"Exhibiting You" - Story

Women and Nonviolence

Sister Joan Chittister and Gaza Women

By: Andre Sheldon
Submitted: 07/05/2008

Sister Joan Chittister is co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW). Sister Joan has written many books, co-chairs Tikun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, directs her own research organization, Benetvision, and travels the world giving speeches to inform the public of a desire to end violence and destruction. She told me a story of a woman in Gaza who came up to her pleading for help. The woman must have thought Sister Joan could help. What could have given her that idea?

GPIW is researching and developing strategies for world peace. They are doing phenomenal work in organizing and sponsoring conferences, conventions and peace initiatives. What they don’t have is clout. Clout would allow them to influence others. For example, GPIW has been to Syria, Jerusalem, and Gaza on missions of peace. Who knows about it? What influence do the women have? The men are fighting. The families are struggling and the extremists are winning. Where is the moderate voice? The extremists are resorting to violence as their only means to confront their plight. The existing political avenues are breaking down because there is not a commitment to peace, and that is exactly what the women are asking for. But, the masses of people can’t depend on the women’s initiatives or support them because they don’t even know anything about them. The majority of people would probably support a peace movement if they thought it had clout.

How can the word be spread that there is a peace movement and a desire for peaceful conflict resolution? What strategy can be implemented to create awareness? Then, what type of strategy can pre-empt violence?

The answer lies within the desire to save the children. The children are seeing violence. They are experiencing death and trauma. They are not seeing any success of diplomacy. As a result, they will grow up with anger and a desire for revenge. What is needed is a success – something to instill a belief that there is a peaceful way to resolve problems. However, the obstacles in the way are gigantic. The access to violence is prevalent in our world. Arms sales and balance of power is the modus operendi of the world’s societies and is powerful. What is strong enough to confront the corporate, military machine? It seems invincible.

There are people that believe the power of the people can make a difference. They believe the power of the people can counteract the power of the military mind. A counter initiative is needed. If violence is on one hand, should the counter balance be nonviolence? Is there strength in nonviolence? Is nonviolence the key to a people movement?

What will create a nonviolent initiative to be large enough to influence the world? Their must be a unifying thread that brings everyone together. It was stated earlier that the answer lies within saving the children. If a peaceful future for the children is the goal, then something must be found that links the children. Is there a thread that is common in every village, every town, every city, in every country? Is it the caretaker of the children? Are the women concerned for the well being of their children as their first thought? Are the women protecting the children while there is violence?

People in Gaza are confronted with violence every day! The women have no say in what is happening. What would the women do to solve the problems? Would the women be fighting in the streets? Would the women be bombing each other? The answers are, probably not. Would the women be nonviolent? Isn’t that what the objective is, nonviolence? Doesn’t it seem logical that that is where the solution could be found? Should the women be empowered? If men are fighting, should the women be attempting to be the balance? Are the women doing if for themselves, or are they doing it FOR the CHILDREN?

What can empower the women? If there is an example to follow, would the women be empowered? Who will set an example? Who will be proactive? Who will come to the rescue of the women of Gaza, or the women in any violent area? Could there be a shining example of nonviolence to save the children? Are the women of the world, the link to the children? Do the women have to arise globally and illustrate an overt example of nonviolence that will influence others? Is it the influence that will bring change? It probably isn’t military might, as we are learning.

The road will be difficult. There is no instant solution. There will be suffering, pain, and sorrow. There will be sacrifice required. There will be death. But, will there be as much death as a war? Is there a desire to pre-empt or stop war?

Can Sister Joan Chittister influence women to come together to create clout and awareness? Is there any woman in the world that can accomplish this? Isn’t that what the woman in Gaza was asking Sister Joan for? Did the woman in Gaza know something we don’t know? Should we be learning a lesson? Would men support women?

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