Tomorrow is the 141st birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the 4th time that the United Nations has observed an International Day of Nonviolence and one year since the start of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence in Wellington, New Zealand.
In these moments exactly one year ago those of us in the World March base team were awakening from a very unusual night’s sleep where 50 of us were sleeping in one room on mattresses with few blankets to keep us warm wondering how we would survive to day 93 if this was only day 1!
For the next 3 months every member of the base team who travelled will no doubt, with the help of this book, be reflecting in quiet moments, “wow, one year ago we had just done this amazing thing in that country. It feels like 10 years ago!”
Last year the World March made a huge contribution to raising awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the run-up to the NPT conference in New York. In this endeavour we were joined by thousands of organisations, big and small, around the world, showing that this demand is not a minority issue, but is the overwhelming desire of the world’s population.
Of course the 10 world leaders who control nuclear weapons chose not to listen to us and the NPT conference was another disappointment for anti-nuclear groups. Nevertheless, our March was a success if for no other reason than for the possibility it gave us to connect to millions of young people around the world. We helped them to connect to their idealism.
We are in a situation now where what is needed is a massive social movement capable of connecting with young people and capable of changing the direction the world is heading in.
For this, a renewed strength in World without Wars is needed because our task is to contribute to the creation of this social movement.
But how to create this social movement? What is required is to connect the pieces of the puzzle together. We have to explain how the global economic system is connected to the arms industry, connected to the banks, connected to poverty, to climate change, to human rights abuses, to war, to governments, to the media, connected to my job (or my lack of job), and above all connected to my stress, to the difficulties I have at home or with my friends, or with my kids or parents, and even with the difficulties I have with myself, my mind and my body. Because the fact is that all of it is connected, and if everyone really could see this connection this movement we speak of would already exist.
The movement we are creating has a direction and it’s a destination just over the horizon, but we are not the only ones going in that direction. We can say to environmental campaigners, to anti-nuclear campaigners, to human rights activists, to anti-poverty groups, to spiritual people and many others, “yes, we’re heading in your direction, let’s all go together.”
A few centuries ago we are taught that Europeans believed the world to be flat and along came Columbus and said, “No, it’s not flat, it’s round. Let’s go to India by heading West.”
A few centuries ago, again in Europe, a point of view was imposed that the Earth was at the centre of the universe and those who disagreed were slaughtered.
Just over 2 centuries ago, again in Europe, people believed that slavery was natural due to the different “natures” of human beings with different skin characteristics.
We Europeans have a lot to answer for!
In this century we are faced with a belief that human beings are naturally violent. We are faced with a belief that happiness comes with money. We are faced with a belief that individuals are powerless to effect real changes.
These are the beliefs that it falls to us to overcome.
One hundred years from now for sure our descendents will be gathering on the 2nd of October 2110 to celebrate Gandhi’s 241st birthday, and the 101st anniversary of the first World March for Peace and Nonviolence. Can we imagine their way of thinking? They will look at money in museums and be amazed by how much pain and violence it caused. They will see documentary films about wars and nuclear weapons and be unable to comprehend why such things existed. Just the same way that we can’t comprehend keeping another human being in slavery.
But we are not looking back from 100 years in the future. We are here now and with this task ahead of us. In World without Wars, we have just suffered the biggest change in our relatively short history after successfully organising and completing the World March, we have lost our Guiding Light, Silo. But Silo was for us an external light, an external point of reference. For each of us now we have to look within ourselves to find that also we have an internal light, and it still guides us and acts as a point of reference. It is that point just over the horizon of time, the Universal Human Nation, and we will get there.