Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rarely Seen Film "King: A Filmed Record" Traces MLK's Struggle from Montgomery to Memphis

EXCLUSIVE: Rarely Seen Film "King: A Filmed Record" Traces MLK's Struggle from Montgomery to Memphis

In a Black History Month special, Democracy Now! aired excerpts of a rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the civil rights movement. Produced by Ely Landau, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis" is made from original newsreel footage and other original video footage shot of marches, rallies and church services. "King" was originally screened for one night only in 1970 in more than 600 theaters across the United States, but has rarely been seen since. The almost hour-long video includes extensive footage of the film, featuring a historic look at the eight-year period that led up to the 1963 March on Washington, D.C.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The War Prayer

Video of Mark Twain's War Prayer:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Civil Rights Music at the White House

I don't know how I missed this when it premiered, but this is a FANTASTIC survey of the music of the civil rights movement. President Obama's introduction is top notch. Don't miss Natalie Cole quoting Diane Nash on the power of nonviolence (starting at minute 14:15.) Following a short clip of MLK citing "The Old Negro Spiritual" Free At Last, the Blind Boys of Alabama sing the song. All of the music is wonderful, but I was especially moved by Bernice Johnson Reagon and the Freedom Singer's feisty rendition of Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round and Smokey Robinson's heartfelt version of Abraham, Martin and John. The one misstep was ending with the whole ensemble singing Lift Every Voice And Sing (it was all too obvious that most of them didn't know the words. Oops.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Punishment Park

Rolling Stone called it "The best film about dissent in America." In Peter Watkins' 1970 film, as the war in Vietnam is escalating, there is massive public protest in the United States. President Nixon declares a state of national emergency and gives the Federal authorities the power to detain persons judged to be "a risk to national security." In a desert zone in southwest California, a civilian tribunal passes sentence on groups of dissidents and gives them the option, in lieu of hard time in the penitentiary, of participating in law enforcement training exercises in the Bear Mountain National "Punishment Park."

The film is frightening and realistic -- hard, at times, to remember it is (mostly) fiction. It is also strikingly contemporary -- the "game" in Punishment Park is very much like a reality TV show. It is violent, the language is raw.  For it to make sense, the film has to be watched in its entirety (88 minutes.) As part of The Class of Nonviolence,  I would show it as part of lesson 7, on civil disobedience. In addition to the expected conflict between the activists, the judges, and law enforcement, is an equally compelling tension among the activists -- between the pacifists and those who believe in the inevitability and / or efficacy of violence -- that could provoke interesting discussions.

There are useful "extras," including a talk by filmmaker Peter Watkins about how the film came to be made and how it was marginalized. I would show the four screens of text that give the historical background of 1968, when the film was conceived, then show the film, and end with Watkins' on screen essay. I rented the DVD from Blockbuster online; it is also available for purchase on Amazon as a standalone DVD or as part of a boxed set of five Watkins films.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Biography of America

A Biography of America is a video instructional series on American history for college and high school classrooms and adult learners -- 26 half-hour video programs, coordinated books, and Web site -- Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration.

Especially appropriate for The Class of Nonviolence are:
8. The Reform Impulse
The Industrial Revolution has its dark side, and the tumultuous events of the period touch off intense and often thrilling reform movements. Professor Masur presents the ideas and characters behind the Great Awakening, the abolitionist movement, the women's movement, and a powerful wave of religious fervor.
17. Capital and Labor
The making of money pits laborers against the forces of capital as the twentieth century opens. Professor Miller introduces the miner as the quintessential laborer of the period -- working under grinding conditions, organizing into unions, and making a stand against the reigning money man of the day, J. Pierpont Morgan.
19. A Vital Progressivism
Professor Martin offers a fresh perspective on Progressivism, arguing that its spirit can be best seen in the daily struggles of ordinary people. In a discussion with Professors Scharff and Miller, the struggles of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans are placed in the context of the traditional white Progressive movement. 
 The textbooks and instructor guides are for sale; the videos themselves are small (barely adequate for classroom use) but these can be purchased as well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Ripple of Hope: RFK and MLK

I rented A Ripple of Hope from Blockbuster online -- and you should do the same. This just-released 54-minute documentary is about Robert Kennedy's April 4, 1968 campaign speech in Indianapolis, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It is one of the most profound and important speeches in American history:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
I wept during the film. I lent it to peaceCENTER director Ann Helmke: she watched it twice and wept too. Martin Sheen reports that he wept.  Rep. John Lewis -- and the other commentators, including many regular citizens who were present at the speech -- were profoundly moving. In a few strokes, the event is put in historical context.

