If violence isn’t the answer to injustice, what is? Currently being celebrated at Central Oregon Community College, the Season of Nonviolence celebrates spiritual diversity and leaders of social change.
The Season of Nonviolence began in 1998 to commemorate the assassinations of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Since then it has grown into a global celebration, honoring leaders of nonviolent movements and their struggles for social change throughout history.
Beginning Jan. 21 and extending throughout the winter term, COCC will be hosting a multitude of of events aimed at spreading the message of nonviolent action, as well as shedding some light onto other cultures and ideas.
“We wanted to broaden the conversation,” said Karen Aylward, Director of the Nancy R Chandler Visiting Scholars Program, who is helping to coordinate some of the events.
“The main message is being inclusive,” Aylward said. “Bringing the world forward by nonviolent means.”
The three month series of events is spearheaded by Aylward and Karen Roth, Director of Multicultural Activities at COCC.
“When I got here, I brought the idea up,” said Roth about the event that is now in its fifth year at COCC. “It just seemed in my work where I care about civil rights and social justice, doing it in a nonviolent way was the best course.”
Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will be appearing on Feb. 20. Gandhi will be hosting a conversation about the teachings of his grandfather.
“This is a chance to experience a piece of living history that may not be around much longer,” said Aylward, “to get a first hand experience of being around Arun Gandhi.”
Also scheduled are presentations from authors and photographers, book discussions, film screenings, and a banquet. Every event is free to the public.
“We wanted to make sure there was something for everybody,” said Aylward, “even if you’re not a proponent of nonviolence.”
An underlying theme of this year’s Season is to develop a better understanding of the Arab world, with at least three of the events dedicated to the subject.
“This was a conscious decision,” said Roth. “There are misperceptions and stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims that are still pervasive. It is important to look at these stereotypes to see how we can move beyond them.”
In past years, themes have included immigration, labor rights, and the death penalty, but all have had a common strain, to show the importance of nonviolent action,according to Aylward.
“It was a huge gift to the world for (these leaders) to do what they did in a nonviolent way,” said Roth. “It is important to honor their legacy.”
Meet Gandhi’s Grandson
There will be a private reception with Arun Gandhi after his presentation on Feb. 20. Admission will be $25.
Ten students will be chosen to attend free. To enter the contest, submit an essay of 200 words or less that answers the question, ”Why would meeting Arun Gandhi be meaningful to me?”
Essays can be emailed to Karen Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due date is Feb. 10.