Justice Brandeis of the Peace
The United Nations established September 21 as the International Day of Peace in 1981 as a way of drawing attention to the need for concerted action in pursuit of the elusive ideal. Brandeis latched onto this commemoration and has celebrated it for several years.
Monday’s main events included Peace of Mind, a gathering in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium to help develop inner peace, and Nonviolence Training, the first in a series of sessions intended to teach Kingian non-violence strategies (as in Martin Luther King, Jr.). Both events focused on practical, hands-on methods for promoting harmony and compassion in a time where such initiatives are sorely needed.
Peace of Mind, put on by Sangha, a non-denominational Buddhist community and the PAX program, gave students a forum to express their beliefs about how to transform the world by transforming ourselves. Students took turns sharing inspiring quotes, personal reflections, and stories. Reverend Walter Cuenin, Coordinator of the Interfaith Chaplaincy, addressed the group with sanguine words on the power individuals have in promoting peace, and Alex Kern, Protestant chaplain, led the assembled in a song.
Professor Gordie Fellman, head of the PAX Department, shared some words about the international and historical implications for this day, offering Gen. MacChrystal’s plea for more troops in Afghanistan as an example of the challenges to peace in our time. Yet the event maintained a decidedly apolitical tone, emphasizing instead the spiritual and interpersonal aspects of peacebuilding.
“I hope that people don’t think of International Day of Peace as some idealistic time for all the hippies to come on stage and preach peace,” explained Miriam von Guggenberg ’10, “but I hope it is a day that triggered a compassionate and/or thought of gratitude in each person who walked through the bustling Shapiro Campus Atrium.”
“It is my hope,” said Jessica Stearns ’10, one of the organizers of Peace of Mind, “that people took away from these events a different definition of peace. Peace as a practice. As something you do, not something you believe in.”
The Nonviolence Training, organized by the Student Peace Alliance, took a different approach in pursuit of the same ends. Members of SPA attended a nonviolence certification program last year and decided to use their skills to educate the Brandeis community about principles and concrete methods of nonviolence. This session included breakout groups and hypothetical scenarios to help students understand ways of tackling real-life campus issues.
“The objective of this exercise was to provide participants perspective on how a community can become empowered to face conflict in a constructive and nonviolent manner,” explained Ned Crowley ’10.
The turnout for both events was modest, but the general acceptance of and interest in peace sparked by the day’s events demonstrated that Brandeis is still full of a bunch of peaceniks. And that’s not such a bad thing.
More posts by Maxwell Price
- Get with the funk - March 18, 2011
- The Dirty Projectors strut their stuff - November 20, 2009
- Screening of new documentary “The Horse Boy” challenges paradigms - November 13, 2009
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- Obbini Tumbao shakes up Brandeis with Latin grooves - October 30, 2009