The World March for Peace & Nonviolence

By  Dennis Redmond

April 17, 2009

 Thank you for inviting me to speak about an international initiative that I hope will be of interest to all of us here today. The World March for Peace and Nonviolence is a proposal for creating widespread consciousness of the dangerous situation in which we are living through an unprecedented international social mobilization.

Today we are witnessing the collapse of a system whose methodology of action is violence and whose central value is money, and this is producing explosions and great social instability everywhere. There is a rise in inter-ethnic conflicts and discrimination, a polarization of wealth and an economic crisis of global impact, a depletion of the earth’s natural resources; of even greater concern is the renewed arms race and the heightened probability of nuclear conflict. The ability to pressure for a profound change in direction has been inhibited up to now by a general lack of awareness, disinformation, and the collective malaise of the majority of people on the planet who desire peace but feel powerless to bring it about. The crisis has created the urgency, however, and perhaps for the first time the possibility of producing a change of consciousness on a global level, one that demands peace and recognizes the value of nonviolence.    

In particular, the World March is calling for:

  •  nuclear disarmament at a global level;

  • the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories;

  • the progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons;

  • the signing of non-aggression treaties between countries;

  • the renunciation by governments of the use of war as a means to resolve conflicts.

The idea of a conducting a symbolic march through 6 continents was studied for more than a year. The proposal, put forth by the Humanist Movement through one of its affiliated organizations, World Without Wars, was officially launched at the Symposium of the World Center for Humanist Studies in Punta de Vacas, Argentina, on November 15, 2008. Since then plans have developed very quickly. In just a few months the World March has received the endorsement of thousands of individuals, peace and nonviolence groups, religious, cultural and educational institutions, and renowned figures from the worlds of science, arts, sports, and politics. We are also receiving the support of Presidents and national governments, in countries such as Chile, Guatemala, and East Timor. Most interestingly, the March is inspiring a diversity of projects and initiatives, small and large, at the neighborhood, campus, and municipal levels in more than 100 different countries on all continents.   

These initiatives, whose number we expect to be in the thousands, will take place between October 2nd of this year and January 2nd, 2010, corresponding to the 90-day journey of an international team of marchers who will travel from Wellington, New Zealand to the Andes Mountains in Argentina. In addition to numerous local and regional marches that will spread out like a web across the planet, these initiatives will include university symposia and community forums, concerts in public parks, nonviolence workshops in elementary and high schools, poetry readings and art exhibits, bike rides, murals, vigils and acts of civil disobedience. In Malaga, Spain, 800 schools have already started studying themes related to the March and in November all the schoolchildren will accompany the international team as it passes through their city. In Moscow, an association of skydivers will form a human peace sign in the sky. In Argentina, the Department of Transportation has authorized the renovation of a rail line between Buenos Aires and Mendoza, to transport hundreds of thousands of people in a “Peace Train” for the conclusion of the march. Rappers, graffiti artists, ballroom dancers, church, synagogue and temple groups, college students, environmentalists, chefs, soccer players – all are finding creative ways to make their own contribution to this effort.

We all know the need to create consciousness for peace and disarmament. I also believe it is necessary today to awaken in people a consciousness of nonviolence that rejects not only physical violence, but all forms of violence: economic, racial, psychological, religious, sexual, moral. To achieve this, we must help people to take action in a way that is meaningful and possible for them, to talk directly with their neighbors, to experience in themselves and in their relations with others the possibilities of change. We invite all of you here to join in this worldwide initiative, so that together we can reach our 6 billion neighbors with this profound message of peace and nonviolence.

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