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October 2nd, World Day of Non-violence.

An opportunity to show that the personal and social transformation we aim for is possible: through events and concrete actions.

The United Nations’ General Assembly has declared October 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday, “World Nonviolence Day”, inviting States, celebrities and associations to celebrate. We received the news with great enthusiasm. We imagine that many organizations will respond to the United Nations’ appeal and will use the occasion to give impulse to events dedicated to nonviolence throughout the world.

The United Nations’ decision shows great sensitivity to issues such as nonviolence and peace. We hope, however, that this will not be an empty formality. The risk is that those institutions which concur in creating so many types of violence, but who are very careful with their image and marketing, will take over the Day with proclamations and veneer operations.

In our minds are: the violence of war (especially “humanitarian” wars), as well as those workers without rights, pensioners and all of the new poor, who experience personally the violence of the economic system. This includes laws aiming to liberalize health and education, which demonstrate the governments’ main interest is breaking even their budgets, instead of their citizens’ well being… Violence of all kinds is depicted as a necessary evil and this hypocrisy creates a real fracture inside peoples’ consciences.

Tolstoy in the riveting pages of The Kingdom of God is Within You, which contributed to Gandhi’s formation, wrote “Every war, the most benign, with all of its ordinary consequences, the destruction of harvests, thefts, dissolution, murders and the justifying its need and legitimacy, with the exaltation of military actions, the love of the flag, the fake attention towards the wounded etc…perverts, in just one year, more persons than thousands of sacks, fires, murders committed in one century by isolated individuals led by their passions.” It is easy to grasp the modernity of these words if we think of how, in the climate of uncertainty and fear for our future we are living in, even day to day human relations are becoming more and more cruel.

We need to change course and the World Day of Nonviolence can be a signal launched by all organizations and individuals who have humanity’s future at heart, to carry out concrete, and not merely formal, actions in all areas. Saying no, clearly and definitely, to nuclear weapons and the occupation of foreign territories, is a fundamental step in the direction of nonviolence and we must take it before it’s too late. We need to unite, to set concrete, permanent goals to aim at; to show the possibility of a profound change in our way of acting and living, a need felt by all today.

September 5, 2007
Ileana Prezioso

Movie "What is Active Non Violence?":