One More Year to Go!
A Decade for a Culture of Non-Violence: 2000—2010--Let's Do It Again!
In 1997 most of the living Nobel Peace Prize winners, all who could be contacted, signed a land-mark document. It was written to encourage the United Nations to sponsor a decade for a culture with non-violence. The decade would start in the year 2000. The Nobel Prize Laureates wanted to have their message shared with the Children and Youth of the world. Though their words were written to presidents, prime ministers and all other heads of states the message was to be a beacon of hope for the world’s youngest citizens. Read the letter then answer the questions that follow.
Today, in every single country throughout the world, there are many children silently suffering the effects and consequences of violence. This violence takes many different forms: between children on streets, at school, in family life and in the community. There is physical violence, psychological violence, socio-economic violence, environmental violence and political violence. Many children—too many children—live a "culture of violence".
We wish to contribute to reduce their suffering. We believe that each child can discover, by himself, that violence is not inevitable. We can offer hope, not only to the children of the world, but to all of humanity, by beginning to create, and build, a new Culture of Non-Violence.
For this reason, we address this solemn appeal to all Heads of States, of all member countries of the General Assembly of the United Nations, for the U.N. General Assembly to declare:
- That the first decade of the new millennium, the years 2000-2010, be declared the "Decade for a Culture of Non-Violence";
- That at the start of the decade the year 2000 be declared the "Year of Education for Non-Violence";
- That non-violence be taught at every level in our societies during this decade, to make the children of the world aware of the real, practical meaning and benefits of non-violence in their daily lives, in order to reduce the violence, and consequent suffering, perpetrated against them and humanity in general.
Together, we can build a new culture of non-violence for humankind which will give hope to all humanity, and in particular, to the children of our world.
With deepest respect,
Questions for Reflection
- In your thinking, what is non-violence? If people were acting non-violently, how would they act differently than they are now?
- How might you be non-violent in your life?
- In the letter to world leaders, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates talk about different forms of violence. How do you see forms of violence committed against children? Are there forms of violence committed by young people against one another? What are these? Why do they occur?
- Just as the Nobel Laureates pledged to reduce the suffering of the world’s children and youth, how might you make this pledge as well? What would you be doing differently in your actions towards others?
- The letter talks about the importance of teaching non-violence. What do you think are some of the skills that need to be taught to people to help them be non-violent? Why is it important to learn these skills?