Generally, I recommend a 5-10 minute clip of a film to show in a classroom setting. With this film, show it all, every last minute. One way to approach this would be to show the first half of the film -- before it is clear that the speech is actually going to be delivered -- stop, and assign the students to outline their OWN short speeches. Start the second session by discussing the student's speeches and their rationale. Then, watch the second half of the film, discuss how it broke all the classic rules of speechmaking, and analyze why it worked.

A Ripple of Hope is available for purchase, through the PBS store or on Amazon. It's also available to PBS stations, but it appears that few have aired it.

I would show this during the session on Martin Luther King in the Class of Nonviolence. A good companion film would be Citizen King, also available via the PBS store (there is an excellent 10-minute section in the last part of the two-hour-long Citizen King that covers his anti-war activism, including an excerpt from his speech at Riverside Church and the (mostly) negative reaction of other civl rights leaders to his opposition to the war in Vietnam.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Struggle for Justice (National Portrait Gallery)

The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery exhibition "The Struggle for Justice," covering the struggle in the U.S. for equal rights for women, African-Americans, Native Americans, the disabled, and gays and lesbians is now online. It includes six video clips narrated by CNN's Soledad O'Brien, portraits of those people who were instrumental in fighting for justice (like the one of A. Phillip Randolph, right), a lesson plan , related web links and a reading list.We cover human rights in lesson six of The Class of Nonviolence.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Films To Help Us Rethink War

The Voices Education Project has a marvelous list of films about war (and a great section on curriculum ideas for using anti-war films and documentaries.) Some are old favorites and some that are new to me. Last week I ordered a copy of the 1938 J'Accuse.  The NYT said of the film:
"This 1938 sci-fi and horror-tinged war drama from writer/director Abel Gance is an updated remake of Gance's own 1919 silent feature of the same name. J'accuse stars Victor Francen as Jean Diaz, a scientist who, after witnessing the unspeakable horrors of the battlefield during the First World War, dedicated his life to ensuring that history doesn't repeat itself. Diaz eventually invents a device that promises to bring an end to war forever. However, with WWII on the horizon, the government instead opts to use the machine against its enemies rather than for peace. This drives Diaz to the brink of insanity and leads him to resort to more unexpected measures to get his point across."
In the Class of Nonviolence we talk about war films in session seven. In the Facilitator's Manual for the Class of Nonviolence there is a list of war films and a sample class exercise.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Violence: An American Tradition

Violence: An American Tradition is a peaceCENTER favorite teaching video, no longer distributed. What a gift that it is now online! In six parts, an "exploration of the tradition of violence in America, drawing on the history of invading settlers and native peoples, frontier outlaws and modern-day murderers, racist violence, the urban underclass, and domestic abuse. Narrated by Julian Bond, with commentary by Cornell West. Caution: Contains scenes that may be disturbing to young or sensitive viewers." 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Diderot: The Danger of Setting Oneself Against the Law

At Half Price Books the other day I picked up a copy of five short pieces by Denis Diderot, the 18th Century French philosopher: This is Not a Story and other stories, a new translation by P.N. Furbank. (Oxford University Press, 1991) The last delightful little piece is "A Conversation of a Father With his Children, or The Danger of Setting Oneself Against the Law," (Entretien d'un père avec ses enfants) (1772).

