Nonviolence: the only way out of the crisis today


[ Fulvio de Vita. 2009 ] The crisis we are going through pervades all the realms of human action. This crisis has been given different names: economic crisis, intercultural crisis, energy crisis, crisis of values, spiritual crisis…

But I think that it is important to note that behind all these crisis, there is a violent attitude by which many individuals and institutions tend to face the deep changes that are occurring in our time.

For the first time in history the cultures of our planet have become interconnected, and their great legacy is an extraordinary opportunity of advancement for all of us. For the first time in history we are witnessing the birth of a planetary culture, of a new civilization that comprises the richness of diversity. Quite a change, no doubt.

However, the violent approaches adopted in international politics, economy, in personal and intercultural relationships, make encounters evolve in contrast relations, dialogue in war. We witness, without knowing what to do, the unfolding of violence in all fields: the increase in nuclear arsenals, more powerful and sophisticated than ever before; clashes among cultures; ever-growing violence in our cities and even within our families.

Therefore, what we, humanists, affirm is that it is not so much economy, politics, young people or values that are in crisis, but we should rather become aware that the issue is the violent attitude that drags all sectors down into the abyss.

In these times of momentous change and of great possibility of historical advancement, the only way out is to try and modify our own attitude, the only way out is that States, politicians, lobbies try and modify their attitude and choose Nonviolence, as the only true need we have to be able to give a new direction to world events.

For Universal Humanism, nonviolence is not just the denunciation of violence, it is not just reacting against a violent act, it is not just “to be against”. It is an attitude of research into a deeper knowledge, of availability towards others, of trust in the future. Not just a reactive attitude, but pro-active, as human consciousness is.

It is necessary to become aware that the attitude that leads us towards an open, evolving future is that of nonviolence; conversely, violence pushes us into the dark, into the absurd.

After a long way, time has come for human beings, peoples, cultures, civilizations to make up their minds. After thousands and thousands of years, during which violence permeated our landscape, we realize that time has come for a clean break with our past.

This means not oblivion, this means not revenge. Nor does it mean forgiveness, where in a role-playing game somebody above grants pardon to somebody below.

This means reconciliation and convergence of all cultures in a shared aspiration. This means focussing on the best in the person before me, it means acknowledging the assets in the other cultures as the fundamental step to advance from. This means the reciprocal recognition that in the history of all cultures, whether recent or remote, there have been moments where humaneness, knowledge, and spirituality were at their acme, where the human being was the central value, and the first and foremost rule was the so-called “golden rule”: Treat others as you would have them treat you.

True reconciliation will be feasible only when there is bona fide dialogue and when it becomes the cause of courageous men and women.

Some days ago, some of these intrepid people have launched in Wellington, New Zealand, the major event ever undertaken in favour of Peace and Nonviolence.

On October 2nd there started the World March for Peace and Nonviolence which will last three months, until 2nd January 2010, going through the main cities in Oceania, Asia, Europe, North and South America, to be concluded in Aconcagua mountain in Argentina.

A March supported by all the humanists of the world together with millions of people who are claiming for new forms of communication, who are creating a new awareness, based on nonviolence, on common grounds, on deep spirituality.

On our part, we have accepted the responsibility of bringing to this assembly the message of the World March to ask, as a first step towards making dialogue possible: nuclear disarmament at a global level and the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories.

I would like to end this brief contribution with Silo’s words: At some moments in history an outcry arises, a heartrending call from individuals and from entire nations. Then, from the Profound a signal arrives. May this signal be translated with kindness in these times, may it be translated in order to overcome pain and suffering—for behind this signal are blowing the winds of great change.

Presented at the "World Public Forum - Dialogue of civilizations", Rodas, October 2009.