Class of Nonviolence - Eight Lessons

Solutions to Violence is an eight session class developed by Colman McCarthy, founder of the
Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C. It uses classics in peace
and justice literature to teach peacemaking. This course can change
your life and you can change the world.

San Antonio peaceCENTER has taught this course many times and is now
experimenting with an Internet class, using a combination of this Web
site, e-mail and discussion boards. If you have suggestions about how
to improve the format, please let us know (send e-mail to [email protected])

The Class of Nonviolence

Solutions to Violence

beings are used to thinking about violence and war as problems to be
controlled rather than thinking positively about peace as an
achievement, as a state of being within their control. Peace education
rests on an active vision of peace where skilled individuals, who have
been trained in the ways of nonviolence, intervene in conflict
situations to manage them without using (violent) force."   Ian Harris

After listening to Bill Moyer's interview with Colman McCarthy, I looked him up and found these well-structured and inspirational eight lessons he has made available and am placing them here as PDF attachments for our community.

ChrisBowers's picture

PAOLI, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- Colman
McCarthy loves the long-shot. Good thing, too, because the
journalist-turned-peace activist is betting that warlike humanity
will some day evolve into enlightened creatures guided by love and

"We can't be the final product of evolution, unless there's
some kind of cosmic sick-joke going on," McCarthy chuckled
after treating a classroom of sleepy teen-age boys to a varied
discussion about gun violence, forgiveness and U.S. foreign policy.

For years now, the bespectacled 64-year-old has been trying to
get American educators to see violence as learned behavior that can
be overcome by adding comprehensive peace studies programs to the
curriculum at the nation's 80,000 elementary schools, 26,000 high
schools and 3,100 colleges.

"People who are going to be on death row are now in first-
or second-grade, and so are people who are going to be in the White
House. If we don't teach them peace, someone else will teach them
violence," he told Reuters during a recent visit to an
Episcopal-run prep school in the Philadelphia suburbs.

"The most revolutionary thing anybody can do is to raise
good, honest and generous children who will question the answers of
people who say the answer is violence. That's what the schools
should be doing."

Statistics on the sheer toll of violence are commonplace: 10,000
people murdered with handguns each year in the United States, and
domestic abuse the leading cause of injury among U.S. women, he

But McCarthy doesn't expect to be embraced by modern academia any
time soon, despite the rash of peer mediation classes that has
sprouted among U.S. schools since the 1999 massacre at Colorado's
Columbine High School.

He says kids need to study closely the history of the peace
movement, starting with the lives and ideas of Mahatma Gandhi,
Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, the Berrigan brothers and other

And he wants to teach kids that American violence goes
hand-in-hand with widely accepted conventionalities such as economic
competition, conspicuous consumption, tax cuts, U.S. foreign policy
and gigantic Pentagon budgets.

His introduction to Martin Luther King is not the parent-approved
civil rights leader proclaiming the dream of racial harmony who is
known to most schoolchildren.

McCarthy's King is the unbowed nonviolent agitator who spoke out
early against the Vietnam War, criticized the U.S. government as the
world's "greatest purveyor of violence" and predicted
"spiritual doom" for a nation determined to spend more on
weapons programs than on social programs.

"No textbook quotes King on Vietnam, though all carry 'I
Have a Dream' excerpts," he said.

Pacifist past

McCarthy's nationally syndicated left-liberal columns appeared on
the Washington Post's op-ed pages for nearly 30 years. But in 1997,
the venerable newspaper let him go, saying his columns were no
longer generating a high enough profit. The Post had no comment last
week on his departure.

Now he works pretty much full-time as director of his
Washington-based nonprofit Center for Teaching Peace. He teaches
regular classes in peace studies at two public high schools and
three universities in the Washington area, and at a juvenile
detention center in suburban Maryland.

A Roman Catholic who once spent five years in a Trappist
monastery, McCarthy also travels around the country for speaking
engagements, lugging along a bag stuffed with sample textbooks in
hopes of enticing new schools to consider his courses.

But the schools that can afford the few thousand dollars he
charges as a visiting speaker are usually private, limiting his
outreach to a narrow audience of affluent youths.

"He has made thousands of students stop and consider,"
said Terry Shreiner, head master of the School at Church Farm, which
has no formal peace studies course of its own. "As Colman
suggests, it's not about asking the right question, but rather, it's
about questioning the given answer."

But McCarthy's lanky frame is most at home in front of a
classroom of youths. The students hear that corporate executives who
doctor financial records to score bigger bonuses probably started
out as school kids who cheated on tests to get higher grades.

Soon the discussion shifts to steeper ground -- 40,000 people who
die in wars each month, and the $11,000 per second that McCarthy
says the United States spends on the military.

"Eleven thousand dollars -- eleven thousand dollars --
eleven thousand dollars -- eleven thousand dollars," he says,
counting each second on his fingers to illustrate the point.

McCarthy claims there is reason to be optimistic that peace
studies will become part of U.S. education some day. Over the past
three decades, he says, the number of colleges offering degree
programs in peace has grown from one to about 70.

Not that his ironic wit is a sucker for optimism, mind you.

"If we were to hurry up and start today, we could get peace
studies into every school in the country by the year 23,000,"
McCarthy joked. "You've got to love the long shot. If you
don't, then don't go into this business."

UrsulaD's picture

We need to import this man into South Africa. The recent xenophobic attacks underline that very principle that people believe the only way to solve problems, supposed problems, or any kind of differences, is with violence and murder.

Thanks Chris



maryc's picture

Peacefully yours,Mary

  I'm printing those pdf files and adding them to my backpack with the bear spray.  I'll contemplate both with a pristine view from a high mountain peak and maybe a grizzly will check in from time to time.



ChrisBowers's picture

I'll be sitting there with you in spirit, in fact, I was there the minute I read your post!

You're late!  Haaaahahaha!

See you up there when you get there....

Nonlocal Love, Chris

  The grizzly bear was there first...HA HA   Now that's an inspiring moment.


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