, races, beliefs and opinions, we are all the same when it comes to the fundamental things that made us suffer. When the similarity dawned on me, it made me feel that other participants across the room are no different than my own brothers and sisters. The thousands of deaths and rampant chaos caused by political corruption and the extremist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria is much alike to the political corruption and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Not to mention, the corruption and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi in Thailand have also resulted in much social discords and terror in my home country. Even the United States, the country with the highest GDP (Knoema, 2015), is facing similar predicament of social conflicts and poverty.
Hence, as I come to grasp the fact that we are one family facing the same problems, the next question is how to solve them. According the Kingian Philosophy, Agape is the answer to the violence and conflict reconciliation. Agape is the unconditional, unselfish love for another without the need of reciprocity. It also means the love one has for all humanity (Moseley, 2010). An example of Agape love is found in parental love. When a mother loves her child, her love transcends all flaws and mistakes of the child. No matter how unforgiving the child might behave, a mother still love her child unconditionally because agape comes hand-in-hand with forgiveness.
In relation to violence, agape prevents it from occurring in the first place because violence breeds when one lack the love for one another. Agape love understand that humans make mistakes and we cannot escape from aging, illness and death. Therefore, when we has agape love, we see that others are no different from ourselves. As the Bible puts it, agape is loving “thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). For example, agape love do not see the extremist groups as the blood-thirsty terrorists. Instead, they are the same as us, a part of the community who share different opinions. Whether these opinions translate to harmful actions, agape love do not distinguish between ‘us’ vs ‘they’. Therefore, as the Kingian philosophy emphasizes, agape love is the solution to understanding and solving violence and conflicts.
As the two weeks of Kingian Nonviolence training came to a conclusion, the micro-world I was living in expanded and the lens, which I use to look at the world, also changed. The training provide me with the understanding that:
1) Despite all the surface differences, we are all fundamentally the same.
2) Having agape love is how one can reconcile conflicts and solve violence.
Therefore, to free oneself from hate is to fill oneself with love.
The International Nonviolence Summer Institute is an intensive experiential two-week “training of trainers” workshop giving participants a comprehensive introduction to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence. The training is useful for people of all ages and backgrounds, including those who experience different levels of violence in their daily lives, and people seeking justice, equality, and human rights through nonviolent social change. The workshop includes a review of the Kingian Nonviolence model for conflict reconciliation and social transformation and provides a framework for conflict management, mediation, and ultimately reconciliation.
The Institute is facilitated by Center faculty and certified Kingian Nonviolence training staff, working in collaboration with distinguished visiting scholar, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.
Examples of training content include modules in:
- The concepts of nonviolence and Dr. King’s eclectic philosophy based on his writings
- Types and levels of conflict
- An examination of Martin Luther King’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence
- An analysis of the 6 Steps of Nonviolence
- A review of Dr. King’s key campaigns
- Dynamic models of social change
- Role plays, lectures, and group simulation exercises provide opportunities for application of the material
Participants earn Level I certification as Nonviolence Training Affiliates of the Center, qualified as co-trainers in presenting a Kingian Nonviolence 2-Day Core Introductory Workshop. (“General Information”, 2015)
- Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies, University of Rhode Island. (2015). General information. Retrieved from http://web.uri.edu/nonviolence/?p=5489.
- Knoema. (2015). World GDP ranking 2015 data and charts. Retrieved from http://knoema.com/nwnfkne/world-gdp-ranking-2015-data-and-charts.
- Moseley, A. (2010). Philosophy of love. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/love/.