Diderot's father gathers Denis, his brother and sister 'round and tells of the time he was an executor to an estate. Diderot père stumbles across a yellowed will, apparently forgotten, that disinherits the deceased's deserving and needy relatives and favors a rich family in far-off Paris. He was tempted to toss the will into the fire; who would know? Aren't compassion and justice more important than the law? A priest whom he consults advises him that it is indeed the compassionate course, but if he were to do so he has a moral obligation to reimburse the cheated heirs with his own funds. Diderot emphatically endorses burning the unjust will, but his brother, an abbé, defends the supremacy of the law, claiming that to evade or defy it in any given case is to open the door to the sophistries of "all the knaves in the universe." A lively discussion ensues about this and other cases.

This piece, only 33 short pages, would make an interesting companion to Thoreau's essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," discussed in Lesson Seven of The Class of Nonviolence. Diderot is less polemic, more open-ended than Thoreau: he aims to provoke discussion rather than convert to his point of view. Diderot's ending is characteristically ambivalent. Denis whispers to his father, " . . the truth is, there are no laws for the wise man." His father replies, "I should not be sorry if there were one or two in the town like you; but I should not want to live there if they all thought the same."

Alas, there does not appear to be an English translation available online, but it is well worth finding, reading and sharing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Images of War

The New York Times had an intriguing "idea of the day," The Morality of Web War Footage. It leads us to an online magazine that is new to me: Guernica - a Magazine of Art & Politics and specifically to an article by Nicholas Sautin, The Pleasure of Flinching.

Sautin cites Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others (2002), her look at the representation of atrocity--from Goya's The Disasters of War to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and the Nazi death camps, to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, and New York City on September 11, 2001.

Sautin writes:
For Sontag, there is always a moral need to question our right to witness atrocity: “Perhaps the only people with the right to look at images of suffering of this extreme order are those who could do something to alleviate it… or those who could learn from it. The rest of us are voyeurs, whether or not we mean to be.”

The problem with voyeurism and the Internet, though, is that the idea of “the right to look” may have become obsolete. Atrocity footage has been taken out of the hands of those who would previously have held such moral responsibility—governments, journalists, censors, teachers, etc. The images are simply there for anyone who wishes to look. We imagine their existence, haunted by glimpses of what we have actually seen, and often choose not to look further.
 We look at images of war in Lesson Seven of the Class of Nonviolence. In our Facilitator's Manual we include a selection of nine classic images, which can also be downloaded as a slideshow on our Web site. (note: this link will open Powerpoint.)  Sautin article, which also includes links to the videos he discusses, is an important update.

Also recommended for those who wish to pursue this track is Virginia Woolf's first essay in her book Three Guineas (1938) which can be read online. Woolf writes:
This morning’s collection contains the photograph of what might be a man’s body, or a woman’s; it is so mutilated that it might, on the other hand, be the body of a pig. But those certainly are dead children, and that undoubtedly is the section of a house. A bomb has torn open the side; there is still a birdcage hanging in what was presumably the sitting-room, but the rest of the house looks like nothing so much as a bunch of spillikins suspended in mid air.
Those photographs are not an argument; they are simply a crude statement of fact addressed to the eye. But the eye is connected with the brain; the brain with the nervous system. That system sends its messages in a flash through every past memory and present feeling. When we look at those photographs some fusion takes place within us; however different the education, the traditions behind us, our sensations are the same; and they are violent.
 What resources do you use to teach the art of war?

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People's History

This just in from  Rethinking Schools:  We're pleased to announce our latest "publication," The Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People's History -- a new website with free downloadable teaching activities.

The Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People's History is a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change, supported by an anonymous donor (a former student of historian Howard Zinn's) and the Caipirinha Foundation. The new site features over 75 free, downloadable teaching activities for middle- and high- school students to bring a people's history to the classroom. These are the best U.S. history-teaching articles from the Rethinking Schools archives. The site also lists hundreds of recommended books, films, and websites. The teaching activities and resources are organized by theme, time period, and grade level. This is the only collection of its kind for educators -- print or online -- in the country.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Howard Zinn: Three Holy Wars

On the 100th anniversary of Progressive Magazine, Howard Zinn, author of The People's History of the United States, gave a talk about three holy wars. Not religious wars, he explained, but rather America's "sacred" wars that are considered to be just and beyond criticism. They are the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II.

