Challenging the dominance of violence and war in the narratives of cultures, countries, and peoples. Changing the lens through which we look at major historical shifts, construct heroes, and develop cultural norms.
The key questions for this pillars are:
- How are we challenging the dominance of violence and war in the narratives of countries, cultures, and peoples?
- How are we celebrating the achievements of peace and nonviolence?
Historian Will Durant writes, “History books describe the history of the world as a river red with blood. Running fast, it is filled with the men and events that cause bloodshed; kings and princes, diplomats and politicians. They cause revolutions and wars, violations of territory and rights. But the real history of the world takes place on the riverbanks where ordinary people dwell. They are loving one another, bearing children, and providing homes, all the while trying to remain untouched by the swiftly flowing river.”
There are two responses to this observation. The first is the recognition that history books have traditionally been bookmarked with violent conflict, while most of life is spent resolving conflict, living in peace, and trying to limit the amount of violence that we commit against one another. The second is that its not just enough to critique an overemphasis on violence and war, we must also celebrate the cultural norms, skills, and events from history that can teach us how to become more peaceful and resolve conflict more effectively and nonviolently.
The video below is a local news story that highlights Elaine Mica Perez, a high school teacher at the Henry Ford Academy in San Antonio, Texas who integrates peace and social justice issues and history into her Spanish class.
The Zinn Education Project “promotes and supports the use of Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States and other materials for teaching a people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The website offers more than 100 free, downloadable lessons and articles organized by theme, time period, and reading level. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.”
Reflection Question: What peace or nonviolent leaders or movements were highlighted in your history classes growing up? How did the attention given to those leaders and movements compare to struggles and leaders that relied on or perpetrated acts of violence and war.
- Ackerman, Peter and DuVall, Jack. A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict.
- Boulding, Elise. Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History.
- Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States of America.
- Peace Jam
- International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
- Waging Nonviolence