Working for peace
When members of a nonviolent social movement in Afghanistan reached out for advice, what else could Marquette do? A small delegation from the Center for Peacemaking booked flights.
Center director Patrick Kennelly, Arts ’07, alumni Chris Jeske, Bus Ad ’07, Ellen Kennelly, Arts ’05, and Emmey Malloy, Arts ’06, joined Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, Rev. John Dear, S.J., and others on a trip to Kabul. They met the Afghan Peace Volunteers, a small group of men and boys who’ve joined together to try to improve life for everyone in Afghanistan. They also met Marquette alumnus Bill Schmitt, Arts ’01, who is the top official for Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan.
Kennelly and his colleagues at the Center for Peacemaking research nonviolence movements to understand what methods work and why.
“One of the neat things about nonviolence is it’s constantly adapted based on context,” says Kennelly. “Here, in one of the main theatres of conflict, is a group that in under seven years is gaining a lot of attention for a commitment to nonviolence, coupled with action to transform the situation in their country.”
APV is small. The core group is 20 – 40 multiethnic Afghans, according to Kennelly. When their supporters come together at public events, there are between 60 and 300 men and boys, depending on the gathering.
In Afghanistan, the Marquette group visited a women’s collective started by APV and met with members of the Afghanistan Parliament, the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. But, mostly, Kennelly says, they learned how APV works for peace.
A huge symbolic and practical action, Kennelly says, is the members live harmoniously in an “ashram” community to demonstrate that Afghans can get along. But they also draw attention to the nonviolence movement. For example, APV organized marches calling for an end to war, put a statue in a park with the message “Our love is stronger than all the wars in the world” and hung a sign that said “Peace” in the cove that once held the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan carvings.
“When we came, they said over and over how grateful they were that we’d come to ‘this trashy war-torn place,’ ” says Malloy, who visited Kabul for the first time as a member of the Marquette delegation. “There was a sense of gratitude and awe that we came and that we will write about them.”
All of the interviews were recorded for further study by peacemaking and nonviolence researchers. — JMM