He said:
"Why do we assume that we had to fight a bloody revolutionary war to get rid of England? . . .  In the first year before the first shots were fired, those famous shots. You know, the shot that was heard around the world. You know, Lexington, Concord, April of 1775, the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The year before that farmers in western Massachusetts had driven the British government out of most of western Massachusetts without firing a shot. They had assembled thousands upon thousands around court houses, around official offices and they had taken over and they said good bye to the British officials. It was a nonviolent revolution that took place."

One of the questions that Colman McCarthy poses in Lesson 6 of The Class of Nonviolence is "Many believe that Britain could have been removed from America nonviolently. Explain." If, because of time constraints, you want to focus in on just the part on the Revolution, watch from minute 9:50 through 22:24. There is a complete transcript of the talk on the Truthout Web site: thanks to them for drawing this to my attention.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eyeless in Gaza

I picked up a copy of Aldous Huxley's 1936 novel, Eyeless in Gaza, soon after I returned from a trip to Gaza. I knew that the book was not related to the modern Gaza – the title was taken from Milton's Samson Agonistes:
... Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves ...
But still: the title called to me. It has sat on the shelf, unread, until this year's resolution to tackle all of the unread books, or give them away. Gaza was Huxley's first novel after the more famous Brave New World. In those four years the world had changed: Hitler became chancellor of the Weimar Republic in 1933 and quickly transformed it into the Third Reich and the British Union of Fascists began it's rocky rise in Great Britain.

Huxley was a pacifist, a supporter of the Peace Pledge Union and a follower of the visionary Gerald Heard. The central figure of this novel, Anthony Beavis, is Huxley's alter-ego; Miller is based on Heard.

Gaza has passages that I would call Gandhian, yet in a letter to his brother Julian Huxley ridiculed Gandhi as one “who plays the ascetic in his loin cloth.” By the time of Gandhi's funeral in 1948 Huxley's view was more charitable and considered. He wrote: “Gandhi’s social and economic ideas are based upon a realistic appraisal of man’s nature and the nature of his position in the universe.” The opening of his “Note on Gandhi,” published in the May-June edition of the magazine Vendanta and the West, is fascinating:
“Gandhi’s body was borne to the pyre on a weapons carrier. There were tanks and armored cars in the funeral procession, and detachments of soldiers and police. Circling overhead were fighter planes of the Indian Air Force. All these instruments of violent coercion were paraded in honor of the apostle of non-violence and soulforce. It is an inevitable irony; for, by definition, a nation is a sovereign community possessing the means to make war other sovereign communities. Consequently, a national tribute to any individual—even if that individual be a Gandhi—must always and necessarily take the form of a play of military and coercive might.”

Here is an excerpt from Eyeless in Gaza, one of many that speak directly to nonviolence. This would be an appropriate additional reading in Lesson six of The Class of Nonviolence, where we discuss techniques of nonviolent action. At the time Huxley was writing this novel, Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts were quite famously treating hecklers with violence; contemporary readers of this chapter would have been reminded of Mosley's rally at Olympia in June, 1934, when the forced ejection of hecklers resulted in mob violence.

Eyeless in Gaza
Aldous Huxley

Chapter Thirty-three
January 29, 1934

With Helen today to hear Miller speaking at Tower Hill, during the dinner hour. A big crowd. He spoke well – the right mixture of argument, jokes, emotional appeal. The theme, peace. Peace everywhere or no peace at all. International peace not achievable unless a translation into policy of inter-individual relations. Militarists at home, in factory, in office, towards inferiors and rivals, cannot logically expect governments which represent them to behave as pacifists. Hypocrisy and stupidity of those who advocate peace between states, while conducting private wars in business or the family. Meanwhile, there was much heckling by communists in the crowd. How can anything be achieved without revolution? Without liquidating the the individuals and classes standing in the way of social progress? And so on. Answer (always with extraordinary good humor and wit): means determine ends. Violence and coercion produce a post-revolutionary society, not communistic but (like the Russians) hierarchical, ruled by an oligarchy using secret police methods. And all the rest.

