In 2005 I lived in the West African country of Benin as a volunteer with the Peace Corps. I had access to a small video screen to watch films from time to time, and in care packages from my parents, I would often find a new video. One film they sent me essentially changed the course of my life forever. In My Country was a Hollywood-esque film, made for the American public in particular, starring the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche. It was the story of Antje Krog, South African writer who followed and reported on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a form of restorative, transitional justice, in the post-apartheid transition to democracy. I was riveted by it, and decided to watch interviews of those who made the film, and this is where the seed was really planted in me to learn nonviolence more systematically. I will never forget when the screen-writer, Ann Peacock, a passionate, talented woman in the middle of her life, looks at the interviewer and states emphatically, and matter-of-factly, even nobly: I wrote this story so that people would know that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission existed. What a simple statement, and a humble task: using film media to tell a story that would otherwise be forgotten, discarded, or worse, seen as irrelevant. And what a form of activism: she did not do this be famous, to make “a name” for herself in the film industry, and I was struck by her honesty, her vision of what a human being can do in life with the talents we have. She was driven by the spirit of showing people that there is another way to do things, one that has been done before, and that we can improve on past experiments. What a great service, and something we are all capable of doing.
If you could show people one aspect of nonviolence, of “another way” out of violence, what it be? Think of a way of doing it based on the talents you have cultivated.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org