The United Nations on Wednesday promoted the annual ‘Season for Non-violence’ to students with songs, speeches and calls for peace.
Choir groups sang of hope, youth leaders spoke on the importance of non-violence, and boys and girls from several schools in and around New York and New Jersey filled every seat of a conference room at the UN headquarters in recognition of the 11th U.N.
Observance of the Season for Non-violence from January 30-April 4. “Education is the key to develop peace, and I am a product of those efforts,” John Ng’Ongolo, a diplomat from Tanzania which helped sponsor the event, told the students. “We will at the end of today... resolve to the use of non-violence, and renounce the use of violence,” he said.
The Season for Non-violence is a national 64-day educational grassroots campaign committed to encouraging non-violence and inspired by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Cesar Chavez. Six other organizations sponsored the UN event, including The MK Gandhi Institute for Non-violence and the Association for Global New Thought, a group that promotes spiritually motivated activism.
The season has been observed at the UN since 1988. Its promotion has led to activities in 467 cities in 40 states and 18 countries over the past eight years, according to the organisers. Michael Beckwith, co-founder of the Association for Global New Thought, which organises ‘A Season of Non-violence’, said the group had gathered to remind themselves that civilisation and violence are antithetical. “You are the spiritual trustees of a civilisation seeking to be born,” he told the hundreds of young people in the audience to loud cheers and a standing ovation.
Stella Schuhmacher, who works in the child protection program at Unicef, the UN children’s agency, introduced a three-year study released in 2006 which exposed the scale and impact of violence against children globally. “Violence is never justifiable and always preventable,” she said.
Gyude Moore, a refugee from Liberia and a graduate student at Georgetown University, encouraged the group to act against injustices they witness in their daily lives. The ‘Peaceport’ was introduced by Molly Taylor, program coordinator for A Season for Non-violence.
By promoting non-violence and performing acts of peace, the students receive stamps from teachers in a passport-like ‘Peaceport’ for each act. Those who perform a dozen acts can be recognized on the organisation’s Web site.