After about a quarter of an hour, and angry young heckler climbed on to the little wall where Miller was standing, and threatened to knock him off if he didn't stop. “Come on then, Archibald.” The crowd laughed: the young man grew still angrier, advanced, clenched, squared up. “Get down, you old bastard, or else . . “ Miller stood quite still, smiling, hands by his side, saying, All right; he had no objections to being knocked off. The attacker made sparring movements, brought a fist to within a inch of Miller's nose. The old man didn't budge, showed no sign of fear or anger. The other drew back the hand, but instead of bringing it into Miller's face, hit him on the chest. Pretty hard. Miller staggered, lost his balance and fell off the wall into the crowd. Apologized to the people he'd fallen on, got up again on the wall. Repetition of the performance. Again the young man threatened the face, but again, when Miller didn't lift his hands, or show either fear or anger, hit him on the chest. Miller went down and again climbed up. Got another blow. Came up once more. This time the man screwed himself up to hitting the face, but only with the flat of his hand. Miller straightened his head and went on smiling. “Three shots a penny, Archibald.” The man let out at the body and knocked him off the wall. Up again. Miller looked at his watch. “Another ten minutes before you need to go back to work, Archibald. Come on.” But this time the man could only bring himself to shake his fist and call Miller a bloodsucking old reactionary. Then turned and walked off along the wall, pursued by derisive laughter, jokes and whistlings from the crowd. Miller went on with his speech.

Helen's reaction was curious. Distress at the young man's brutality towards the old. But at the same time anger with Miller for allowing himself to be knocked about without resistance. The reason for this anger? Obscure; but I think she resented Miller's success. Resented the fact that the young man had been reduced, psychologically, to impotence. Resented the demonstration that there was an alternative to terrorism and a nonviolent means of combating it. “It's only a trick,” she said. Not a very easy trick, I insisted; and that I certainly couldn't perform it. “Anyone could learn it, if he tried.” Possibly; wouldn't it be a good thing if we all tried? “No, I think it's stupid.” Why? She found it hard to answer. “Because it's unnatural,” was the reason she managed to formulate at last – and proceeded to develop it in terms of a kind of egalitarian philosophy. “I want to be like other people. To have the same feelings and interests. I don't want to make myself different. Just an ordinary person; not somebody who's proud of having learnt a difficult trick. Like that old Miller of yours.” I pointed out that we'd all learn such difficult tricks as driving cars, working in offices, reading and writing, crossing the street. Why shouldn't we all learn this other difficult trick? A trick, potentially, so much more useful. If all were to learn it, then one could afford to be like other people, one could share all their feelings in safety, with the certainty that one would be sharing something good, not bad. But Helen wasn't to be persuaded. And when I suggested that we should join the old man for a late lunch, she refused. She said she didn't want to know him. That the young man had been quite right; Miller was a reactionary. Disguising himself in a shroud of talk about economic justice; but underneath just a Tory agent. His insistence on changes in social organizations weren't enough, but that they must be accompanied by, must spring from a change in personal relations – what was that but a plea for conservatism? “I think he's pernicious,” she said. “And I think you're pernicious.” But she consented to have lunch with me. Which showed how little stock she set on my powers to shake her convictions! Arguments – I might have lots of good arguments; to those she was impervious. But Miller's action had gotten between the joints of her armor. He acted his doctrine, didn't rest content with talking it. Her confidence that I couldn't get between the joints, as he had done, was extremely insulting. The more so as I knew it was justified.

