Panelists explore alternatives to violent response

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs

27 September 2001 | While the country prepares for a possible military response to the terrorist attacks, a panel of students, scholars and clergy gathered in Wheeler Auditorium last Thursday to plead for a more peaceful resolution to the hostility.

The event was organized by students in the Peace and Conflict Studies department to explore alternative ways of achieving justice for the acts.

“If we lash out, we become no better than those who committed these atrocities,” Michael Nagler, chair of Peace and Conflict Studies, told the standing-room-only crowd. “We need to think about a more rational response.”

Nagler was joined on stage by Rabbi Michael Lerner, graduate student Hatem Bazian and Buddhist activist and scholar Joanna Macy.

Nagler said it is probably too late to stop the pending military action, but that activists should take advantage of this opportunity to spread their message of peace.

“We’ve got to dig in deep for the long haul,” he said. “The time is right to communicate the values of non-violence.”

During his speech, Bazian, co-coordinator of the Graduate Minority Students Project, derided the notion that those against the war are unpatriotic.

“The flag has come to symbolize our country’s rush to war,” he said. “But the flag is for all of us, it represents everyone, not just those who believe in military action.”

The tragedy should be the point of a new beginning for the world, he said, to come together and build a better future.

“Here at Berkeley, we have Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim students all co-existing peacefully together,” Bazian said. “If we can do it, so can the rest of the world.”

Lerner warned activists that it’s not enough to be against violence. They must provide an alternate vision, he said.

Working to more equally distribute the world’s wealth and resources to all populations would be a more effective way to prevent future acts of terror, he said.

“We all live in one world, we’re are all interconnected, we must all feel each other’s pain,” said Lerner. “If the U.S. was a leading voice in generosity, social justice and ecological sensitivity, I think it would be much harder for people like Osama bin Laden to find recruits for his army.”


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