Monday, May 28, 2007
Theories of Nonviolence and Community Reconciliation (by Ben)
(Lam and I)
Last week Holly and I were with CPA’s trainers in Soroti, Uganda. This was our eighth out of ten training modules. Holly and Lam (an Acholi peace activist) worked together to bring new levels of understanding and commitment to nonviolence. Lam vividly described his real life experiences and challenges of brining peace to Northern Uganda, while Holly placed new ideas and inspired reconciliation.
(Holly teaching a model on reconciliation designed by JP Lederach)
A common training technique to get participants to express and debate their views is an activity called “Agree-Disagree”. After a statement is read, individuals take a position by standing along the spectrum of "agreeing" or "disagreeing". One statement provoked an interesting discussion. It is a widely-held belief in the community that “the best punishment for a thief is death.” Participants stood along the entire spectrum of this statement. The legal system is Uganda is so unstable at times that “taking justice into your own hands” is the only way to deter crime. If thieves are brought to the police station, the police will often tell them that they should’ve been dealt with in the traditional way, and that they would release the thief in a day or so. Mob justice certainly is an effective deterrent to crime (and thousands lose their lives to mob violence every year). One trainer raised her hand and spoke of the passage in the Gospels where an angry mob is ready to stone a woman caught in adultery. In this story, Jesus says, “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”. Slowly the crowd dissipated with the elders first to leave. Holly then asked, “Raise your hand if you have ever stolen anything in your life. Whether it be large sums of money or knowingly accepting more change than you were owed after a purchase”. Everyone raised their hands...and there was silence. The following day some participants expressed their new views: that killing wasn’t the answer. This led to discussions and questions on “what true restoration, reconciliation and rehabilitation would look like in Northern Uganda”
(Trainers hard at work)