Perseverance, courage, endurance. All fruits of love. Love goodness enough, and indifference and slackness are inconceivable. Courage comes as to the mother defending her child; and at the same time there is no fear of the opponent, who is loved, whatever he may do, because of the potentialities of goodness in him. As for pain, fatigue, disapproval – they are borne cheerfully, because they seem of no consequence by comparison with the goodness loved and pursued. Enormous gulf separating me from this state! The fact that Helen was not afraid of my perniciousness (as being only theoretical), while dreading Miller's (because his life was the same as his argument) was a painful reminder of the existence of this gulf.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

A fascinating science commentary in the New York Times by Natalie Angier about plants' will to survive:

The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. [read rest of article]

This issue is addressed directly in Lesson 8 of the Class of Nonviolence, where we talk about violence and animals. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nonviolence: The History of an Idea

Ira Chernus, Professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has written an introductory book on the history of the idea of nonviolence in the United States. American Nonviolence: The History of An Idea is now available from Orbis Books and is also available free online.

Chapters include: The Anabaptists; The Quakers; William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolitionists; Henry David Thoreau; The Anarchists; World War I: The Crucial Turning Point; Mahatma Gandhi; Reinhold Niebuhr; A. J. Muste; Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Barbara Deming; and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Harvard's very popular course on justice now available to you online

From their Web site:  Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

In this twelve part series, [Michael] Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.

This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Bystanders Do When They Witness Violence

What Bystanders Do When They Witness Violence

Facing History and Ourselves used a "Talk of the Nation" episode as the centerpiece for a lesson plan about bystanders to violence.  We typically discuss this in the first session of the Class of Nonviolence and come around to it again towards the end.  

Another good resource for this topic is the Phil Ochs song, "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends":

Sunday, November 15, 2009

US Nobel Peace Prize Anagram Worksheet

Got new software yesterday -- Anagram Genius is the program Dan Brown used to concoct the anagrams in Angels and Demons and now we have it as well. It's first workout was to conduct a learning activity about the Nobel Peace Prize. Barack Obama receives his on December 10, providing a great opening for discussion. Twenty-one US citizens have received the prize since its inception in 1921 and this worksheet challenges the student to unscramble anagrams of their names.

I didn't include the three US organizations who received the prize. Here they are:
Is ill-mannered top banana contaminating?
Poisoner terrifies connivently enchant wrathful paranoia.
I'm an infected, mesmeric eviscerator.

The first sheet of the handout just includes the anagrams. The second sheet has biographies of the 21 recipients, plus an answer key at the bottom. If this is done as a class exercise, you can chop off the answers, if you prefer, and hand them out later. Download the PDF of the Anagrams HERE.

If you are facilitating the Class of Nonviolence,  this exercise would make a nice accompaniment to the session on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 (his Nobel lecture makes good reading!)  It could also be used with the session on Gandhi, who did not receive the prize. The Nobel Prize Organization has a lively article about Gandhi on their Web site. A good class discussion could be: Should Mohandas Gandhi have received the Nobel Peace Prize? Why or why not?

And the answers to the anagrams above are:
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985)
American Friends Service Committee (1947) 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brain Teasers

Engaging, transforming and transcending conflict often involves creative thinking. We can train our brains to “think outside the box.” One way is by solving puzzles. Any puzzle will do— anagrams, suduku, crosswords— or brain teasers. We've come up with a one page handout that includes 27 brain teasers. Play with the letters & numbers to find a common word or phrase. Here's an example:

You can download a PDF file of the handout HERE. If you are facilitating the class of nonviolence, handouts like these can be given to the people who show up early. Or, they can be incorporated into the class itself. In the session on Gandhi, for example, we often hand out a sheet of optical illusions to illustrate that there can be more than one version of "truth."

The answer to the puzzler above, by the way, is Tennessee. Ten E - C. Get it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conflict Revolution

This slide show is from Victoria Pynchon's Settle It Now Negotiation Blog, and is based on a presentation by Dr. Ken Cloke, Conflict Revolution: Mediating Evil, War, Injustice and Terrorism. (I recommend expanding the slide show to full screen to view it properly.)

