Nonviolence is Not Passive

While our Freedom Summer Nonviolence Program will predominantly take place in Selma, I and a portion of the nonviolence team have been spending the last few weeks in Atlanta working on logistics for the summer. The large group of interns arrive in July, will be trained in nonviolence their first week in Selma and will train groups in the community during the last two weeks of the internship. From Atlanta and through visiting Selma, we have reached out to various groups in Selma and other communities about attending introduction trainings to nonviolence. We have communicated with various teachers, guidance counselors, police chiefs, judges, and others involved in the Selma community. We have also reached out to other contacts the Foundation has outside of Selma, such as the mayor and university president of Montevallo, AL, who desires to train her staff at the university, as well as her judicial officials and police force in the city. We have also looked into the connections we have in the schools surrounding Atlanta. Various colleges and universities who have attended past Alternative Breaks have also been invited to be trained. We are still working on scheduling for the trainings, but we have many possibilities for the interns to gain experience in training, which will be extremely useful and helpful when they go back to their campuses and want to implement nonviolence training.
Sam driving
For the last several days, we have been in Colorado, however, doing a nonviolence training with various Foundation volunteers, myself included. I am currently being trained to be a trainer, in order to help train the interns. We have had three days of training, which has been a great experience. Part of the goal of this training is also to refine our curriculum before the interns arrive; long-term goals for our nonviolence school is to get into the various communities we work in, particularly schools, so as to help students and teachers develop conflict management schools. We are planning to conduct a survey to measure how much times teachers spend disciplining and correcting students’ behavior, a rate we expect to be quite high, in order to measure the programs students and teachers make in the classroom effectiveness after classes are trained in nonviolence/conflict management.

The current training is teaching me a lot about the difference between nonviolence, as based on Ghandi and Dr. King’s principles, and pacifism. Nonviolence is not passive; it is a very active force against outward violence. It is not the absence of violence, but the addition of agape love: an unconditional love that provides a respect for every person. This allows one to go against the forces of evil, not the people doing evil (Which is Principle #3!).

We’ll finish up this training, on an excellent note, I’m sure, and then have a few days of break before heading back to Selma to meet and greet the new interns for the summer! Exciting things ahead!

Samantha Lee ’16
Selma, Alabama