In Lesson 5 of the Class of Nonviolence, on feminism, peace and power, we typically discuss power relationships; the diagram on slide 26, power, justice and decision making, is an interesting expansion on the "power wheels" that we typically use to launch our discussion of power. Good information here about social change, negotiation -- good info!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to celebrate the fall of the wall | National Catholic Reporter

How to celebrate the fall of the wall | National Catholic Reporter

Sr. Rose Pacatte wrote a great article for the National Catholic Reporter on how to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall through movies. Her blog is a great source for current films that can often be used to teach peace and Justice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pigs Prove to Be Smart, if Not Vain

Pigs Prove to Be Smart, if Not Vain 

 The 8th and final session of the Class of Nonviolence is about  violence and animals. This article from the New York Times covers the new scientific field of "pig cognition." It says in part:

"Even in domesticity, pigs have retained much of their foreboar’s smarts. Dr. Byrne attributes pig intelligence to the same evolutionary pressures that prompted cleverness in primates: social life and food. Wild pigs live in long-term social groups, keeping track of one another as individuals, the better to protect against predation. They also root around for difficult food sources, requiring a dexterity of the snout not unlike the handiness of a monkey." [whole article]

Looking for more about animals? Some good stuff in the New Yorker: 

Hear Them Roar: A brief about Spain granting some apes human rights and a roundup of current books about animal rights.
Swingers: Bonobos are celebrated as peace-loving, matriarchal, and sexually liberated. Are they? 
Birdbrain: The woman behind the world’s chattiest parrots.

 Here's one from Wired Science: Clever Crows Prove Aesop’s Fable Is More Than Fiction
If the crow story interests you, here is a TED video about "The Amazing Intelligence of Crows" with Joshua Klein:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Understanding and Combating War

Understanding and Combating War

This is a resource provided by the Voices Education Project. It is a complilation of writings, music, drama and art inspired by the work of Lucy Dougall in her book War and Peace in Literature: Prose, Drama and Poetry which Illuminate the Problem of War. Here's what you'll find (click on the word "contents" in the menu):

Rina Abbasi Iranian); Anna Akmatova (Russian); Maya Angelou (American); Margaret Atwood (Canadian); W.H. Auden (British/American); Wendell Berry (American); Berthold Brecht (German); Marc Chagall (Russian/French); Stephen Crane (American); Maria Deyana (Croatian); Ralph Waldo Emerson (American); Diana Ferrus (South African); Kahlil Gibran (Lebanese); Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (American); Garrison Keillor (American); Mary Kimani (Kenyan); Krishnamurti (Indian); Denise Levertov (British/American); Vachel Lindsay (American); Holly Near (American); Pablo Neruda (Chilean); Phil Ochs (American); Robert Phillips (American); Playing for Change; Major Michael Davis O’Donnell (American); Violeta Parra Chilean); Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (Tibetan); Tom Paxton (American); Leroy V. Quintana (American); Carl Sandburg (American); Ben Shahn (Lithuanian/American); Edwin Starr; Richard Stine (American); Simonides (Greek); Sting (British); Wislawa Szmborska (Polish)


Friday, October 16, 2009

3 new books about the death penalty

On October 24, Austin, Texas will host the 10th annual march to abolish the death penalty (2-5 pm on the southside steps of the Texas State Capitol, 11th & Congress, Austin.) It's a good time to explore this issue,  covered in the 7th class of the University Essays for the Class of Nonviolence  with 5 excellent readings.

Over the past few months that peaceCENTER has published three new anthologies about the death penalty:

Capital Ideas: 150 Classic Writers on the Death Penalty, from The Code of Hammurabi to Clarence Darrow, Susan Ives, editor, with a foreword by Joan Cheever Learn More & Buy

End of the Line: Five Short Novels About the Death Penalty, Susan Ives, editor. Includes: The Last Day of a Condemned Man, by Victor Hugo; Lois The Witch, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Dead Alive, by Wilkie Collins; Billy Budd, by Herman Melville and The Seven Who Were Hanged, by Leonid Andreyev Learn More & Buy 

Death Sentences: 34 Classic Short Stories About the Death Penalty. Susan Ives, editor, with a foreword by Jay Brandon and an afterword by Roger C. Barnes, Ph.D. Learn more & buy. 

These three books are more about public philosophy than public policy. They explore who governments decide to kill, how they justify these decisions and the effect of state-sanctioned killing on society.